Nearly every gym has an elliptical machine. In fact, it is a staple of cardiovascular exercise lovers. That explains why it is quite popular among both devoted and casual fitness enthusiasts.
Elliptical machines seem user-friendly and inviting even from far. You only need to place your feet on the pedals, hold the handles, and start moving. However, in a lot of ways, most people do not understand these machines and how they can buy the right one. If you want to purchase the right elliptical trainer, you need to understand the basics first.
What Is An Elliptical Machine?
- Low-impact cardio workouts at a fraction of the size of other ellipticals
- Explore the world and discover more than 50 global routes that auto-adjust in real time to your speed (Explore the World subscription required)
- Space saving design with 18” stride length
- Streamlined console displays time, speed, distance, calories, and heart rate
- 16 levels of variable resistance allows you to dial the challenge up or down
- Built-in media rack and water bottle holder
- Moving and fixed padded handlebars with heart rate contact grips
An elliptical machine or trainer is gym equipment that mimics the natural running. Nowadays, you can even find elliptical trainers that mimic certain natural running tracks. Thee are various benefits of using these machines.
First, they are impact-free machines. That means they reduce the strain and stress on the legs through elliptical motion. When walking or running, each step makes the body to jolt.
Studies show that a runner experience impact of up to 2.5 times the body weight when working out. This affects not only the lower back but also the joints. Although walking offers less impact as compared to running, the elliptical machines offer less than both.
Elliptical movement helps mimic the natural path of the knee, hip joints, and the ankle during running, walking, or jogging. This further helps reduce strain on joints. Other than the feet not leaving the pedal, the pedal equally adjusts the angle of an elliptical stride.
Another reason to consider an elliptical trainer is that it provides combined lower and upper body workouts. That explains why a lot of people prefer using an elliptical machine instead of a cross-trainer. When you use it properly, you can engage the chest, triceps, biceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
Tips Before Purchasing An Elliptical Machine
1. Drive System
The main types of drive systems used in elliptical trainers are front-drive and rear-drive. There are also center drive systems, although they are not that common. In the rear-drive design, the flywheel is located behind the user. The argument here is that it is bio-mechanically correct. There are different reasons this is generally accepted. With the flywheel behind, you need to pull it.
The front-drive ellipticals are budget-friendly and simple to use. They locate the machine’s flywheel in front of the person exercising. Thus, users lean forward while on a machine as if they are using the stair-climber.
The center-drive elliptical trainers are quite new. They use innovative approaches when it comes to the drive system location. In this case, the drive system is located on the side of a user. This creates a compact design making it perfect for the small spaces. Some of the center-drive machines can provide a feeling of jogging or walking.
2. Size (Available Space)
The truth is that elliptical trainers take up a lot of space. Therefore, you need to consider it if you reside in cramped spaces. Although most of these machines have a small footprint, handlebars take up a lot of space easily.
A lot of users run to the store to buy fitness equipment of your choice – only to find out that the machine does not fit through the door. Therefore, you should measure the space available before you buy a trainer. It is also important to compare measurements to dimensions of the machine.
If you discover that space is a problem, you can buy an elliptical trainer that does not have handles. However, such an elliptical trainer does not offer full-body workout as the arms remain less or more immobile. Fortunately, they are cost-effective and save up a lot of space.
3. Your Budget
Before you invest in a machine, you should determine your budget. It is advisable to avoid spending more than you can afford. Although it is normal to be enthusiastic and go for the professional looking and most expensive trainer, you may end up owning a trainer that you can easily operate.
In this case, you get what you pay for. You should note that cheaper elliptical machines are also easy to use. Advanced users can go for the gym-quality machine but keep watch on the price and compare different machines before you make the decision.
It is advisable to go for an elliptical trainer that you can adjust the incline and stride length if you can afford it. You can add some variety to the training session and prevent the muscles from adjusting to certain motions.
Athletes can also benefit from the resistance levels and interval training to keep their metabolism active. This will also encourage the body to burn extra calories.
Although cheaper elliptical trainers have manual incline features, you should go for elliptical trainers with automatic incline. The good thing about the automatic one is that it allows you to adjust incline with only a touch of a button.
Unlike the treadmill that offers free-range motion, the elliptical trainer constrains your movement. It is advisable to pay attention to your comfort level when you use an elliptical trainer. In addition, you ought to maintain an upright posture. The handgrips ought to be easy to reach.
6. Extra Features
The basic, inexpensive elliptical machines come with a few features. On the other hand, the luxurious machines come with lots of amenities. Thus, if you need to focus on comfort, it might be better to get an elliptical trainer that has a lot of extra features.
For instance, there are machines with amenities such as built-in-fan, water bottle holder, built-in music player, heart rate sensor, and a charging port. Therefore, if you want to spend some money, you can even buy a machine with small trays to hold your magazines, books, or laptops.
The truth is that elliptical trainers are available in a wide range of varieties. They can be assigned to different categories. When buying an elliptical trainer, you should consider the above factors to find the right machine that suits your needs.
The right machine will help you try full-body workouts. For instance, you can combine stair climbing, running, and jogging exercises. In fact, it is efficient for cross-training activities.