I f you have always walked by it at the gym, wondering what it can do for your body or how you should use it correctly, then it is time to learn all it is to know about the elliptical machine, also known as the cross trainer, elliptical trainer, or glider machine. In this article, we present the benefits it offers and discuss its efficiency so you can then make sense of the reviews you will find online and have an easier time deciding if and which model should go into your home to help you get in shape.
This apparatus was invented to simulate running, walking, or stair climbing in an enclosed space and without putting the same pressure on the joints as outdoor activities would. The concept is fairly new compared to other machines like the stationary bike or the reformer, seeing how the elliptical was introduced on the market as late as 1991 by Precor. It was first destined for people who couldn’t use high-impact machines or do high-impact workouts due to an injury or joint pain. Yet, it immediately grew in popularity and today can be found in almost all commercial gyms.
To use a cross-trainer, you just need to step on the footplates and grab the handles with your hands. Most models will offer synchronized handles, which means that you can move your hands at the same time with your legs. The next step is to select the resistance level, which will decide the level of difficulty the machine will create and start the workout.
To lead a healthy lifestyle, specialists recommend including two types of training in your weekly routine: strength and cardio. The first type implies lifting weights or doing exercises with resistance machines, which will help you gain muscle strength and recover your balance. Cardio, on the other hand, implies raising your heart rate, and you can do it either by jogging or walking or by using gym apparatuses like the stationary bike or the elliptical. Here are the main benefits elliptical cardio training offers:
If you are wondering if the cross-trainer will help you expend more calories than running outdoors or on a treadmill, the answer is no. You are putting a lot of effort when running, so you are raising your heart rate to a higher level than when you are on the cross-trainer. The result is that you will expend more calories in a shorter interval.
Nevertheless, there is one point when using a gliding machine may be more advantageous than going out on a run: if you have weak joints that make you prone to injury or if you are already experiencing joint pain. We don’t say that running will ruin your knees, as this study from 2020 has already proved that the more you run, the stronger your joints tend to become since the human body has its own mechanisms to adapt to change. Yet this is true only if you don’t already have a disease that affects your joints.
To better understand how much can a cross-trainer help you in your effort to get in shape, we compared it to three of the most popular cardio activities. For this comparison, we referred to a hypothetical female subject weighing 60 kg and measuring 165 centimeters in height, who would train for 30 minutes.
From this analysis, it results that the treadmill is the most efficient for weight loss. However, to burn 180 calories in half an hour is a great achievement, so you shouldn’t overlook the elliptical when you make your decision, particularly if you are overweight or obese, as the treadmill can easily turn into a torture apparatus for your joints.
If you are trying to stay fit, half an hour of moderate or high-intensity effort will be enough. However, if you are looking to see noticeable results when you step on the scale, you may need to push yourself harder. This means increasing the resistance level on the machine to make your heart rate rise or just training for up to an hour. Some users like to keep an eye on the calorie tracker and stop when they have reached the desired number of calories. This may take a while if you decide to work out in your own rhythm. Alternatively, HIIT is still very popular, so you can choose to work yourself harder for a short time, take a short break, and then push yourself again. 30 minutes of HIIT on the cross-trainer can help you burn up to 370 calories, so we think that it is worth the effort.
You have a lot to gain if you decide on an elliptical, from the great cardio workout that comes without the cost of painful knees to the great experience more high-end models offer: on-demand or live workout videos or beautiful routes you can imagine yourself running on. It is not a complicated apparatus, so it won’t take long until you get accustomed to it and can be pretty fun to use if you are not a highly competitive and energetic person. On the other hand, you need to take into account that this is a large machine, so you need to have enough space at your disposal to make it fit.