Features to Look for in an Elliptical Cross Trainer
Not all cross trainers are created equal. There are two major types of trainers on the market and the differences are vast. A belt cross trainer gives you a basic workout tool and works best for those who don’t need to vary their routine much. They are generally smaller and thus don’t take up as much space as their counterparts, however most only offer one level of resistance, or the resistance must be manually adjusted.
Magnetic cross trainers on the other hand, offer much more by way of variety. Electromagnets create the resistance based on the effort you put in, therefore the more fit you become, the harder the machine will make you work. Another added benefit is that magnetic trainers are by and large quieter while they operate.
The Anatomy of a Cross Trainer
The arms or levers act like vertical handlebars. They provide both stability while operating the machine and an ovoid motion to work your upper body. The foot pedals also move in ovals and are usually covered with a non-slip surface such as rubber to keep your feet in place during your workout.
The key ingredient inside the cross trainer is the flywheel, which creates momentum in response to your effort and allows you to build up to a comfortable pace without jarring your joints.
A heart rate monitor is most often found in the handle grip and detects your pulse to let you know how you’re doing. If you use models with this feature, you must keep in mind that the best heart rate for the most beneficial exercise routine is between 70 and 80 percent of your maximum.
The digital display available on many models is useful for those who are interested in tracking their progress. Most often they have an LCD screen that provides you with a variety of information like speed, calories burned, time and even distance covered – as though you were actually cross-country skiing. The control buttons that usually surround the display allow you to program the machine as well as record your performance for comparison to your goals later.
What are My Goals?
Before you buy, you must first decide what you hope to get from a cross trainer. Few people use just a cross trainer in their routines even though they do provide a great full body workout. More often than not, people will use the cross trainer as a tool to increase and maintain fitness so they can participate in other activities like swimming or cycling.
What Features Do I Need?
If your main goal is to use your trainer for losing weight and increase your overall fitness, almost any cross trainer will do, so long as it is capable of taking your body weight. A heart rate monitor will not only keep you challenged but also help to keep you safe, especially if you are just starting out.
Are you trying to increase your overall strength and flexibility? A programmable cross trainer might be your best bet. Resist the urge to start at too high a level though. Remember, the goal is to improve your overall health, not hurt yourself!