Elliptical Cross Trainer Benefits – A Powerful, Impact-free Workout

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group of people enjoying the benefits of elliptical cross training

It is time to talk about the elliptical cross trainer benefits. This cross trainer is a perfect addition to your home gym and a great pick among the cardio machines at your local sports center. There are plenty of reasons for it, but the most important is that virtually anyone can use an elliptical machine. It is a versatile cross-trainer machine built to keep you fit, impact-free.

Elliptical machines activate your entire body, they have incredible health benefits, don’t put a strain on your joints, and let you enjoy your favorite TV show while you work out.

Yet the benefits of an elliptical machine don’t stop there. Here’s an overview of the reasons why you should choose a cross-trainer above other cardio machines.

A young woman exercising on an elliptical cross trainer

Table of Contents

Why Do Cardio at All?

Also known as aerobic exercise, cardio is an important element of a balanced exercise routine. If you’re a complete beginner at fitness, starting with a couple of light cardio sessions a week is perfect. Cardiovascular conditioning, aka cardio, includes any activities such as:

  • fast walking
  • running
  • cycling
  • skipping rope
  • swimming
  • and, of course, working out on an elliptical trainer.

Cardio exercises speed up the fat loss, build your endurance and stamina, all while helping your heart, lungs, and muscles get healthier. How does that work? Well, your heart is a muscle. Just like any other muscle, you can make it stronger and healthier with exercise. Aerobic exercise warms you up, speeds up your heart rate and your breathing to deliver the much-needed oxygen throughout your body, keeping your blood vessels flexible.

As you get used to regular exercise, your body learns to use oxygen better. The results are amazing – if you exercise regularly, your resting heart rate and blood pressure get lower (cutting your risk of developing heart and circulatory disease), and it can even enhance your memory and attention span.

Other Elliptical Cross Trainer Benefits

An elliptical machine has many benefits besides making your heart and lungs stronger. Apart from the general benefits of cardio exercise, an elliptical is a perfect choice because it works your whole body without putting pressure on your joints.

Less Joint Strain

Anybody can work out on an elliptical machine – it doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner, overweight, or still feel the adverse effects of a past injury. That’s because a cross-trainer machine lets you work out without putting stress on your joints.

The way it works is quite simple. When you run, you lift your feet off and get them back on the ground (or a treadmill) quickly. Every time your foot touches the ground, you shift your weight onto it. This impact puts a lot of stress on the most vulnerable part of your body – your joints. Running is especially dangerous for people who are overweight or suffered previous injuries. Over time, your hips, ankles, and knees take a beating from overuse, and suffer heavy wear and tear unless you’re lightweight and have a flawless running gait.

A cross trainer eliminates this problem. You never need to take your feet off the elliptical foot pedals, so you perform the movement impact-free. In the long run, opting for an elliptical machine instead of a treadmill will help keep your knees, ankles, and hips in pristine condition.

A person doing a lower-body exercise with a focus on legs

Can you use an elliptical when recovering from injury?

If you recently sprained or fractured your joints, a cross-trainer machine is a good pick for a low-impact workout. However, you should never use an elliptical if your joints can’t support your body weight.

So how do you know if your body recovered enough for an elliptical machine workout? You can use the elliptical trainer if your joints can support your body weight and have the full range of motion pain-free.

A light elliptical workout may even help you get a range of motion in your feet back. It’s a common tool that runners use to come back from an injury and get back on track.

Get a Full-Body Workout

Unlike stair climbers or cycling machines, a cross-trainer doesn’t only work out isolated muscle groups. Instead, an elliptical machine gives you a full-body workout that activates your upper and lower body, including your core, all at the same time

A senior lady doing cardio on an elliptical cross trainer

What muscles do elliptical cross trainers work?

As its name suggests, a cross-trainer activates all major muscle groups during a single workout. Once you get comfortable on the cross trainer machine, you’ll even be able to choose which muscles to prioritize. This will let you get a functional full-body workout using only the elliptical – no dumbbells, cables, or leg presses are needed. The difference between ellipticals and magnetic resistance spin bikes is subtle, but it’s there.

How to exercise your upper body on an elliptical cross trainer?

To get the most out of your elliptical when it comes to upper body strength, you’ll need to learn how to distribute your resistance evenly. It’s quite intuitive to rely on your leg strength to get the machine moving – the chances are your legs are much stronger than your arms anyway. However, purposefully adjusting your muscle activation will let you work your arms, shoulders, chest, and back.

In the beginning, it may be difficult to activate your upper body on the elliptical machine. To get you started, try disengaging your legs while moving the machine with your arms only. Then, gradually start putting in effort with your legs, trying to pinpoint the moment when both your upper and lower body feel equally activated.

Can you target specific muscles on your legs?

Most cross trainers let you adjust the resistance level and the incline of the foot pedals. These settings let you choose which leg muscles you want to rely on more during your workout.

Increasing the incline will boost activation of the posterior muscle chain – including glutes, hamstrings, and calves. A lower incline but a higher resistance level will put more pressure on your quads to keep the machine moving.

A close-up of a woman's hands holding the elliptical handles

Does a cross trainer tone your stomach?

Like most other exercises, a cross-trainer requires you to keep your stomach and back tight, helping you build core strength. While this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll build a six-pack on an elliptical alone, keeping your core muscles activated will surely help you get in shape.

To activate your core even more efficiently, try to let go of the handles. Do this carefully to avoid falling. Using the cross trainer without handles will make your abdominal muscles work extra hard to keep you balanced.

How to Do an Elliptical Workout

Many sites, apps, YouTubers, and fitness experts come up with generalized fitness advice. But the truth is that every person is unique, so one-size-fits-all solutions rarely work. There’s no perfect recipe that suits everybody:

  • Beginners train differently than gym regulars.
  • Short people move in a different way than tall people.
  • People with health issues need to adapt their workouts to their particular ailments.
  • Those who want to lose weight need a different plan than those that aim to build muscle.
  • Some people thrive on steady-state cardio, while others find high-intensity interval training more effective. Luckily, you can do both on an elliptical machine.

Achieving good results depends on a personalized workout plan that works for your goals, schedule, body type, and medical history. We highly recommend working with a personal trainer to find the perfect routine yourself.

A determined overweight lady doing elliptical training with a personal trainer

Is 30 minutes on the elliptical cross trainer enough?

When it comes to fitness, the math is quite simple: even a short workout is better than no workout. 

The perfect amount depends on your goals and your current physical fitness. Some beginners can only hold out about 10 minutes on an elliptical machine. Others keep on going for a full hour without breaking a sweat.

In general, spending 30 minutes a few times a week working out is enough for an average adult. Of course, the intensity of your workout plays a big role too. You should adjust your workout to be challenging, but never difficult or painful. As a general guideline, doctors recommend a combined 150 minutes of physical exercise per week.

Also, you should remember to vary your fitness routine from time to time. Prolonged repetitive motions can cause more harm than good, and the rut can lead to a lack of motivation too.

A couple of sports enthusiasts doing cardio on elliptical machines

In Conclusion

An elliptical is a perfect addition to your home gym, and a great piece of gym equipment to try out at your local sports center. Since it exercises all the major muscle groups in your body, it provides you with a full-body workout that doesn’t put a strain on your joints.

Over here at The Home Dweller, we do our best to deliver fact-checked information in a bite-sized format. We strive to equip you with all the knowledge you need to start leading a more active lifestyle. If you found this article useful or inspiring, we encourage you to share it on social media and, who knows, help someone take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. 

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