Elliptical trainers are one of the newer machines to enter the home and gym cardio equipment ring. Often considered to be a cross between ski machines and stair masters, elliptical trainers provide a full body workout, without the difficult techniques that a ski machine will often require. Unlike treadmills they are non-impact so there is no pounding on your bodies joints.
What is an elliptical trainer
An elliptical trainer is a stationary piece of cardio equipment used to simulate a walking or running motion while decreasing the impact on the users knees and other joints. The machines usually consist of two pedals or foot platforms that move in an elliptical path. Hence the name elliptical trainer.
Elliptical machines are usually powered with electricity. This allows the machine to assistthe stride and/or track the users progress. A number of different ways to generate resistence are often employed, including aerodynamic, magnetic or motor-assisted braking. On some of the higher end models the simulated incline can be changed to work the different muscle groups in the legs. The highest end models will have computer controlled programs which can actually vary the incline as the user exercises, either based on a preset program or to keep the users heart rate at a certain level.
How to choose an elliptical trainer
There are a number of important things to consider when choosing an elliptical machine. The first is going to be your budget. Ellipticals range in price from a couple hundred dollars for a cheaper home unit, to many thousands of dollars for a high end gym quality unit. There are of course many models in between. Once you have determined a price range, it is important to determine which features you would like your elliptical to have. Do you want it to monitor your heart rate and base it's resistance on that? Would you like to be able to have it automatically adjust the resistance to simulate hills or interval training?
Another important thing to test with ellipticals is stride length. Make sure that you try out each elliptical for a few minutes to see if the stride length feels comfortable for you.