• The elliptical works a great number of your muscles. This is only a broad overview of the muscles it will work. LOWER LIMB As you push forward with one leg, you use the hip flexors, mainly iliopsoas (a group of muscles from the spine and pelvis onto your femur), sartorius (from the pelvis to the knee) and rectus femoris, part of the quadriceps involved in hip flexion, running from the pevlis straight down the leg and inserting into the patellar tendon. There is a degree of knee flexion as well, using the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus). You then push down, beginning to extend the knee and hip. The first action ivolves your quadriceps group (vastus medialis, intermedius and lateralis and rectus femoris) on the front of your thigh and the second involves the gluteal region, on your buttocks, primarily gluteus maximus. As you bring the limb backwards the hip becomes hyperextended (still using the gluteal muscles) and the knee, depnding on your posture, may or may not be fully extended. As it reaches the backmost point, it is brought up and the knee starts to flex with the hamstrings. However, because the other lower limb is working in the opposite stage at any one time, the majority of the work is done in the first two stages, the other two stages mostly mediated by the other lower limb pushing that side around. To get around this and evenly work all groups, you can use the machine to walk/run backwards - this can take a little getting used to but the machine is designed to be used in either direction to ensure and even workout. UPPER LIMB Many eppliptical machines also have handlebars which you can use to also work the upper body. As the bar is near your chest, you use the upper part of pectoralis major in your chest to flex your arm, together with parts of your deltoid muscle in the shoulder to bring your arm up away from your side. At the same time you extend at the elbow using mostly triceps brachii, and the sum action is to push the bar forward, away from your body. The bar is then pulled back, primarily using the forearm flexors such as brachialis and biceps brachii, but with additional help from the lower part of pectoralis major and latissmus dorsi (massive muscle in the back) to pull the arm down to the side of the body. OTHER AREAS As well as the major muscles used in moving the limbs, you also use muscles to help you breathe. Normally at rest you use only the diaphragm inside the thorax (and a small amount of work comes from the external intercostals between the ribs). During deep breathing there are accessory muscles that help you to breathe more deeply, rapidly and forcefully, including muscles of the abdomen (Contracts to help in exhaling used air) and sternocleidomastoid (runs in a triangle from the sternum of the chest, the clavicle - collarbone - and the mastoid process of the skull. At the same time you are using your core muscles in your abdomen to maintain balance on the machine. You also are dorsiflexing and plantarflexing, hence why you work the gastrocnemius muscles of your calves and the tibialis anterior muscles below the knee.
  • I absolutely love those eliptical training machines. After just a week or two on one, I noticed my hips and butt slimming up nicely, as well as the saddlebag area of the outer thigh.

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