8 Helpful Recumbent Elliptical Benefits

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There are many fitness devices to choose from. Find out the benefits of recumbent ellipticals to get an idea about whether they are for you.

These upsides range from things that are relatively unique to seated ellipticals, also known as recumbent cross trainers, to more general exercise benefits that deserve a mention because they are so important.

1. Requires a lot less balance and endurance

One of the main reasons why people consider recumbent ellipticals is that they require a lot less balance and endurance than regular ellipticals and workouts in general.

Some people struggle with balance but still want to stay active. In a situation like this, there are other equipment options like recumbent bikes too but recumbent ellipticals are another option worth considering.

Besides that, some people (currently) have limited endurance in areas like their core muscles. In that case, standing on a regular elliptical for extended periods of time may not be an option.

However, by being able to train in a recumbent position, this becomes less of an issue.

One thing you do want to keep in mind is that using muscles to a lesser extent also trains them less. It does not have to be during your elliptical sessions but it could be smart to engage your core muscles with other exercises.

2. Works lower and upper body muscles

Using a recumbent elliptical is definitely more of a cardiovascular workout for most people but you still engage a variety of muscles in both your lower and upper body.

Most people will not see too much, if any, muscle growth but engaging your muscles with a recumbent elliptical still offers benefits.

Some of these include slowing down degradation, making the muscles healthier, and improving muscle endurance.

The muscles you work with recumbent ellipticals include:

  • Quadriceps (front thighs)
  • Hamstrings (back thighs)
  • Calves
  • Glutes (butt)
  • Pectoralis major (chest)
  • Triceps (back upper arms)
  • Deltoids (shoulders)
  • Biceps
  • Latissimus dorsi (upper back)

Compared to the muscles worked with regular ellipticals, the recumbent models will generally work your glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles less.

People who really like the idea of working their muscles during their recumbent elliptical workouts can turn up the resistance setting.

One thing to note is that if you can do more than 20 repetitions/pushes/pulls/steps, you are likely not building (that much) muscle. If this is your goal, you want to turn to resistance training exercises.

Lastly, an added benefit of engaging so many muscles is that the recumbent elliptical could be a decent equipment choice to get in a full body warm-up before other exercises.

3. Can be more comfortable

Some people find regular ellipticals and alternatives uncomfortable on body parts like their lower back, knees, and ankles.

If this applies to you, adjusting the seat to your body proportions and then sitting on it will likely make your elliptical workouts more comfortable.

Again, something to keep in mind is that challenging the body parts mentioned above to safe extents can lead to strengthening or at least slowing down degradation.

If you choose a recumbent elliptical, you may need to implement other exercises to compensate.

4. Can help with weight loss

Excess body fat can cause a variety of negative effects on your health. While there are individuals who can overdo it, many people would benefit from losing a bit of weight in the form of body fat.

A popular way to make this happen is doing workouts like using recumbent elliptical machines. By moving more intensely than usual, your body uses up more energy measured in calories.

Exactly how many calories you will burn with a recumbent elliptical is hard to estimate since it varies because of things like different body weights, hormone levels, body compositions, exact intensity, etc.

That being said, a rough estimation is that a 155-pound individual burns around 165 calories while using a regular elliptical machine at a moderate effort for 15 minutes.

If you take the same ratio of calories burned from sitting vs standing, you can estimate that the same individual will burn around 119 calories while using a recumbent elliptical for 15 minutes.

So while standing models will be more effective for this goal, it is clear that recumbent ellipticals can benefit weight loss.

You do want to keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like nutrition still play an important role. It is possible to train a lot and still gain weight if your other habits are suboptimal.

5. You could use it with arms or legs only

The next benefit of recumbent ellipticals is that you can use them with only your arms or only your legs.

If you have an injury in one of your legs or one of your arms, these machines allow you to still train your cardiovascular system.

You may also just want to keep things interesting by switching up what parts of your body you work out.

6. Low-impact workout

Certain types of exercise and sports like running, volleyball, and tennis involve small jumps that can be challenging on your body.

If your body is able to deal with these and you do them to a safe extent, this can lead to more strengthening.

However, people who are not used to exercise and/or are getting a little older and/or have a few extra pounds to lose may need to start with low-impact exercises like using a recumbent elliptical.

Low-impact exercises are simply movements where you don’t have these jumps and shocks. These types of workouts can help you get fitter and strengthen your body without as much pressure.

As you get stronger with low-impact exercises over time, you can consider adding these other types of movements.

7. Easy to use

It can feel like you need a university degree to learn how to do activities like certain kettlebell exercises, dancing, or surfing.

While learning can be part of the fun and benefits, it also increases how long it takes to get the full health benefits of an activity.

Luckily, recumbent ellipticals are relatively easy to use. Your legs and arms get guided through a certain trajectory. All you need to do is put the seat in a setting that feels comfortable to you.

8. Improves cardiovascular health

Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes the heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.

During activities like using a recumbent elliptical, you move your body more intensely. In turn, there needs to be more transport of the substances mentioned above.

This requires your heart and lungs to work harder. By doing this to safe extents, you can actually strengthen these body parts or at least slow down degradation.

A stronger heart and stronger lungs lead to a variety of other benefits which include reducing the risk of certain conditions (1, 2, 3).

One thing to keep in mind is that muscles like your heart can also get injured by overdoing it. Especially if you have been relatively inactive, you want to start with light recumbent elliptical sessions.

If everything goes well, you can build up from there to get fitter.

Additionally, relatively fit individuals may find recumbent ellipticals not that good of a workout. These people likely want to turn to regular ellipticals and other exercises to improve their cardiovascular health more.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.