Cross trainers (elliptical trainers) are one of the most popular forms of cardio training on the market. They provide for low-impact workouts that are less stressful on your joints while helping you to strengthen your cardiovascular system – the heart and lungs.
The motion of a cross trainer is somewhere between walking or cross-country skiing, your feet staying on the pedals while you use a fluid motion to mimic stepping. With the option to also use handles, you can choose to make this just a lower body workout, or one that also uses the muscles of the upper body. Because you can use the entire body, cross trainers are a great way to burn lots of calories in a short period of time, conditioning the whole body.
If you are interested in buying a cross trainer, there are certain considerations that will affect your purchase. The following are all important issues to look at:
Stride length is crucial for a comfortable workout. If the stride length is too short, it will lead to a choppy elliptical motion. The recommended range is for a 16"-19" stride. However, many models now come with adjustable strides, allowing you to adjust the stride length to your own preference.
This allows you to glide both forwards and backwards, great for conditioning the leg muscles.
This includes movable handles to work out your upper body while you glide.
Any cardio machine can become boring after a while, and this is particularly true if you are buying one to use at home – if it’s the only machine you have, it needs to keep you engaged in the long term. The key to this is the programs that are offered. More basic machines will have just a handful of pre-set programs, while more expensive machines will have dozens of programs, allowing you to choose something different each time you work out.
Whether you want to simulate climbing a mountain, skiing cross country, or prefer programs designed to burn fat or build your cardio conditioning, you should have plenty of choices.
Any good cardio machine should have a large, clear display. This will show your speed, distance covered, and other information such as average speed or even calories burned.
Finally, it’s worth checking to see if the machine folds up for quick and easy storage. Folding models always have the flywheel on the front. The ability of the machine to fold up and stow away means that you can keep it out of sight when you are not using it.
If you take your time and choose the right machine, you will get years of great workouts in the comfort of your own home.