What is a Cross Trainer?
According to the OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com, the textbook definition of a cross trainer is “a piece of exercise equipment that you use standing up, with parts that you push up and down with your feet and parts that you hold onto and push with your arms” cross-trainer noun - Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com. A bit confusing, we think!
For anyone starting out on their fitness journey, Roger Black Fitness has come up with a ‘Cross Trainer 101’ guide for the real-world Vs textbook approach, to help you decide whether a cross trainer is right for you at home or at the gym.
What Does a Cross Trainer Do?
A cross trainer is one of many functional cardio machines, designed to give you a full aerobic workout whilst allowing you to control the pace and goal of your training. A cross trainer workout is low impact and high output, designed to get the heart pumping whilst at the same time, working arms and legs in a fixed or gradual rhythm.
Imagine you’re a power walker on a Miami sidewalk who carries weights or who uses your arm movements to leverage maximum power as you walk. You get the picture? A cross trainer allows you to create a similar workout albeit without physically moving and without South Beach as your view (unless you choose an interactive workout programme).
A cross trainer, also known as an elliptical machine, either has one or two sets of arms (one static and one moveable). Depending on the type of arms the machine has or depending on how confident you are, you push and pull the arms in time with your pedal movement (or just hold on if static). Using one of these machines requires a bit of concentration at first until you find your stride and sense of coordination, as with any new experience, but if in doubt, just get your feet right in the first instance and add in arm movements a little later on.
For those of you who might have knee or posture issues, a cross trainer is a sound choice of home fitness equipment as it allows you to maintain the same postural position and also puts limited stress on your knees and joints. As with any piece of equipment, you get to know your pace and comfort zone so if any niggles start to appear, you can slow down or change your programme as you exercise.
How to Use a Cross Trainer
Before you get started on a cross trainer, albeit at home or in the gym, decide whether you want a functional, manual workout or one that is more high-tech and interactive. In short, many cross trainers will be similar in function although it really depends on your ‘wish list’ and budget. Whilst some machines might offer a greater choice of programmes, or even allow you to remember your workout or watch your favourite Netflix.com series, you are still exercising and working up a sweat, with or without the add-ons.
When you step onto the cross trainer for the first time, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing and trainers that are already worn in a little. Ensure your room is well ventilated and that you have some water to keep you hydrated during your training session.
Cross trainers will usually allow you to choose from pre-set programmes or a manual workout. You can normally choose which type of workout you want, the desired speed/level, duration and, if the technology is interactive, what type of ‘virtual terrain’ you wish to cover during your exercise programme. If you are in a gym, it is normally standard procedure for one of the in-house trainers to show you how to use equipment and help design a starter programme to help you on your way. Likewise, if you prefer to work out at home, you can always get some help from a local personal trainer.
When starting out, always ensure that you warm up and cool down after your training and build up gradually. A low-level warm up will set you on your way and as your fitness improves, you can increase the level or opt for a more intense workout (defined by more time, fat burning or intervals, as examples).
Is a Cross Trainer Good for Weight Loss?
As with any type of weight loss programme, the number of calories you consume need to be exceeded by your daily output, in order to lose weight in a steady and sustainable way. Movement and particularly cardio exercise are key to traditional fat loss although diet is also a key part to factor into your journey. Organisations and teams like www.one2onediet.com can help you manage your food intake whilst still allowing you regular treats as well.
Is The Cross Trainer Good for Burning Fat?
As explained above, a cross trainer can help you to burn fat, in fact it can be really efficient to help you burn calories, but you always need to consider and evaluate your diet as well. If you are over-eating and consuming lots of high fat content or junk food, it is advisable to review your diet with a registered nutritionist before you start exercising. Plus, if you are overweight or if you have traditionally got into bad eating habits, you must check your heart health as well. Exercise can definitely help but don’t go in too hard or too fast.
What Muscles Does the Cross Trainer Work?
Depending on the type of programme you use, fat burning is a key component of your cross trainer experience, coupled with muscle toning as well. If the body doesn’t have fat to burn, it will create and enhance muscle definition.
The easiest way to describe your cross trainer experience is a bit like cross country skiing, whereby you use every muscle in your body (pretty much) - arms, shoulders, glutes, calves, back and thighs, without putting excessive pressure on your neck or knees. As you aren’t pounding a machine with your body weight, there is less pressure on your joints, so this is also a great machine to use if you have problems with your feet or ankles, for example.
If you aren’t comfortable using the cross trainer arm function when you start out, just get used to the foot motion and slowly introduce the arm element when you are ready. Once you get in the cross trainer zone, you will likely notice a difference to your arm and leg tone, which is great news for those bingo wings and Summer fashion choices.
In summary, the cross trainer can be a great way to burn calories and tone up at the same time. You don’t need to spend over the odds to buy yourself a decent machine so get researching (no dictionary required!).
Read more information on The Roger Black Fitness Cross Trainer.
*If you are new to exercise or in doubt as to what might be right for you and your wellness, please consult your GP. An NHS ‘Return To Exercise’ e-booklet can be viewed here Return-to-exercise-ILL-web.pdf (guysandstthomas.nhs.uk)