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We’re going to put it out there. The cross trainer is probably one of the most underrated pieces of equipment in the gym. Also called the elliptical machine, the cross trainer is a cardio machine that works the arms and the legs, and that can have resistance added to it in order to make it a source of strength training too. Diverse, easy to use, and low impact for those with troublesome joints, the elliptical is a great way to get a full body workout in.

 
 
 

How do you use the cross trainer?

Using the cross trainer, takes a tiny bit of co-ordination at first. But once you get the hang of it is an easy machine to navigate.

Step 1: Place a foot on each of the stands and take hold of the poles with each hand

Step 2: Drive your right foot forward. You’ll notice your right arm will need to extend with it as the pole moves. Then drive your left foot and left arm forward. Keep stepping forward in this way. Make sure to engage your arms rather than just letting your legs do all the work.

Step 3: Make a note of the level. Most machines will have a resistance level, which can be increased or decreased to make the action harder or easier.

 
 
 

What does the cross trainer work?

Using the cross trainer, or elliptical trainer, is traditionally seen as a cardiovascular exercise. Especially at a lower level, using it will get your heart rate up and get your body delivering more oxygen to the cells in your muscles to keep them going. A big plus if your looking to burn calories and improve your aerobic fitness.

But a huge benefit of the cross trainer is that it can also double as a form of strength training. The machine engages the muscles in your legs as well as your arms to drive the movement. Increasing the resistance level on the machine means that the force your muscles are exerting to do the exercise is also increased. In short, this results in a strength workout that will over time, help to build muscle and tone up the body.

 
 
 

What’s a good beginner’s workout?

Try 10 minutes on a low resistance first, gradually building up to 30 minutes. As your fitness builds you can increase the resistance up to level 7 or more to burn more calories and increase muscular endurance. You’re looking at about a 200 calorie burn for 30 minutes training at a moderate speed.

A good beginners workout would look something like this:

Warm up: 5 minutes at level 3, incline 20%.

Main workout: 20 minutes , alternating between levels 5 and 7 every two minutes

Cool down: 5 minutes at level 3

 
 
 

To see some real improvement to your fitness levels or your muscular endurance, try using the cross trainer for at least four sessions each week for 30 minutes minimum. You can then try interval training on the cross trainer which is a great way to test your stamina and get a full body workout done in a short amount of time.