Does The Elliptical Work Your Stomach (Yes, Here’s How)

the elliptical machine does help burn calories, which is necessary to lose body fat, by giving you a full body aerobic workout

If you’re wanting to work your stomach and target the abdominal muscles, you may be wondering whether the elliptical machine is a good way to do so. 

There’s a couple things we know for sure:  

The elliptical is great to build your stamina and endurance, not to mention a really good low-impact alternative from the treadmill for those with knee and joint issues. 

But, is the elliptical good for those wanting to target their stomach?

The elliptical machine doesn’t target the stomach directly but it does help burn calories, which is necessary to lose body fat, by giving you a full body aerobic workout. To add focus on the stomach, it’s best to include abdominal strengthening exercises alongside your elliptical workout.

In this article, I’ll explain 4 tips when using the elliptical that will work your core to a greater extent.  But first, there are some things you need to know about targeting your stomach for fat loss.  


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Key Things To Know About Losing Stomach Fat 

key things to know about losing stomach fat

Unfortunately, being able to spot reduce fat is a myth. 

Spot reduction means picking a part of your body that you want to lose fat (like your stomach), and targeting that area through diet and exercise.  

You cannot target one area of your body and expect to lose fat there and only there. 

There are many factors that come into play when losing body fat, including nutrition and genetics. 

So choosing which body part to work, such as your stomach, and wanting to shed fat in this area first, isn’t something that you’re able to control.

Instead, you need to pay attention to your nutrition and overall  calorie deficit. 

By burning more calories than what your body consumes, you’ll enter an energy deficit which will result in overall body fat loss. 

However, where the fat is lost and the order in which it’s lost comes down to genetics. 

Some people may lose fat in their stomachs first before seeing results in other parts of their body, while others may see changes in their face or arms or legs or all three before even seeing a reduction in stomach fat. 

But, if you remain consistent with your calorie deficit, eventually, fat loss will be seen throughout the entire body, including your stomach.

So, Why Should You Do Ab Strengthening Exercises If It Doesn’t Burn Fat?

If you cannot target your stomach fat, then why suggest ab strengthening exercises?

This study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, illustrates that abdominal exercises don’t have an effect on shedding abdominal fat. 

However, what it can do instead is increase your core strength generally, as well as shape the muscles. 

So, when you do shed overall body fat from a calorie deficit and see results in your stomach, you’ll have more defined muscles from the ab strengthening exercises you’ve done.

Notwithstanding, having a strong core will allow you to feel stable while performing other compound movements in the gym like squats and deadlifts, both of which have shown to reduce overall body fat.  

Check out these other resources: 

How to Use the Elliptical Machine To Work Your Stomach

4 tips on how you can use the elliptical machine to your advantage when wanting to work your core

Here are 4 tips on how you can use the elliptical machine to your advantage when wanting to work your core: 

1.  Don’t Use the Handles

Some people hold onto the handles when using the elliptical. 

It’s particularly helpful to assist you in maintaining your balance, especially if you’re new to it or are a beginner at this machine.

However, doing so will mean that you’ll miss out on enhancing your stomach workout. 

By letting go of the handles and balancing only with your body, you’ll be forced to recruit your abdominal muscles to a higher extent so that you can keep your balance and remain stable.

It’s also important, not just for a stomach workout, but to implement good posture. 

By engaging your abs, you’ll be able to keep a neutral and straight spine and remain upright. This will reduce or prevent lower back pain.

If you’re unable to use the elliptical without letting go of the handles, then ensure that you maintain a light grip only. 

Holding on too tightly will mean that you’re taking resistance off from your legs and using your upper body instead to work the machine, mitigating some of that tension. Instead, a light grip means that you’ll be able to hold on solely for balancing purposes while still giving you that good workout.

Alternatively, there are handles that you can use that aren’t attached to the foot pedals. 

Using these handles for balance, again with a light grip, means that you won’t be helping your lower body too much. Just be careful not to lean forward too much on these handles with your upper body as this will cause your weight to shift and make it easier to do the workout.

2.  Adjust Resistance and Incline

The more you use the elliptical, the easier it’ll become. 

To constantly challenge yourself and without having to spend hours on it to get the same results, adjust the resistance. Elliptical machines come with adjustable resistance levels so that you have to exert more force on the foot pedals to get it to move. This will really work your legs but also your stomach as well.

The same way that walking uphill is more challenging than walking on flat land, adjusting the incline on the elliptical will generate more difficulty for you. You’ll have to use more abdominal muscles and engage your core to accommodate the steeper incline.

Intensity makes a big difference in the number of calories you burn in a training session, so ensure that you amp up the intensity and incline to make the most of it. 

In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a published study illustrated that in obese women with the metabolic syndrome, higher-intensity exercise burned more total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat and abdominal visceral fat. 

So try alternating between bouts of intense elliptical work with periods of slow, recovery work and really give it your all during the high-intensity parts. 

Don’t know the difference between high-intensity and low intensity cardio?  Then read the following article:  HIIT vs LISS: Pros, Cons, Differences.  

Need some high-intensity workout ideas? Check out the following articles: 

3.  Burns Total Calories

While the elliptical doesn’t particularly target the stomach, it can contribute to your calorie deficit, which is necessary to shed body fat in the body, even the stomach. 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 125-pound person can burn 270 calories after a 30-minute moderate-intensity session on the elliptical. The average 155-pound individual can burn 324 calories within the same time frame while an 185-pound person can burn slightly more at 378. 

As you can see, the elliptical is a great aerobic cardio machine for those looking to burn calories and adhere to a deficit to lose overall body fat.

Another piece of cardio equipment that we looked at for burning calories was the stationary bike.  Check out our article:  Are Exercise Bikes Good For Weight Loss?

4.  Add Extra Core Work

The elliptical is a calorie-burning machine but if you really want to focus on your stomach, add in extra core work alongside your elliptical session. 

Do it before or after your session or even during to make it an interval training workout. Doing additional work specifically for your abdominals will help them become stronger.

This study illustrated the effects of aerobic exercise combined with strength training relating to abdominal fat. 

The study consisted of thirty obese women split into 3 different groups: 

  • One was the control group
  • One group was the aerobic training group, which did 60-minutes of aerobic training 6 times a week.
  • One group was the combined training group that involved 3 days of resistance training a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday consisting of aerobic exercise. 

The results of the study showed that those that combined cardio and weight training reduced their subcutaneous fat and visceral fat levels more than the aerobic group. 

The combined group also significantly increased their lean body mass, results that were not replicated by those doing the sole aerobic training.

Do a mixture of elliptical cardio workouts with extra core and strength workouts to achieve positive impacts on your body composition such as reducing fat and increasing lean muscle mass.


Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try 3 free workouts on Fitbod.


Elliptical Workouts To Burn Calories & Work Your Stomach

elliptical workouts to burn calories and work your stomach

If you want to get some elliptical workouts done, then check out the FitBod app

FitBod uses the information that you provide to generate personalized workout sessions just for you. 

It’ll adjust the training plan based on your fitness goals, your current fitness levels, the equipment that you have on hand as well as available space. 

As you continue to input data into the app, FitBod will use its algorithm to adjust your workouts for you so you can track your progress and ensure you’re constantly being challenged.

In the meantime, give these elliptical workouts a go. 

They’re designed to get your heart rate up as well as work your stomach.

Workout 1

Warm up on elliptical – light work for 3 min

10 rounds:

  • High resistance – 20 seconds 
  • Low resistance – 40 seconds

Cool down on elliptical – light work for 2 min

Workout 2

Warm up on elliptical – light work for 3 min

10 rounds:

  • Low resistance – 60 seconds
  • Plank – 60 seconds

Cool down on elliptical – light work for 2 min

Workout 3

Warm up on elliptical – light work for 3 min

3-5 rounds:

  • Bicycle crunch – 20 reps each side
  • In and out – 10 reps
  • Elliptical – high resistance – 20 seconds

3-5 rounds:

  • Elliptical – low resistance – 60 seconds
  • Mountain climbers – 20 reps (each side)
  • Plank to low squat – 10 reps

Cool down on elliptical – light work for 2 min

Final Notes

The elliptical machine can work your stomach to a certain degree. 

However, it’s much more of an aerobic machine that is great at burning overall calories. 

To really target your stomach and strengthen that area, add in extra core work alongside your elliptical workout session and ensure you’re eating in a calorie deficit to shed overall body fat.


About The Author

Emily Trinh

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.