Keeping up with your fitness routine at home can be challenging. But, with the right equipment, you can stay on track, reap the benefits and scale closer to your goals. One of the machines you can get for home use is an elliptical machine. It is easy to use and gives you the much needed cardio exercise at the comfort of your home.
In this article, you will get to learn more about elliptical machines as well as features to look for when buying one.
What Are Elliptical Trainers?
An elliptical trainer is a cardio training machine that combines the motion of an exercise bike and the climbing motion of a stepper machine. It also combines the forward and back movement of a rowing machine and the running motion of a treadmill.
This design allows you to enjoy cardio exercise without straining your joints. It provides low-impact exercise while working on both the lower and upper body. This ‘forgiving’ design works well for people with joint issues or those looking for effective cardio with a reduced impact on the body.
An elliptical trainer comes with various features that determine how hard or easy it is to use. Here are the key elements of an elliptical trainer.
Resistance in elliptical trainers means how hard your legs have to push during motion. Most designs come with magnetic resistance. They feature adjustable resistance levels so you can set your most preferred level. It means you can advance from a less challenging workout to a more intense one with a simple adjustment.
Increasing the levels of resistance can help you burn more calories, increase your fitness levels, or build intervals into your workout. Therefore, the resistance levels in your elliptical determine how challenging your workouts will be.
The incline of an elliptical trainer is not the same as the resistance. Commonly known as the ramp, the incline allows you to increase your workout slope automatically. It comes in handy to work out different muscle groups without necessarily stopping and starting again.
This feature is essential for enhancing your intensity to burn more calories from a single workout. Some elliptical machines come with automatic inclines where you only need to press a button to increase the incline. These are easy to use; however, they come with a higher price tag.
Some designs come with manually adjustable incline settings where you have to get off the machine to set the incline you want. These are quite affordable compared to the automatic inclines ones. As much as this feature isn’t necessary, it is essential to scale up your fitness levels.
User Weight Capacity
The user weight capacity is an indicator of how stable the elliptical machine is. The last thing you want is a machine that shakes with every movement. Most designs come with a user weight range from 200 to 400 lbs.
Cheaper designs have a limit of about 90 to 115 kg and can work well for users less than 90kg. For multiple users, the best elliptical cross trainer should accommodate the weight of the heaviest user. On this note, a machine with a weight limit between 130 and 160kg is suitable.
An elliptical machine console is an essential feature as it highlights different parameters relating to your exercises. Consoles come in different shapes, sizes, and colours: most display time, speed, calories burned, distance, and heart rate.
The design is usually simple and comes with a back-lit function for easy visibility. A back-lit LCD display is ideal for areas with poor lighting. Cheaper models can be hard to read and interpret, especially in poor lighting.
The stride length is the farthest distance between the pedals when you are in an elliptical motion. The best elliptical machine has an adjustable stride length of 12 to 21 inches. A longer stride works on your leg muscles more efficiently than a shorter one. It also helps to burn more calories as the movement extends to your legs’ maximum limit.
What to Look for When Buying an Elliptical Trainer?
The footprint is basically the size of the elliptical machine; that is the length and width. Elliptical machines usually have a smaller footprint compared to treadmills but can still take up significant space. If you have a small workout space, you have to consider if it will fit. The good thing is that there are folding designs. This feature makes it easy to use in small spaces and convenient to store anywhere in the house.
How easy is it to use the elliptical machine? Consider how easy the features are to use for different workouts. For example, ensure the resistance is easy to adjust as it directly affects the effectiveness of your exercise.
Is the machine easy to start, change functions, and run? Is the control panel easily accessible even in motion? Does it run smoothly in different resistance configurations? Answers to these questions will help you determine if it functional for your specific needs.
The stability of an elliptical machine is determined by the quality of the materials, overall designs, and user weight limit. Cross trainers with a solid frame and a high weight capacity are much more stable than a lightweight, low-weight-capacity one.
As mentioned, stability highly affects the motion and effectiveness of your workout. A stable, robust elliptical machine holds down your weight in different movements to run smoothly all through.
Most elliptical machines come with in-built workouts that you can choose from. These workouts can change the resistance or the incline automatically depending on the exercise you choose. Some models come with special workout options that you might like.
For example, some elliptical trainers allow you to download new workouts and save them. Other models can record your workout and upload them to the internet. These designs help you track your progress to make changes where necessary.
Pivoting Foot Pedals
Pivoting foot pedals contribute to support when exercising. Large ones provide even more support during challenging workouts. The right support for your feet means you stay comfortable all through getting the most out of your workout.
A Heavier Flywheel
The flywheel in an elliptical trainer determines how smooth it runs. The heavier it is, the better it runs and the smoother the ride. Also, a heavier flywheel contributes to the stability of the machines for all workouts.
A smoother ride reduces the stress on your joints when using the machine. On this note, you will have to put in less effort when exercising, helping you burn more calories without straining your muscles.
How Elliptical Machine Improves Your Workout
The best elliptical trainer can help you improve your workouts in several ways.
Accelerating Weight Loss
An elliptical trainer can help you accelerate fat loss getting you closer to your fitness goals. The number of calories you burn on an elliptical trainer compare to those on a treadmill. But, it is much easier to use and less strenuous on your body.
When working out on an elliptical, you use large groups of muscles to generate movement. This enhances the process of burning fat without having to add to your intensity. However, the effectiveness of the trainer for weight loss depends on a couple of factors such as age, gender, and overall fitness level.
Protecting Your Joints
We all know how sore your joints and muscles can feel after a challenging workout. With an elliptical trainer, you do not have to worry about straining your joints during long workouts. It provides a low-impact exercise, which is much forgiving to your body regardless of the resistance. An elliptical trainer is therefore ideal for people with joint problems as the pressure is significantly low .
Providing Whole Body Workouts
Unlike most other cardio trainers, an elliptical machine works on the whole body. It engages most muscles of your body, which in turn results in burning more calories. The best part is that an elliptical trainer is a highly-adaptable machine allowing you to tailor your workouts based on your goals. On this note, you can work on your upper body as well as your lower body all at once.
The first day at the gym can be overwhelming, and you might end up hurting yourself with the wrong use of some machines. But, with an elliptical trainer, you can learn its techniques in minutes. It is safe to use and easy to customize to suit your specific needs.
The Bottom Line
You can get the most out of your elliptical trainer to achieve your fitness goals. It is one of the easiest machines to use, and with the models available on the market, you can indeed find a suitable one. We hope this article gives you some insights on how to choose an elliptical machine as well as the benefits it has.