Does Elliptical Work Abs? Your Workout Guide for Using the Iconic Machine

does elliptical work abs

The elliptical machine has become an iconic fixture in gyms around the world, known for its low-impact cardiovascular workout. While it is commonly used to target the lower body, many people wonder if the elliptical can also work the abdominal muscles. 

In this ultimate workout guide, we will look at how an elliptical machine works, the benefits of elliptical training, and how to utilize an elliptical machine to build your abs. We will also highlight some common mistakes to avoid when using the elliptical for ab workouts.

How Does an Elliptical Work?

An elliptical machine operates on a mechanism that combines the movements of walking, running, and stair climbing into one fluid motion. The pedals are connected to the flywheel, which is typically located at the front or rear of the machine. 

When you step onto the elliptical, your feet are positioned on the pedals, which move in an elliptical or oval-shaped path. As you begin to move your feet in a circular motion, the flywheel creates resistance against your movements, simulating the sensation of walking or running.

The elliptical machine allows you to adjust various settings to customize your workout experience. You can increase or reduce the intensity of your workout by adjusting the resistance, engaging different muscle groups. The incline feature, on the other hand, allows you to mimic the sensation of walking uphill.

Overall, the elliptical machine’s design ensures a smooth and low-impact workout experience. Unlike running on a treadmill or pavement, the elliptical’s gliding motion significantly reduces the impact on your joints, making it an excellent choice for individuals with joint issues or those seeking a low-impact cardiovascular workout.

The Benefits of Elliptical Training

While the elliptical predominantly works the lower body muscles like the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes, it also triggers activity in the body’s muscles like the abs. Here are some key benefits of incorporating elliptical training into your fitness routine:

  • Cardiovascular Health

The elliptical offers an effective cardiovascular workout, increasing your heart rate and improving cardiovascular endurance.

  • Low Impact

The elliptical’s smooth motion reduces the impact on your joints, making it a suitable option for individuals with joint problems or those recovering from injuries.

  • Total Body Workout

Although the focus is on the lower body, the elliptical also engages the upper body muscles, including the arms, shoulders, and back, giving you a full-body workout experience.

  • Calorie Burning

Elliptical training is a great way to burn calories, aiding in weight loss and weight management goals.

How to Use an Elliptical for Abs

When it comes to sculpting strong and defined abs, the elliptical machine may not be the first workout tool that comes to mind. However, with the right techniques and strategies, you can effectively utilize the elliptical to engage and strengthen your abdominal muscles. 

  • Maintain Proper Posture

Start by standing tall with your feet on the pedals and your core engaged. Avoid slouching or leaning on the handles as this reduces the activation of the abdominal muscles.

  • Engage Your Core

Throughout your elliptical workout, consciously engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button in towards your spine. This will help to activate and strengthen your abs.

  • Use High Resistance

Increase the resistance level on the elliptical to challenge your abs. The higher the resistance, the more effort your core muscles will need to exert to maintain stability and balance.

  • Incorporate Intervals

Intervals involve alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity segments during your workout. To engage your abs further, incorporate intervals where you increase the resistance and speed for short bursts, followed by recovery periods at a lower intensity.

  • Experiment with Reverse Motion

Most elliptical machines allow you to pedal in both forward and reverse directions. Pedaling in reverse engages your abs differently, providing variety to your workout routine and targeting different abdominal muscles.

As you can see, the points above explore how to maximize your elliptical workout for abs by focusing on proper posture, core engagement, resistance levels, intervals, and even experimenting with reverse motion. By following these guidelines, you can take full advantage of this iconic machine to target your abs and achieve a well-rounded fitness routine.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Using Elliptical

While using an elliptical machine can be a highly effective way to engage multiple muscle groups and improve cardiovascular fitness, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes that can hinder your progress and diminish the effectiveness of your workout. 

  • Leaning on the Handles

Leaning on the handles reduces the workload on your abs, limiting their engagement. Instead, focus on maintaining proper posture and letting your core muscles support your body.

  • Lacking Resistance

Keeping the resistance too low may make the workout feel easier, but it also reduces the activation of your abs. Gradually increase the resistance as your strength improves.

  • Relying on Momentum

Avoid using momentum to power through the elliptical motion. Instead, engage your muscles intentionally throughout the entire range of motion to get the most out of your workout.

Ensure that your movements are smooth, controlled, and purposeful. Avoid bouncing or jerking your body, as this can strain your lower back and take the focus away from your abs.

The points above explain to you some of the most prevalent mistakes to avoid when using the elliptical. By understanding and avoiding these pitfalls, you can optimize your elliptical training and achieve the desired results, whether it’s strengthening your abs, toning your lower body, or improving overall fitness.


While the elliptical machine primarily targets the lower body, incorporating specific techniques and strategies can help engage and strengthen your abs during your workout. By maintaining proper posture, engaging your core, increasing resistance, and incorporating intervals, you can effectively target and strengthen your abdominal muscles. 

Remember to avoid common mistakes such as leaning on the handles and relying on momentum. With consistency and proper form, you can make the most out of your elliptical training and enjoy the benefits of a stronger core and improved overall fitness.

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