Use an elliptical trainer without those “arm bars” for a change. Your arms really aren’t working when you use these types of machines. It’s only an illusion. But if you let go of the arm bars, while you continue to pedal, the bars move anyways!
This is because your pedaling motion keeps the arm bars moving! So if you place your hands on them, your arms are simply being taken for a ride! In fact, if you grip the bars too much, you’ll end up taking some work away from your lower body.
You don’t want to do that, because the lower body burns many more calories than the upper body. This is because the largest muscles are those in the butt, plus in the upper legs. So ditch the arm bars and use a machine without them. However, do not grip the machine’s side rails, either. Never mind that everyone else does it. This is cheating, plain and simple. Remove your hands and move your arms while you pedal, as though you are jogging in a park.
Start pedaling for a warm-up. Keep back vertical. Don’t jut head forward. Keep shoulders square. Focus on correct posture. Do not wrap your hands around the side rails! This causes bad posture and reduces leg workload and calories burned. If balance is a problem, slow down.
At the most, only place your fingertips on the rails just to maintain some balance until your body acclimates to a hands-free workout. If you feel you can’t let go, then concentrate on making your legs do all the work; fight it out with your glutes, thighs, calves and even lower back. Balance is part of exercise.
Do not read while on this machine. Pass the time by increasing pedal speed and/or resistance. Alternate super-fast intervals of 1-2 minutes with slower intervals. Example: one minute at 150-200 RPMs alternating with one minute at 70-100 RPMs. Or, maintain same RPMs, but vary the pedal resistance. For example, one minute at level 10-12, 100 RPMs, alternating with one minute at level 5-7, 100 RPMs. Do these interval cycles for 20-30 minutes.
Step classes. Rather than simply stepping onto the platform, jump or jog onto it in a way that exhausts you within 1-2 minutes. For active recovery, simply revert back to merely stepping for a few minutes, then return to the jumping/jogging. (But if after the few minutes, you’re still beat, you may need to march in place for part of the recovery.) Add four-riser heights rather than your typical one or two for other ways to drive up intensity. After several minutes, lower the height for recovery.