Does the Elliptical Trainer Make Thighs Bigger?

As a workout machine that’s billed as being able to provide a full body workout, is the elliptical a good choice for those wanting to expand or enhance their thighs? Alternatively, for those wanting to slim down their lower body, will working out on the elliptical result in unwanted gains in the upper legs? 

Does the Elliptical Trainer Make Thighs Bigger? The elliptical trainer does not make thighs bigger as this exercise is predominantly a cardio workout as opposed to a muscle building one, meaning that you’re unlikely to see drastic increases in the overall size of your thighs. The elliptical can, however, help to tone and sculpt muscle, as well as burn excess fat, which will in turn allow your legs to look tighter and stronger. 

Does the Elliptical Help to Slim Thighs? 

Cross trainers, whilst targeting many muscle groups in the body, are predominantly a form of aerobic workout rather than a specific muscle building exercise. By getting the heart working hard, not only do you help build cardio fitness, improve circulation, and boost your body’s capacity for oxygen absorption, you also burn calories. 

Periods of higher intensity training, where your heart rate and muscle tension are raised significantly, can also boost your resting metabolism for a period following the workout. It’s possible to get a high intensity burn from an elliptical if you raise the resistance or push yourself to go at a rate fast enough to make you feel very out of breath (but don’t go so fast that you risk slipping or injuring yourself!) 

Does the elliptical trainer make thighs bigger?

All in all, this cardio and calorie burn can result in fat loss if the amount of energy you are using exceeds the calories you are taking in. Fat loss often takes place across many areas of the body at different rates. Despite what some might tell you, there’s actually relatively little evidence to suggest that you can successfully ‘target’ body fat in certain areas, though you can of course target certain muscles. The distribution of fat, and the distribution of fat loss, are often determined from person to person by a complicated range of factors, of which genetics appear to play a significant role.

Nevertheless, a sustained period of fat loss, especially if you carry excess weight around your legs, will at some point result in the reduction of this fat, leading to trimmer quadriceps, buttocks, and calves. The elliptical offers a good, low-impact, relatively safe way of burning calories and slimming down, and can also help build strength for other exercises that are good for weight loss, such as running, swimming, and boxing. All in all, it’s a good bet for those wishing to add a different workout to their exercise regime with the overall aim of getting trim!

Does the elliptical make thighs bigger?

Some people worry that the elliptical, since it works numerous muscles at once, may result in unwanted gains in the lower body. Others could think that, given the elliptical can feel like a muscular workout as well as an aerobic one, it might be possible to use it to target leg muscles and specifically boost thighs. 

In reality, just as the elliptical is not necessarily the first choice for those wishing to expand the chest and arms, neither is it the best option for expanding your lower body. To build muscle successfully and sustainably, you’re more likely to get the results you’re looking for by progressively adding tension to the targeted muscles to grow them through a process of the muscle fibres being damaged and then repairing. 

Traditional weight training is still likely to be the best option for this – squats, deadlifts, weighted lunges, and leg presses are more likely to target your thighs and lower legs effectively if these are the areas you want to focus on. 

What are the benefits of the Cross Trainer for Thighs?

The elliptical can be used as a method to strengthen and tone muscles, even if it is not the best method for growing them. This strengthening factor, coupled with its weight loss properties, is often one of the most attractive features of the elliptical, particularly for people who may want the benefit and convenience of being able to work out from the comfort of their own home. 

Furthermore, unlike exercises that the elliptical in part mimics, such as running or skiing, cross trainers generally put far less strain on the limbs and joints due to their low-impact motion. This makes them a popular option for people looking to maintain muscle mass or tone their thighs without risking injury or exacerbating pre-existing discomfort.

If you wish to work the thigh muscles more intensely during an elliptical workout, try raising the resistance of the machine so that they and the rest of the lower body are forced to work harder. You can also give them a greater strain by interspersing periods of greater resistance or higher effort with short bouts of comparative rest. This will simultaneously help to sculpt muscle and boost your cardiovascular fitness, which in turn can aid fat loss. 

A combination of fat loss and muscle toning can make thighs, as well as other parts of the body, feel and appear significantly stronger. It’s also worth remembering that strength does not necessarily equate to visible muscle expansion and it is possible to build fitness and muscle fibre through exercises that won’t result in significant physical gains. 

Overall, the elliptical can be a useful tool in giving your body an aerobic push whilst also giving a low level workout to a range of muscle groups, and if you’re looking for healthier, trimmer, tighter looking thighs, a cross trainer routine isn’t a bad place to start. 

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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!