Elliptical calories burned per hour - Which one burns the most calories?

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Elliptical calories burned per hour - Which one burns the most calories?

Anyone who has ever used one of these cardio machines to get their heart rate up has probably wondered about the accuracy of the monitor for elliptical calories burned.

If you were to believe the screen readout, you would walk away believing that you had burned upwards of 600 calories per hour on the elliptical. Unfortunately, you have likely burned far less than that.

Your hourly expenditure rate is going to depend on stable variables such as your weight, gender, muscle mass, and metabolism, but your intensity and the form that you maintain throughout your workout is going to make a big difference in that final caloric estimate, as well.

For example though, consider a 135 pound 20 something female that spends 30 minutes on the cardio machine, at a moderate to high intensity or 8/10 exertion rate for most of the time. She will use roughly 7 to 8 calories a minute, or 210 to 240 total. The readout on the machine will likely show an expenditure estimation of 320-350.

That’s quite a big difference, especially over the course of many workouts where you think you’ve burned between 600 and 800 calories in one hour and you’ve actually used more along the lines of 350-500. A miscalculation like this one five times a week would lead a person to believe that they had burned an extra 2,100 cals that they actually hadn’t; that’s 60% of one pound in a week and almost 2.5 lbs over the course of a month (8,400 total not burned/3500 cals in 1 lb = 2.4 lbs), and a whopping 28.5 lbs after a whole year. Imagine working that hard for that long and wondering why your scale hasn’t dropped by much.

The message to take away from this is not to avoid elliptical trainers, but to realize that their expenditure readouts are not necessarily accurate, and that they typically grossly overestimate. The most important thing would be to not overindulge on meals after a workout because you erroneously thought you had burned more calories than you actually had.


Which elliptical burns the most calories?
The elliptical machines that use the most calories are always going to be the ones that engage both your lower and upper body simultaneously.

If you can get both your arms and your legs swinging, you’re going to be getting the highest rate of expenditure, so look for ones that include an arm component. Many have handles that you can hold onto that articulate back and forth in the same motion that your legs are moving; always choose these machines whenever possible in order to get the most effective workout.

Another thing to look for are the varieties that allow you to increase the incline and resistance of the ellipse motion that your legs are making.

When you crank up the climb rate, you should instantly feel your lower body begin to struggle and have to work harder against that incline motion. This means it’s working!

Here’s a tip though: cranking up to the highest climb option is not always going to be the best for your body size. You don’t want to be using a bouncing, momentum-based movement in order to get the elliptical foot paddles to make their revolutions.

Choose an incline/climb setting that works for your height so that you are in control of the entire range of motion/cycle of every revolution. In other words, shorter people may get a higher caloric burn and challenge to their muscles more thoroughly if they choose a climb rate that is roughly half of the maximum setting.

Really, it’s better to set the custom incline and resistance settings by what feels the best for your body’s dimensions, and not by what the machine tells you is the “ultimate” challenge, because it’s idea of the most effective workout is not necessarily going to be the best suited to target muscle groups within the large variety of body shapes and sizes.


Tune into your workout; focusing on keeping up your intensity and making your movements controlled and deliberate (rather than momentum driven) will help you increase your caloric burn on an elliptical.