The Best Elliptical Workouts to Burn Fat

What? Elliptical trainers are a waste of time when it comes to burning fat? Why are all the people at your gym lined up to ride these things for an hour if it doesn’t burn fat? That being said, what are the best elliptical workouts to burn fat?

The best elliptical workouts to burn fat - study says

Sure, an elliptical workout can help your heart, but did you know it is not the best way to burn fat?

Well, to be honest, using an elliptical trainer, or any other cardio machine, for an hour will burn fat and help you get lean. The problem? If you do that, you just wasted an hour – if burning fat in the most efficient way possible is your goal.

The (Fat) Burning Question…..

If you are trying to lose fat, shouldn’t doing it in the most efficient way possible be your goal? I would think so, unless you’re a masochist. The problem with elliptical trainers and just about every other cardio machine is that doing an hour of cardio does burn fat, but resistance training causes your body to burn more over the course of a day, and you’ll have to spend less time exercising to do it.

Where an Elliptical Trainer?

Ellipticals do have their place, and they do burn fat and according to some recent studies they make your body use calories more effectively than an exercise bike does. What is their place, if not to burn fat? As the name implies, cardio training is great for increasing your cardio vascular health, and improving your endurance. These are both worthy goals, to be sure. If you want to live longer you should grunt it out doing some sort of cardio training, but leave your fat loss training in the weight room. Think I’m completely nuts? Trust me, read on…..

The Best Elliptical Workouts to Burn Fat - do they save time?

Can using an elliptical trainer deliver results like this? Maybe, but are they the best way to achieve them, and how much of a midsection like this is borne of an excellent diet?

Here is what you should not be doing:

Spending an hour watching ESPN or TMG while you plod along on your favorite cardio machine, pausing every so often to stare at that cute girl/guy’s ass on the machine on the other side of the gym. Nothing wrong with the ass staring, but did you know you can get more cardio fitness benefit by training only about a tenth as long?

Several studies have indicated the effectiveness of high intensity interval training, compared to traditional steady state cardio workouts. This directly applies to elliptical trainer workouts.

A 2006 study by researcher MJ Gibala in the kinesiology department at Ontario’s McMaster University looked at just such a question. The study followed 16 physically active men, approximately 21 years old. They went through a series of either steady state cardio training or high intensity interval training sessions over a period of 2 weeks.

The study’s results are eye opening (all the better to stare with?).

The high intensity interval group did an average of 5 repeats of a 30 second on, 4 minute rest cycle at maximum activity level. That means their actual exercise time was only about 2-1/2 minutes! Their total time from the beginning of the first activity interval to the completion of the last was only 18-1/2 minutes.

The “I love spending all my time in the gym” group, on the other hand, did an average of 105 minutes per training session at 65% of their maximum exertion level, Sure that’s easier, but over an hour and a half?? Really!

Who do think got more out of their workouts?

If you guessed the 18 minute group, you’d be right on the money, sort of. What the researchers found was that, although the high intensity training group did an astounding 90% less work than the steady state group, and spent about 1/5 the time doing it, their muscular adaptive and cardio response was the about same, within the statistical limitations of the test.

The Best Elliptical Workouts to Burn Fat: Survey Says…

That means that for you to get the best elliptical trainer workout, use high intensity interval training. Either program it to alternate between your maximum intensity and about 10% intensity in the 30 second / 4 minute protocol, or just do the extreme intensity 30 second interval, then get off the machine and walk around for 4 minutes, and get back on for the next 30 second interval. Make sure you warm up for a few minutes before you begin the high intensity interval work.

That kind of high intensity, relatively short duration workout will get all you time pressed people the maximum cardio and muscle stimulation in the minimum amount of time. Hop to it! You can also check out my earlier post on the benefits of elliptical trainers.

UPDATE: A new university study reveals even more on effective fat burning workouts.