The word elliptical means shaped like an oval. In the world of fitness and exercise, elliptical technology is a relatively new, innovative equipment design that draws on a smooth, elliptical movement to provide a low impact form of weight bearing exercise that is fun and easy to learn.
How elliptical cross trainers work
Elliptical cross trainers feature footpads that allow you to stand up while you exercise. They have handgrips for you to hold onto and help maintain balance. Some even have handles to use in working your upper body.
Because you are standing, the exercise is similar to walking or running. But the arm bars and elliptical motion create similarities with biking or skiing.
The main difference with elliptical exercise machines is that although you are standing and bearing weight, which is important to building bone density, your feet never leave the footpads. So unlike treadmills or jogging, there is little impact on your joints and muscles. This provides a low impact, total body workout.
Elliptical cross trainer technology
The advantages of this type of smooth, non-jarring motion come from the elliptical design of the exercise equipment. Elliptical technology has come to be known as a combination of mechanisms and design features, unique to elliptical cross trainers, which create a motion similar to the natural path the feet, legs and hips follow during actual motor activities such as walking or running.
There are quite a few different types of elliptical workout machines available, and the list of choices seems to grow each day.
But most elliptical fitness machines have a crank arm that is attached to a stable bar at one end and an axis at the other. The axis end revolves as the bar moves and the other end moves in a flat, nearly
linear back and forth motion. This causes an elliptical path for the overall movement of the machine.
Most elliptical exercise machines built for home use provide resistance through a band around the flywheel. Some high end and commercial elliptical cross trainers use magnetic resistance.
There is no impact to your joints when using an elliptical cross trainers. Like
peddling a bicycle, elliptical motion is smooth and continuous. With a stair stepper or other similar equipment, there is a pattern of motion and reverse motion, an up and down or back and forth, to which your feet and legs must continually adapt.
At the point where the forward motion ends and the reverse motion begins, there is an impact from the force of the machine, which is still in motion. Your joints, bones, and muscles have to stop the motion and reverse it each time.
With an elliptical trainer, there is no halting of motion and reversal of direction. Your legs keep moving in the same manner continually, even though there is an overall range of motion.
Many elliptical cross trainers allow you to reverse the direction of motion by changing a setting. Thus you are able to work the opposing muscles, while still maintaining the smooth, non-jarring motion.
Benefits and advantages of elliptical exercise machines
Studies have shown that weight bearing exercises are essential for maintaining and improving bone density. Yet many weight bearing workouts create high impact stress on joints and muscles. This can cause health problems, especially for people with injuries or arthritis.
Additionally, many of the different types of exercise equipment available only work one or two areas of the body, which is a drawback for people who want an overall workout.
Under most circumstances, the ideal piece of fitness equipment will provide weight bearing
exercises while limiting impact and providing for a total body workout. Optimizing cardiovascular benefits is also important.
Many styles of exercise equipment address one or two of these concerns, but few combine all the advantages in an overall fitness package such as that provided by elliptical cross trainers.
For example, a stationary bike provides relatively smooth, non-jarring motion, but since you are sitting, you don?t get the weight bearing advantages. A treadmill fulfills the weight bearing aspect, but at the expense of stress to your joints each time your foot hits the running surface. Swimming is a great form of exercise that tends to work a majority of the body?s muscle groups, however, it is not considered a weight bearing activity.
When considering the overall needs of an exercise program, few types of fitness equipment meet the overall needs quite as well as elliptical cross trainers.
The advantages and benefits of an elliptical trainer as compared to other fitness equipment are:
Beware Of Imitators
- Weight bearing form of exercise that helps maintain bone density
- Continuous elliptical motion creates a low impact workout
- Elliptical motion is similar to walking and is thus easy to learn and sustain
- Handles encourage users to work upper body muscles providing a total body workout
- Elliptical cross trainers offer one of the best forms of cardiovascular training ? onboard computers help plan and monitor cardio workouts.
- The equipment is relatively simple, so there are fewer parts to replace or mechanical things that can go wrong.
Unfortunately, as with many innovative, beneficial, and popular ideas, elliptical
cross trainer technology has become somewhat corrupted by those who want to cash in on the appeal but who lack a commitment to or understanding of the true basis for the design.
Some elliptical equipment does not offer the natural, simulated movement of true elliptical cross trainers. Others use inferior designs and materials, resulting in a jerky or jarring motion that negates the value of the equipment.
When purchasing an elliptical exercise machine, be sure that it provides a stable frame or platform, adequately sized foot platforms, and most importantly, a smooth, continuous motion. Try out the machine. Does the movement required feel natural and comfortable? Also check to see if the machine has adjustments for speed, incline and direction.
In its true form, elliptical technology is one of the best innovations to hit the fitness industry in the past decade. It truly does address some of the common exercise and health concerns while providing for a relatively easy, often enjoyable form of exercise.
Unlike some of the gadgets and gimmicks that have come along over the years, elliptical cross trainers have the ability to help users get fit, lose weight, and improve overall health.
About the Author:
C.J. Gustafson is a successful writer for
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