Our aim in the following article is to share some knowledge on cross trainers. Hopefully informing and assisting you in selecting the best cross trainer for your needs. Then getting the most from your cross trainer once you have it home. With any luck after reading this we will have helped you understand the types available. Plus the pros and cons of each, and factors to consider when purchasing, We hope you enjoy!
Cross Trainer Benefits and Description
In essence, this is a piece of fitness equipment that aims to work the majority of the muscles on your body. Meaning that you get a whole-body workout. In fitness terms, this is a great bit of kit, targeting multiple muscle groups. This strengthens your whole body. As a result suffering from fewer injuries, and enjoying faster recovery times. It combines the movements and benefits of hiking, cross country skiing, and biking. Your legs travel in an elongated circular motion, as if you are standing on a cross country ski machine. However instead of your feet moving back and forth, the machine forces them to move around in an oval pattern. At the same time, there are bars/handles in front of you to hold onto. Allowing you to use arms back and shoulders to assist with the motion, hence utilising the whole body.
Cross Trainers Vs. Other Exercise Equipment
By exercise equipment we are essentially referring to other cardio machines that you would normally find at the gym such as rowing machines, treadmills and exercise bikes. This isn’t relevant should you have a specific training purpose or goal that you are focusing on. For example if you are training for a half marathon then obviously a treadmill is more suitable. Instead we are talking about general health and fitness benefits.
One major point of difference is the effect on your joints. The movements are low impact when compared to a treadmill or step machine. You do not have the constant step by step pounding. Instead a smoother more consistent motion, so is kinder on the knees, hips, and ankles.
On a technical basis, the cardiovascular benefits of each machine are the same as long as the same levels of intensity are achieved. However, the full body nature of this exercise machine increases intensity compared to moving at the same speed on a treadmill. Also here, your body controls the speed. Whereas on a treadmill you have to program it to speed up or down. Therefore sprinting (or high intensity) on a cross trainer is easier. As the belt on a treadmill often cannot move as fast as a sprint, or offer the stride length required.
A rowing machine is more comparable in terms of the ability to get a high intensity work out. It also enables you to increase speed easily and instantly. It also provides more of a full body work out as it engages your back and arms to a great degree. However, you need to ensure your posture is constantly correct on a rowing machine. A slight misalignment could lead to a sore back, neck or shoulders. A cross trainer has an advantage in that you can’t really get into a poor posture. Meaning injuries and soreness are less likely.
Buying Guide – Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Cross Trainer
Yes, this is an obvious one! The cost is of course an important factor and we expect you likely already have a budget in mind. That’s why we have included a guide by price further down. Ones aim should be to get the best value for money for what you feel you want to pay. But also to understand what the benefits would be from trading up to the next price bracket. Also if there is in fact a particular feature that is worth trading up for?!
You could be wondering why this is so high up our list? Well for many reading this the size of the machine, and therefore where it can be stored, may be a limiting factor. Not everyone has a home gym, many may be squeezing a machine into their spare bedroom. Therefore the amount of space it takes up can be of vital importance.
We could compose a whole article on this (maybe one day we will) but for now we’ll keep this brief. There are three regular types of resistance system that you will commonly see.
Fan based resistance, which uses a large resistance fan instead of a flywheel, and then pushes it through the air around it. To increase resistance, you intensify the speed at which you pedal. These machines are simple, easy to operate and understand, and the breeze can even help cool you down! However, they can be rather noisy and resistance levels are not as accurately controlled as other systems.
Magnetic resistance, which can be separated in two subgroups, mechanically adjusted magnetic systems and electromagnetic inductions systems.
Mechanically adjusted systems apply a magnet closer to the flywheel for more resistance, or further from it for less resistance. These are quitter than fan based machines. The resistance can be set accurately rather than relying on the rider to increase or decrease their speed of motion.
Electromagnetic induction systems position a strong electromagnet close to the flywheel. They adjust an electric current either increasing or decreasing the strength of the resistance. These tend to be the higher end more expensive machines, sometimes called eddy current resistance or eddy current braking.
Think about how important accurate resistance levels are to you. Magnetic systems are better for riders that place importance on controlling resistance for results. Magnetic is also better if you value lower noise levels. But prices are lower and repair and maintenance is often easier on fan resistance models.
We don’t mean the aesthetics, we mean the design components that deliver enhanced usability or comfort for the rider. Adjustable or replaceable sliders, pedals or handlebars that provide an individual fit to each unique rider. They also ensure a correct posture and a comfortable workout. If you plan to move your cross trainer between rooms or in and out of a large closet you will need a model fitted with convenient transport wheels. Frame design rates among the most vital feature categories for virtually every potential buyer. It shouldn’t be ignored when assessing and comparing different models.
This is the central panel between or behind the handlebars. A media tray for your personal music device and a water bottle holder are two common console items. Both of which are nice features to have. Heart rate monitors can also be encompassed in the console category. Many cross trainers have contact sensors built into the handlebars. The rider can grip these in order to get a constant heart rate reading. Riders who consider heart-rate monitoring to be an important exercise tool are sure to consider this category as important.
The workout stats collected and shown to riders in real time on an LCD screen on the console. These often include stats such as speed, distance, time, and calories burned, in addition to the current resistance setting. Some include a measure of cadence, which is a count of rotations per minute (RPM), an important statistic for some types of workout. Display is a very important feature category for anyone who relies on performance data for motivational purposes or for performance benchmarking to evaluate their fitness gains over time.
Preprogramed, automated exercise routines built into the cross trainer that are accessed from the console. Typically utilizing automated changes in resistance to replicate varying types of real-world courses. For instance, hill or mountain-climbing courses, or generating specialized training routines such as sprints or intervals. Other programs include fat burning high-intensity workouts and strength building high-resistance routines. Many people look for ways to keep your workout varied to reduce boredom and increase motivation. Choosing a machine with built in programs can be a great way to do so.
Heart Rate Monitoring
Heart rate monitoring is an option that is provided on many cross trainers, and its accuracy is extremely important. Many sensors will be located on the handlebars in an area that you would naturally be gripping. They take a pulse from a combination of your palm and thumb. It is also possible to get machines that allow you to link up a chest strap. This takes a reading from your heart. Other models have sensor that’s placed over your thumb. Measuring heart rate can more accurately calculate the number of calories you are burning. Numerous training routines set target heart rates rather than speed or distance.
The majority of people will fit within the majority of weight limits on exercise equipment. However, do not get caught out, warranties can be voided if a machine is broken by someone falling outside of the recommended limits. Always check just in case to avoid a potentially costly mistake.
You want a piece of equipment that is going to last, right? Of course, so consider how often you are going to use it, how intensely you expect to be pedalling and your body weight. Then make sure that you pick something that will last. It is an often made mistake to make to buy something at the lower quality end of the scale, just for it to break after it falls outside the warranty. With you having to fork out again to replace it.
Manufacturers grant buyers written guarantees that promise to repair or replace components within certain time frames. Normally, only delivered when defects in material or workmanship appear under conditions of normal and acceptable use. Warranties include guarantees covering every part of the machine, including the frame, electronic components, mechanical parts, and wearable parts such drive belts. They can also include guarantees to provide the labour associated with repair. Therefore warranties are a vital part of choosing a fitness machine. They represent a substantial monetary investment that buyers intend to utilise regularly over the course of many years without undue breakage or failure. Make sure all parts are included under warranty. Specifically magnets, electronics, frame, as these are most likely to ware, plus of course labour.
Ideally, you want to be able to contact the manufacturer for help should you need to. There are various ways that you can do so. These may include instant communication methods like phone assistance and online chat. They may also include email communication and social media contact through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. You can utilise support methods to get assistance during initial set up. Also to learn more about inbuilt functions, and to get assistance with repairs under warranty. Often people never make use of the support available. But it is comforting to know it is there as and when you may need it. As you are looking at purchase options consider the support options that come with any purchase. Don’t get caught out with a shiny new cross trainer but no one help when you can’t work out how to put it together or it breaks down!
The informational resources manufacturers provide you to learn about assembly and use. Normally including online FAQs, guides, and manuals. Often manufacturers publish tutorials and videos online to assist in assembly and setup. Also to demonstrate correct use of your cross trainer. Exercise machines come in differing levels of complexity to assemble. They are often quite straightforward to operate. But knowing you have the material to assist you available, can give important peace of mind.
Unlike some other exercise equipment such as treadmills you are in constant control of the speed at which the cross trainer operates. Therefore, if you are injured or tired you just stop pedalling and climb off. However, while many may have flywheels or fans enclosed, some have open access to moving parts. It is possible for clothing or even fingers (yours or someone else’s) to get caught while still spinning. If you believe there is a chance of this, for instance if you have young children, keep this in mind when selecting your model.
The overall quality of a cross trainer is subjective as one person will place importance on a different set of features than another. For instance, someone fitting it into a spare room may value size and storage over one who is adding it to a large home gym. Similarly someone who is aiming to lose weight may opt for a larger more durable model.
Our advice is to give thought to all of the factors described above. Rank them or apply values to them for your own personal situation and objectives. Then us this to evaluate the best cross trainer for your needs.
Our Best Cross Trainer Top Picks
Best Cross Trainer Under £250
- Dual action handlebars let you choose whether to engage upper body or not
- Heart rate monitoring available
- LCD monitor and console allow you to measure and read workout info
- Heart rate monitoring only available when not using handlebars
- No built in workouts which are standard in more expensive machines
Suitable for: If you are working on a budget this is a very good machine, it covers all basic functions well and you won’t find anything better in the price range.
Best Cross Trainer Under £500
- Very good feedback on build quality
- Comes with chest strap to monitor heart rate
- 21 programs with 16 pre-set workouts, including hill, interval and body fat
- User friendly colour touch screen console with key metrics: time, speed distance, calories and heart rate
- Large machine that takes up a fair amount of space
- Max user weight of 110kg (17 stone) is low – although is more than enough for most people
Suitable for: Long term investment for regular home use, as long as you have space to house it.
Best Cross Trainer Under £1,000
- Extremely well built machine with great warranty
- Excellent smooth, quiet, magnetic flywheel mechanism with 16 resistance levels
- Free heart rate monitoring chest strap lets you personalise workouts and measure pulse
- Large machine that takes up a lot of space
Suitable for: Someone with a home gym or lots of space that will use this machine regularly.
Best Cross Trainer For Low Noise Levels
- Very quite drive system keeps noise to a minimum
- Well made and robust with max use weight of 159kg (25 stone)
- Free own brand Sole workout app connects via Bluetooth to smart devices as well as compatability with other fitness apps (Fitbit, Record, Mapmyrun, Apple Health)
- No tablet holder or reading rack
Suitable for: Those that value low noise levels and fitness app compatability
Final Word on Finding the Best Cross Trainer for You
Hopefully you found our article helpful. If we have aided you along the path of selecting the best cross trainer for your needs, you get the most from your work outs, and your fitness goals are on track, then we have fulfilled our goals. Happy cross training!
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