Gym Brains

What does the elliptical work?

A lot of what you workout on an elliptical is dependent on how an individual trains and the type of machine you have. For example, one could own a product that has the ability to go both forwards and backwards. Others may be able to add a steeper incline. Not forgetting, there is also many cross trainers that include dual action arms to help work the upper body.

With that in mind, we shall do our best to give you a general overview of which muscle groups are trained below. You may also be interested in reading about their benefits as a whole.


Your quadriceps are a group of muscles located on your leg above the knee. They are responsible for straightening your leg and ensure your knee cap remains in place. An elliptical trainer will help improve muscle tone and strength in that area thanks to the constant contraction taking place with each stride.


Your glutes will be given a good workout on an elliptical. Also known as the butt muscles, they are responsible for moving your hips in all directions. A large muscle group that should not be neglected.


Situated on the back of the leg, your hamstrings consist of three tendons that connect to your thigh and are involved in the flexion of your knee and also hip extensions.


You calves are not quite worked to the same extent as the other muscles mentioned above on forward only motion x trainers. However, if you have a machine that provides a decent amount of incline, your calves will be worked just as effectively.

Upper body (circumstantial)

Whether or not your arms and abdominal muscles get trained is dependent on the type of elliptical trainer you own. If you have a model that comes with dual motion arms, then yes, several upper body muscle groups get trained.


Many people forget about the muscles that are not visible to the eye. However, it’s important to consider that cardio training works the heart and will ultimately help improve general well being through that.