Top ways to kill time on an elliptical trainer

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I spend a lot of time on an elliptical trainer these days. I have a long history of back problems and using an elliptical offers me a low impact way to work the crucial core muscle areas that are critical helping to protect my back.

Spending a lot of time on an elliptical can be VERY BORING, I get it.  So today I wanted to talk about the top ways to kill time on an elliptical trainer. The art of distraction is very powerful and anything we can do to trick our mind into not focusing on the monotony of working out, all the better.  I will share some of my tips as well.

So, if you are ready, let’s get started!

  1. Read

Whether it’s a real book, an e-reader, or another electronic device, I see people riding stationary bikes at the gym while they read, but it can be a little more challenging to do on an elliptical.  The nature of the elliptical cause’s people to bounce up and down, which makes reading more challenging.

So, that brings me to the first tip:

Try not to bounce when you use an elliptical.  Sounds easy right?  Well, it’s harder than you think.  By not bouncing, you will find that your legs are doing more work, and that can be an excellent thing. For me, I do this all the time, I don’t allow myself to bounce, and I feel way more burn in my quads, butt and lower back.

Give it a shot and see what you think.  Doing this no bouncy, bouncy process will make it easier to reading and give you a better workout.

  1. Watch Netflix

Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Or Amazon, or Hulu, or whatever your poison might be.  For me, it’s much more fun to watch something I am interested in than watching whatever happens to be on the TV at the gym.  Depending on your show and your tolerance for working out on the elliptical, you can potentially get through multiple episodes.

Hint: Employ the same no bounce method previously discussed for a better viewing experience.

  1. Watch the boring TV at the gym

Next up, the boring TV at the gym.  Okay, it’s not all bad, especially if there is a sporting event or something you are interested in.  My experience is though, there are too many TV’s that are tuned to the same music video channel, or better yet, the “As seen on TV” infomercials.

I am not a big fan of this method, but if you just need something to numb the mind for a bit, it’s definitely a viable option for you.

  1. People watch

Keep an eye on your gym crush (es), just don’t be creepy.  Okay, there I said it.  I wanted to tackle this topic without too much fanfare, but I don’t think it’s possible.

I definitely scan the gym, watching the good folks working out.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  It’s interesting to see how other people are working out so I can pick up ideas, and it’s amusing to watch some people work out.

I also really enjoy watching the people who are just there for a social outing.  They bounce from one area to another, never actually doing anything, but are just there talking to people, or hanging out on their phones.

Anyway, I spent too much time on this topic already…moving on!

  1. Play a game on your phone

Photo by Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash

First of all, I am not a gamer, but I do have a couple of games on my phone that I only play when I am using an elliptical.  This is a great distraction for me.  I am always amazed at how engrossed I can get in these silly little games, and before you know it, 20 minutes have passed just like that.

Now, to do this, of course, you need both hands available, so employ the hands-free method I mentioned in #1 above, and you will get a great workout in addition to killing a few brain cells along the way.

  1. Mix it up

Mixing up your workout, so you don’t get bored is a great way to kill time on any cardio machine, not just an elliptical.  By this I mean, try different programs on the elliptical, like a manual setting, then an interval setting and back again. You can switch between programs pretty quickly, or adjust the resistance level up and down throughout the workout.

You can also try different body positions, use the handgrips, go hands-free, etc. as I have mentioned earlier.  There are a lot of different ways to use an elliptical, so get creative and time will fly.

  1. Try a different machine

Don’t get stuck in a rut using the same machine every single time you go to the gym, try something different.  Most gyms will have a variety of different ellipticals to choose from, so try all of them.  Each one probably has a different orientation, maybe more upright, different stride lengths, etc.  So using a different machine now and then will hopefully help break up the monotony and get you through that workout.

  1. Listen to music

Such a standard option and this is what most people do anyway.  I don’t know about you, but my playlists get stale, and although I love my music, listening to the same things over and over get old.  I try to find new stations to listen to or mix up my playlists, and that really helps.  I am more of a visual person, but some people are good with music for hours.  Anyway, I felt like I needed to include the most obvious choice as well.



It can be really boring doing cardio, I get it.  That is one reason so many people don’t go to the gym because cardio is so BORING.  Well, I certainly hope this article has given you some good ideas on how to kill time on an elliptical.  You can try one, or all of them depending on how long you plan to ride the machine.

Next time you are feeling unmotivated, and just really don’t want to think about riding an elliptical for 30  minutes, try something different, that is the name of the game.  Throw your body off, and you will be surprised how quickly the time will go.

Do you have any other suggestions for ways to keep your brain occupied while working out on an elliptical machine? I would love to hear what others are doing.

If you are interested in purchasing an elliptical, please check out my other posts on the subject for more information.

Please share your questions or comments below! Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate it.

11 thoughts on “Top ways to kill time on an elliptical trainer”

  1. It’s a total ‘whatever’ for me as I love the elliptical. Yes, I have watched many food (uh oh) programs as I worked on it, but oh do I love it. However, when I started working on it, I really had to look at the TV to distract from the time.

  2. Hello Steve,
    I agree with you on watching something you enjoy on TV. This method works well for me on the treadmill at home. I also agree with the part about mixing it up. This has helped me not get tired or bored of doing the same thing.
    I do 1 rep of some sort of floor exercise routine, then treadmill for 5 or 10 minutes, then back to the floor for another rep. This also keeps my heart rate up.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Best wishes,

    • Sounds like you have a great routine. For me the hardest part is finding exercises I can do that will not hurt my back. I’m careful, but I do push myself. Thanks again for your comment, I appreciate it.

      • I can relate to the back pain totally! If it wasn’t for my greatest gift ever, the inversion table I got for Christmas 2 years ago, I’d still be going to the Chiropractor.
        I don’t hurt near as much now, thank goodness. No one understands that kind of pain until they have it. It’s no fun.
        Thanks for the quick response.
        Best wishes,

  3. Well, I use to gym a couple years ago, and your suggestions on how to use elliptical are pretty good. Honestly, one thing I’ve just learn from this article is to try not to bounce while I am using this machine, I really never tried but I am about to. Yeah, definitely reading or listening to music are tips that I normally used to do while I am at the gym.


    • Hi Daniel, thanks for your comment. I highly recommend trying the elliptical without bouncing! Let me know if you have any questions. Best of luck with your workouts.

    • I have to agree with you. I’ve never thought about the bouncing motion being anything but normal, but it makes since not to. I can see where it would benefit me more not to bounce.
      I still can’t see myself reading a book while using an elliptical though. I think I’ll stick to a good movie from Amazon Prime while I use mine.



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