Take the guesswork out of your gym session with preset programs.

Elliptical workouts are easy to personalize: you can adjust the ramp height, resistance level and your speed to elicit different results. This is where choosing a pre-programmed workout in the elliptical’s settings can help take the guesswork out of your gym session.

You can expect to see several preset program categories on an elliptical with an adjustable ramp, each optimized to help the exerciser achieve a particular goal. The programs will automatically adjust the ramp height, resistance, or both, depending on the desired effect.

Here are the details on what each program does and why you might want to use it:

Manual / Quick Start

Selecting the manual or quick-start option gives you full control over the ramp height and resistance. If you have a custom routine in mind or want to do steady-state cardio, this is the option for you.

Interval Program

If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular condition, try one of the interval programs. This preset will alternate between periods of high and low exertion for the duration of the workout. While exercising, you can adjust the intensity of the work and rest periods to suit your fitness level. By pushing your fitness for short bursts of time, interval training is among the best ways to raise your endurance and improve your performance.

Cross-Country Program

If you’re training in advance of an outdoor race, the cross-country setting may be your best option. This program is meant to replicate the rise and fall of natural terrain by including “hills” and stretches of “flat” ground. Expect gradual increases and decreases in exertion level throughout the workout. You can set the resistance for this program while the equipment will adjust the ramp automatically.

Cross-Trainer Program

Different ramp heights activate different muscles. The cross-trainer program consists of automatic ramp adjustments that cycle through which muscle group is working the hardest at any given time. For example, a low ramp height will cause high activation of your calves, and a high ramp height will strongly activate your glutes. The cross-trainer program will also instruct you on when to switch between forward and backward pedaling to add further variety to your workout.

Heart Rate Control (HRC) Program

Training in particular heart-rate zones — which are defined as a percentage of your maximum heart rate — help you reach specific goals by taxing different energy systems. For example, your body will burn the most percentage of calories from fat between 60 and 70 percent of your maximum. This moderate training level is appropriate for beginners and exercisers targeted on longevity. To take advantage of this preset, you’ll need to either use the heart-rate sensors on the handlebars or wear a chest strap that syncs with the equipment.

Hill Climb Program

Do you want to train to tackle more challenging hikes or climb a mountain? Check out the hill climb program, which consists of a constant wave of ups and downs. Cycling through ramp heights will activate muscle groups throughout your lower body. The resistance is preprogrammed, but you can override the setting if you need to increase or decrease your exertion level.

Fitness Test

The fitness test program is another one that uses your heart rate to provide feedback. After running you through several work intervals, the program will give you an estimation of your fitness level based on how your heart rate reacted to the different exertion levels.

Choosing the preset program that best meets your needs can be a great way to save time on workout planning and achieve the results you want. Give the elliptical a shot.