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What Is Elliptical Resistance?

Women on elliptical machines.
Increased elliptical resistance may promote weight loss.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2014
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Elliptical resistance is a measure of the level of difficulty when exercising on an elliptical machine. An elliptical machine is a popular piece of fitness equipment for home or gym use; it features two pedals attached to a flywheel, along with handles to hold on to. The user stands on the pedals and moves them in a movement that falls somewhere between jogging on a treadmill and riding on a stationary bicycle. An elliptical machine is used for aerobic workouts.

When elliptical resistance is increased, the tension on the flywheel increases, making it more difficult to push the pedals. This leads to a more challenging workout; it also helps to build the muscles in the legs. Some elliptical machines use increased friction on the flywheel to increase the elliptical resistance on the machine, while others use magnetic forces. In general, ellipticals that use magnets are quieter and last longer than those that use friction. They also tend to be more expensive, however.

Most ellipticals only offer the option to increase the elliptical resistance by making it more difficult to press the pedals. Some also offer the option to increase the incline as well. These models are more commonly found in gyms, and are generally quite expensive to purchase for home use.

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Typically, people increase elliptical resistance in order to promote weight loss and increase strength. It allows the user to make an exercise more challenging without having to switch to a different piece of fitness equipment. This is particularly helpful when purchasing expensive fitness equipment for the home. In addition, it is possible to exercise on the elliptical regardless of the weather, and it is safer to exercise indoors.

In general, the best way to work elliptical resistance to one's advantage is to begin slowly to warm up, either with the elliptical set at a low resistance or with a brisk walk on a treadmill. Next, increase the elliptical resistance for the duration of the workout period, generally 20 to 30 minutes.

Some machines allow the resistance to be varied during the workout, either by selecting pre-set programs ahead of time, or by manually changing the resistance while exercising. To cool down, set the resistance to a low level again for a few minutes. Make note of the chosen resistance levels for each workout; then, as these levels become easier, increase the resistance level until it begins to be challenging again.

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