Elliptical Trainers first made their appearance on the scene in health clubs in the 1990’s. The elliptical trainer became so popular that in many gyms and for many cardio enthusiasts, it replaced the Stairmaster. The Elliptical Trainer gained notoriety for its low cardio toning lower body workout. Initially the equipment was only designed for a lower body workout. The elliptical trainer became such a hit in the world of exercise that it evolved into a full body workout exercise machine. This fast calorie burning machine was and still is being embraced by many new and frequent gym users.
Most elliptical trainers work the user’s upper and lower body (although some models do not have moving upper body components). Though elliptical trainers are considered to be minimal impact, they are an example of a weight bearing form of exercise. They can be self powered by user generated motion or can be plugged in for automatic adjustment of motion.
There are three types of elliptical trainers. The oldest elliptical design is the “rear drive” type. The “front-drive” elliptical was the second generation design. The latest design technology is the “center-drive”. The number of front drive elliptical machines has increased in recent years, as some users seem to prefer it more. One of the differences between the rear drive and the front drive is that the motion on the rear drive elliptical machine is much flatter. In order to get a good workout, according to exercise professionals, you need a longer stride to maximize your workout.
An elliptical cross trainer is comparable in its exertion of leg muscles and the heart. The elliptical can produce an intermediate range of leg motion. There are claims that the dual action exercise of an elliptical trainer can actually be more efficient in burning calories. The logic is that by exercising more muscle groups simultaneously, a more intense workout can be achieved in less time. It is also suggested that the perceived rate of exertion is lower. However, other studies have shown that the rate in which calories are burned on an elliptical trainer is similar to that on a treadmill.
By using the elliptical without holding onto the handgrips, the user can improve his or her motor fitness and balance. In this position, the core muscles are held in a state of constant tension. This hands-free position also promotes better posture.
Now that that there is a clear understanding of what the elliptical trainer is, there are a few things to consider before purchasing one.
- How well does the elliptical fit your body size and all the users in your family?
- How does the elliptical feel?
- Does the elliptical exhibit quality construction? Evaluate the design and the components and determine whether the smoothness and durability will be there later.
Test out the machine and get a genuine feeling if it’s right for you. Since there are the three types of elliptical designs on the market today, test each kind.
If you interested in purchasing a rear drive unit, expect to pay around $3000.00. But Kettler, Smooth Fitness, and Diamondback all make quality machines with good warranties in the $1000-$2000 price range.
Price is always a determining factor as this exercise equipment can become quite expensive if you are on a tight budget. Checking with a few mid-range stores may not be a bad idea if they can offer equipment that is comparable to the higher priced ones.
Other points you may need to consider:
Stride length – some offer a 14 inch stride length which may be too short for an average sized person. As such, you may need to invest in a 21 inch stride length machine.
Consider an adjustable incline. Although this isn’t necessary, adjusting the ramps on your machine will make for a more intense workout.
Check the equipment for pedals that move smoothly and quietly when checking the machine out before purchase.
Although you do not need the arm handles, consider them too, as they will intensify the workout.
Before you buy anything, visit several different stores, wear your workout clothes, and test the equipment for a minimum of 10 minutes. Test different models, and examine the bike in its entirety, checking the pedals too. Make sure that the motion is smooth, not jerky; and that the handrails are conveniently located.
Inquire about a warranty; whether there is a 5 year, 10 year or lifetime. And lastly, measure space in your home where you would like the equipment to be placed. It’s no good if you have a great machine and not enough space to effectively use it.