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How to Use a Cross Trainer

Being physically active means spending 150 minutes or more of moderate activity every week.

If you’re not reaching those numbers, you don’t have to worry about it. There’s no need to go to the gym when you can simply get your exercise from a cross trainer in your house.

Row of cross trainers in a gym

Cross trainers allow you to reap the benefits of working the major muscle groups in a short amount of time. It’s perfect for busy individuals who don’t afford to spend hours in the gym every week.

If you’re interested in how to increase your fitness level and improve your health then keep reading. You’ll learn more about cross trainers, what benefits they provide and how to get a good workout with them.

What is a Cross Trainer?

Also known as an elliptical machine it’s a stationary machine which can be used indoors. It simulates various types of physical exercises such as walking or running and it doesn’t put a lot of pressure on joints.

The cross trainer can also be used by injured people to stay in shape and avoid putting on weight. This type of machine was invented by Precor back in the nineties.

The Benefits of Using A Cross Trainer

An elliptical machine can be used by adults as well as the elderly. It provides one of the best ways to get fit without doing strenuous exercise.

Here are the main benefits of an elliptical machine:

1. Lose Weight

A cross trainer can be successfully used to get rid of excessive fat. That’s because this machine works your entire body, particularly the leg muscles which are the largest ones.

As a result, the heart has to pump more blood to keep up with the increased demand in the leg muscles. This increases your metabolism and helps you burn more calories.

If you use the cross trainer for just 2-3 times every week for about 20-30 minutes, you’ll accelerate your metabolism and begin to see good results in the mirror. You’ll get rid of the fat around your belly, hips, thighs and legs.

2. Tone Your Muscles

On top of losing weight, you can also get some definition by using the elliptical machine.

For example, people start to see a more beautiful and toned quad muscle which is one of the most important muscles in your legs.

At the same time, those who use the cross trainer can also train their shoulders and make those deltoids pop up. In just a few weeks, your friends and relatives will notice that you \have a more athletic body, so don’t underestimate the potential of an elliptical machine.

3. Train Your Whole Body

The cross trainer mimics various simple physical exercises such as stair climbing, running or walking.

These are known to improve the strength and endurance of the leg muscles. However, if you hold on to the bars and move the arms at the same time with your legs, you also get a great upper body workout!

An elliptical machine is known for working your arms and shoulders as well as your core (abdominal muscles) which contracts while you use it.

If you increase the resistance level of the machine, you’ll perform a more physically demanding exercise which helps you burn more calories. Although you might get sore at the beginning, this sensation will pass in a few days.

4. Protect Your Joints

Another great advantage of a cross trainer consists of protecting your tendons, ligaments and joints.

That’s because working out on an elliptical machine is considered to be an impact-free exercise. You’re not jumping or putting a lot of pressure on your knees, so you will not experience joint pains in the future.

On the other hand, running on a treadmill can put a lot of stress on your knees. If you’re currently injured or have had knee surgery at some point in the past, an elliptical machine provides a great way to stay in shape without aggravating your condition.

5. Train At Home

If you have been at the gym in the past, you know how crowded can be sometimes.

It takes time to check in to the gym, change your clothes and find a free machine to do your training. If it’s very crowded in there, you can spend at least one or two hours before you’re done.

On the other hand, a cross trainer provides a quicker and easier alternative – you work out in the comfort of your own home. There are no queues to wait at, no need to check in or share fitness equipment with strange people.

The fact that you can have an elliptical machine in your house and work out when you feel comfortable encourages many people to become more health conscious. On top of that, you can also watch your TV shows and listen to your favorite music while working out.

If you are thinking about buying one for home use then check out our best cross trainer reviews.

6. Improve Lung Capacity

It is a well-known fact that cardio exercises, particularly working on a cross trainer, can improve your breathing patterns and expand your lung capacity.

That’s because when you’re working out on the elliptical machine, your heart needs to send more oxygen to the muscles. This means working the lungs harder which in turn improves their efficiency. The continuous exchange of gases in the lungs (eliminating carbon dioxide and getting more fresh oxygen) helps to increase the capacity of the alveoli which are small air-filled sacs in your lungs.

Using a cross trainer for about 20 minutes several times a week can make you breathe better and reduce your resting heart rate. At the same time, working your lungs also reduces the likelihood of developing asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and similar respiratory ailments.

7. Enjoy Different Types of Workouts

An elliptical machine is more complex than it looks like at first sight, but it also remains easy to use at the same time.

You can enjoy multiple types of workouts by simply changing the resistance level of the machine. For example, you can go for a simple walk, a mild jog or high-intensity interval training which really trains your entire body.

As a result, you’ll never get bored on a cross trainer. You can change the resistance level depending on your goals or what you feel like you want to do on that particular day.

8. Cross Trainers Require Minimal Maintenance

An elliptical machine or cross trainer is one of those fitness machines which need little to no maintenance.

That’s because it has very few moving parts and it’s virtually impossible to damage one of those fitness equipment. You can use a cross trainer for years to come and improve your strength and conditioning each week.

In the event that the machine does get damaged, manufacturers provide warranty policies for several years which can cover necessary repairs or part replacements, so your investment is protected.

9. Establish A Natural Leg Motion

The beauty of a cross trainer is that it promotes a healthy foot and leg motion.
As you probably already know, pain and injuries can happen when nerves are pinched and this usually takes place when an unnatural leg motion occurs. In other words, you’re more likely to get injured when you walk or run incorrectly.

A cross trainer helps the body establish the correct leg motion. This means realigning the tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles in your ankle, knee and hip. As a result, you’re less likely to become injured and you’ll even develop a more elegant gait.

What’s A Good Cross Trainer Technique?

There are several things you need to keep in mind before hopping on a cross trainer machine.

For example: make sure you’re properly hydrated right from the beginning and have a water bottle nearby. You’ll eventually sweat on this machine and you need to stay hydrated while working out.

Secondly, use shoes with a good grip which don’t skid away from the pedals. Especially when you start to pick up speed while working out, you don’t want your feet from sliding off the machine and causing an injury.

Another important tip to follow is to avoid locking your knees. When you perform the circular motion with your feet, make sure that your knees are slightly bent all the times. This prevents damage to your knees and protects your ACL which is one of the most important ligament in the leg.

To have more balance when pedaling (especially if you’re a beginner), make sure that you grab on to the handles and have a firm grip all the times. Use the handles constantly to also work your upper body and strengthen your shoulders and arms.

As you probably already know, most cross trainers come with a resistance dial which allows you to increase or decrease the resistance level. At the same time, some machines come with an inclination switch.

This feature lets you set the inclination of the machine, making it feel like you’re running uphill. This adds further resistance to your exercise and it helps you get a very vigorous leg workout.

To avoid injuries and increase your stamina, make sure that you put all your weight on your heels, not on your toes. Some people make the mistake to push forwards using their toes, but this might make your feet feel numb after a while.

The correct way of pedalling involves using your heels. Lean back and push into those heals to make the elliptical machine spin and you’re going to reap all the benefits of this fitness equipment.

How Often Should I Exercise?

This is a good question and it depends on various factors.

For example, if you’re a beginner, you don’t need to go all in right from the start. Jump onto the elliptical machine and work for 10 minutes or so. Do this for two or three times a week, when you feel comfortable.

Once you become more advanced, you can increase the workout time and the frequency of the exercise sessions. For example, you can work out for 15-30 minutes three or four times a week.

This will drastically increase your metabolism and help you lose weight. However, make sure that you don’t overtrain. Think of your fitness journey as a marathon, not a sprint. It’s better to exercise several times a week for the rest of your life than going on the cross trainer every day for just one or two months.

What Is A Great Beginner Workout?

If you’re a complete beginner and this is the first time you step on a cross trainer, you want to do your best to avoid injuries, make the exercise comfortable and avoid soreness as much as possible.

In this case, it would be ideal to follow a training routine similar to this one:

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes on the lowest resistance level possible
  • Increase the resistance level and do 5 more minutes
  • Repeat this for about 15-20 minutes at most
  • Cool down with 5 minutes of exercise at a low resistance level

This exercise routine can be ideal for people of all ages, even teenagers and the elderly.

You can also mix things up later on to avoid boredom. For example, you can go for 5 minutes of moderate exercise and 1-2 minutes of intense exercise at a very high resistance level. Then you come back to moderate exercise for 5 minutes and repeat. This is called high-intensity interval training.

Ready For Your First Workout?

Hopefully, by now you’re excited to start your first training session.

Make sure that you find a high-quality cross trainer from a reputable manufacturer and give it a go. Don’t try to be a hero from the first day, just relax, enjoy the ride and let your legs do the work!

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