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What is the Difference Between an Elliptical Trainer and Cross Trainer?

For many gym users, exercise machines are the preferred way to get in a workout. For others, the strange machines only represent confusion and complexity. But the fact is that exercise machines can be a great way to do a solo work out without the fear of accident or injury. There’s a wide variety of machines to choose from that can isolate different muscle groups. It’s understanding the difference between the various machines that will allow you to choose appropriately. For example, what is the difference between elliptical trainer and cross trainer? Read more to find out.

What Is an Elliptical Trainer?

Elliptical trainers were designed to allow for a demanding cardiovascular workout while reducing the impact on the joints and bones. Using a smooth ellipse motion, ellipticals allow you to walk, run or simulate stair climbing without the impact associated with the normal practice of these activities. Ellipticals first came onto the market in the mid-1990s after the development of the “four-bar linkage system” which allows foot pedals to be attached to a floating link that enables elliptical path generation. Elliptical trainers have static handlebars which means that although they provide a significant workout for the lower half of the body, the upper body is relatively stationary.

What Is A Cross Trainer?

Cross trainers solved the problem of upper body immobility on elliptical trainers by allowing the handlebars to move back and forth. The user pushes and pulls the handlebars in unison with the lower body movements. This allows the arms and torso to become involved in the exercise motions and increases the demand on the cardiovascular system. 

What Are the Benefits of Elliptical and Cross Trainers?

Aside from the aforementioned benefits of low impact, high cardio exercise, elliptical and cross trainers have several other benefits. Some people believe that these machines only provide a low intensity workout, but that’s absolutely untrue – it depends on how you use the machine.

Weight Loss

Because of the cardio workout involved, ellipticals and, even more so, cross trainers are great for burning calories. Combined with a nutrition plan, regular use of these machines can lead to significant weight loss. 

Injury Recovery

If you’ve suffered from an injury that makes exercises such as walking or running painful, the use of an elliptical or cross trainer can allow you to continue your workouts without exacerbating your injury. If you’ve had to rule out high impact exercises, these machines can allow you to stay fit while recovering from your injury.

Body Toning

While ellipticals are great for toning your calves, thighs and buttocks, a cross trainer can also help with toning of your shoulders, pecs and stomach. For those with poor posture or a bad back, the use of these machines can compel you to stand up properly and correct your stance.

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