What are the benefits of using a cross trainer?
Training on a cross trainer (or an elliptical) means you can train either your whole body, or focus on a single area of your body. Although you won’t gain muscle, you’ll improve your stamina tenfold, while burning calories (and losing weight), and working on your arms and legs coordination. With very little impact on your joints, exercising on a cross trainer is great for a wide range of people, regardless of age or ability.
Here are our top 5 reasons why you should start training with an cross trainer:
- It helps you lose weight: 30 minutes on a cross trainer, at 70% of your maximum advised heart rate, will burn those extra calories and fat. You can get efficient results because your whole body is working out, and you won’t even notice how much you’re doing.
- It workouts 80% of your muscles: While you’re pushing the pedals, your thighs, glutes and calves are working; at the same time, your arms, shoulders and pecs work to move the handlebars. As a bonus, it can also help you improve your posture and your core strength.
- It’s good for your heart: Cardio training is great for overall well-being and for your cardiovascular system. By training on a cross trainer you will naturally make your heart work, improve blood flow and lower cholesterol levels.
- It’s kind to your joints: One of the biggest pluses of cross trainers is that your workout will have a very low impact on your joints. The elliptical movement means that your weight is equally balanced on your legs and you don’t have constant impact on your ankles and knees. For example, athletes often use a cross trainer to get back in shape after an injury.
- It can help you release stress: A cardio session can help you take your mind off any of your day-to-day problems. With exercise, you can empty your mind, your body can release endorphins, meaning you feel happier and calmer.
The right posture is vital
Your posture is key to making your fitness sessions on the cross trainer efficient. Remember to always:
- Keep a straight back: Stand straight and always engage your core
- Face forward: Keep your eyes on the horizon and release your shoulders. This will help prevent any neck pain
- Hips forward: Keep your hips in the same direction as your legs and avoid any side movements
- Firm grounding: Make sure your feet are placed flat on the pedals, and all the way to the front.
- Mobile handlebars: Place your hands on the handlebars before you start working out. If you decide not to use the handlebars (to avoid using your arms), remember to keep your back and your chest as straight as possible in order to find your balance point throughout the session.
What’s your fitness objective?
As for any training session, it’s very important that you warm up before getting onto your cross trainer.
For an effective workout, plan 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can adapt your speed and incline depending on your objectives and ability. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t feel out of breath or that the settings are completely out of your level of fitness.
If you want to burn calories:Interval training is the best way to lose weight and increase your endurance. Interval training is based on alternating between high intensity phases and recovery phases.
We recommend 2 minutes in high intensity, and 3 minutes in moderate intensity. Keep going until you reach 30 minutes of training.
If you want to improve your overall body fitness level: To make sure you get the most complete workout, we recommend mixing some bodyweight exercises with the use of your cross trainer.
You can alternate between 10 minutes on the cross trainer and 2 to 3 bodyweight exercises. Choose and mix these exercises up to make sure you target all the different muscle groups: pushups for the upper body, squats for the lower body, abs for your core...etc.
An example of a session would be to get on the treadmill for 10 minutes, 30 seconds of each bodyweight exercise, 30 seconds rest. Repeat this circuit 3 or 4 times.
If you want to train your upper body: Your back and your chest will become stronger thanks to the back and forth movements. If you push the handlebars, you’ll focus the workout on your triceps and chest. If you pull the handlebars, you’ll help engage your back and biceps.
If you want to train your lower body: Do not hold the handlebars. Keep your posture as straight as possible and focus on your legs. You can increase the pedals incline to make the exercise more difficult. By increasing the resistance levels, this will also help you get leaner legs.
One more tip: if you pedal forward, you’ll work on your glutes, quads and calves. If you pedal backwards, you’ll be working out your glutes and core.
What kind of training plan should you follow?
A standard session on the elliptical should look something like this:
- 10 minutes to warm up, with a resistance level of 2 or 3
- 20-30 minutes to burn calories, during which you’ll slowly increase the resistance level up to 6 or 7
- 5 to 10 minutes for the recovery phase, with a resistance of 2 or 3 (it should be the same as your warm up phase), to allow your heart to slow down and recover
For visible results within the first 2 to 3 months, plan at least 3 sessions per week. We recommend 30 to 40 minutes, and 15 minutes for the warm up and recovery phases.
Try to alternate between training days and rest days to avoid monotony and allow your body to recover.