Calories Burned on Elliptical: Maximizing Your Workout Efficiency

Woman counting calories burned on elliptical

Elliptical trainers are a popular choice for low-impact cardiovascular workouts, offering an effective way to burn calories and improve overall fitness. This article will discuss how to calculate calories burned on an elliptical, provide tips on how to improve calorie burning and explore the benefits of incorporating elliptical workouts into your exercise routine. By understanding the factors that influence calorie expenditure and implementing strategies to maximize your workouts, you can get the most out of your time spent on the elliptical.

How to Calculate Calories Burned on an Elliptical

Calories burned on an elliptical can be estimated using several factors, including your weight, workout duration, and exercise intensity. While many elliptical machines have built-in calorie counters, they may not always be accurate. To get a more precise estimate, you can use the following formula or an online calculator:

MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) value: The MET value represents the energy cost of a specific activity. For elliptical workouts, the MET value typically ranges from 5 to 9, depending on the intensity. A moderate-intensity workout has a MET value of around 5, while a vigorous-intensity workout has a MET value of 9.

Weight: Your weight plays a significant role in determining the number of calories burned during a workout. Heavier individuals tend to burn more calories, as their bodies require more energy to perform the same activity.

Duration: The longer your workout, the more calories you’ll burn. To increase calorie expenditure, consider gradually increasing the duration of your elliptical workouts.

Using the MET value, weight, and duration, you can calculate the calories burned on an elliptical using this formula:

Calories burned = MET value × weight (in kg) × duration (in hours)

For example, if you weigh 70 kg and engage in a moderate-intensity elliptical workout (MET value = 5) for 30 minutes, the calories burned can be estimated as follows:

Calories burned = 5 × 70 × 0.5 = 175 calories

Keep in mind that this calculation is only an estimate, and individual factors such as age, gender, and fitness level can also influence calorie expenditure.

How to Improve Calorie Burning on an Elliptical

To maximize calorie burning on an elliptical, consider implementing these strategies:

Increase workout intensity: Boosting the intensity of your elliptical workouts can significantly increase calorie burn. This can be achieved by increasing resistance, incline, or speed. Consider incorporating interval training, alternating between high-intensity bursts and recovery periods, to maximize calorie expenditure.

Engage your upper body: Elliptical trainers with moving handlebars allow you to work both your upper and lower body simultaneously, leading to a higher calorie burn. Ensure you actively push and pull the handlebars, engaging your core and upper body muscles throughout the workout.

Maintain proper form: Good posture and correct technique can improve workout efficiency and help you burn more calories. Keep your back straight, head up, and shoulders relaxed. Distribute your weight evenly over both feet and avoid leaning on the handlebars.

Monitor your heart rate: Tracking your heart rate can help you maintain an appropriate intensity level for optimal calorie burning. Aim to exercise within 60-85% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) for the best results.

Increase workout frequency and duration: Engaging in regular, consistent elliptical workouts can help increase your overall calorie burn. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Benefits of Elliptical Workouts

Incorporating elliptical workouts into your exercise routine offers various benefits that can help you achieve your fitness goals. These include:

Low-impact exercise: Elliptical trainers provide a low-impact workout that is gentle on your joints, making them suitable for individuals with joint issues or those recovering from injuries. The elliptical motion mimics the natural movement of walking or running while minimizing the impact on your knees, hips, and ankles.

Total body workout: With moving handlebars, elliptical trainers engage both your upper and lower body muscles, providing a comprehensive workout that can help you burn more calories and improve overall fitness. By working multiple muscle groups simultaneously, you can increase workout efficiency and save time.

Customizable workouts: Elliptical machines often come with adjustable resistance and incline settings, allowing you to tailor your workouts to your fitness level and goals. This versatility enables you to challenge yourself as you progress and prevent workout boredom.

Improved cardiovascular fitness: Regular elliptical workouts can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health issues. By increasing your heart rate and working your muscles, you can strengthen your heart and improve circulation.

Weight loss and maintenance: Elliptical workouts can help you burn calories and lose weight, especially when combined with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise. By engaging in regular cardiovascular workouts, you can create a calorie deficit, leading to weight loss and improved overall health.

Additional Tips for Maximizing Elliptical Workouts

To get the most out of your elliptical workouts, consider these additional tips:

Warm-up and cool down: Always warm up for at least 5-10 minutes before your elliptical workout to prepare your muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Similarly, spend 5-10 minutes cooling down and stretching after your workout to help your body recover.

Vary your workouts: Mixing up your elliptical workouts can help prevent boredom and plateaus. Try incorporating different workout programs, resistance levels, and incline settings to challenge your body and keep your workouts engaging.

Track your progress: Monitoring your progress can help you stay motivated and focused on your fitness goals. Use a fitness tracker, app, or journal to log your workouts, including duration, intensity, and calories burned.

Cross-train: To avoid overuse injuries and maintain a balanced fitness routine, consider incorporating other forms of exercise, such as strength training, yoga, or swimming. Cross-training can help you develop a well-rounded fitness regimen and prevent boredom.

Common Elliptical Workout Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your elliptical workouts and avoiding potential setbacks, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes that can hinder your progress or lead to injuries. Keep these pitfalls in mind as you use the elliptical:

Ignoring proper form

Maintaining proper posture is crucial for an effective and safe elliptical workout. Avoid slouching, leaning on the handlebars, or locking your knees, as these habits can strain your muscles and joints. Instead, keep your core engaged, your back straight, and your gaze forward.

Neglecting resistance and incline adjustments

Sticking to the same resistance and incline settings for every workout can limit your progress and lead to plateaus. Challenge yourself by gradually increasing resistance and incline levels, which will help you burn more calories and strengthen your muscles.

Overusing the elliptical

While the elliptical is a low-impact exercise, it’s essential to avoid overuse and allow your body time to recover. Balance your elliptical workouts with other forms of exercise, such as strength training, swimming, or yoga, to prevent injuries and promote overall fitness.

Skipping warm-ups and cool-downs

Warming up before your elliptical workout helps prepare your body for exercise, reducing the risk of injury. Similarly, cooling down and stretching afterward aids in muscle recovery and helps maintain flexibility. Don’t skip these essential components of your workout routine.

Focusing solely on speed

While increasing your speed on the elliptical can boost calorie burn, it’s important not to sacrifice form or resistance levels for the sake of going faster. Instead, focus on maintaining a steady pace while challenging yourself with higher resistance and incline settings.

Not setting goals

Establishing specific, measurable goals for your elliptical workouts can help keep you motivated and focused on your fitness journey. Set both short-term and long-term goals, and track your progress to stay accountable and celebrate your achievements.

By avoiding these common mistakes and implementing the strategies discussed in this article, you can maximize the effectiveness of your elliptical workouts and achieve your fitness goals. Remember to prioritize proper form, vary your workouts, and listen to your body to ensure a safe and rewarding exercise experience.


Elliptical workouts are an effective way to burn calories, improve cardiovascular fitness, and achieve your weight loss goals. By understanding how to calculate calories burned on an elliptical and implementing strategies to maximize your workouts, you can get the most out of your time spent on this versatile fitness machine. 

Remember to maintain proper form, engage your upper body, and vary your workouts to keep them challenging and enjoyable. With consistency and commitment, elliptical workouts can be an integral part of a successful fitness routine.

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