Ellipticals are popular at home and in the gym because they offer a low-impact, total body workout that can be tailored to any fitness level. The elliptical machine is also a good fitness friend when extreme weather strikes. Too hot, wet or cold to go out? You can still get a workout in. Get on the elliptical and pedal your way to fitness. Here’s how…

 Get in some cardio

On the most basic level the elliptical machine is a good way to get in an aerobic workout.  Let the machine help you design a workout that is just right. Begin by following the prompts. These are usually questions about your weight and the like. The computer will design a workout that helps you reach a target heart rate. Be sure to pedal through the cool down phase of the program. Cooling down is important because it reduces the likelihood of dizziness that can happen when you stop suddenly after a strenuous workout.

 Target specific body parts

elliptical walker trainer man and woman at black gymThe elliptical isn’t just for burning calories and fat. You can also target particular zones of the body for strengthening and toning. For example to focus on your core, raise the incline level to at least 6 and pedal without using the handlebars. The work of balancing on an incline will engage and tone your core muscles.

 Total body toning

Take full advantage of the elliptical by mixing up your moves. Sure, getting on and pedaling is better than cruising the couch but variety is the spice of a vibrant fitness life.  During your workout be sure to mix in some periods of pedaling backward, pushing as well as pulling the handlebars and pedaling with no hands. The variety will keep you focused on what you are doing as well as help you trim trouble spots.

 Torch serious calories

One of the best ways to ramp up a workout is with intervals. The elliptical is perfect for these high intensity periods of exertion.  Get the most out of 30 minutes with these moves – start by warming up for 5 minutes. Increase strides per minute (SPM) by 15 to 20 percent for one to 5 minutes depending on your fitness level. Continue this alternating pattern for 30 minutes, ending with a cool down period. You can also let the computer set up an interval workout for you. Do this regularly because interval training builds aerobic capacity and helps you burn calories fast.  These kinds of workouts are particularly important if you are short on time. They allow you to do more by working harder within a shortened time frame.

 The elliptical is a great tool in any trove of fitness tricks. Add a few workouts to your exercise repertoire to build overall physical health and have fun while you get fit.

  Arm Flab – We all have it and hate it

Chubby Biceps Woman The dreaded bat wings. We all know them, that extra skin that hangs loosely and swings from the back of your forearms. Arm flab is easy to hide in winter but who wants to wear a sweater in warmer weather? Tone up instead. Try these exercises so you can wear t-shirts and tank tops with confidence.

 Get rid of arm jiggle with planks

Place a mat or towel on the floor. Fully extend your body, stomach down on the mat. Raise your upper body onto your elbows and your lower body onto your toes. Keeping your neck and spine straight, hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Next, move into push-up position. Supporting your upper body with your hands, perform 10 to 15 push-ups before returning to plank position. Repeat these intervals without a break as many times as you can within a 5 minute period. Increase the time as you build upper body strength.

 Burn calories and fat

The best way to tone your arms is to get in some cardio that helps you burn calories and fat.  Be sure to engage in some form of aerobic activity 3 to 4 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. Intervals can be really helpful for increasing the effectiveness of your workout if you are short on time. Intersperse periods of high intensity exertion with your regular workout for better results. For example if you are mostly walking include short periods of running to ramp up your calorie and fat burning. As you walk you’re your arms at the elbow and swing them back and forth as you stride along. If you see a park bench along the way stop and do a few arm raises.  Stand with the seat part of the bench behind you. Place flat hands on the bench and use your arms to raise and lower your bottom in front of the bench. Complete 15 to 20 reps.

 Try strength training

Strength training is a powerful combatant against age related muscle loss. Don’t be afraid to pick up some weights or learn how to use the weight machines. Not only will you help your body burn calories more efficiently (muscle burns calories better than fat) you can get rid of arm flab, too. If you are new to strength training try a 3 to 5 pound weight to start. Tone your triceps with:

V Raises – stand with feet hip width apart and arms at your sides. Slowly extend arms straight in front of you so that your chest forms the bottom and your arms the sides of the letter V.

  • Shoulder Press – stand with feet hip width apart and rest your hands on your shoulder. Extend both arms toward the ceiling and immediately return arms to the beginning position. Complete 15 to 20 reps to start.
  • Tricep Press – stand with feet hip width apart. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward from your waist keeping hands at your sides. Bend each elbow to bring the dumbbells to your sides and finally extend your arms fully behind you. Complete for 15 to 20 reps to start.

 Don’t let batwings cramp your summer or spring style. Banish them instead. Just 6 weeks of tricep toning can make the difference between feeling sexy in that strappy sundress and hiding behind sleeves. Why not get a friend to join you and get started bringing sexy back?