Is there nothing more depressing than walking into a hotel gym and only seeing a treadmill and elliptical machine?

Those two pieces of equipment are usually the sign of a gym that doesn’t really care about fitness.

Treadmills and elliptical machines are instant let downs to the well-rounded exerciser.

Just the sight of an elliptical machine can make most individuals not want to workout at all!

That will no longer be the case now that you’ve stumbled upon this article from yours truly!

I’ve already tackled the treadmill with my 7 Creative Ways To Use The Treadmill Machine post.

Now it’s time to make some awesomely creative elliptical machine workouts!

What Exactly Is An Elliptical Machine?

An elliptical machine was created to become the ultimate cross-trainer. The machine was designed to mimic stair climbing, walking, running and skiing without causing chronic pressure on your joints.

It became a recommended exercise machine for those suffering from injuries. It would allow the user to still get in a form of cardio without the danger of increasing the risk of injury.

Like most cardiovascular machines, you can increase or decrease the intensity of the workout. You can do that manually or by using a preprogrammed workout routine on the elliptical machine.

What also makes the elliptical machine unique is its ability to work your upper and lower body at the same time. The majority of gym cardio equipment focuses only on the lower body.

That’s only half of your body!

When you use an elliptical machine for your total body you’re going to increase the total amount of calories you burn.

That’s what we’re really interested in when hopping on the elliptical machine….burning calories and toning our bodies!

It is with that expectation that I came up with these…..

Ten Elliptical Workout Routines

#1 Backward Elliptical Sprints

We spend most of our life walking forward. That means your muscles are accustomed to one direction of moving.

If you’re trying to burn calories, it’s always good to do movements your body is not use to.

Backward elliptical machine sprints are a great way to confuse your muscles.

It will exercise your quadriceps and calf muscles from different angles, which will cause you to grow and get stronger while burning calories.

Win Win!

Slightly increase the resistance/intensity of the elliptical machine while you are doing your sprints.

When the short sprinting interval is over, decrease the resistance/intensity for your resting interval.

Start your first interval at 15 secs fast (at increased resistance/intensity) then slow down for the next 45 secs (resting time).

Repeat 5 – 8 more times.

Workout Example:

15 secs Sprint Interval (High Intensity/Resistance Levels 8-15)
45 secs Resting Interval (Low Intensity/Resistance Level 1-4)

Over the course of a month or your trips, you can start increasing the active time and decreasing the rest time.

Trip 1 Example

  • 15 secs Sprint Interval (High Intensity/Resistance Levels 8-15)
  • 45 secs Resting Interval (Low Intensity/Resistance Level 1-4)
  • Repeat 5 – 8 more times

Trip 2 Example

  • 20 secs Sprint Interval (High Intensity/Resistance Levels 8-15)
  • 40 secs Resting Interval (Low Intensity/Resistance Level 1-4)
  • Repeat 5 – 8 more times

#2 Backward Forward Elliptical Sprints

Do all your sprints backwards, but your rest periods forward. Use same tempos as before.

#3 Two Minute Forward/Backward Intervals

Using a intensity/resistance that you’re comfortable with, switch your exercise motion by going from forward to backward.

Ever two minutes switch the direction you are going.

The workout should last a total of 16 – 40 mins to reap the cardio benefits.

This is more of a steady state exercise than high intensity interval training (HIIT).

#4 One-Minute Forward/Backward Intervals

Same as #3, except now you are reversing your elliptical machine direction ever minute.

Expect to feel more fatigue when going backwards than forward.

#5 Elliptical Machine Boxing Jabs

Instead of gripping the upper handles the entire time, use your arms to do some boxing jabs while peddling your legs.

A simple one two jab combination is all you need to do.

This punching motion allows you to fully stretch your upper body so that you will be getting a full range of movement in your arms, shoulder and back muscles.

When just using the elliptical handles, it’s hard to get this full range of movement.

Start by doing 20-30 second jab punching intervals every two minutes.

As you get better, increase your punching time while staying balanced on the elliptical machine.

#6 Elliptical Jog and Swing

If you’re at a gym that has dumbbells and/or kettlebells, you can create this simple circuit routine.

Select an elliptical machine intensity/resistance level that you can maintain for 2 mins.

Once the 2 mins are up, jump off and do 20 kettlebell or dumbbell swings

Once you are done, get back on the elliptical and repeat.
Try to do 8 -12 rounds.


  • 2 mins Elliptical machine interval
  • 20 15-lb dumbbell swings
  • Repeat 8 – 12 more times

#7 Jump Rope and Elliptical

Every 3 minutes, get off that elliptical and jump rope (with or without an actual rope) for 2 mins straight.

Try to do 5 – 12 rounds

#8 Abs and Elliptical

Every 3 minutes get off that elliptical and perform:

  • 20 ab crunches
  • 10 bicycle kicks
  • 5 V-ups

Try to do 5 – 12 rounds

#9 Push Ups and Elliptical

Every 3 minutes get off that elliptical and perform as many push-ups as you can.

If you’re not strong at normal push ups, use an object like a bench, chair or step to do incline pushups.

Try to do 5 – 12 rounds.

#10 “Commercials Are Not My Friend”

Choose a comfortable steady state intensity/resistance for the elliptical and proceed to watch your favorite program on TV.

During each commercial break, you are going to do the following circuit as many times as possible until the commercial break is up.

  • 3 Push-ups
  • 6 Bodyweight lunges (3 per side)
  • 3 Jumping jacks

The point is to move as quickly as possible from each exercise to the next without taking a break.

The short reps and short rest periods will get the heart pumping and fat burning!

There you have some cool creative ways to make using that elliptical more enjoyable.

Just do me a favor and always remember to have fun when you’re in there.

No Gym No Problem Bodyweight workout routine you can do anywhere from MicVinny aka Mr. Travel Fitness


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