How Many Calories Do You Burn On An Elliptical (With Calculator)

elliptical machines in the gym

The number of calories* you can burn using an elliptical machine depends on the intensity of the workout and how long you use the machine for. In order to give you a good comparative idea of how many calories you can burn on an elliptical, we are going to take a look at the figures based on half-an-hour workout sessions at different intensity levels.

*The unit of measure commonly called a “calorie” is actually a “kilocalorie” – however “calorie” is so commonly used, we will use the shorter term here.

Once you’ve learned how many calories you can burn on an elliptical, have a look at our reviews of the best elliptical or the best under-desk elliptical.

Elliptical Calorie Calculator

Enter your weight, exercise type & time taken into the calculator, for an estimate of how many extra calories an elliptical can help you burn:

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Before using any data obtained using this calculator, please consult with your doctor!

So, How Many Calories Do You Burn On Elliptical Trainers?

According to the Harvard Medical School (in 2004), a 155lb adult will burn 335 calories in 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer.

More recent research, published in Research Quarterly For Exercise And Sport in 2006, gave the following values:

 125lbs155lbs185lbs
Kilocalories (resistance level 2, 30 mins) 137170203
Kilocalories (resistance level 5, 30 mins)146181216
Kilocalories (resistance level 8, 30 mins)170211252

Our calculator is based on the values published in this more recent & more detailed research.

The 2006 research noted that the elliptical machines’ displayed calorie burn figures were all higher than the actual measured values of the test subjects.

Light-Intensity Exercise – Calories Burned

Let’s take a look at how many calories you can burn on an elliptical when you use the machine for half-hour at a low-intensity pace. In all honesty, low-intensity workout does not have a significant impact on an elliptical. It keeps your body relaxed, which does not make your metabolism work faster in 30 minutes.

That being said, using an elliptical can work well if you have a heart condition or an injury that limits your mobility. It improves your ability to stay active if you have a heart condition and at the same time, it doesn’t affect the severity of your condition.

It also improves your insulin sensitivity and the lipid levels in your blood. So while the calorie burn of a low-intensity workout on the elliptical might not be huge, you will still stand to gain some health benefits if you have certain types of heart conditions.

Medium-Intensity Exercise – Calories Burned

Let’s suppose you weigh 185 pounds and you exercise on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes at moderate intensity. Using the estimate given by our research-based calculator, you can estimate the energy you burn on an elliptical machine at around 216 kilocalories.

A medium-intensity workout will involve more activity than a light-intensity exercise on an elliptical at a steady pace for the 30 minutes you will be using the machine. It is not a strenuous activity, but it does help burn a significant number of calories because of the amount of time spent on the machine.

High-Intensity Exercise – Calories Burned

And now let’s take a look at high-intensity workouts on the machine. According to the calories burned calculator, you stand to burn as much as 252 calories in a 30-minute workout. At higher-intensity settings using the elliptical, best practice is not to go for a steady workout at this resistance level. Instead, you should opt for intervals of extra strenuous exercise for bursts of 30 to 60 seconds at a time with a few moments of rest in between.

This will help you to complete a proper 30-minute session on the elliptical without exhausting yourself.

How to Maximize Calories Burned

A lot of people assume that they burn the same amount of calories on an elliptical and a  treadmill. The unfortunate truth is that you are not using all of the muscles that you do on a treadmill to maintain balance on the elliptical since your feet are in constant contact with the machine.

In order to maximize the calories burned on the elliptical, there are a few minor tips you can follow:

  1. Work out all of your muscles and make sure your arm and leg muscles are all involved in the exercise.
  2. High-intensity interval workouts are the best for burning more calories than steady and light-intensity workouts in the same amount of time.
  3. Increase the incline so that more of your muscles are involved in the workout.
  4. Do make it a point to push yourself further, especially if you start getting too comfortable on the elliptical.

An elliptical is a great machine for working out and burning excess calories. Make sure you keep these tips in mind if you want to burn more calories and use the machine more effectively.

Further Reading

Except as noted, all figures used in this article & the calculator are derived from research published at the Compendium of Physical Activities.

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