If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, an elliptical cross trainer workout is a great workout for you to start with. Cross trainers provide a low-impact workout that is great for beginners.

In this guide, we will give you a basic overview of how to use an elliptical cross trainer, as well as some beginner workouts to help get you started!

Cross Trainer Workout Featured Image

How to Use an Elliptical Cross Trainer

First, let’s take a look at how to use an elliptical cross trainer. The first thing you will need to do is adjust the settings on the machine to fit your height, if possible. Once you have done this, you will need to hold onto the handrails and step onto the pedals.

Start off by pedaling slowly to get a feel for the machine. Once you have done this, you can start to increase your speed. To make your workout more challenging, you can increase the resistance on the machine. That being said, we would recommend not increasing the resistance of the workout until you can comfortably do a 20-30 minute workout on the lowest resistance setting to build familiarity and get your body used to the movement.

Some more modern elliptical machines will even have an incline setting where you can train as if you are trying to climb uphill. This is more advanced though and will give you a far tougher workout so don’t worry about it too much if your fitness levels aren’t quite there yet.

To see how many calories you can burn on an elliptical machine, take a look at our extensive elliptical machine article.

Elliptical Cross Trainer Beginner Workouts

Now that you know how to use an elliptical cross trainer, let’s take a look at some beginner workouts that you can do.

The below table has three columns: Duration, intensity/pace, and Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). The first two columns are self-explanatory but you may not have heard of rate of perceived exertion before.

RPE is a rough measurement of the amount of work you are putting into an exercise. For example, an RPE of 10 would be maximum effort and an RPE of 1 would be very low effort, like casually walking.

DurationIntensity/PaceRPE
5 minsWarm-up at a comfortable pace. This is to just warm up the muscles. Keep the resistance low.2
3 minsIncrease the resistance up a few notches. You should feel you're working, but you still should be able to have a conversation. This is your baseline pace.4
2 minsIncrease your resistance once again until you're working a bit harder than baseline.6
3 minsDecrease the resistance back to baseline.4
2 minsIncrease your resistance once again until you're working slightly harder than baseline.6
5 minsDecrease the resistance or ramp back to a comfortable level to cool down.2

This workout is 20 minutes.

To start seeing significant results, we recommend that you do this workout three times a week. As you become more comfortable with the machine and your fitness level increases, you can start to increase the length of your workouts.

Intermediate Elliptical Cross Trainer Workout

Once you’ve been using a cross-trainer/elliptical machine for a while, you may want to progress into a more challenging workout. Below is a more challenging 30 minute cross trainer workout.

DurationIntensity/PaceRPE
5 minsWarm-up at a comfortable pace. This is to just warm up the muscles. Keep the resistance low.2
4 minsIncrease the resistance up a few notches. You should feel you're working, but you still should be able to have a conversation. This is your baseline pace.5
3 minsIncrease your resistance once again until you're working a bit harder than baseline.7
4 minsDecrease the resistance back to baseline.5
3 minsAgain, increase your resistance until you're working slightly harder than baseline.7
4 minsDecrease the resistance back to baseline.5
3 minsIncrease your resistance once again until you're working slightly harder than baseline.7
4 minsDecrease the resistance or ramp back to a comfortable level to cool down.2

This workout is 30 minutes.

If you’re looking for a more intense cross trainer workout, take a look at our elliptical HIIT workouts.

How Long is a Good Workout on a Cross Trainer?

A good general rule of thumb is to start with a 20-30 minute workout on your elliptical machine and then gradually increase the time as you get more comfortable with the machine. When you are first starting out, it is important to listen to your body and not overdo it.

Reminder: Remember to warm up before your workout and cool down afterward. This will help to prevent any injuries and help to steadily increase and decrease your heart rate.

To hit the American Heart Association‘s recommended weekly cardio activity of 150 minutes, you’d have to do 5 30-minute cross trainer workouts a week. This may sound like a lot, but if you build it into your routine and even mix up your cardio with a variety of activities, this is easily achievable.

Also, don’t feel guilty for having a rest day. Rest days are completely normal even for experienced athletes and give your body a chance to recover.

Elliptical Cross Trainer Workout Example Video

Below is a great video demonstrating a 20 minute elliptical cross trainer workout:

Conclusion

We hope that this guide has helped you to understand how to use an elliptical cross trainer and given you some ideas for beginner workouts. Remember, start off slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as your fitness level increases. Have fun and enjoy your workout!

As always, consult with a doctor before starting any new workout routine if you have any concerns. Happy elliptical-ing!