If you’ve ever set foot in a gym, you’ll have seen the rows of people working out on cross-trainers. They’re certainly one of the most popular machines you’ll find in the gym – and with good reason. Few other machines allow you to work on so many areas of your body at the same time. And unlike, say, a treadmill, what’s great about cross-trainers is that they’re a pretty low impact way of exercising. In other words, you can work out for long periods of time, without putting too much stress on your joints. Read on to discover 7 ways a cross-trainer can help you keep your whole body fit at home.
The cross-trainer is a relatively new invention
The first cross-trainer was invented in 1995 by a company called Precor and was pretty much an instant hit as soon as it arrived on the market. One of the key things it had going for it was that it offered just a good a workout whether you were a beginner or a fitness fanatic.
In the early days the machines were known as ‘ellipticals’ because of the ways the pedals turned in an oval, or elliptical, fashion. And in fact, the very first elliptical cross-trainers focused solely on the bottom half of your body. The upright handles remined in a fixed position allowing you to focus on strengthening your legs, bum and tummy. As the machine became more popular, manufacturers were quick to spot the potential of ‘cross training’ – a machine that would help you work on both the upper and lower halves of your body, burning calories and toning muscles at the same time.
Modern cross-trainers benefit from new technology
Today, you’d expect an elliptical cross-trainer to come with moveable handles that put your arms, back and torso through its paces. Modern machines have also been improved by technology too. For example, it’s not unusual for a modern cross-trainer to have a built in LCD panel, heart rate monitor and changeable resistance paths, too.
Why cross-training is so effective
An elliptical cross-trainer mimics the movements you make when stepping and running. But because your feet never leave the pedals, you don’t end up jarring your knee like you can do on a treadmill. So, you get a low-impact aerobic workout that helps you lose weight and build strength without risking injury.
Aerobic exercise helps to keep your heart healthy, lowering your blood pressure and cutting your risk of certain cancers and heart disease. But you also get the benefit of strengthening your body too. An elliptical cross-trainer works on your glutes, quads and calves. At the same time, the upper handles do a great job of working your biceps, triceps, deltoids, lats, traps and pecs.
How an elliptical cross-trainer helps you lose weight faster
For many people, the main objective of getting fit is to lose weight. And the good news is, using an elliptical cross-trainer helps you hit your target faster. Because it provides an all-round workout, a cross-trainer does more to burn calories than, say, a step machine or an exercise bike. A better comparison would be a treadmill. But keep in mind that working out on a cross-trainer feels a lot easier than running on a treadmill. It’s a gentler action, plus it works more muscle groups than a treadmill, which focuses primarily on your legs. By giving your body an all-over workout, a cross-trainer burns more calories with less effort – and that can only be a good thing!
Your cross-trainer helps look after your joints too
A lot of people choose a treadmill for their workout because it most closely mimics the act of running. So, if you enjoy jogging, the advantage of a treadmill is that you can do it all year round, even when it’s cold and wet outside. However, as you get older and your joints start suffering from wear and tear, jogging may not be the best exercise choice for you.
Remember, a workout on a cross-trainer is more or less impact-free. By keeping your feet firmly on the pedals, and with its smooth elliptical motion, a cross-trainer is a good choice for anyone with sensitive joints. Because no matter how hard you push your workout, the pressure on your knees and hips remains pretty minimal.
A good elliptical home gym lets you vary the intensity of your workout
It’s easy to feel like simply doing a lot of the same exercise will help you reach your fitness goals. But that’s not really the case. In fact, the best way to maximise your workout is to vary the levels of intensity. And that’s where a good quality elliptical cross-trainer can be super helpful. Modern machines allow you to vary the resistance of your exercise as you go. So, you could start with the equivalent of a brisk stroll, then step it up into a run, before slowing down to take on a taxing step climb. You’ll find you get the best out of your cross-trainer workout if you mix it up regularly, going from intense movements to something more sedate.
Cross-training is a safe way to exercise
When you’re starting to exercise for the first time, it’s tempting to go at it hard and fast – usually because you want to see results quickly. The trouble is, when you’re body’s out of shape it’s not best prepared for the punishment you put it through. How many times have you seen funny online videos of people stumbling on treadmills at the gym? What’s good with a cross-trainer is that you don’t have these kinds of problems. The elliptical motion is smooth and gentle, meaning you can start slowly and raise the speed gently, easing yourself into the rhythm of the exercise.
Your elliptical home gym will make you stronger
If it’s stronger muscles that you’re trying to achieve, you might expect weight training to be your best bet. But you’d be by how much muscle strength you can develop on a cross-trainer. The trick is to up the speed of your workout, which has the effect of working your muscles much harder. So, you end up not just burning calories but improving your overall strength too.
Plus, if you do a lot of weight training, your cross-trainer can be a great tool for when you’re warming down. By working the muscles gently at the end of your workout, you help them to recover quicker, which results in better muscle gains.
Best of all, you can work out at home on your cross-trainer
Not everyone likes going to the gym. It can feel quite intimidating getting onto a machine you’re not sure how to use, in front of lots of people who seem much fitter than you. That’s another reason why getting yourself a cross-trainer makes sense. Not only do they cost less than a gym membership, but it means you can work out at home, in private.
For the ultimate elliptical cross-trainer, try the Orbitrek Elite
The Orbitrek Elite elliptical machine gives you a really solid workout in less time. How? By offering two workouts in one simple machine. First and foremost, you get a great aerobic workout that burns calories, fat and helps to strengthen your heart and lungs. In fact our research shows that just one hour on the Orbitrek Elite can burn 800 calories – which is pretty good going!
But as well as boosting your cardio performance, the Orbitrek Elite is brilliant for resistance-training. The variable resistance settings mean you can turn up the strength of your workout quickly and easily, helping to build lean lower body muscles and strong upper body muscles.