Buying an elliptical trainer? Elliptical cross trainers provide some unique aerobic benefits and are quickly becoming ‘the’ fitness machine to own. Here's a brief elliptical review of what to know before you buy:
What is an elliptical trainer?
An elliptical trainer is a fitness machine that combines the natural stride of a treadmill or ski machine, with the simplicity of a stair climber. You stand upright on the foot pedals & stride in a forward or backwards direction.
Your feet move in a natural elliptical motion which is the closest simulation to walking and running available without the impact. There are handrails for balance. Some ellipticals even have handles for working your upper body as well - thus providing a complete upper & lower body workout.
What Makes It Unique?
Elliptical machines offer 3 main benefits for the home exerciser:
#1 Elliptical workouts provides less impact on the joints than traditional running exercise (say, on a treadmill). In other words, it's a safe, low impact workout for anyone, regardless of fitness level.
#2 Unlike cycling, stair-stepping or even walking, an elliptical trainer uses both arms and legs thereby providing a total body workout in less time. Plus, elliptical workouts have been proven to give you a lower rate of perceived exertion (Basically this means you did more aerobic exercise than you felt you did). This can actually add up to more calories burned and more weight lost over the long term.
#3 Crosstrainers are simple to use yet still provide weight resistant workouts that help build bone density, fight osteoporisis, and increase your metabolism.
Important Considerations Before Buying:
It's important to do an elliptical review of what you need before buying. Some of the most popular features with buyers are:
1) Upper Body Arm Bars
These are bars that move while you work your legs. They help you work your arms while working your legs at the same time. While you really don't need these for an effective workout, many people prefer them as they do help to provide resistance training for your upper body.
However make sure you don't have to lean over while using the arm bars which can diminish the effectiveness of your workout (this can happen on many of the cheaper models).
2) Forward and Reverse Motions
The ability to move in a forward or reverse motion adds variety and challenge to your workout. This also reduces your risk of repetitive use injuries common with some treadmill and stair climber users. Most crosstrainers have this option but it's always a good idea to make sure.
3) Adjustable Resistance
Quality elliptical trainers will have a range of resistance levels. Look for a machine that makes resistance changes simple (i. e. one-touch resistance adjustment) so that interval training sessions can be easily incorporated into your workout
Stability is one of the most important features to have. You don't want the machine to wobble or move when you pick up the pace.
In general you get what you pay for - the economy machines under $800 aren't very stable. Higher priced crosstrainers are usually much more stable and can take more of a beating. Other factors that predict stability are the user weight capacity (the higher the better) and the actual unit weight. The heavier a machine is (all other things being equal), the more stable it will feel.
5) Stride Length
Elliptical stride lengths range from 14 inches to 20 inches. A longer stride length 18 - 20 inches can work you leg muscles more fully and give you an overall better workout with more calories burned.
Those are just a few of the features to consider when choosing your elliptical trainer. Other factors to review include the number of user programs, console options, warranty and size/structure of the footplate.
Once you know what you want, you're ready to go shopping for your elliptical trainer. Take your time and choose a crosstrainer that makes you enthusiastic about getting fit and healthy - isn't that what it's all about?
For a list of top rated elliptical trainers and where to find them, check out our Elliptical Trainer Ratings page.
Vienna Miller writes for Elliptical Review , a consumer oriented website focusing on the home elliptical trainer market.
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