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What Muscles Does the Elliptical Work Going Backwards?

Elliptical machines have become a mainstay of the modern gym.  Providing a full body workout without any impact issues, the elliptical is popular among those who enjoy walking or jogging but can’t necessarily withstand pounding the pavement for long periods of time and may be recovering from injury.  The intensity of the elliptical workout can be customized to ensure that you don’t outgrow the machine.  It’s even been found that using the elliptical backwards can create a more challenging workout while exercising different muscle groups.  If this sounds interesting and you’re wondering what muscles does the elliptical work going backwards, read this article to learn more.

The Benefits of Varying Your Workout

No matter the type of exercise or workout that you do, over time your body will get used to it.  What was once a major challenge that originally burned a large number of calories will eventually become a much easier process that burns a fraction of the calories.  And although it’s easy to be impressed by our body’s ability to adapt, that doesn’t help us a whole lot when we’re attempting to continually challenge ourselves and burn the maximum number of calories.  This is where mixing things up and varying your workout becomes a necessity.  By simply using your elliptical machine backwards you can engage new muscle groups while vastly increasing the number of calories you burn during each workout.

What Muscles Does the Elliptical Work Going Backwards?

When you use the elliptical machine the regular way, you’re mostly engaging your glutes and your hamstrings.  When you use it backwards you end up using your quads and calves to a much greater extent.  Elliptical machines also create a need to maintain balance.  Because of this the core muscles become engaged – even more so when the hand grips aren’t used.  By employing proper form it’s possible to utilize more muscle groups on an elliptical that it is on many of the more popular exercise machines.

How Does Going Backwards Affect the Calories Burned?

As mentioned above, simply changing the direction of your motions on the elliptical can also cause you to burn a greater number of calories.  This has even been studied by examining the heart rates of walkers going forward or backwards.  Those who walked backwards increased their heart rate by around 50%.  Using the machine normally can burn an incredible amount of calories.  Although dependent on each individual person, it’s been found that a 30 minute elliptical workout can burn 270 to 400 calories.  If you’re not used to using it backwards, the number of calories burned jumps even higher.  If you’re looking to enhance your elliptical machine workout, try alternating between going forwards and backwards.

How Does the Elliptical Affect Stamina and Cardio?

Whether you’re going backwards or forwards, elliptical machines are great for aerobic cardiovascular workouts.  Your heart and breathing rates are quickly elevated in a response to provide your muscles with more blood and oxygen.  Regular use will improve your stamina as well as your cardiovascular function. Elliptical machines work great for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as well as more steady paced workouts. 

How Can the Elliptical Help the Injured?

Elliptical machines provide a low to no impact workout.  This makes it ideal for those who are recovering from injury, suffer from health conditions or have a reduced range of motion.  The machine mimics the motions of walking and jogging while virtually eliminating the impact on the joints and bones and vastly reducing risk of falling.  If you’re recovering from an injury or have mobility issues, but need to increase your exercise, speak to your doctor about using an elliptical machine.

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