Elliptical Trainers and Crosstraining Exercises
Crosstraining is the newest and most popular exercise found
in the finest health clubs in the world.
Elliptical trainers combine the natural stride treadmill
and the simplicity of a stair climber. On an Elliptical trainer,
you stand comfortably in an upright position while holding onto
the machine's handrails and striding in either a forward or reverse
What makes a elliptical trainer unique is the ability to offer
a weight bearing workout that puts minimal stress on the joints.
Your feet never leave the pedals of an elliptical trainer, thereby
eliminating any impact in your workout. Whether you go forward or
reverse, and regardless of the level of resistance, there is a reduced
risk of injury from overusing any one-muscle group.
For individuals trying to burn calories and trim down, the weight-bearing
arm/leg exercise optimizes energy expenditure during self-selected
exercise of moderate intensity in overweight subjects. In recent
studies it was concluded that energy expenditure among overweight
subjects was higher on the elliptical machine than a treadmill,
or leg cycles with and without upper body motion. For overweight
individuals who are initiating a regular exercise program to decrease
excess body fat, they will find that elliptical treadmills optimize
The low impact, intensive cardiovascular workout of an elliptical
trainer is achieved through smooth and natural motion. The fluid,
non-jarring motion makes the elliptical trainer ideal for anyone
with back, knee, hips and joint problems. The dual action machines
utilize both the legs and arm in providing a full upper and lower
Motion studies over the last decade show that the human foot moves
through an elliptical pattern as we walk, run or jog. Fitness products
that imitate and support this motion are the fastest growing new
category of cardiovascular equipment.
With scarce time, a major factor in people's daily lives, total
body exercise can be truly beneficial. A total body exercise machine
meets three goals that are most desired - weight loss, time efficiency,
Total Body Exercise involves more muscle mass in an aerobic exercise
activity. For the average person, the larger the muscle mass involved
in exercise, the more effective that exercise is for improving fat
mobilization, burning calories and building muscle endurance in
an efficient period of time, and at a reduced perceived rate of
exertion. The upper and lower body workout of a trainer utilizes
the quadriceps. hamstrings, glutes, chest, back, triceps and biceps.
Within the fitness industry, "Elliptical Technology" has
become the generic name for devices that incorporate the various
linkages/mechanisms in an effort to create a preferred pattern of
movement for a pair of foot pedals. The shape of this preferred
movement is intended to mimic the natural path of the ankle, knee
and hip joints experience during locomotion - walking, striding,
jogging and/or running.
In its most rudimentary form, Elliptical Technology consists of
a crank arm (similar to the crank of a bicycle) that revolves around
an axis at one end and that is attached to a bar at the other. The
opposite end of the bar moves in a reciprocating, linear pattern
when the crank rotates. Since one end of the bar rotates in a circular
pattern while the other moves linearly, points between the two ends
of the bar move in elliptical patterns. The points of the bar closest
to the crank move in wider, more circular ellipses (closest to a
circle) and the points closest to the other end move in thinner,
flatter ellipses (closer to a straight line).
The most obvious advantage of Elliptical Technology is the lack
of impact to the lower limbs and back. Unlike a treadmill in which
the foot of the user is continuously lifted off of the running surface,
striking that surface upon the return, the foot and foot pedal of
an elliptical machine are in constant contact. Effectively eliminating
Impact force is also felt on stairstepper devices. Although the
foot often remains in contact with the foot pedal when such devices
are used, the foot pedal undergoes a virtually instantaneous direction
reversal. Essentially, the foot pedal is moving in one direction,
must stop and then is pushed in the opposite direction. The force
required to reverse the movement of the mechanism results in "impact"
to the joints of the lower body.
The mechanism incorporated in an elliptical machine moves in a
smooth, continuous motion and does not suffer the effects of direction
reversal. The exercise experienced on elliptical machines is weight
bearing (versus exercise bikes) which has ramification in the inhibition
of the onset of osteoporosis.
In addition, although cycling is a well-recognized and safe tool
to improve cardiovascular conditioning, the elliptical modality
is a more functional pattern of movement. Since ellipticals simulate
a natural walking pattern, they easily lend themselves to an upper
body component of exercise. Many other devices, either due to their
mechanical structure (treadmills) or the pattern (cycling) do not
readily adapt to a total body configuration.
The various manufacturers of elliptical trainers have developed
many iterations of this basic technology. As a result, the field
is full of machines that have a different "feel" - the
articulation of the ankle, knee and hip is different. The true nature
of Elliptical Technology has been somewhat obscured by the preponderance
of these questionable devices. Many lack the design and mechanism
to duplicate a fluid, natural motion. As with all forms of exercise
equipment, there are cheap versions that offer negligible physical
Due to the natural motion, combined with an upper and lower body
workout, quality elliptical trainers will continue to grow in popularity
and their sales will substantially increase. They appeal to a population
that is increasingly overweight and looking for an optimum workout
for burning fat and calories. Elliptical trainers also appeal to
an aging population that seeks a total body workout, minus the impact.