Machine Safety

Learn the basics of working out safely during elliptical exercises.

How to Use an Elliptical Machine Safely

As your feet stay in contact with the foot pedals when you are using an elliptical, the exercise that you do will have little or no impact on your joints. One of the reasons ellipticals are so popular is because of this low impact feature, but if you use your elliptical incorrectly there is still the risk of injury. So it is important for your safety that you take steps to ensure you’re using your elliptical correctly. Below, I have outlined some things that you can do to make your trainer safer to use. These tips should make exercising on your elliptical a much safer experience.

Correctly Assemble the Machine

Before you can use an elliptical trainer safely you have to ensure that it is correctly assembled. Failure to assemble your elliptical correctly can have disastrous results – I’m sure you wouldn’t want the machine to fall apart while you are using it! Be sure to read the instruction manual carefully and make sure that you have all the tools and parts needed to put the machine together. If you are unsure or uncomfortable about the assembly process, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most companies that make ellipticals will have a customer care number that you can call for assistance, and if you are still unable to put the machine together successfully, you may want to consider hiring a professional technician to do the assembly for you. Some of the more technical machines will be delivered to your home with a technician who will assemble and install the machine for you. Always check your elliptical for sturdiness and any loose parts or strange noises before you start working out.

Proper Form for Using Ellipticals

You may think that using an elliptical trainer is as simple as jumping on the machine, pressing the start button, and running. It may look like that is all that is involved but if you are to use an elliptical correctly and safely, there is a little more to it than that. First, you need to be careful with how you get onto the machine. Many ellipticals have parts sticking out in the center and you will literally have to step over them to avoid tripping over them when you mount the machine.

Once you are safely on your elliptical you will need to put your body in the proper posture to get the most out of your workout and avoid unnecessary injuries. Your back should be straight, with your head high and your shoulders back. Ideally, you will want to keep your core tight and engaged for the duration of your workout – this will not only help you to maintain the proper posture, it will also help you to work out your core as you exercise. Holding on to the handlebars will help you to balance yourself on the machine, but don’t hold on too tightly. Use a light grip and relax your arms. You should also try to keep your feet close toward the inside of the foot pedals for a more comfortable and safe workout.

Warm Up and Cool Down

When doing any kind of exercise it is important that you warm up before beginning and cool down for at least 5 minutes at the end of the session. Warming up prepares your body for the work ahead by revving up your cardiovascular system and sending more blood to your muscles. This helps reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness and also reduces the risk of injury. Cooling down after your workout is important too, as it gives your heart rate and blood pressure a chance to return to normal. If you stop working out too suddenly after a vigorous workout, it’s possible that you could feel sick or faint.

Pace Yourself

Receiving your elliptical trainer can be quite exciting and once it is assembled you may be in a rush to jump on and start working out, with the anticipation of beginning to achieve your fitness goals. That is all well and good, but you should start slowly and gradually work your way up the higher levels of intensity and resistance. Don’t expect your body to be able to handle very intense workouts right from the beginning – it needs time to get accustomed to using the elliptical. This time will be well spent as this is where you will also build endurance and increase your strength. As long as you work out regularly on your elliptical, you will get stronger and more fit over time, and the results of your labor will become evident. There’s no need to rush – dedication and persistence is the key to achieving your fitness goals with your elliptical machine.

Monitor Your Heart Rate

Many elliptical machines today come fully-equipped with a heart rate monitor. Most times the heart rate monitor is built into the handlebars on the machine, but some ellipticals come with a compatible chest strap that can sense your heart rate and send the data to the console monitor on the machine. Using the heart rate monitor is a great way to make sure that you are not over-exerting yourself when you work out on your elliptical. Use the monitor to set your target heart rate – put your hands on the handlebars so that the sensors can read your current heart rate and then begin your workout. You should be alerted when you reach or exceed your target heart rate, and this will allow you to work out without overdoing it and causing potential harm to yourself.


Elliptical trainers are great exercise tools that can be used to help you keep fit and achieve your fitness goals, but you should take all the necessary steps to ensure that you are using them safely. If, for example, you don’t keep the proper form when using an elliptical, you will be putting yourself at unnecessary risk for injuries. This will defeat the purpose of using the elliptical in the first place, which is to become healthier and stronger. Using the steps mentioned above can go a long way help you user elliptical safely. These measures are not very difficult, and over time most of them will become habits; regular parts of your exercise routine. Your safety is priceless, so you should take every measure to ensure that your body is protected when you exercise.

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