There are many equipment options that offer challenging cardiovascular workouts. Find out how many calories the elliptical trainer burns.
While your actual results can be different, the average person will burn around 177 to 305 calories while using an elliptical machine for 20 minutes.
An important factor in what end of the range you will be on is your weight.
A 125-pound (56 kg) person will lean more toward burning 177 calories while using an elliptical for 20 minutes. On the other end, the 305 calories is an estimation for a 215-pound (97 kg) person.
On top of that, details like the resistance setting of your elliptical machine will influence things a lot.
This article will also go over more in-depth estimations for different body weights and time intervals, some secondary effects, and how to burn more calories on an elliptical.
Biggest factors in calories burned with the elliptical
While there are ways to get predictions about how many calories ellipticals burn, you need to keep in mind that these are far from perfect.
You can’t expect to take the estimations and get the exact same fat loss results.
At the same time, there is still a difference between good and bad estimations.
Something that can help you get closer to the actual number of calories burned with elliptical machines is taking certain big factors into account.
Knowing about these can also help you make your elliptical sessions burn more calories.
With that in mind, some of the things that influence how many calories you burn with elliptical machines a lot are:
- Weight: Throughout the day and your elliptical workouts, you use calories to move around and keep yourself alive. Heavier people tend to need more energy to do these things.
- Muscle mass: The human body is made from different types of tissues. An amount of body fat tends to cause less calorie burning while using an elliptical than the same weight in muscle mass.
- Elliptical machine resistance: Elliptical machines typically allow you to change how hard it is to rotate the pedals. The harder this is, the more calories one rotation burns.
- Workout intensity: You can use the elliptical trainer at many different speeds. Going faster tends to require more energy from your body.
Hidden calorie burning from the elliptical
Another detail that makes things more confusing is that ellipticals can also help you burn more calories after the workout.
If you work out intensely enough, you can get an effect called afterburn.
This is where you burn more calories than usual even when you stop your elliptical workouts for a certain amount of time.
Afterburn typically does not last longer than 72 hours and you should not expect the biggest differences from this.
However, it is still worth mentioning since the ways of estimating how many calories elliptical machines burn typically don’t include afterburn.
In simpler words, the estimations below can be helpful but you may burn slightly more calories with an elliptical than they imply. At least if you work out intensely enough.
Chart of elliptical calorie-burning estimations
To get more in-depth (but still rough) estimations about how many calories ellipticals burn you can use something called an MET value.
MET values are estimations (or measurements if there are studies available) about how physically intense certain sports and activities are.
You can then use these numbers in the formula below, insert your body weight, and then multiply by how many minutes you worked out to get rough calorie-burning estimations.
Formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
The MET for using an elliptical machine varies a lot from source to source.
If you calculate back the estimations from the Harvard calories burned sheet, you get an MET of about 9 for using an elliptical trainer at a moderate pace (1).
Again, these are rough estimations. The MET formula does not even take the resistance setting of your machine into account.
Lastly, you may find it easier to see what the numbers below mean in terms of food by knowing that 100 grams of boiled potatoes contain about 87 calories (2).
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||9 calories||133 calories||266 calories||399 calories||532 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||11 calories||165 calories||330 calories||494 calories||659 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||13 calories||197 calories||393 calories||590 calories||787 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||15 calories||229 calories||457 calories||686 calories||914 calories|
Ways to burn more calories with the elliptical
While the table above may imply differently, you can actually influence how many calories you burn with the elliptical machine a lot.
This is great since it means you can get more results in a shorter amount of time.
The first way to do this is by using the elliptical at higher speeds. Generally, the faster you go, the more calories you will burn.
You can even get the added afterburn effect mentioned above at certain speeds.
Secondly, you can turn up the resistance setting of your elliptical machine.
As long as you can still pedal at a reasonable pace, this can help you burn more calories.
Next, you can make it so you weigh more in healthy ways. This will make it so your body has to expend more energy to move around.
The most straightforward way to weigh more is by building some extra muscle mass with resistance training exercises outside of your elliptical machine workouts.
Additionally, you could consider wearing a weighted vest if the elliptical machine weight limit is high enough.
Lastly, you can use the elliptical for longer amounts of time and more frequently. As long as you avoid overtraining, this means burning more energy.
How long does it take to see results from the elliptical?
Burning more calories sounds and is nice but that is likely not only what you are here for. Instead, you likely want to lose weight with ellipticals and more specifically, lose fat.
How much you need to use this machine to lose weight depends a lot on your habits in areas like your diet.
However, you can create a thought experiment where a 155-pound (70 kg) person is at a weight loss plateau. Let’s say the only thing this person does differently is use the elliptical machine more often.
This person can burn an extra 1155 calories or about 0.33 pounds (0.14 kg) by using the elliptical for 15 minutes a day for a week.
After continuing the same elliptical workouts for a month (30 days), this person would have burned an extra 4950 calories or about 1.41 pounds (0.62 kg).
While this thought experiment is definitely not perfect, it does help you better understand what results you can expect from elliptical machines in this area.
Is the elliptical machine good for burning calories?
The elliptical machine is a great piece of cardio equipment for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
An additional benefit of elliptical machines is that they are low-impact. In simpler words, the shocks your body experience are relatively soft.
This can be helpful for people who are new to exercise and/or have some weight to lose.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that if you don’t have your own elliptical machine, the time it takes to go to your local gym can add up.
If you don’t like this, you could consider more at-home-friendly elliptical machine alternatives to burn calories instead.
Lastly, to make sure elliptical machines help you burn belly fat and fat from other areas with all this extra energy usage, your habits in other lifestyle areas may need changes too.