elliptical machineElliptical machines are a great low-impact alternative to running on a treadmill or using a step machine. Not only can they save you from knee and joint pain, but there are also very effective for cardiovascular health and weight loss.

Ellipticals provide a full-body workout without the injury risk of other machines, but many people do not know how to set a program for themselves at the beginning that will reap the most health benefits. Because of the low-impact workout you get on an elliptical, there many different routines you can set up for yourself in order to get the most from your workouts. Here are a few routine tips that you should consider once you find the  best home elliptical for you.

Start Slow

If you are overweight or haven’t exercised in a while, then you should start slowly and work yourself up to a more aggressive routine. If you go too fast too quickly, you run the risk of tiring yourself out before the benefits start to kick in. You may even ruin the experience for yourself because it is too stressful and quit working out altogether.

Rather, set aside a small amount of time each day — say, 15 minutes — and stick with that for an entire week. You can adjust the settings on your elliptical machine however you want, as long as you constantly workout for 15 minutes each day for one week. Next, add five or 10 more minutes to your routine the following week. And so on and so on until you find a routine time that fits in with your schedule four or five days a week.

If you want, you can even take weekends off for the first couple of weeks. The main thing to focus on is that you need to use the elliptical consistently, so you don’t want to burn yourself out.

Find the Time

Once you are comfortable using the elliptical, then you should find a time to use it. The entire point of starting slow is to get you used to moving, and now you need to stick with it. But between work, family and a social life, sometimes finding the time to do it is hard.

Only you can find them time, so figure out when you are available on which days and push yourself to exercise throughout the week. The best thing about an elliptical is that you don’t have to have an hour set aside each day: even 20 or 30 minutes can help you get healthier.

Some people find the time before work. Others like to workout once they get home. The time of day isn’t important. What’s important is that you make sure to exercise regularly each week.

Break Up Your Routine

Here’s another secret: you don’t necessarily have to do the entire workout all at once. If you simply can’t string together a 30 or 40 minute workout consistently, why not break it up into two 20 minute sessions per day? Or four 10 minute sessions?

When you are trying to lose weight, or just stay in shape, it’s not really important how long each session is, but the total amount of time you spend exercising. When you exercise — no matter how long — you burn calories and exert your muscles: the two things necessary for weight control. This means that you don’t have to do everything all at once.

Admittedly, you don’t want to make the mini sessions too short (always workout for at least 10 minutes to get your heart rate up), but there is nothing wrong with several 10 minutes sessions each day for four or five days a week. You will still be happy with the results.

Switch Up Your Routine

After a month or so of using your elliptical machine, you will want to change a few things about your routine. Routine stagnation is one of the worst things you can do to stay healthy: not only will you eventually grow bored and run the risk of quitting altogether, but your body soon stops responding to the workout because it has become comfortable with it.

Instead, find ways to switch up your routine and keep it interesting. Challenge yourself to exercise for a significantly longer period once or twice a week. Increase the difficulty settings. Exercise at a different time. Whatever it takes to keep you motivated.

Elliptical machines are a great way to stay healthy, so learn to love it and reap the benefits.

Dominic Hancock is a personal trainer. He has always been madly into sports, and that soon turned to include fitness and bodybuilding in his late teens. Dom writes about working out at home, at the gym and how to stay motivated.

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