Cross trainers are low-impact exercise machines that simulate walking, running, or stair climbing. They’re commonly referred to as elliptical machines, and while similar, cross trainers are technically a type of elliptical. Rather than just working your lower body, cross trainers add arm movement or a full-body workout. While it is a simple home exercise machine, you should learn how to use a cross trainer to avoid any potential injuries or causing damages to it.
Along with working your upper and lower body, cross trainers can:
- Accelerate your weight loss (7 example workouts)
- Protect your joints thanks to its low impact nature
- Build strength and vary your workouts
- Work your hips and lower back
- Help you exercise safely and effectively at home
Whether you plan to use a cross trainer at home or at a health club, it’s crucial to understand how to use it and how not to use it.
How to Use a Cross Trainer
Cross trainers may look intimidating, but they’re actually relatively easy to use. Still, it’s important to know how to climb onto the machine and use it safely.
How to Climb onto a Cross Trainer
Cross trainers have flywheels at either the front or back of the machine. On each side of the flywheel is an arm that attaches to a pedal and handlebar. You’ll need to place your feet on the pedals and hold onto the handlebars to use the machine.
Before you climb onto the machine, take a minute to move the arms forward and backwards. You’ll notice that moving the extended handlebars also moves the foot pedals. It’s important to keep this in mind when climbing up onto the machine, especially if you have balance or mobility issues.
To climb onto the cross trainer:
- Start by standing on the left side of the machine and holding the stationary handlebars. These are the smaller handlebars that sit in front of the console. These bars may also have heart rate sensors.
- Lift your right foot up and place it on the right pedal.
- Pull yourself up onto the machine, and place your left foot on the left pedal.
- Check to make sure that your feet are comfortably and securely on the pedals.
If you prefer, you can also climb onto the machine from behind if the flywheel is at the front of the machine.
How to Safely Use a Cross Trainer
Once you’re safely on the machine, the movement is pretty intuitive. The machine is designed to simulate running, so pushing one leg forward will pull the other leg backwards.
Start pushing the pedals forward to turn on the monitor. If you want, you can choose a pre-set program or increase the resistance if your machine has these features. Otherwise, you can just keep pedalling. Of course, the faster you go, the harder the workout.
Here are some tips for safe, effective elliptical techniques:
- Stand up tall and avoid leaning backward or forward.
- Don’t grip the handles too tightly. Let your feet and arms do the work.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead.
The console can provide you with some useful workout stats, like your:
- Calories burned
- Resistance level
- Heart rate
Cross trainers do require a bit of coordination at first, so it may be easier to start by holding onto the stationary handlebars while pedalling. Once you get a feel for the movement of the machine, you can try pushing and pulling on the moveable handlebars while pedalling.
When you’re finished with your workout, make sure that the machine comes to a full stop before stepping off.
How You Shouldn’t Use A Cross Trainer
Cross trainers can deliver a great cardio workout, but if you’re not using them properly, you could hurt yourself or make your workouts less effective.
Here are some important safety precautions to keep in mind.
- Never allow children to use the elliptical or to be around the machine when it’s in use.
- Pedaling too quickly or stopping suddenly can cause the wheels to jump the track and throw the user off the machine. Pedaling too quickly can also cause your foot to lose contact with the pedal, which can throw you off balance.
- Don’t slouch when using a cross trainer. Slouching can put unnecessary strain on your back and cause injury.
When appropriately used, cross trainers are a safe and simple way to get in a good cardio workout. Keep these important safety considerations in mind, and you’ll be on your way to improving your fitness level.
If the inherited safety features of the cross trainer elliptical are right for you, I have a buyer’s guide to help you pick the most suitable one.