Elliptical Cross Trainers

Elliptical Cross Trainers

An elliptical trainer AKA ‘cross trainer’ is a cardio vascular machine designed to simulate the upper and lower body motions of walking, jogging and running while keeping the pressure off the joints. Because it involves arms and legs a cross trainer is a big calorie burner - up to 12 calories a minute if you’re really exerting yourself plus it builds strength and endurance from a greater number of muscles than an exercise bike or a treadmill.


Cross trainers keep the impact low and the movement is guided by the handles and footplates minimising injury from impact or poor technique. And as well as being a big calorie burner a cross trainer can improve flexibility and tone the whole body.


When using a cross trainer you can target train by varying the exertion between the upper and lower body: you could direct the power to the legs to tone the thighs, pull harder on the handles to strengthen the back and shoulders or add a twisting motion to slim the waist area. Added to which pretty much every model these days has a choice of programmes to help you reach your goals. And the other good news is that you can get a great quality cross trainer at a competitive price which won’t take up too much room at home. Many home exercisers do invest in commercial cross trainers because the price is so competitive.


Some models have a front wheel drive, while others have the wheel at the back and it’s the position of the wheel which determines the ‘stride’ length of each elliptical trainer.  If the wheel is at the rear the legs turn over at a steeper angle which means the user will tend to lean forward and the experience is akin to a stepper machine. Front wheel models have longer strides and more closely mimic the sensation of jogging so users will generally be more upright and self-supporting, and the footrests are also closer together on this type. Neither is better, they’re simply different so it’s a question of appeal and being practical – for example if you have long legs you need a long stride. The mechanics of a front wheel model also make it more typically the more expensive option.


Resistance is another consideration, obviously the greater it is the more you will build strength. On some models resistance is manual, on others it’s electronically controlled. If strength-building is an important goal for you choose a model with a high resistance.  Flywheel weight is also a factor and generally speaking the heavier the flywheel the better quality the machine. Ideally you want your flywheel to be over 7kg.  The bigger the flywheel the greater the total rotating mass for each model giving you greater scope to continue to challenge yourself as your strength and stamina build.


In short: of all the cardio trainers available the cross trainer is one of the safest and most versatile.  It enables upper and lower body training in tandem.  It gives you the option to isolate your legs, torso or arms. It takes up less space than a treadmill. You can go low resistance to burn calories, or high resistance to build strength. It’s a smart buy.

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