Buying an Elliptical Cross Trainer
When buying home fitness equipment for the first time it is worth doing a little bit of research beforehand; that way it will serve you well for many years. You’ve already decided buying an elliptical trainer is right for you so what do you need to know before parting with your cash.
Here are five different aspects worth considering
- Adjustable Stride Length
- Dual Direction Movement with Ergonomic Footplates and Handles
- Easy to read Display with Console Feedback
- Magnetic Resistance
- Adjustable Resistance levels with varied Programmes
Adjustable Stride Length
This may not be obvious to everyone but it’s particularly important if there is more than one user. It is essential to have the correct stride length so your body moves in a natural way.
The elliptical trainer is designed to mimic the body’s running and walking motion so for you to get the full benefit it needs to able to match your natural stride. A shorter stride gives an up and down motion whereas a longer stride length will produce a smoother elliptical action. Check out the spec of the cross trainer for the stride length; they are usually between 14″ to 20″. As a general rule the longer the stride the better.
There are many elliptical trainers on the market and they are fast becoming the number one choice for home use. They will of course vary in price but most models offer models with adjustable pedals. Consider your body type and if you’ll be sharing the machine before you decide on a model.
Dual Direction Movement with Ergonomic Footplates and Handles
As mentioned earlier an elliptical cross trainer mimics our body’s walking action; this “elliptical motion” is achieved by the dual direction of the pedals and handles. A smooth and stable motion is vital for a low impact exercise. You don’t want any unnecessary jarring of the joints from poorly designed exercise machines.
Manufacturers realise the importance of designing large footplates and comfortable handlebars and this will be highlighted as a main feature in the models description. The best elliptical motion is achieved when handlebars and foot plates give a natural glide back and forth.
Most models today offer dual direction action that will accommodate changing upper and lower body workouts. And going in reverse will exercise different muscles especially the buttocks and hamstrings.
Easy to read Display with Console Feedback
Having a display that is easy to read and understand means you can monitor your progress more closely. Most displays show speed, time, distance plus calories burned and heart rate. Budget cross trainers will have basic requirements but for the full works you need to look at the higher priced elliptical trainers.
Top brands like Johnson, Life Fitness, Nautilus and Precor for example will offer everything you would expect from a gym cross trainer. Beginners and those new to elliptical training may find cheaper models are all they need.
The advantage of having all this info in front of you encourages you to keep going especially when you can see how many calories you have just burned. Experienced and newcomers to the world of fitness will also gain from knowing if their work-out is at the right “fat burning” levels.
Without getting too technical there are basically two types of cross trainer a belt driven and a magnetic. They both form resistance on the flywheel; cheaper models having belt tension and better models magnetic resistance.
The general view would be to go for magnetic resistance simply because it is quieter and will last much longer. Magnetic resistance systems also require less maintenance. Look out for models that have a push button control on the display too. This will allow you to control the resistance without interrupting your workout.
With fold away and compact elliptical trainers widely available more people are keeping fit at home instead of going to the gym. But wheeling out an exercise machine in front of the TV is not much fun if it makes too much noise so look for models with a quiet and smooth operation.
Adjustable Resistance levels with varied Programmes
Anyone looking to lose weight, build strength of just become more flexible will be kept motivated for longer when they have the choice of more workouts. That’s why it is worth paying that little extra if it means you’re not going to get bored.
Being able to change the resistance level will suit users at different fitness levels and lead to improved aerobic fitness and muscle strength. Lower resistance levels are designed to give an aerobic exercise whereas the higher you go tones and builds muscle strength.
On higher end models you’ll find pre-set programmes built-in which target different areas; fat-burning, strength building, aerobic, etc and some models come with special trainer software such as iFit. This keeps track of your progress and sees how you have done for the year.
Exercise at home with an elliptical trainer or other types of fitness equipment will be more rewarding when there is a greater choice of programmes especially if it helps you determine the intensity and pace of your workout that best suits you.