Do you want to get more exercise and target your whole body with holistic workouts? Do you want to buy your home cross trainer or are you planning to use one when you’re at the gym? In this article, we talk about the benefits of using a cross trainer, also known as an elliptical trainer.
Some elliptical trainer benefits are probably obvious, in the sense that any sort of physical activity is a good start in a world where sedentarism has become such a poignant issue. But some of these advantages have to be analyzed very thoroughly, so you can understand how a cross-trainer can actually be useful.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll take a look at some of the main advantages that a cross-trainer can bring, explaining each one in detail. After that, we’ll also tell you a bit about the downsides it can entail, which particularly arise from improper use.
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Getting or staying in shape is a goal for many people, you can easily do it with a cross-trainer. The elliptical bike will also get rid of enough body fat, which is a problem for those who prefer to diet to lose weight. The problem here is that they lose body water and/or muscle mass which translates into a lower number on the scale.
But with a cross trainer, you’re actually burning calories and fat. At a lower intensity, you can say bye to about 200 calories in 30 minutes, reaching a good 400 calories when you’re training at a higher intensity. So that’s like one or two extra slices of pizza that won’t cozy up on your hips.
Besides, if you want to burn 1 kg, you need to get rid of 7000 kcal, so you need approximately 10 hours for that. If you’re using the cross trainer for 1 hour, 3 times/ week, you can do that in three weeks. That’s without any changes in your diet. Pretty neat, eh? Still, don’t overdo it. Start small, take your fitness level into account, and don’t try to spend your whole next weekend on the elliptical.
An elliptical is way better than running or using a treadmill for people who have joint problems. Even if you don’t, you should still know it’s way better to use the cross trainer than running on concrete. So the elliptical is great, both for people who have had an injury, before other joint issues, or who only have the other option of jogging on concrete.
But this joint protector is a good idea for back problems as well. Some backaches are caused by the fact that we’re always slouching in front of a computer or on our desks and that we don’t exercise our back muscles well. And an elliptical trainer can be a God-sent for making your back muscles stronger, thanks to the rotation movements of your upper body.
Customize Your Workouts
Most cross trainers allow you to change the intensity of your workouts, so you can accommodate your fitness level or even the sort of day you’ve had. That means you can mimic things like brisk walking or rapid stair climbing.
This is done by adjusting the resistance and speed, mostly. However, some machines on the market have pre-set workout programs, while others allow you to customize your workouts depending on your preferences and fitness level.
Some other machines at the gym are quite difficult to use, but a cross trainer is quite intuitive. You can learn how to use one by reading the instructions and watching a few videos, and the risk of getting injured is almost zero.
So you can confidently get one for your apartment, or use one at the gym. Besides, you’re eliminating the risk of falling off a treadmill or knocking off the weights stand on your head.
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Working on a cross-trainer can easily get your muscles stronger, so you’re getting important toning benefits. If you’re using a higher resistance, your muscles will work harder to match that force, so that will increase your strength.
Besides, if resistance training is your game of choice, you can easily use an elliptical trainer on your recovery days. However, in this case, you’ll need to use a lower intensity to make sure you’re actually letting your muscles recover.
If you don’t have the time to get to the gym, an elliptical trainer in your home is great. The advantage is that there are plenty of affordable machines on the market, you just need a bit of room for them.
Besides, even if you’d rather work out outside, rainy, windy or cold days really make it hard for you to do that. And don’t forget you can get on your cross trainer even on your PJ’s or while you’re watching your favorite TV show, which you can’t do outside or at the gym.
Getting a Full-Body Workout
We’ve talked about toning your muscles in the section above, but now let’s see exactly what those muscles are:
- Glutes and hamstrings when you’re reverse pedaling
- Quads when you’re front pedaling
- Calves are the most targeted
- Biceps and lats when you’re pulling the handles
- Triceps and pecs when you’re pushing the handles
- Core when you’re striding because you’re not using the handles to hold your balance
- With that in mind, here are a few tips to make the most of your workouts:
Vary the exercises, the intensity programs, and how you’re using the elliptical.
Increase the resistance if you want more toning.
- Don’t slouch on the bike.
- Keep your eyes forward, not on your feet.
- So if you’re doing all that, you’ll see results as fast as one month, depending on how regularly you’re exercising and how much time you’re spending on the elliptical. After three months, everybody will be able to see the difference in your body shape, so don’t give up!
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A Healthier Heart
A cross trainer offers you low impact cardiovascular training, meaning it has all its benefits for a healthier heart, like:
- Making your heart stronger.
- Having a better cardiovascular capacity.
- Lowering your blood pressure.
- Decreasing the risk for a number of cardiovascular issues, including heart attacks.
- That way, your heart will be better at its job of pumping blood into your body, meaning your organs will be healthier too.
Is it Really Better to Lower your Blood Pressure?
If you have a high blood pressure, sure, it’s good to bring that down to a normal level. But if you have good blood pressure, lowering it too much might be dangerous. That means your heart has to pump less blood to make your bodywork, so you’re burning fewer calories even when you’re resting.
That translates to a lower basal metabolic rate, or a decreased metabolism, which has different consequences. For instance, you will require fewer calories each day, so you might feel increasingly hungry. It will also affect the results of various diets you may try or lead you to gain more weight.
So what’s the deal here? All this can only happen if you’re overdoing it. So 30 – 60 minutes on the elliptical a few days each week is beneficial and can bring you all the cardiovascular benefits discussed above. But if you’ll spend hours on end on the elliptical daily, you’re just self-sabotaging.
Isn’t HIIT Better?
We all heard the benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training by now. This is a workout that combines short spurts of very intense activity when you’re giving 100% of what you have, with 10-second breaks. This can be better in the long term because it accelerates your metabolism, so you can get away with eating more calories each day.
However, this sort of training isn’t for everyone, particularly for people who have joint issues. And since cross trainers offer a form of moderate-intensity cardio training, they help you burn more fat in the long run. That’s not to say cross trainers are better than HIIT or vice-versa. On the contrary, you can combine these two tools very effectively, doing HIIT 2 or 3 times per week, and using a cross-trainer the other 2 or 3 days.
Isn’t Strength Training Better?
Sure, strength training has lots of benefits like building more muscle mass and improving your bone density so you can avoid joint or bone problems in the future, which a cross-trainer can’t provide. It’s also a great way to increase your basal metabolic rate, which decreases with age, so you won’t have to eat fewer calories when you’re older.
And we already know that doing just cardio slows down your metabolism so you’ll need fewer calories every day to maintain your body weight. Hence our question.
But things aren’t always black and white. You can do both strength training to improve body mass and increase your metabolism, combined with cross trainer workouts. So days 1, 3, and 5 can be HIIT + strength training, while days 2, 4, and 6 can be a cross-trainer workout.
Is it Really Good for the Joints?
Of course, this benefit has a caveat too, and we advise you to discuss any fitness machine you’re planning to use with your GP. For instance, people that have hip dysplasia or a hip replacement might not find benefit from using a cross-trainer with fixed footpads because that means they turn their feet out.
Still, that doesn’t mean a cross trainer is bad for any hip issue you might have. You just need to talk to your doctor first.
Will, You not Get Injured?
Some training experts caution us about cross trainers not providing a natural stride like walking, cycling, or jogging. That means you’re restricting your mechanical movements, so you’re more at risk of injury.
However, the increased risk of injury is only correlated to abusive use of the elliptical. Again, with 30 – 60 minutes/ day, you’ll be more than fine.
What about the Weight Loss Progress?
Granted, a cross-trainer offers a low-impact activity, so you’re burning fewer calories than you would with a high-impact activity like running or step aerobics. So aren’t you better off burning more calories if you want to lose weight faster?
Sure, but that only works in theory. High-impact is very tiring and you can’t do it every day. Besides, since a cross trainer can help you burn at least 200 calories for 30 minutes of work, it still burns more than other low-impact activities. Just consider that strength training only gets you about half of that.
We’ve taken you through a series of advantages entailed by using a cross trainer, and we also answered some of the most usual questions about its benefits. So now you can make an informed choice about if, how, and when you can use one.
Still, it’s better to remember this one thing: vary your workouts. Don’t just settle for one activity, and don’t use your cross trainer in just one way.
THE TOP 3 ELLIPTICAL BENEFITS
Maneuvering your way through the gym doesn’t have to be overwhelming! By experimenting with new pieces of equipment one at a time, you’ll be able to thoroughly learn each one — and decide which one best supports your workout goals.
Remember, trying new things can be fun! For example, if you’ve been loyal to the treadmill for years, try shaking up your routine and getting familiar with the elliptical machine. Here are some benefits you could enjoy, as well as tips for getting started.
EASY ON THE JOINTS
According to Mayo Clinic, using an elliptical machine in place of the treadmill can be less stressful on your knees, hips, and back. If your exercise plan requires you to be cautious of your joints, the elliptical can help you get that good aerobic workout you crave while effectively reducing the impact on your joints (and lowering your risk of injury).
IMPROVES HEART HEALTH
You won’t just enjoy stronger calf and quad muscles after logging some time on the elliptical — one of the most important muscles in your body benefits as well: the heart! Thanks to the strong cardio workout you get on the elliptical, your heart can become stronger and more efficient at pumping blood and oxygen throughout your body, as SELF explains.
IT’S A FULL-BODY WORKOUT
Elliptical benefits aren’t limited to cardio alone; using this machine can give you a full-body workout. As Health.com points out, your arms, legs, and core could all see results when you use the elliptical. Engaging each of your body’s muscle groups can even be a fun activity! To keep your workout fresh, try switching your pedal motion from forward to backward and playing with the incline and resistance settings on the machine.
READY TO GET ON THE ELLIPTICAL? FOLLOW THESE 5 STEPS
START THE ELLIPTICAL
Ellipticals are incredibly user-friendly. All you need to do to get started is step on the machine and press the “Quick Start” button. Simple enough, right? The machine won’t start moving until you put it in motion, so once you’re ready, begin moving your feet at a comfortable pace.
ADJUST THE RESISTANCE
As you get the feel for how the elliptical moves, you can adjust your resistance to customize your workout. You can increase or reduce the amount of resistance by using the up and down arrow buttons on the machine. While you’re getting to know the elliptical, try to gradually work your way up in resistance.
CHOOSE A HANDLE
It’s a good idea to use the elliptical’s first set of handles to help keep you steady as you get your bearings. It’s easy to slouch over when gripping this set of supports, so be mindful of your posture by engaging your core, keeping your head up, and focusing your eyes on something in front of you.
The second set of handles — which are further out to the sides of the machine — can help you get a full-body workout. Pump your arms to keep those handles moving back and forth!
TRY A PROGRAMMED WORKOUT
Once you’ve become familiar with the elliptical, consider diving into the workouts that are pre-programmed on the machine. These exercise programs automatically switch up your resistance, so you can focus all your efforts on getting a great workout instead of manually adjusting your resistance throughout the session.
When you’re done with your elliptical workout, simply slow yourself down and the machine will slow down with you. Once you’ve come to a complete stop, carefully step off — and pat yourself on the back for the awesome effort! Be sure to show some love to the elliptical (and your fellow gym-goers) by giving it a thorough wipe down with the cleaning solution provided at your fitness club.