Home gyms and clubs have a huge range of choices for getting in shape these days but I wanted to focus on one of my favorite, and least punishing machines – the Elliptical Machine, or Cross Trainer. So lets answer the question – what IS an Elliptical machine and how can it help your training?
An Elliptical Machine is a training machine that works both your upper body and legs at the same time. Your arms will be pushing and pulling, while your legs will be normally moving in an elliptical motion on what often look like skis. It’s this unusual combination of pushing and pulling with the arms, while walking or (sort of) climbing with your legs, that sets this machine apart from other bits of equipment.
Elliptical cross trainers are a relatively new bit of kit, dating back to late eighties and really only taking prominence in mainstream in the past 10 years.
What kind of workout are you going to get with a cross trainer?
So the main areas you’re going to be targeting are thighs, bum, upper body, core and of course legs. You’ll improve your strength but that’s only part of it. It’s possible to get a really good cardio workout on elliptical machines too. Time-wise, you can do a heck of a lot in ten minutes, if you crank up the difficulty. But this is a really good choice for toning and grinding off some calories too.
Who is an Elliptical Machine best suited for?
Not every piece of gym equipment can be used by everyone. And lets be honest, you have to know what you’re doing with things like smith machines and kettle bells. But elliptical machines are one of the safest, easy to use machines I’ve trained on over the years. I know someone in their mid 70’s who uses just that one machine each day and loves it.
So elliptical machines are easy!?
I made the mistake of avoiding elliptical machines for years because I thought they weren’t going to give me a tough enough workout. I was pretty shocked how good a workout I got when I actually tried them. Like a rowing machine, or exercise bike, ellipticals can be adjusted from an easy going pace up to a pretty serious workout.
I like to go by research rather than anecdotal information but you might be pleased to know that studies have shown that you burn calories on an elliptical at the same rate as you do on a treadmill.
low impact training is a huge plus with these machines.
So what are the benefits of elliptical machines?
One of the best things about elliptical equipment, and the thing most people will cite as being of huge benefit, is that they don’t have any impact on your joints. If you think about a running machine, you get that constant thud, thud, thud as you’re running. Ellipticals are very smooth. There’s no end point to each movement and it all flows without any jarring on your body. So low impact training is a huge plus with these machines.
While most people wouldn’t say training at a gym was ‘fun’, there’s something about Elliptical cross trainers that is a lot less taxing that say a running machine, or exercise bike. I actually really enjoy using these machines and I find I get less bored that using the fore mentioned bits of gear. Might just be a personal thing, or maybe it’s that you’re doing something with all parts of your body.
I hope I’ve covered the basics and tried to answer what is an elliptical trainer. There’s also a really good video on youtube with some key benefits to using a cross trainer.
If you think you might want to try some elliptical cross training from home, check out my guide on the best cross trainers for under £200.
Happy training and let me know in the comments if you love ellipticals too.