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Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide

Elliptical cross trainers have been the fastest-growing category of fitness equipment in the past few years. The relative comfort and care of the body an elliptical trainer provides makes it an ideal exercise machine for both the beginner and the serious athlete.

Benefits of Elliptical Trainers

  1. Low impact motion
  2. Low perceived exertion – the exercise feels easier than the body is actually working.
  3. High caloric expenditure
  4. Weight bearing activity
  5. Movement variety – forward, reverse, upper or lower body only
  6. Quiet operation
  7. Minimal maintenance

Uses for Elliptical Trainers

An elliptical machine works the whole body without putting too much stress on the joints to give a better, safer, smooth, cardiovascular workout

Elliptical machines with handles to move your arms do spread the load somewhat, using less lower body, and reducing the cardiovascular effect of the workout. So for maximum cardio - set them stationary.

Elliptical trainers are ideal for those wishing to:

  1. Improve cardio-vascular function
  2. Lose weight – most have Fat Burner programs
  3. Tone up muscles all over the body
  4. Warm up prior to strength training
  5. Mobilise joints after injury or illness
  6. General fitness

Different Types of Elliptical Trainers

The main distinguishing features between elliptical trainers are:

Powered / Non powered – the power is used to both power the main drive and to run the electronics. Power driven elliptical trainers are a lot quieter in use and also will normally provide for storage of user profiles, meaning you don’t have to re-enter your weight, age etc each time you use it. Just hit the button assigned to your user profile or enter your profile number, select your program and away you go.

Movable Arms / Stationary Arms - the value of movable arms is the subject of hot debate amongst users of elliptical trainers. Many top of the line machines do not offer this option. Personally, I love the natural movement that the moving arms provide, and whilst my elliptical trainer has little resistance in the arm movement, and as such does not provide a great upper body workout, I find that the movement alone is fantastic for releasing stiffness across my shoulders and upper back after a day on my laptop.

Size and Weight – smaller more compact elliptical trainers are ideal for smaller spaces but may not suit larger or taller persons. A user weight over 200 pounds may find a smaller, lighter unit has too much bounce when used at high pace, and may find the stride a little short if it is restricted to only 14 inches as some compact models are. I have a very compact model and at 5’9” and 136lbs, it’s ideal to fit into my library where I can watch television and exercise in peace.
Cost – cheaper elliptical trainers can cost anything from the basic $250 model up to $2000. Higher quality models are generally $2500 to $4,000, with the upper end being semi-commercial to commercial grade. Price is not always an indicator as there is a wide range of quality within price bands

Home Model or Commercial Model - home versions are generally more feature packed with user customisation. Models designed for the health club or gym are more focused on durability rather than individual customisation [which would not be used with a large number of users]

Once you have decided on the broad requirements above, we get down to the feature level. The normal features found in elliptical trainers.

Elliptical Trainer Reviews

Check the following individual elliptical trainer reviews for more information:

Nautilus 3000 Elliptical Trainer

Octane Q35 Elliptical Trainer

Precor Elliptical Trainers

SportsArt Elliptical Trainers

Stamina Elliptical Trainers

Tunturi Elliptical Trainers


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