Buying A Cross Trainer For Your Home
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When looking for a cross trainer to buy you need to be clued up on what to look for, the features that are worth having, things you should be looking out for and weary of. On this page, I will go through all of the important factors to consider when looking for a cross trainer to buy for your home. My name is Joe and I have been working with cross trainers for around ten years so I know a fair bit about them. I am also a part time fitness trainer so I also understand keeping fit and working out along with the physics and biology that goes behind that.
Buying A Cross Trainer For Home: What To Look For.
A Reputable Brand.
The first thing you want to make sure is that the brand you are considering is a reputable brand. The good branded manufacturers are well known in the industry and they have established a reputation. By doing a simple search online you can find out enough data to know they are a decent choice.
The good manufacturers have been in the industry for a while and they know their stuff! When it comes to physical fitness a well designed elliptical machine will go a long way not just the length of time it will keep in good condition but also the quality of workout you receive. By working out a fair bit and regularly, you want to be sure that the movement you are doing is natural and there are no short term or long term risks associated.
A lot of time in research goes into the design and manufacturing of these machines so if you intend to use these machines for any length of time then looking into good manufacturers is definitely recommended.
The decent, good quality cross trainers are not cheap so the warranty has to give you the piece of mind that they will last a substantial test of time, use, wear and tear! Most of the good brands will give you a 5 or in some cases a 10 year warranty. Some companies may charge for the extended warranties. Depending on the charge, this would usually be well worth having.
You should also check whether the warranty is an onsite or return to base. If it is onsite, that’s great as their technician will come out to you to fix it should something go wrong. If it is return to base, you need to make sure that they will either arrange the collection of the parts from you or reimburse you for the return. Besides that you would also need to take into consideration that you would need to take apart the cross trainer yourself to send back which would be both inconvenient and risky.
Decent Length Stride.
The length stride is basically the length of the distance between your legs at the front and the back positions when using it.
Having the stride length to be too short will result in more of an up and down movement instead of the circular motion and can even lead to the cause of injuries in the long term. The general rule of thumb is the longer the stride length the better.
If you are tall and will be sharing the elliptical machine with a shorter person then there is still an option. Most cross trainers will either have adjustable pedals which is the better option or they will have longer foot plates. So if you are tall you would position your feet wider apart, if you are shorter then the gap between your feet would be that much shorter.
Maximum User Weight And Height.
As above; the longer the stride length, the better it would be in general but especially for taller people.
You also want to check the maximum weight that a particular cross trainer would allow. Most cross trainers allow a generally wide spectrum but it is always good to be sure before you buy one.
Nice & Heavy Flywheel.
The flywheel of the elliptical cross trainer is the wheel at the rear from where your foot pedals would be connected to. This is where the resistance is controlled. You want to look for a heavy fly wheel. The rule here is the heavier the flywheel, the more fluid motion you will have as well as more degree of resistance.
A light flywheel will make the motion feel disjointed and it can cause injuries. Some of the cheaper models, you will find have a very light (<4kg) flywheels and they are not even worth looking at in my opinion.
Heart Beat Monitor.
Some of the higher end models will come with a chest strap which you simply put on and as you work out you can keep an eye on your working heart rate.
For many of the models which do not include the strap, they have the handles which have the sensors on them. These sensors monitor your pulse and will give you your live heart rates.
Monitoring your heart rate while working out is important. Whatever your workout, you don’t want to drop your heart beat below a certain BPM as this would make your workout pretty much irrelevant. You want to keep your heart rate up. For HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio, your heart rate needs to be higher than a certain point for a period of time then you have a short (rest) period of time where are heart rate is allowed to be lowered a little. Then repeat.
The other extreme is doing LISS (low intensity steady state cardio). This is where your keep your heart beat at a constant level. Not too high and not too low. Again it is important to keep a close eye on your heart beat for this kind of exercise too.
The console is the computer display of the cross trainer. This is the heart of the machine. This is where you would control your resistance, set workout programs, check how many calories you have burnt, check how many kilometers you have traveled as well as keeping an eye on your heart rate.
The console is where you will be kept motivated. You would work to preset workouts or working to burn a certain number of calories. Either way the decent models will have a good console which, if you can justify it, is definitely worth the investment.
Unlike a treadmill which you workout using its own movement, with a cross trainer you actually create the movement so you want to be able well enough as to give you a decent workout while keeping the impact off your knees and back (which is why cross trainers are far superior compared to treadmills).
Because you actually create the movement, you need resistant – something to keep it from being an easy movement for you. Some of the cheaper models will use air for this which is not very effective.
The better quality machines use magnetic resistance to aid in your workout. The weight of the flywheel is responsible for this. The heavier the flywheel the better your workout with a more fluid and smooth movement and more resistance.
You also want to ensure that you can change resistance by using the console while you are working out. This feature is great and it will be something that you will most likely need at some point.
Some cross trainers will allow you to change resistance but to do so you will need to stop or pause your workout, get off the cross trainer, adjust it and get back on to continue working out. This can be quite inconvenient especially if you are doing a HIIT type of training.
Preset Training Workouts.
Most cross trainers, even some of the lower end models will offer preset training workouts. Needless to say the more you spend on the trainer, the more set workouts you will get.
Having preset workouts are great for keeping you motivated. Things like fat burning, body conditioning, building strength are some of the based programs. Some of the higher end models even ave features which will target specific body parts for you like glutes or arms.
The higher end models can have TV connectivity so you can watch your favourite soap or sitcom while working out. I know (as written above) that if I am doing steady state cardio that I like to watch TV. You could even browse the internet while you workout. Things like browsing videos on Youtube or even connecting to your Spotify playlist and playing the songs to listen to through your headphones while you train would be a good idea to keep you going.
This is a feature I like because I have all my favourite songs and audio books on my iPod and my iPhone. So having this feature sites very well with me. You can listen to your songs or if I’m doing steady state, I would sometimes even listen to audio books while I workout. This way I am learning while working out. This is great because you could work out easily for an hour without even realising, because you are learning!
Battery / Mains.
All cross trainers are powered by mains. Most of them have the advantage of having a battery power source too. This is interesting because you would generate the power for the battery by working out.
Admittedly, it will not save you a fortune on your electric bill but the fact that you are powering your cross trainers’ console should be rewarding enough.
Whats The Difference Between Elliptical Machine & Cross Trainer?
Traditionally most elliptical machines have only had the static hand grips. They did not have the moving arms.
More recently the two are basically the same machine. The terms are used interchangeably. Doing a Google search for elliptical machines will bring up cross trainers and vice versa. You will also see different people in the gym will call them by different names.
In my honest opinion, compared to running on the treadmill, working out on the cross trainer is a much more effective and less harmful exercise. I have had lower back problems from many years ago along with a weak knee joint. Running is a high impact movement so if I were to run; it would increase the problems as I am adding impact to my lower back and especially to my knees.
The cross trainer is a low impact exercise. The movement is in an “elliptical” motion which is basically like a horizontal oval shape. This takes the impact away from your body while giving you a running-like movement.
The other reason I like cross trainers is because, compared to treadmills, they also work the upper body. When you workout on a cross trainer using the arm rails you are working your entire body. This is very beneficial to overall fat burn as well as toning of the muscles. Where on a treadmill, yes, you would move your arms backwards and forwards but you are not necessarily working them. That is just your bodies’ natural movement as you run.