Elliptical trainers (also popularly referred to as elliptical machines) have lit the exercise equipment industry on fire. Introduced to the fitness community only six years ago, today they rival the treadmill in terms of popularity. You only need to go to your local gym to see how much elliptical trainers have been accepted by the fitness community. In fact, in many health clubs, you will see just as many elliptical machines as you would the stair climber, exercise bike, or the treadmill.
Why have elliptical trainers become so popular?
Elliptical machines have risen in popularity for two essential reasons.
(1) They provide an impact free, total body workout that raises the heart rate to a level required for solid aerobic activity.
(2) The energy expenditure on elliptical trainers can rival and sometimes exceed those of other popular exercise equipment. At the same time, because they are impact-free, elliptical machines provide more comfort to the user’s joints, making him feel like he is having an easier workout.
These two benefits make the elliptical trainer an extremely efficient exercise machine.
Now that we have give you a glimpse of some of the benefits of elliptical trainers, we would like to advise you on what to look for if you are considering purchasing an elliptical machine. From there, we will be giving you a review of our favorite elliptical trainers.
THE unique nature of the elliptical movement.
Essentially, the elliptical trainer combines the motions of stairclimbing, cross country skiing, and running. Your lower body movement is such that your legs feel like they are climbing a shallow slope, and not as steep as the stairclimber. At the same time, the range of motion for the leg is slightly longer than that of the stair climber, the longer motion is what causes the resemblance to running.
The resemblance to cross country skiing comes from the upper body movement, where you are moving vertical bars back and forth with your arms. This upper body motion is almost identical to that of the snow skier. This motion allows you to tone a significant portion of our arms and chest.
Why is it called elliptical?
If you were to look at the motion of this user from a side view, you will notice that it is an oval shaped motion, which is why it called elliptical. This motion, combined with the fact that it is virtually impact free on the joints, is why the elliptical machine is considered to be one of the most efficient of all exercise machines.
Things to look for when deciding on an elliptical trainer:
a) Reliable upper body machine:
In order to have a full body workout, you should try to get an elliptical machine that has upper body levers. We recommend this
because this feature plays an integral part in making the elliptical trainer so efficient. Having the user work both the upper and the lower body allow you to burn more calories than a stair climber or a treadmill.
b) Smooth forward and Reverse motions:
The forward and reverse motions of the elliptical trainer should not be taken lightly. Not only does this add variety to the workout, you are also able to change the intensity levels. You should also be sure that you are comfortable enough in a neutral position and there is no unusual stress on the knees, hips or arms. Remember, however intense the workout, the motion should be effortless and you should be enjoying it.
Interested in knowing our favorite elliptical trainer? Click here to find out more …
c) Adjustable resistance:
Another way to add variety to your workout is to be able to adjust the resistance electronically. An intuitive resistance change feature allows you to dynamically change the intensity of your workout.
d) Adjustable pedals:
Changing the angle of the pedals will allow you to add variety and focus on different muscle groups. The elliptical trainer should be flexible enough to focus on your chest arms, quadriceps, and even your abdominals.
e) Other items:
You should expect your elliptical trainer to be relatively quite at all intensity levels. For a good elliptical trainer, expect the warranty to be around 12 months and the parts from 90 days to 3 years.
How much should you expect to spend on an elliptical trainer?
Elliptical machines start out at $200.00, which is considerably less than the starting point for many other types of exercise equipment.
There is also not a big range of prices in elliptical trainers as you would see in treadmills or stair climbers. At the high end, you can expect to pay up to $3,500 for a Precor EFX model.
An important item to consider when budgeting for an elliptical trainer is your own exercise goals. If your purpose is to train aggressively, you should not expect to spend less than $1,000. Many of the lower priced elliptical machines just are not designed for high intensity training.
History of elliptical machines:
Elliptical trainers have been around for about 6 years. The earlier versions only gave a lower body workout and were not comfortable for anyone over 5ft 8. Plus, the user’s feet never left the ground, causing your stride to be shorter and less bouncy.
Such a limited motion resulted in sub-par performances compared to other exercise equipment machines(i.e. treadmills) Only recently, necessary additions were added to the elliptical design to allow a total body workout. Once the handles were connected to the pedals, the performance of elliptical machines took the fitness community by storm.
-Heart rates hit 160 to 175 bm with what appeared to be minimal user effort.
-Heart rates climbed quicker while reducing the minimal exercise time.
-You were getting a total body workout that was impact fee on the joints.