An elliptical cross trainer is a piece of equipment that looks a lot more complicated than it is. While nearly everyone is comfortable with the movement of jogging on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike, getting on an elliptical cross trainer can be intimidating because it is not as intuitive.
In this post, we are going to explain how to use this machine and the benefits you will garner from adding elliptical sessions to your workout routine.
What is an and how do I get started?
An elliptical cross trainer is comprised of pedals that mimic the motion of running or walking and handles that you push and pull against. It is a low impact exercise because your feet never break contact with the pedals and you remain supported throughout the motion. This makes it an ideal cardio machine for people with knee problems.
It is very simple to get started on a cross-trainer. Begin by standing with one foot on each pedal and begin to push yourself forward without breaking contact between your feet and the pedal surface. At the same time as you are doing this, hold onto the handles and actively pull and push in the direction your feet are going. It is important to ensure that you are not just holding onto the handles because otherwise, you will not reap the benefits of an upper-body workout. You must put in the effort to get the reward!
Which muscle groups does it target?
The great thing about an elliptical machine is that it combines an upper body, lower body and core workout all in one. On the upper body, so long as you actively push and pull on the handles, your arms, chest and shoulders will all be engaged. In addition to this, the core muscles and the muscles of the back receive a workout, as do the lower body muscles of the buttocks, thighs and calves.
We know that the stomach is a problem area for…just about everyone. Getting a flat and toned belly requires two things: strong abdominal muscles that will give your middle a toned look; and a low enough body fat percentage that will allow those muscles to show through. An elliptical machine will certainly help with the latter point because, as we will discuss in the next section, it is a mega calorie burner.
On the development of stronger muscles, while an elliptical machine will develop your muscles, it does so in a way that encourages the growth of slow-twitch fibres. These are responsible for endurance activities. Fast-twitch muscle fibres facilitate bursts of power, such as lifting heavy loads. Both are important for muscular health; however, endurance muscle does not result in bulk muscle. This means that using an elliptical machine alone will not result in sculpted abs – or big biceps or thick quads. For these goals, you will need to do some strength training.
Using an elliptical cross trainer is a cardio exercise and there are multiple reasons why you should be excited about this. If your goal is to burn fat, then look no further. In a 30-minute session, a 125lb person burns 270 calories, a 155lb person burns 324 calories, and a 185lb person burns 378 calories. As we have just mentioned, if your goal is to have a flat stomach or visible muscles anywhere on your body, you need to have a low enough body fat percentage that will allow them to show through.
More important than the aesthetic benefits of cardio, however, is the heart health protection it provides. Cardio exercise places a demand for energy on your body, which it responds to by increasing the heart rate to get oxygen-rich blood delivered to where it is needed. Due to the fact that your heart is a muscle, it becomes stronger over time in response to the ‘stress’ that cardio places on it. This makes it more efficient at pumping blood and helps you to maintain a healthy heart rate, which in turn protects you from conditions like heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. The NHS recommends that we do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week.
Tips for working out
There are a few ways that you can enhance and change up your elliptical workout:
When dividing up the balance of power through each stroke, take turns isolating your upper and lower body by purposefully loading more weight onto each. You could do 10 minutes of intense lower, 10 minutes of intense upper, and then combine the two for 10 minutes
Instead of 10:10:10 try 5:5:5 (repeat) or 2:2:2
Use the incline settings to increase the resistance of your workout and challenge yourself more. It will be harder, but the payoff will be greater!