You likely know that using an elliptical can benefit the weight loss process. Find out whether this machine can also help you burn belly fat.
The main thing to keep in mind is that it is generally not possible to target fat loss in very significant amounts. To burn belly fat, you have to lose enough weight overall.
Since burning more calories is one of the benefits of elliptical machines, you can also say that these machines could help you burn belly fat at a certain point.
That being said, many people will also have to pay attention to other lifestyle habits like nutrition to get to this point. Exercising more is no guarantee for burning body fat.
Something else to note is that while elliptical machines are relatively good in this area, there are also a few alternatives like running that can be even more helpful for burning belly fat.
Can the elliptical machine give you a flat stomach?
Many people get the impression that you have to do specific exercises like using an elliptical machine or eat specific foods to burn belly fat and get a flat stomach.
However, it is important to know that choosing where you lose fat is generally not possible in significant amounts. To burn belly fat you have to lose fat overall.
For this goal, you have to make it so your body needs more energy than is coming in from foods. When this happens, you start using energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.
An elliptical machine can help in this process by making it so you need more energy to fuel your movements that are more intense than usual.
In turn, you can say that using the elliptical machine can help you burn belly fat and give you a flat stomach.
However, this machine does not specifically help with these areas. You have to lose enough fat overall to get to the point where belly fat burn starts to happen significantly.
Another important thing to note is that lifestyle habits like your diet play a big role in the equation. It is possible to use the elliptical machine a lot and not see any fat loss results.
When can the elliptical machine help you burn belly fat?
With the information above in mind, you may then wonder when you can expect to see belly fat burn results from the elliptical machine.
The first thing to note is that your genetics play a big role in where your body tends to “prefer” to store fat.
That being said, there are some general tendencies you can expect after using the elliptical machine more and making other positive lifestyle changes.
More specifically, losing fat from around the stomach, hips, and thigh tends to be the hardest thing to do.
People who have a good amount of weight to lose tend to notice fat loss in their hands, face, and feet first. After that, areas like the arms, lower legs, and back.
At this point, the person will likely already see nice differences around the stomach, hips, and thighs too.
However, losing the last few “stubborn” pounds often requires a good plan. Especially in terms of nutrition but a good elliptical workout routine can help too.
Does the elliptical burn thigh fat in a similar way?
As mentioned above, it is generally not possible to target fat loss in very significant amounts.
That means burning thigh fat with the elliptical is based on the same principles as losing belly fat.
You have to lose enough fat overall with the elliptical or through other methods to get to a point where you start burning thigh fat.
How long it takes to lose belly fat on an elliptical
By now you know that the whole (belly) fat loss process includes a lot of ifs and buts. Even so, you can think up an imaginary situation to estimate how long it would take to lose belly fat on an elliptical.
Assume your lifestyle habits currently keep you at a weight loss plateau (no progress) and that the only change you make is using an elliptical more often.
A 155-pound (70 kg) person will burn around 3240 calories during 10 elliptical trainer moderate-effort sessions of 30 minutes.
Since a pound (0.45 kg) is about 3500 calories, this would mean burning the number of calories in 0.93 pounds (0.41 kg) of body fat.
After 30 of the elliptical machine sessions above, this person will have burned around 9720 calories which is about what 2.78 pounds (1.22 kg) of body fat contain.
Whether these calories come from belly fat, other fat, or other energy stores depends on a variety of details.
One important thing to note is that as you lose weight, you start to burn fewer calories with the same elliptical workouts.
After a certain amount of time, you may need to make your exercise routine more challenging or make changes in other areas to keep seeing fat loss results.
Relevant elliptical machine study
In one small study, 16 pre- and type 2 diabetes participants implemented a HIIT elliptical machine workout program that involved using the machine 3 times a week for 12 weeks.
They measured that the participants had significant reductions in waist and hip circumference and appendicular fat mass after the elliptical workout program (1).
Elliptical vs walking and running for burning belly fat
Whether or not the elliptical machine can help you burn belly fat is not the only thing that matters.
Because you only have a limited amount of time, how many calories the elliptical burns compared to other exercise options like walking, running, and other activities matters too.
Do keep in mind that the predictions below are rough estimations. The actual numbers can vary for you due to differences in body weight, body composition, hormone levels, intensity, etc.
A 155-pound (70 kg) person will burn more or less the following amounts of calories by doing the activities below for 30 minutes (2).
- Elliptical Trainer (moderate effort): 324 calories
- Walking 3.5 mph (5.6 kmh): 133 calories
- Water Aerobics: 149 calories
- Walking 4 mph (6.4 kmh): 175 calories
- Stair Step Machine (general): 223 calories
- Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Running 5.2 mph (8.4 kmh): 335 calories
- Swimming (crawl): 409 calories
- Bicycling 16-19 mph (25.8 to 30.6 kmh): 446 calories
- Running 10 mph (16.1 kmh): 614 calories
Personal preferences and injury risks aside, using an elliptical machine is typically more effective than walking for burning belly fat.
In turn, running tends to be more effective than the elliptical machine for burning belly fat.
No matter what elliptical machine alternative you choose, keep in mind that your habits in areas like nutrition play an important role.
How to see more results from using an elliptical machine
From all the estimations above it may seem like how many calories you burn with an elliptical machine is set in stone. However, this is not the case.
You can make a variety of changes in your elliptical routine to see more calorie burning and hopefully in turn, fat loss results.
The first way is doing your existing workouts at faster speeds. Moving more intensely tends to require more energy from your body.
Secondly, you can turn up the resistance of the elliptical machine. Similarly, moving heavier weights tends to burn more calories.
Thirdly, you can do longer elliptical machine workouts. There is a point where overtraining could cause the opposite but moving more intensely for longer tends to benefit fat loss results.
Lastly, making changes in other lifestyle areas like your diet tends to offer a lot of results compared to how many minutes you would have to spend on the elliptical machine to achieve the same.