Buying a cross trainer for the home does take some time and research to make sure you find the right one for you. The good quality cross trainers are not cheap and so doing your homework early on does pay off.
I have written this guide for anyone who is looking to buy a cross trainer for their home, it is to give you basic knowledge in what things to keep in mind before you even start to look at cross trainers, what things to look for in cross trainers and other useful information.
What Are The Benefits Of A Cross Trainer?
We all want to look good. We want to minimise our body fat levels so our stomach is flat, legs are toned and we dont have a double chin, but a firm jawline. Reducing the fat in our bodies even effects the face, how we look.
As well as reducing the body fat so we look good, working out further increases our looks by promoting circulation. When you work out, your heart will beat faster and it will strengthen itself. With extra blood flow / circulation to our skin, it helps to renew it faster – shedding old skin and producing new, better quality skin.
Running is a great form of cardio, the only downside is the fact that it is a high impact movement. You impact all of your lower body joints when running, even your lower back to an extent. So if you have knee or joint problems already then you don’t want to aggravate it.
Working out on a cross trainer will still give you the great benefits of a good cardio workout but without the high impact movement involved with running. A cross trainer, otherwise known as an elliptical trainer, is a machine which simulates the movement of running and climbing while working your arms in a pushing / pulling motion.
Moving in an elliptical motion (you can see where the name comes from!) is almost a circular motion so there is no impact present. You are still getting the benefit of a good cardio workout with no impact to your joints.
The cross trainer is the perfect and most effective form of cardio if you suffer or have suffered from any joint problems or knee issues.
You can have low intensity workouts like LISS (low intensity steady state cardio) or high intensity workouts like HIIT (high intensity interval training). A good quality cross trainer will have electro-magnetic resistance (which we will get into later) which gives you the ability to turn the resistance up or down right from the display panel. I usually go for high resistance when doing my HIIT and low resistance when doing the LISS in front of the TV or while listening to my audio books – I love fiction and also self improving – so I can learn while I work out.
The Complete Guide To Buying A Home Cross Trainer
Before you check online or start shopping for a cross trainer, there are some things you need to consider:
Where In The House Will You Be Putting The Cross Trainer?
Where the cross trainer will be is a very crucial question to address because you need to consider two things here, the space required and which floor will you have it on.
Keeping Enough Space In The Room.
As far as the spacing goes, you need to measure how much space you have and always be over generous with your measurements as you could always do well with a good few inches of grace to enable you to workout without having to worry about knocking anything over.
You will, more often than not get better deal when buying a cross trainer online than if you had bought it in a shop purely because online stores like Amazon do not have the expensive overheads that shops do. Also with Amazon you get that piece of mind when shopping. Always be sure to check the dimensions at the website you make the purchase to see it fits in nicely to your measurements.
This is a good (and often overlooked) question. If it is going to be on the ground floor then it’s fine. If you are going to be putting it on an upper floor then it is a good idea to make sure you put it directly above a wall / room partition as you will get more stabilisation this way. Remember, a good quality cross trainer can be quite heavy, and with your weight on top of it – along with the movement – this could get to be quite a load for a weak floor to carry.
Putting it above partitions will always be a safe bet.
Who Be Using The Cross Trainer?
If you have a family of four who will be using the cross trainer then it is a good idea to keep their heights and weight in mind. The weight because most cross trainers will have a maximum weight allowance, which if not followed can and will damage the cross trainer or certainly wear it quicker than its anticipated life.
You also need to consider the height of the people using the cross trainer as well because a taller person will need a longer stride where shorter people < 5’6″ will need a shorter stride. Most of the decent cross trainers will have an adjustable stride length which would be perfect for mixed height users.
Another feature to look for if there are a few people who will be using the cross trainer is the user profiles. Any good quality cross trainer will allow you to set a number of user profiles (4-8 users). These are very good because you are able set the weight, age and fitness level so the cross trainer will give you the most accurate feedback possible. For example the heart rate levels of an 18 year old fit person would be very different to a 68 year old, obese person.
Features For The Home Cross Trainer To Keep In Mind
(In Order Of Priority)
As mentioned above, the Electromagnetic resistance is the process in which the cross trainer will use varying magnetic fields to cause tension in your movement electric currents are then passed through the electromagnets which create the braking force.- giving you resistance. This is why on the higher resistance levels you work harder and find the lower resistance levels easier.
The alternative to the electro-magnetic resistance is a cross trainer with belt resistance (which I cover below).
Cross trainers with electro-magnetic resistance are more expensive than the belt resistance cross trainers but they are a better quality build.
Electro magnetic cross trainers give you the ability to turn the tension up or down while you work out by using the control panel on the display screen. This is a feature that many of us take for granted.
While I do my HIIT training, I do 1 minute of high intensity, then lower the intensity for 1 minute and then repeat. I could not do this one the belt resistance models and heres why;
Are cross trainers where the tension is created with the belt and flywheel working in tandem. To turn the tension up or down would involve you getting off your cross trainer and manually adjusting it. Then getting back on to finish your workout. This is not ideal but if you aren’t planning on changing your resistance mid-workout then this could be a cheaper alternative for you.
The flywheel is the wheel on the cross trainer that creates the elliptical movement motion. Your feet turn the footpads in a circular motion which is controlled by this flywheel.
The flywheel can come in a variety of different weights. The general rule of thumb is, the heavier the flywheel the better the cross trainer and the smooth your workout and movement will be.
An important factor to consider when buying a cross trainer for the home with people of varied heights. The stride length is the length between strides. Shorter people naturally have shorter strides than taller people.
Buying a cross trainer with a short stride length would be perfect for shorter people but if someone who is tall tried working out on it, it would feel very uncomfortable and restricted.
You can buy a cross trainer with an adjustable stride length which would be great for taller and shorter people who share the cross trainer.
Most if not all cross trainers will come with a digital display as standard. It is how much information it displays what you need to look at. The very basic models will tell you the time, calories (?) and speed. The more advanced models will tell you your heart rate, calories, time, speed, watts, they will tell you what your target heart rate should be based on your statistics and the workout you are doing.
The higher end models will even come with a built-in TV, an internet browser and other things which, in my opinion, you don’t need to get an effective workout.
As long as you got calories, times, and heart rate readings, this is plenty for you to workout effectively with enough motivation.
Hand Pulse Sensors
As described, these are sensors on the handles. While you are working out, you firmly grip them and they will give you (an approximate) reading of your beats per minute. This is a useful feature regardless of the type of workout you are doing, but more specifically if you are doing LISS or HIIT.
Chest straps are.. straps which you fasten on your chest. These will also measure your BPM like the hand pulse sensors but they are actually more accurate than the hand sensors. The hand sensors can give you a misread because your hands can get sweaty and this can affect the reading. So if you need very accurate reading of your BPM, then having chest straps is the best way – some of the higher end cross trainers come with it at no extra cost.
For HIIT you need to keep your BPM high while working and you will have a certain time to recover where you can lower it, you repeat these steps until your workout is complete. For this, the heart rate monitor is crucial as you want your BPM to be high, but even during the recovery, you dont want it to drop too low.
For LISS, you want your BPM to be high enough that you are getting a good, effective workout but not too high that you wonder into the HIIT zone. At the same time, you dont want your heart beat to fall so low that you dont get any benefit for working out at all.
For these reasons, having a heart rate monitor, whether it be in the form of a hand pulse sensor or a chest strap is very important.
The mid range to high end cross trainers will come with pre-set workout programs. Whether you’re trying to burn fat, tone up, do some endurance training, having preset programs is very useful as it gives you a goal to work towards. If you were to set a goal yourself, you could make it too easy for you, or too difficult. This is where having preset (or even better, custom goals) would come in and give you a “moving target” to strive towards
Some of the higher end machines will set goals based on your statistics and your previous workouts.
User profiles are important if you are sharing your cross trainer. Some of the higher end models have the ability to save your information as well as provide user profiles. Each profile will have the respective users’ statistics so when they wish to train, they simply hop on and select their profile and are ready to go!
Water Bottle Holder
Because it is always wise to keep hydrated – a simple yet often overlooked and a key factor to consider. Most cross trainers, higher and lower end will have one of these. If you are considering buying one without – then you will regret it.
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