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How To Do HIIT On An Elliptical Cross Trainer? Our Guide

Published by Kieran
Last Updated on November 3, 2021

Our Best Guide To Doing HIIT On a Cross Trainer

If you are into your fitness and you are bored with your usual cross-training workouts, you might be looking for some ways to increase your endurance and make your workouts more fun, which could be HIIT.

HIIT can be done on an elliptical cross trainer like any other exercise machine, it is simply done by having high-intensity periods where you work harder during your workout on the machine, followed by normal intensity or rest periods straight after, allowing you to achieve an intense session in a short amount of time.

So as you can understand exactly what HIIT is, the benefits of it and how to do it on a cross-trainer, we have listed out some tips and tricks below, along with some informative information and example workouts to try on your trainer.

What Is HIIT Training?

First of all, HIIT training is short for high-intensity interval training, in other words, it's a mix of high-intensity training periods and short rest intervals to make up a complete workout.

For example, this could mean working out on your cross-trainer at 90% of your maximum effort for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds where you rest or workout at your normal intensity, these intervals are often repeated and the session should not go on for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

What Are The Benefits Of Doing HIIT On a Cross Trainer?

HIIT training has a huge amount of benefits for your health and fitness, which is why it is popular for people who want to lose weight or test their endurance.

If your not sure whether or not HIIT is right for you, we have put together several benefits below which might be worth considering if your going to give it a try.

  • It burns a lot of calories in a very short period - Rather than working out at an average pace/resistance for an hour on your cross trainer, you could burn the same amount of calories in half that time by doing HIIT on your machine.
  • You workout your full body - One of the best advantages to doing HIIT on an elliptical is that it works your arms too as well as your lower body.
  • Muscle gain is possible - HIIT can support some muscle growth in individuals, combined with using an elliptical, you could seem some gains in your lower legs after consistent exercise.
  • Low impact - Performing HIIT on a cross-trainer is a great option for people who suffer from bad joints as cross-training is very low impact than compared to doing HIIT on a treadmill for example.
  • You continue burning fat after - As HIIT workouts are very intense and surprising for the body, your body will continue to burn fat stores for a couple of hours after your workout, helping you bump up your metabolism.
  • It's good for your heart - Doing HIIT will push your heart into its anaerobic zone, this will improve your hearts overall health and help with oxygen.
  • Helps with endurance & boredom - HIIT workouts on an elliptical are by no means easy, making them a great option to incorporate into your exercise routines 2 or 3 times a week, they can also help you challenge yourself and get fitter, eventually you could shorten the recovery periods and extend the intense intervals, or repeat them more times.

Who Should Not Do HIIT Training?

Despite HIIT training on an elliptical being beneficial for most people, many people should think twice before doing it on their trainer.

For example, people who are pregnant or have a heart condition should not be doing HIIT, you should also avoid doing HIIT too often, as it doesn't give your body a chance to recover after each intense session.

How To do HIIT On An Elliptical

To do HIIT on an elliptical you should warm up first and make sure you understand how to use one correctly, HIIT is simply intervals of working extra hard then smaller intervals of working normally on your trainer.

So as we can show you how to do it right, we have put together an example HIIT workout for you to give a go on your cross trainer below. Always make sure you have the cross-trainer set to the resistance you need depending on your fitness level as people will worker harder at different levels.

  • Start with a five minute warm-up at a light resistance on your trainer.
  • Go for a regular amount of resistance and use the cross trainer at the highest speed you can for 60 seconds.
  • Recover for 2 minutes after at your warm-up pace.
  • Repeat 3-4 times depending on what you feel you can do.
  • Cool down for 5 minutes at a slow pace when done.

Extra HIIT Workouts To Try On Your Cross Trainer

Now you know how to do basic HIIT training on your elliptical, you might be eager to push yourself with some more HIIT inspired workouts.

We have listed out another two below, one for beginners and one for advanced.

Beginner HIIT Elliptical Workout

  • 5-minute warm-up.
  • 30 seconds high intensity followed by 2-minute rest.
  • Repeat.
  • 30-second high intensity followed by 1.30-minute rest.
  • 30-second high intensity, 1-minute rest.
  • 30-second high intensity, 1.30 rest.
  • 30-second high intensity, 2-minute rest.
  • Repeat.
  • 30-second high intensity.
  • 5 minute cool down.

Advanced HIIT Elliptical workout

  • Three minutes warm-up at easy resistance and incline.
  • 20-second high intensity, 60-second rest.
  • Repeat ten times.
  • Three minutes cool down.

Tips For Doing HIIT On Your Cross Trainer

Trying out a HIIT workout on your cross trainer is pretty simple once you know what you are doing, but you should ensure you are getting the most out of your HIIT sessions by following the tips below.

  • Keep your form - When doing HIIT on all types of exercise machines, including cross trainers, it can be easy to forget our form as we are working hard. On a cross trainer, you need to ensure that your back is straight and you are not leaning on towards the handlebars during the recovery phase of the workout.
  • Add resistance - If your HIIT is getting easy, try playing around with the resistance on the trainer. This keeps your intervals interesting and helps you work harder.
  • Ramp up the speed - As we mentioned above, if you find your intervals are becoming easy, try going faster and pushing yourself during the high-intensity zones.
  • Don't forget your arms - Don't allow the handles of your cross trainer to move your arms for you, instead move the handlebars of the cross trainer to get a full-body HIIT workout rather than just a lower body.
  • Go backwards - Make use of your trainer and try pedalling backwards on the machine, this will change the muscles you are using during HIIT and focus more on your glutes.
  • Don't use your toes - As tempting as it can be when you get tired, putting all the weight on your toes can cause lots of stress on your joints, instead, you should make sure you are standing evenly on your cross-trainers pedals during a HIIT session.

Are Crossfit & HIIT The Same?

If you've been looking into HIIT then you may have come across CrossFit too, both are high-intensity training routines, and offer similar benefits for your body, but do differ in how they work slightly.

CrossFit is not performed on a single machine and normally consists of a competitive high-intensity workout which varies between different activities and pushes you to work as hard as you can within a certain time limit, this kind of high-intensity training is very intense and does not focus anything on the form, unlike HIIT which encourages you to keep form during intervals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Doing HIIT On an Elliptical Cross Trainer

What shoes should I wear for doing HIIT on a cross-trainer?

You should look for cross-training shoes that are flat and multi-directional for pedalling on the trainer, they should also be wide around your toes and have a slight bend at the tip.

How many calories could I burn during a HIIT session on a cross-trainer? 

This depends on the intensity you are working at, how long the session is, your fitness level and your weight. But on average, for a 155-pound person you could potentially burn up to 300 calories during a HIIT session on a cross-trainer for 20 minutes, but this can vary.

Why should I use an elliptical rather than a treadmill?

Using an elliptical for HIIT training is much kinder on your joints and great for beginners who dislike running and the impact of it.

Is Tabata the same as HIIT?

No, Tabata is a style of HIIT developed in Japan and consists of hard-working for 20 seconds followed by a 10-second rest repeated 8 times - intense, we know.

Last Words

Overall, we hope you enjoyed our guide on how to do HIIT on your cross trainer, as well as our best tips for doing HIIT and the benefits you can get from it. Always remember you can adjust HIIT intensity to your level depending on how fit you are and extend recovery periods as a beginner if you are new to HIIT and cross-training.

About the author
Published by Kieran
A star athlete during his school days, Kieran quickly excelled at sports and in particular; football. Kieran's true passion lies in home exercise equipment, and so was was built as a source for all of Kieran's thoughts to be put down on a medium. Here he guides you through various nuances of working out at home, tips, guides, reviews and more.The only other thing Kieran enjoys more than working out, is writing about it.
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