Is the Seated Elliptical a Good Workout?

Is a seated elliptical a good workout

Life is a crazy ride sometimes, isn’t it? One minute you are 21 and on top of the world, the next minute you are over the hill and your back is killing you. That’s why we’re talking about seated ellipticals today.

First, let’s get a straight answer for people who are wondering whether a seated elliptical is a good workout. For those who have been injured, have disc degeneration or other chronic health problems, or are elderly with joint and balance issues, YES, sit-down ellipticals are a great way to get a good workout!

No matter how young or old you are, injuries can happen. Just ask me! I still remember very clearly how I injured my back, and I was only in my late 20’s when it happened. For a physically active young adult, taking a break from my usual routine would have been the ultimate punishment. That was when I discovered recumbent ellipticals, and how it helped me recover and literally bounce back!

If you’re considering buying or using a recumbent elliptical but wondering if you can get a good workout from one, read on because I’m going to answer all your questions in today’s article.

Does a Sit Down Elliptical Work?

Teeter FreeStep LT1 Recumbent Cross Trainer

This is the main question everyone wants answered, right? Does this piece of exercise equipment work like other pieces of gym equipment?

The answer is yes, it works, but no, it’s not exactly like other gym machines.

Seated elliptical machines will never replace stationary bikes or stair climbers, but it doesn’t mean that they are not worth your time, effort, or money.

Are recumbent ellipticals good exercise?

If you think seated ellipticals are only for senior citizens, think again! I’m sure that in the past, I probably walked right by those seated ellipticals thinking that they were for “other” people. That was until I needed to use one.

Recumbent ellipticals and elliptical trainers helped me stay in shape and allowed me to exercise until my back healed and I could return to my usual cardio routine.

While I am still a fan of doing exercises from a standing position, the fact is that many people can’t work out that way. I used a recumbent elliptical and found that the elliptical motion was much more strenuous than I ever thought it could be.

How Many Calories Can You Burn on a Seated Elliptical?

This will vary tremendously depending on your age, current weight, sex, and how hard you work out.

I made this chart to help give you an idea about how the recumbent elliptical stacks up when it comes to calorie burn, compared to other types of exercise.

For this chart, I used a 40-year-old female who weighed 140 pounds and worked out at a moderate pace for 30 minutes.

Common Exercises Average Number of Calories
Burned in 30 Minutes
(Moderate Effort)
Stationary Bicycle
(Average 12MPH)
(3.5 MPH)
Stair Climbing
(Average Pace)
(Moderate Pace)
Recumbent Elliptical
(Moderate Effort)

Your actual calorie burn will be more if you are older, weigh more, or are male, but as you can see, an elliptical trainer works about as many calories as any other type of exercise, give or take a few calories.

Can an Under Desk Elliptical Trainer be Efficient?

While under desk ellipticals have their place, I wouldn’t rely on one as my main source of exercise.

An under-desk elliptical trainer has its advantages, such as :

  • Getting in a little exercise becomes easy and simple with under-desk elliptical trainers
  • Good for interval training
  • Counters health issues caused by sitting down all day

Another great thing about under-the-desk ellipticals because they help you get some movement in without you even noticing. I’ve seen friends using one while they sat on the couch watching TV. A full hour passed by and they barely noticed that at least their legs were getting a little exercise in.

However, speaking in general, you will burn far more calories and get your heart rate up by using an elliptical trainer. Whether you sit or stand, you will get an entire body workout from a regular elliptical trainer than an under-the-desk elliptical.

Does a Seated Elliptical Help You Lose Weight?

Yes, it can.

To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. This means that you need to burn more calories than you are consuming.

Many people find that by cutting back about 500 calories a day and burning 300 calories doing exercise, you can lose about 1 pound per week, which is the best and safest way to lose weight.

Ellipticals will definitely burn calories and promote weight loss. You will get a full-body workout, which is something no exercise bike can claim, and the workouts are easy on your back.

Most people find that using an elliptical trainer helps tone up the lower body while increasing overall fitness levels. It also makes it easier to lose weight than relying on weight-loss diet alone.

Click Here to See More Recumbent Ellipticals!

Do Ellipticals Help You Lose Belly Fat?

You can’t spot reduce by using exercise equipment to target certain areas, but spot reducing, such as doing core exercises like planks, can tighten and firm up the muscles underneath the fatty area, which can make that area look thinner.

Your body will store fat wherever it chooses, and it will burn fat the same way. I bet nearly everyone would love to be able to target a certain area using certain types of exercise equipment, and burn fat only where they want it, but unfortunately, our bodies do not work that way.


In order to lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume, and you can burn more fat by engaging in aerobic exercises.

You may not be able to change where your body wants to burn fat (read more on how to burn belly fat on the Elliptical ), but you can work your body so that, eventually, it has no choice but to burn that stubborn belly fat.

Are There Other Types of Exercise Equipment That Work Like Seated Ellipticals?

Teeter Power10 Elliptical Rower

Not that I’m aware of.

You could try a recumbent exercise bike, which would be like an elliptical without handlebars. There are rowing machines that work like ellipticals, such as the Teeter Power10, but true seated ellipticals are in a class by themselves.

When it comes to weight loss, burning calories, improving fitness levels, and doing it all while sitting, there is nothing to match a recumbent elliptical.

The Bottom Line

For anyone who wants or needs to be sitting comfortably while exercising, you can’t beat a seated elliptical trainer.

Teeter FreeStep LT1 Recumbent Cross Trainer

You will get all the benefits of a regular elliptical machine, and the stress on your back will be tremendously reduced.

Can you get a challenging workout from a seated elliptical? You sure can! I’m living proof that a seated elliptical is super beneficial on multiple levels.

Don’t be afraid to try one and see for yourself!

Andrew Ludwick

Hi I'm Andrew - I'm a husband and father of 2, I used to love running however due to an ongoing knee injury I had to find alternative exercises. I did and now I share it with others - I hope you find it helpful too.

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