A lot of my clients come to me for fitness advice to lose some pounds that they are struggling to get rid of because some sort of leg injury is preventing them from doing a lot of exercises at the gym.
One of my favorite machines for anyone with knee or hip injuries is the elliptical because it takes practically all impact away from the joints.
By getting an elliptical HIIT workout routine into your regular training, you can burn through tons of calories without risking further injury or pain. And to make sure that you get off to the best possible start, I’ve put this guide together with some simple tips and tricks.
What Is HIIT?
High-Intensity Interval Training isn’t a new concept, but it was not recommended that much in the fitness world. The traditional thinking was to workout at a slower pace and increase your time at the gym.
More hours was thought to be more beneficial, but HIIT has proven to be an excellent alternative.
Basically, it’s usually a set of different exercises that you do at maximum intensity for 40 seconds. You then take a very short 10-second break to catch your breath, before you move onto the next exercise.
As you will find out shortly, the elliptical HIIT routine is slightly different with alternating 1-minute segments. This forces your metabolism into targeting as much energy release as possible, which will include fat storage.
As a result, you can achieve more by spending less time exercising; and there are a few other benefits you’ll get with it.
What Are The Benefits?
1. Protect Your Knees
Running will always put a lot of strain on your knee and ankle joints. Even on high-end treadmills, you won’t avoid this impact strain. But ellipticals take all the impact out of exercising.
2. Get Into Higher Heart Rate Zones
With maximum intensity, you’ll break into a massive sweat, and your heart will be racing. This triggers higher levels of metabolic rates and fat burning.
3. Work Your Core
Because your arms and legs are moving in unison, you’ll quickly notice that your abs are engaged as well. This is something that always surprises people, as the exercise does look like it’s just targeting your legs.
4. It’s Much Safer Than Sprinting
Running at maximum speed on a treadmill takes a bit of skill, and you’re really not in full control of your speed. On an elliptical machine, you won’t have to worry about increasing your speed as your movements control the speed.
Elliptical HIIT Workout: Breakdown
1. Warm Up Routine
For the first 5 minutes, you want to make sure you warm up your muscles and get your heart rate gradually up. The worst thing you can do is go directly into high intensity as it will put a lot of strain on your muscles, and you won’t be able to perform at optimum levels.
Assuming your machine has intensity levels of 0 to 10, gradually increase from 0 to 3 for the warm-up.
2. Alternate Intensity
Once you’re all warmed up, it’s time to get serious. You will be working at high intensity for one minute, followed by one minute of lower intensity. The chart below shows exactly what the intensity should be.
For the first 10 minute period, you’ll be pedaling forward, and then you’ll repeat the same intensity levels by pedaling backward. This has quite an impact on how you engage your core and glutes (more on this below).
3. Focus On Intensity
Make sure that you are pushing hard during the high resistance levels and take the time to recover while working at a lower resistance. This is not the time to stop, or even worse, sit down for a minute. You have to keep moving in the low resistance phase to avoid your muscles becoming stiff.
One thing you can do is try and maintain the same speed, but just change the level setting on the machine. This will have a big impact on your intensity.
4. Engage Your Core And Glutes
Focus on engaging your glutes during the high resistance phases. Slightly pushing your heels downwards will help activate them a lot more. You should notice the burn in your legs and backside about 40 seconds into the high-intensity phase.
Also, focus on your core muscles and keep them engaged at the same time. This will help to reduce some of the belly fat you might want to get rid of.
5. Adjust Intensity When You Do This First
If the high-intensity resistance level is too demanding, simply drop it down a notch so that you are able to complete the workout while still being challenged. As the saying goes: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
It could take you a couple of weeks to get up to full power, but if you keep notes after each session on how you performed, then you’ll see the gradual improvement which is very motivating.
6. Never Skip The Cool Down
Once you’re done with the interval training, take the last 3 minutes to cool-down, bringing the speed and intensity back down. This is very important to avoid muscles suddenly stiffening. As a result, you won’t feel as much muscle soreness in the hours after exercising.
Also, add a little bit of leg stretching when you’re done. It will work wonders for your recovery time.
Over the years, I have seen some amazing results with my clients that had been struggling for years because of various sports and accident-related injuries. While it’s vital that you don’t cause further damage, doing no exercise is not the solution either.
But even if you just want an alternative to the usual gym routines, and want to get the most out of every minute you have available, the elliptical HIIT is the way to go.
You can either write down or print out the above chart to help keep you on target and don’t forget to set a timer on your phone to buzz every minute.