An elliptical is a piece of exercise equipment that combines many of the best qualities of a stationary bike, treadmill and stair stepper into a single piece of equipment that simulates running. The movement is smoother, however, as your feet move in a circular motion rather than strictly up and down. This sort of gliding motion is very natural for your body and helps to provide a full-body workout.
Ellipticals offer a more thorough and intense workout than many other types of fitness equipment. Depending on what a user wants to get out of their workout, an effective workout might consist of toning select areas of their body or burning a certain amount of calories. For example, a person weighing 150 pounds can lose up to 400 calories in just 30 minutes of exercise on an elliptical depending on the speed and intensity of the workout. This makes it a much more efficient use of your time and effort than other types of fitness equipment which focus on just one area of the body at a time.
Many ellipticals do have one major flaw: They force you to lean forward somewhat, which causes you to push off from the toes rather than the heel. This works your quadriceps, but does less for other muscles in your legs. A better-designed elliptical, like the Precor EFX, allows the user to maintain perfect posture and drive the motion from the heel forward, creating a workout for the gluteus, hamstrings and quads.
In addition to its full-body aerobic capabilities, ellipticals provide many other benefits:
Of course, not all elliptical machines are equal, and it pays to shop for the perfect match when buying one for a home gym.