An elliptical trainer (also cross trainer or simply elliptical) is a stationary exercise machine used to simulate walking or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints, hence decreasing the risk of impact injuries.
Elliptical trainers offer a non-impact cardiovascular workout that can vary from light to high intensity based on the resistance preference set by the user.
Low Impact Exercise with Elliptical Machines
Elliptical trainers reduce the stress and strain on your legs through an elliptical motion. Your feet never leave the pedals. It is like walking in midair. In addition, there is no reverse action. The shape of the elliptical movement mimics the natural path of the ankle, knee and hip joints during walking, jogging or running. In comparison, when you walk or run, every step causes a jolt to your body. It is suggested that runners impact up to 2.5 times their body weight. This affects not only the joints in your legs, but also your lower back.
Foot Pedals: To further reduce the strain to your joints, many elliptical trainers are equipped with articulating foot pedals – pedals that conform to your stride. Not only do your feet never leave the pedal, but also the pedal adjusts to the angle of the elliptical stride.
Weight-Bearing Exercise: In comparison to a fitness machine like a stationary bicycle, an elliptical trainer provides a weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercises are important to inhibit the onset of osteoporosis.
Dual Action Workout
What makes an elliptical trainer unique is the combined upper and lower body workout. In fact, there is no other fitness equipment that simultaneously works as many muscle groups. That is why many refer to an elliptical as a cross-trainer.
With an elliptical trainer, you get a workout that utilizes the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, chest, back, triceps and biceps. The obvious benefit from exercising more muscles is that you tone more of your body. Furthermore, you also optimize your energy expenditure. You end up burning more calories and fat in less time. It is also suggested that there is a reduced perceived rate of exertion with an elliptical workout. You are actually exercising harder then you would normally perceive.
Of course, to get the full benefit of the dual action workout, it is important that you distribute the resistance between your upper and lower body. Many people who exercise on an elliptical trainer place most of the resistance on their lower body and only go through the motions with the upper handlebars.
Elliptical training machines have a few advantages over other pieces of cardio equipment. Make sure you understand the benefits before you choose your workout.
1. Forward and Rearward Movement
All elliptical trainers off both a forward and a backward motion. This allows the user to target different sets of muscles with each direction. This in turn means that you can burn more calories and get a more complete defined and toned look.
Try walking backwards on a treadmill and you are sure to end up in the hospital.
2. Lower Impact Workout
Correctly designed ellipticals allow your body to mimic its natural stride pattern. An elliptical trainer workout feels as natural as walking or running. The fact that you are always in contact with the machine means that the impact of the workout is much lower than a treadmill for example.
If you tend to have knee, hip or back problems then an elliptical trainer is for you. It is because of this reason that many older people tend to use elliptical machines. They are also excellent for rehabilitation of certain injuries.
3. Whole Body Workout
As you use your arms whilst on an elliptical trainer, the body receives a much better workout. The fact that more of the body is involved means that it is much easier to elevate the heart rate to the zones needed for either fat loss or improved fitness. This is all achieved whilst keeping a sense of lower exertion, you can burn a lot of calories whilst still feeling as if your workout was relatively easy.
Source: http://walking.about.com2 com
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