Never too Late to Get in Shape
Last Update: Mar 10, 2015
Health for Life

Great Upper & Lower Body Workout
Elliptical trainers combine the natural stride treadmill and the simplicity of a stair climber. On an Elliptical trainer, you stand comfortably in an upright position while holding onto the machine's handrails and striding in either a forward or reverse motion. What makes a trainer unique is the ability to offer a weight bearing workout that puts minimal stress on the joints. Your feet never leave the pedals of an elliptical trainer, thereby eliminating any impact in your workout. Whether you go forward or reverse, and regardless of the level of resistance, there is a reduced risk of injury from overusing any one-muscle group.

User Technique
The user should adopt a comfortable standing position with his or her spine in a neutral position (with a straight back). The knees, hips and ankles should be kept in alignment. Weight should be distributed between the heels and the balls of the feet.

While gripping the handrails in a smooth controlled motion, the user should stride either forward or reverse, working through a full natural range of movement smoothly and continuously.

Vary Your Stride
A recent study by the University of Idaho shows that varying the stride length on the elliptical trainer can recruit a larger variety of muscle groups. The study also showed that as the stride is lengthened, more calories are burned without any higher rate of perceived exertion by the user. This study lends credibility to the claims made about the adjustable stride length feature on some newer ellipticals.

Elliptical Cross Trainers
An elliptical cross trainer is comparable to a treadmill in its exertion of leg muscles and the heart. Ellipticals produce an intermediate range of leg motion between that of stationary bikes and treadmills.

More Workouts
On some models, the incline of sloping roller ramps beneath the pedal-links can be adjusted to produce varying pedal motion paths. The result of such adjustment changes the burdens on various muscle groups in the legs. Some models can vary both the incline, resistance and stride length over the course of a workout according to a preset program.

Some trainers can be driven in a reverse as well as in a forward direction. Elliptical trainers are primarily driven via the legs, and most are combination designs having handle-levers attached to each pedal-link for the purpose of enabling a burden on the arms to provide a secondary source of driving power.

The user grips the handles below shoulder height and pushes/pulls them while shuffling the feet back and forth within their elliptically shaped paths. Thus the oscillating handle motions are dependently coordinated with the constrained pedal motions. Poorly designed machines are too dependent on the user's leg power, producing excessive handle speeds as a result of mechanical ratios that do not provide enough advantage to the handle-levers.

Consequently such machines feel to the user as if his or her arms are simply going along for the ride, rather than sharing in the work. The better models offer a harmonious combination of arm and leg exercise in the correct ratios.

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