Does The Elliptical Work Your Stomach? (Abs & Core Targeted)

Everyone wants to have toned abs; it's like the number one telltale sign that you are "in shape." However, not everyone wants toned abs just for the look of them. Having strong abs can help you in everything from the gym to navigating everyday life.  

If you're someone who uses the elliptical machine, you may be wondering, "Does the elliptical work your stomach?" We're about to dive in-depth with how you can use this machine to target your core muscles and abdominals, so don't go anywhere!  

Many people want to know, "Does exercising on an elliptical machine work on abs?" To properly answer this question, we first need to cover what abdominal and core muscles are.

Our abdominals consist of the external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis (TVA), and the rectus abdominis. The obliques help with twisting, rotation, and flexibility of the spine. 

The TVA is the deepest muscle of the abs, which stabilizes the lumbar spine and pelvis, and the rectus abdominis is what we typically refer to as the "6-pack." The core consists of over 20 muscles in the lower back, stomach, and hips.  

To obtain maximum benefits while on the elliptical, make sure you're standing up straight and flexing those abdominals. Also, try to minimize time holding on to the handles or resting on the handles.

One, because it will encourage poor posture, and two, because your core won't be working as hard trying to keep you balanced.  If you're having issues maintaining proper posture, try slowing your stride and focusing on your spine and core muscles.  

man using an elliptical machine

Benefits Of Elliptical Machines In Toning Abs  

Any time you’re moving your arms and legs, you’re engaging your core muscles. When you’re on the elliptical machine, you’re obviously doing both of these things.

If yours has moving handles, then you may get some extra focus on obliques as you're twisting the body more. If it doesn't, there's no need to worry, as your abdominals will have to work harder to stay balanced if you're not holding on to the handles.  

As our abdominal muscles are extremely resilient (due to keeping us upright and supporting us with every movement), they require consistent use to increase their strength.

Build muscle through short, intense workouts and increase abdominal endurance through longer, steadier workouts.  

woman sitting on plyo box

There are many questions surrounding this: Will an elliptical tone my abs? Do ellipticals help lose/burn belly fat? The answer is “yes” and “yes”! We’ve established that ellipticals will help strengthen the abs, which is the first step in obtaining toned abs.

The second step is to burn the fat laying over the abs. After all, even if you have very strong abs, you won’t see them if belly fat is hiding them. The elliptical will help you burn said fat, with a 154-pound person burning approximately 335 calories every 30 minutes they spend on the machine.  

Best Elliptical Workouts For Your Abs & Core 

To get the most out of your elliptical machine, we have just the tips for you.  

As we mentioned previously, try not to hold on to the handles. This forces your abs to work harder to keep you stable. If you have to hold on to the handles, hold on just enough to keep your balance. If you start holding too tight or find yourself leaning over them, you’re taking resistance away from your lower body which also keeps your abs and core from working as hard as they should.  

To keep your abs challenged (which is necessary in order to strengthen them), switch up the resistance and incline levels. The harder it is to push through each step, the more your core muscles will have to work. 

It’s been proven time and time again that higher-intensity exercise burns fat more effectively. Keeping this in mind, try a workout with intervals of high intensity followed by slow recovery periods. Another option is to do intervals with your elliptical and focused ab exercises, such as planks, Russian Twists, or mountain climbers.  

Example Workout

Start by warming up on the elliptical for 5 minutes. 

Do 10 rounds of the following intervals:  

  • High resistance/intensity for 30 seconds 
  • Recover at low intensity for 1 minute 

Finish by cooling down at a low intensity for 5 minutes 

Example Workout

Warm up for 5 minutes on the elliptical. 

Do 10 rounds of the following intervals:  

  • Medium resistance for 1 minute 
  • Planks until failure for 1 minute 

You can also switch out the planks for Russian Twists or leg lifts if you prefer.  

woman using an elliptical

Elliptical Vs Treadmill For Abs & Core Muscles  

There are many similarities between the elliptical and treadmill, along with some notable differences. First off, on an elliptical, your abs have to work a bit harder to keep you balanced. Not only that, but the elliptical often comes with moving handles, which engage your abs even further.

On an elliptical, you can also control resistance and incline, where you can only adjust the latter on a treadmill. The resistance helps develop ab strength even more, which is another bonus for the elliptical. Overall, it’s easy to see why the elliptical machine works with abs and core muscles better.  

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How long should you exercise on an elliptical machine for abs and core muscles?  

30 minutes is enough for most people to see results. Should you choose to do some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), you could even opt for a shorter, yet more intense elliptical session. If you’d like to go at a slower/less intense pace, then anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes is ideal for toning your abs and core.  

How often should you exercise on an elliptical to work your stomach?  

You can definitely use your elliptical every day, but you may get burnt out quickly. Try opting for 3-5 times a week instead, offering yourself a couple of days to rest in-between.  

Is an elliptical better than walking for toning?  

Yes, it is. Your core muscles have to work harder to keep you balanced on an elliptical machine. If your machine has moving handles, you're also engaging more of your abdominals, creating resistance for the entirety of your ab muscles to work against. Not only that, but you can burn more calories more quickly on an elliptical, which can burn fat faster.  


So, does the elliptical work your abs? It undoubtedly does! Elliptical machines are an excellent way to tone up the abs and further improve your health! Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon! 

Last Updated on January 23, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.