Elliptical machines produce an ellipse movement which is comparable to a combination of jogging and a stationary bike or a skiing machine. There are many elliptical machines that let you move forward or backwards.

On an elliptical, moving backwards provides a number of health advantages that can help you achieve your fitness objectives. You can achieve a number of fitness goals by changing up your elliptical routine, from using new muscles to preventing boredom during a workout, burning calories, and providing an indirect form of cross-training.

If this is your first time hearing about going backwards on an elliptical, read further to know more about it and how you can incorporate it into your workout routine.

Benefits of Elliptical Backwards

To make the most out of your elliptical machine, you can try using it with a backward motion. Here are some of the benefits that you can get from doing this routine:

Engage Different Muscle Groups

When pedalling backwards, you are using your thigh muscles more than pedalling forward. This is a fantastic way of building up your quadriceps and giving them the intense movement they require to assist in stimulating the muscle fibres.

Additionally, you can strengthen your calves by alternately pedalling backwards and forward, which will result in evenly distributed and well-developed calf muscles.

Increases Your Workout Efficiency

Going both forward and backwards works two muscle groups instead of just one. So, you may get more done in the same amount of time or less. Combining the two actions is regarded as a sort of cross-training and concurrently engages the majority of the key lower body muscles.

Burns More Calories

Using an elliptical can help you burn more calories during exercise especially when you target more muscles. To really feel the burn while using the machine, try to vary your motions by moving some forward and some backward.

A 30-minute elliptical workout can burn around 270-370 calories, depending on your weight and intensity, thus this exercise is excellent for losing weight and improving your heart.

Beneficial When Recovering from Injuries

Since an elliptical provides low-impact exercises, it can help you during your healing process and prevent further injuries when working out.

Strength training frequently results in the reuse of the same muscles, which increases the likelihood that they will wear out and stop functioning as effectively as previously. In addition to providing a different motion and reducing the risk of injury, pedalling backwards is far easier on the knees than using a regular treadmill or running outside.

Provides variety in your exercise

It can get boring to work out the same way every day. Additionally, the targeted muscular areas may be overworked by this time hence having a “leg day” and “chest day” is added to each workout routine.

One of the major advantages of using the elliptical backwards and forward is that you can switch things up during a workout and keep things interesting, which is great for any long-term fitness plan. It becomes a fun challenge that can help from getting you bored, stay committed to your exercise, and prevents your body from getting used to the same routine every day.

Increase your stamina and cardio

You may increase your stamina and even increase your heart rate by cycling backwards because it forces you to engage various muscles. Your muscles become accustomed to being utilised consistently in the same direction.

Backward pedalling might assist increase stamina and keeping the heart rate up by mixing it up. Elliptical machines are also wonderful for effective cardio workouts that burn tons of calories and make you feel better.

What muscles are targeted when doing reverse motion?

Using the elliptical backwards helps in targeting different muscles such as:

Gluteal Muscles

While using the elliptical forward can benefit your gluteal muscles, moving backwards can help target them more. You can immediately see the difference as it starts to burn more quickly.

Hamstrings and Calves

Your hamstrings will get a good workout when using the elliptical backwards including your calves. It is also a good way to improve mobility and flexibility in your legs.

Core Muscles

Using the elliptical backwards can help you achieve more balance than the forward movement. This can also help strengthen the core and your stomach muscles.

How to incorporate backward workouts on the elliptical

Most people move forward because it comes naturally to them and produces results rapidly. However, reverse pedalling presents a welcome challenge and is an exercise that everyone who wants to strengthen their hearts should try.

On the elliptical, going backwards need not be difficult. Backward pedalling is something that most people will pick up on fast, though you might need to practice a few times to get the balance down so you don’t fall over.

Here are some things to keep in mind while performing backward elliptical:

  1. Don’t try to go backwards elliptical when you are doing it at your top speed. Do it while you are in active recovery phases after the higher intensity.
  2. Always warm up before you begin to guarantee your safety. This helps the body become ready, especially if you want to exercise vigorously. It enables your heart rate to rise gradually and reduces the risk of getting injured.
  3. Next, pedal at a fast rate for three minutes, followed by two minutes of recovery exercise at a low intensity. The muscles in the lower portion of your body can then be worked for a further five minutes by alternating between low and high resistance.
  4. Finally, you can alternate between high and low resistance for another five minutes, but this time, go in the opposite direction to exercise your back. Finish this off with a three-minute recovery session while moving backwards.

Additionally, here are some other workouts you can consider trying:

Front to back

In this exercise routine, you alternate between pedalling forward and backwards while maintaining a constant elliptical incline of 9 per cent and rhythmically varying the resistance. You are encouraged to engage your core during the nine minutes of no-hands exercises so that you may efficiently target a variety of muscles. It takes thirty minutes to finish.

20-Minute HIIT

To burn the most calories and put the heart to the test, this thorough workout mixes pedalling forward and backwards with a wide range of intensities and resistances. The goal of this workout style is to alternate short bursts of high-intensity activity with rest periods of lower intensity so that you can do a significant amount of exercise in a short period of time.

There are various workouts online that you can try if you want to know more about different routines. Choose the one that best suits your fitness level and workout style.

Which is the best motion for you: Forward or Backward Motion?

Pedalling both forward and backwards on the elliptical provides varying benefits while accomplishing more in a single workout session. But if you are tired of doing the elliptical in just one direction, reverse pedalling may be the best option to try.

Here’s a comparison table for you to know more about it:

Forward Elliptical Movements Backward/Reverse Elliptical Movements
Targets your quads and gluteal muscles Focuses on the hip extensors and hamstrings at the back of your thighs
When you have only a few minutes to work out, it is easier and quicker to do Since it requires more effort, your workout is a bit slower but it helps improve your balance
Gives you a full-body workout, saving you from using various pieces of equipment Boosts cardiovascular health and burns more calories


On the elliptical, going backwards is unquestionably something you ought to consider performing. It makes workouts more exciting, lets you use more muscles, burns more calories, and is very beneficial for injury recovery. Additionally, there are numerous ways to add backward pedalling into your workout, including modifying the elliptical settings or utilising a pre-programmed routine.

This can be done easily by adding reverse pedalling sessions on your elliptical machine to complement your forward striding exercise, depending on your fitness level and goals. This would produce a higher calibre muscle-building process that you may enjoy and use each day of your training.

So, bid adieu to your previous ineffective exercise regimen and hello to a fresh session focused on your core.

1. Does pedalling backwards on an elliptical burn more calories?

On your elliptical, pedalling backwards can be a terrific method to increase your calorie burn. When you do this, you will work new muscles, which is a great technique to burn calories and work out more effectively. Additionally, it will aid in enhancing your cardiovascular health.

2. Is pedalling backwards on an elliptical good for your health?

Using the elliptical for your workout routine provides many benefits for your health. And if this is the first time you’ve heard about backward or reverse pedalling, including them in your routine can enhance both your health and workout routine.