What Does the Elliptical Machine Target?

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The past global events showed us how important it is to have a healthy body. That’s why you’ll see more and more people putting in the effort to live a healthier lifestyle.

Among the most frequently used fitness equipment nowadays is the elliptical machine. It’s believed to improve different aspects of your health.

What does the elliptical machine target exactly? How do you use it? We have all the answers and more for you.

What’s an Elliptical Machine?

The elliptical machine, otherwise known as a cross – trainer or elliptical trainer, is a piece of gym equipment used to mimic movements exerted when climbing, walking, or running.

The main advantage is that, firstly, it’s stationary. Secondly, it reduces pressure on the joints, which makes it great for low-impact workouts.

This type of machine also significantly decreases the risk of injuries caused by excessive pressure.

It has been around since the 1990s, having been introduced to the public by the brand Precor.

It is one of the best pieces of equipment to use for all sorts of weight-bearing exercises.

Some elliptical machines are self-powered, while more-updated models are plugged in to adjust the range of motion or to power the electronic consoles.

What Does the Elliptical Machine Target?

If you plan on getting on an elliptical machine anytime soon, you will want to know which body parts it develops.

This knowledge will allow you to divide your body workout routines and determine which muscle groups need more attention and which ones can be left for the machine.


The quads are the group of muscles from your hip and down to your knees. They are the largest and strongest major muscle group in the legs.

When you push the pedal on the elliptical trainer down, you transfer your weight onto it. This action imitates the movements of stair climbing.

Therefore, when you set the elevation of the elliptical trainer higher, you also increase the degree to which your quads are worked.

Adjusting the elevation higher or lower also increases and decreases the intensity of your workout routine.

Developing your quads is integral to achieving your fitness goals. That’s because you get to improve your lower body strength, which is essential for a lot of exercises.

Improving your quads with the elliptical trainer can also benefit specific impact cardio exercises, especially cycling.

Moreover, the training you get from the elliptical machine and the development of your quads will be beneficial to doing specific daily tasks.

Aside from improving your overall balance, you will find that running, climbing up a flight of stairs, getting up from your seat, or even walking would all be easier.


While the quads are located in front of the legs, the hamstring muscles are at the back. This means it’s worked in the exact opposite direction of the quads.

This group of muscles starts from the glutes, the muscle of your buttocks, down to your knee joint.

So, when you work on your quads, you also develop your hamstrings because they complete the movement of the quads.

The hamstrings help your quads when pushing the machine’s pedals down and make it easier for your legs to return to their original positions.

You don’t have to perform a particular task or workout to target the hamstrings. Whatever you’re doing with your quads will also develop this muscle group.

However, if you want a more hamstring-focused elliptical session, there’s a simple trick you can do—reverse the fitness routine you’re doing with your quads.

Since they are opposite your quads, reversing the exercise allows you to put more pressure on the hamstrings instead of the quads.

Developing your hamstrings and quads will make strength or weight training easier, especially for full-body workouts like deadlifting.

Also, working out your hamstrings helps in certain daily activities like walking, cycling, and running.

learn what does the elliptical machine target


Below your quads and hamstrings are the calves. They are right at the back of your lower legs and run from the knees down to the ankles.

Your calf muscles help you stabilize while performing an elliptical workout.

Unlike your upper body muscles, quads, and hamstrings, calf muscles don’t ordinarily get large with basic workouts.

However, calf muscles do get incredibly powerful. That’s because you use this muscle group to stay upright, which you do for your entire workout and even in your daily life.

Strengthening your calves completes the overall strength of your lower body.

You see, if your quads and hamstrings are developed, but your calves aren’t, you compromise your lower body’s power.

Having strong calves can be beneficial to cardiovascular endurance. This type of workout often requires you to run, walk, or stand upright, which are jobs for your calf muscles.


The glutes are basically your buttocks. They are located right below your waist and run all the way down to the top part of your legs.

This fleshy muscle group is often developed by people who wish to enhance their body shape and overall physical appearance.

The glutes can benefit your entire body, and an elliptical cross-trainer can help improve this area.

These muscles work with your quads and hamstrings to conduct activities that involve your lower body.

Furthermore, they are also used in strength training, especially with exercises that require you to stand.

The only time you don’t use your glutes is when you’re engaging in a type of workout strictly for your upper body or exercises that require you to sit.

Because they are right below the middle part of your body, having developed glutes is necessary for a strong core.

Overall, improving your glutes with elliptical training can help with just about everything you do.


The elliptical targets your core area as well. You might think you’re just imitating climbing up the stairs, so how can this be a form of stomach workout?

An elliptical workout session may not directly develop your abdominal muscles, but it influences their improvement.

That’s because you need to use your core muscles to stay upright and stable on the machine.

Your abdominal muscles are integral in keeping your body balanced while engaging in different types of movements.

Moreover, developing your core muscles with elliptical exercises will make it easier for you to perform all types of abdominal exercises in the future.

The foundation of almost all lower and higher-intensity exercises is your core muscles. Therefore, having a strong core is crucial in achieving all your fitness pursuits.

Another fitness benefit of developing your core through elliptical training is that you get to reduce the risk of injuries while exercising.

Lastly, if you regularly experience back pain or wish to improve your body posture, your core muscles are also essential to these.


The group of individual muscles throughout your back benefits from this type of training, as well. That is if you’re working out on an elliptical machine with handles.

When you push the pedal down with your lower body, you then have to pull the elliptical handles. This movement requires you to use your back muscles.

Aside from that, your biceps are also crucial to perform this movement safely and successfully.

This is the context of muscles that are found in the upper front part of your arm.

Like the glutes, developing your back muscles through elliptical training can make you holistically stronger.

Moreover, it also improves your physique and makes your waist look smaller.

Exercises like pull-ups, bench-presses, deadlifts, rowing, and other strength training workouts involve the back muscles.

Essentially, this means a stronger back reduces the strain you feel from these tasks.

Your back also helps with maintaining a proper posture, ultimately reducing symptoms of back pain.

Chest and Front Delts

Opposite your back muscles are your chest muscles and front delts.

Their tasks are opposites, as well. While the back helps with pulling, the chest and front delts help with pushing.

So, almost everything that requires back muscle strength also needs developed chest and front delts.

Elliptical training can help improve these areas because after you pull the handlebars, you need to push them back.

This movement also targets the muscle group opposite the biceps, which is the triceps.

These muscles strengthen your shoulders, so any task that involves this body part becomes easier, as well.

What’s more, developing your triceps, chest, and front delts tones your upper body.

As you can imagine, this can significantly improve your physical appearance and make you look bigger and taller.

When it comes to daily life, lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects will also become more manageable.

Using An Elliptical Machine

Now, let’s go back to our original question, “What does the elliptical machine target?” Simply put, it targets just about every muscle in your body.

That’s why if you want to improve your overall physique and appearance, you can never go wrong with this piece of gym equipment.

You just need to know what types of exercises you can perform with it.

Moreover, understanding the muscles this machine develops will help you improve your workout routines.

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