If you want to get into great shape with home workouts, nothing beats working up a sweat on a good-quality elliptical cross trainer. Even if you have a long way to go before you are buff and beach-beautiful, you can do a remarkable job of toning your arms and legs and greatly improving your cardiovascular system with an elliptical machine.
Elliptical trainers are somewhat new on the exercise scene, at least compared to such things as exercise treadmills or the much older stationary bicycles. However, ellipticals offer a decided advantage over many types of home gym equipment because they work the upper body as well as the legs and provide an excellent cardiovascular exercise session at the same time.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, firm muscles, increase endurance or just generally get fit and good-looking, elliptical trainers can help. They also offer another great benefit: You can exercise on these machines without hurting your joints or lower back, which can occur with other types of exercise machines.
We have found the Precor EFX, the Smooth Agile DMT and the Sole E35 to be excellent choices for elliptical trainers. For more information about the value and best qualities of elliptical machines, check articles on elliptical machines.
These first machines, which were effective but rather large, were intended for health clubs. Since then, elliptical designs have been refined and created for home use.
Using an elliptical trainer for exercise, with your feet on movable pads, offers a powerful cardiovascular workout that is easier on the joints and lower back than pounding the pavement while running. It also works just as well for beginners as seasoned athletes, and it can even be used by people who have sustained prior injuries, despite the fact that it is a weight-bearing form of exercise.
The earliest elliptical trainers did not have movable handlebars, but today most elliptical machines have both stationary handlebars and movable bars. The movable handlebars provide exercise for the upper body, add to the overall cardio exercise experience and give arms a healthy workout. However, it is possible to get a solid workout using an elliptical machine that has only the stationary handlebars. Some key features to look for in a good elliptical are:
It would be smart to seek out an elliptical that fits your stride as it relates to your height and leg movement in order to get the exercise regimen you need. In addition, you likely will want to examine how many preprogrammed workouts the machine provides, what resistance levels are available, whether you can adjust the incline and how you can track what your heart is doing.
It helps to check your workout duration time, calories burned, distance covered and more when you are exercising on an elliptical. It also is useful to track your heart rate, which can be done by grasping sensors on the stationary handlebars or using a chest strap.
One feature that can make a considerable difference in many elliptical cross trainers is the flywheel. Often, the heavier it is, the more stable the machine and the smoother the workout, although some manufacturers say other design factors are more significant. It also helps to know what the maximum user weight is if different family members will be working out on the machine. It's also useful to know what the elliptical weighs and how much space it will take up in the home.
Look for extras to suit your style and remove the tedium from exercise. These can include a rack or accessory shelf to hold reading material, a water bottle holder, plug-in areas for MP3s or other music devices, and cooling fans.
Help & Support
Since elliptical trainers generally are a sizable investment, it is important to have easy and helpful contact with the company. This will come in handy for such things as assembly (if you do it yourself) and getting answers to any problems that might arise. If you are spending the kind of money it takes to buy an elliptical machine, it is always a good idea to check out the warranty that comes with the product. You will find that the warranties for elliptical trainers vary substantially, so you no doubt will want to do some homework here.
No matter which of the elliptical machines you end up buying for your home gym, if it has these basic characteristics, it will no doubt be a good buy. And if you use it regularly, especially with guidance from your doctor, you will certainly see and feel positive results.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™