Most of us can hardly squeeze a fitness routine into our busy schedules. But I’m sure a quick 10-minute elliptical workout is not too much to ask. The question is: is this good enough?

Any physical activity is beneficial to our health. And spending 10 minutes on the elliptical machine can burn about 100 calories, depending on your weight and exercise intensity. It’s a good start for improving your stamina and performance.

But 10 minutes of exercise is not a lot to result in noticeable weight loss.

Still, there are ways to optimise a limited workout time to gain better health benefits.

Keep reading and learn how to improve your elliptical workout for the best results.

If you are looking for a new elliptical machine for home use, click here.

How Many Calories Do I Burn from a 10-Minute Elliptical Workout?

A high-speed and intense elliptical exercise for 10 minutes can burn around 100 calories at most. A moderate workout should burn about 75 calories.

Your body will not get warm enough within such a short time, though.

Also, 450 g of body fat (or 1 lb) is worth 3500 calories. So, a 100-calorie workout will not significantly contribute to your weight loss goal.

But don’t be discouraged. Exercising for 10 minutes is one way to build up strength. It can help curb weight gain, too.

Keep doing it, and use this fitness routine as your starting point for quick but more challenging workouts later.

How Long Should I Use an Elliptical?

A 10-minute elliptical workout may be ideal for keeping yourself active and healthy.

But you’ll need to level up this routine for better health outcomes.

If you exercise for 10 minutes five days weekly, you’ll be doing 50 minutes of physical activity.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week for adults.

That means your workout should be at least 30 minutes for weight maintenance and more health benefits.

Later, you can adjust this to 45 minutes to 1 hour (or 250 minutes of weekly exercise) to boost weight loss results.

Don’t feel overwhelmed, though. You can always stretch your exercise time gradually.

For instance, add 5 minutes to your routine every two weeks until you reach the ideal 30 minutes.

Woman exercising on an elliptical cross trainer

How Can I Make the Most of My 10-Minute Elliptical Workout?

Starting any workout, no matter how long or intense, is always a welcome change.

Instead of worrying about the results, find ways to make your short routine more effective.

Here are ways and tips on how you can do just that.

Exercise within your target heart rate zone

If you are working out on the elliptical for only 10 minutes, you need to make every second count.

One way to do that is to keep your heart rate up during exercise.

That’s because the faster your heart rate, the more calories you burn.

And our target heart rate depends on our age and exercise intensity.

Here’s how to compute it using 35 years as the sample age:

  1. Compute your maximum heart rate. Subtract age 35 from 220 and get 185 as your maximum heart rate.
  2. Get your resting heart rate. Feel your pulse, then count the beats for 1 minute. You can also use a heart rate monitor. Let’s set 80 beats per minute as our sample.
  3. Compute your heart rate reserve (HRR). Subtract your resting heart rate (80) from your maximum heart rate (185). Your HRR is 105.
  4. Compute your heart rate zone for moderate exercise. Exercise at moderate intensity is 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. So, multiply your HRR (105) by 0.7 (70%) to get 73.5, then add your resting heart rate (80) and get 153.5.
  5. Compute your heart rate zone for vigorous exercise. Exercising at high intensity is 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. So, multiply your HRR (105) by 0.85 (85%) to get 89.25, then add your resting heart rate (80) and get 169.25.

That means your target heart rate zone for vigorous exercise is between 153.5 and 169.25 beats per minute.

One reminder, though. Aim for the lower end of the exercise intensity range if you’re a beginner or at a lower fitness capacity.

Then, adjust your computation as you build up strength.

Woman checking heart rate on her smart watch

Use the technologies of your elliptical

Most modern elliptical trainers have extra features that help optimise your workouts.

For instance, the NordicTrack 9.9 Elliptical has the iFit app that gives you access to interactive and global training.

If your exercise machine has a fat-burning program, use that to set the resistance automatically for your 10-minute elliptical workout.

Check your control panel and see if it allows calorie tracking, too.

Entering your personal information into the machine should help you monitor your calorie output and keep progressing.

Go for a full-body workout

Burning calories is all about making your muscles work. And the more muscles involved in your workout, the higher the calories burned.

It’s a good thing that an elliptical machine can exercise your upper and lower body at the same time. So, use those movable handles.

Moving your arms while pedalling is an excellent way to strengthen your back, chest and core muscles.

Also, don’t forget to incorporate my tips for a more effective full-body elliptical workout.

Increase the resistance or incline

An interval workout is the most efficient way to burn calories on the elliptical.

And you can do this by pedalling at a steady pace and then adjusting the resistance and incline.

With a higher resistance or incline, your body has to work harder.

It’s also perfect for targeting specific muscle groups during your 10-minute elliptical workout.

Avoid increasing your incline or resistance too much, though.

Choose a level that will not compromise your form and workout results.

Here’s a sample workout you can start with:

  • Do 2 minutes of warm-up: Start warming up at a comfortable resistance level. Move your arms and legs at a moderate pace. Aim for about 50-60% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Perform 30 seconds of work: Boost the resistance or incline at a level higher than your warm-up mode. Aim for about 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Shift to 1 minute of active recovery: Return to your warm-up setting, bringing your incline and resistance down. Afterwards, repeat the work-recovery interval three more times.
  • Cool down for 2 minutes: Cap your workout with lower machine settings to slowly bring your heart rate back to normal.

If you are a beginner, try this interval training once you have enough stamina and strength.

Person pressing the button on the console of the elliptical machine to adjust the incline level


Elliptical trainers are excellent calorie-burning machines that a 10-minute elliptical workout can still be good for your health.

But to get the most benefits, consider working out within your target heart zone or adjusting the incline and resistance.

Utilise your elliptical’s features, too. Let them make your quick workouts more effective and fun!

And when you can, try stretching your workout time, adding variations or shifting to intense exercise to burn even more calories.

1. Is a 20-minute elliptical workout good?

A 20-minute elliptical session can burn about 150 calories, depending on your body weight and exercise intensity. If you do this regularly along with a balanced diet, it’s a good workout for better health and performance. But if weight loss is your goal, extend your elliptical training to at least 30 minutes.

2. What burns more calories: elliptical or stationary bike?

A general 30-minute elliptical workout can burn around 270 to 378 calories. On the other hand, moderate stationary cycling can burn 210 to 294 calories. Ellipticals may slightly burn more calories than stationary bikes. But exerting more effort, adjusting the resistance or doing HIIT results in high caloric expenditure, no matter what machine you use.