Can an elliptical cause weight gain?

Heather Campbell
 min read

Can an elliptical cause weight gain? No, the light resistance on an elliptical is insufficient to trigger muscle gain.

can an elliptical cause weight gainThis cardio machine mainly improves the overall health of your heart and your endurance.

Elliptical machines have been among the most popular cardio devices since the 90s.

They are made to give you a low effect way of slimming down and improving your cardiovascular health.

Can an elliptical cause weight gain? Introduction

Some plus-size users might worry that they’ll get bigger instead of slimmer and leaner when using an elliptical on a regular basis.

Still, the elliptical won’t cause your muscles to get bulkier.

This fitness device is an efficient tool to help you reach your fitness goals.

There are also some strategies you can use to optimize the results of your cardio workout!

Make the most of your elliptical workouts

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most effective ways to burn fat with your elliptical workouts.

Participants of research studies that involved HIIT burned 8,5 times the amount of fat per calorie as participants that did their cardio at a regular rate.

So use this ultra fat-burning method during your elliptical training!

Warm-up for 10 minutes and switch between moderate-intensity cardio for 2,5 minutes and high-intensity cardio for 75 seconds.

Only 3 or 4 of these interval spikes are enough to let you enjoy the fat-burning benefits!

Tip: Check out our buying guide The best elliptical for a heavy person to get acquainted with various heavy-duty ellipticals that come with built-in training programs and interval training options.

Safety first: Can an elliptical cause weight gain?

Always check with your medical professional before adding high-intensity interval training to your exercise routine.

This is certainly the case if you are obese. Read more details about it in our article Is an elliptical good for obese people?

If you feel light-headed or dizzy during your workout, stop immediately.

Elliptical devices offer low-impact exercises, so there can’t be any pain in your knees, hips, or back.

Never overpower sharp pains. Keep your back straight during your workout and your posture neutral.

It’s essential to allow and maintain an upright position. So avoid leaning forward over the machine and bring the level down.

Cardio machines and weight-loss

A few changes happen in your body when you use an elliptical or any other cardio device.

Your heart rate and oxygen intake increase, which improves the overall health of your heart.

It also improves your endurance so you can be active for a longer time.

You burn more calories, which is excellent to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight over time.

Modern life can be inactive, so cardio exercises are an essential tool to compensate for the hours you spend driving, sitting at a computer, or watching tv.

In fact, 180 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio is recommended for adults on a weekly basis.

Read our related article Can you lose belly fat with an elliptical? for more information about elliptical workouts for weight loss.

Muscles won’t grow on an elliptical

Something the elliptical won’t do is make your muscles bigger, even if you have it set on high levels of resistance.

For your muscles to hypertrophy or grow, you need resistance that’s heavy enough to trigger muscle growth.

It takes heavyweights and several sets of 8 to 10 reps to build muscles.

Lighter weights and more reps increase your muscular endurance, but not the size of your muscles!

When you’re doing many reps with light resistance on your elliptical, the result is that you never ever work up until muscular failure.

This means that you’re not allowing your muscles to grow.

A frequently asked question in the spotlight

I work out on an elliptical device 2 to 3 times per week for about 75 minutes, but I seem to gain weight when I use the elliptical machine! Is this normal?

Our response

Exercise is not the enemy! It’s possible to gain a little bit of weight by working out.

Remember that endurance-trained muscles grow and improve the ability to store carbohydrates, also known as muscle glycogen.

This glycogen pulls water into the muscle, which might seem like slight weight gain.

Remember, gaining weight on the scale doesn’t say anything about the origin of that weight gain.

So you may be gaining muscle tissue (which is the good stuff!).

This kind of workout is metabolically active and burns more calories than fat does to sustain itself.

Conclusion: Can an elliptical cause weight gain?

So try not to focus on weight as a single indication of your progress. Instead, consider your body fat percentage and how your clothes fit.

It seems like you’re doing a fitting cardio workout, and we don’t believe that the elliptical device is the problem.

We don’t think the cardio program you’re using is a problem either. It depends on how much weight you’re trying to lose.

You might not see a significant change on the scale, but you may see a huge difference in how you look!

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More