More complete than an exercise bike and less demanding than a rowing machine, an elliptical training machine offers a full-body workout for a complete training session. It adapts to all sorts of needs: getting back into shape, cardiovascular training, weight loss, etc. Just make sure to choose your elliptical wisely.
The elliptical: working all muscle groups
The elliptical training machine is one of the most complete types of fitness equipment. Unlike an exercise bike, it makes you work while standing up, thus giving you an upper and lower body workout. Body movement is smooth and fluid on an elliptical, going easy on the joints. Enabling you to choose the speed and the difficulty of your training session, the elliptical adapts itself to new and experienced users alike, conforming to all objectives: muscle toning, weight loss, cardio, etc. Its ultimate asset: maintenance is simple and unrestrictive. Clearly, the elliptical is the ideal fitness machine for home exercise. But how to choose the right model?
Two main criteria: size and weight
You don’t want to clutter your home with bulky equipment, so you might be tempted to choose the most compact and lightweight device. That’s a mistake.
- Don’t compromise on length: you need to be able to move freely. The recommended minimum length is 1 meter. Again, that’s the minimum. Longer is recommended. Less than a meter is simply insufficient. Keeping that in mind, if you’re working out in tight living quarters, you’ll want to make sure to choose an elliptical equipped with wheels for easy mobility. Otherwise, you can go with a foldable model.
- Don’t choose a “featherweight” model, either. A device that is too light will be less stable, making your training session uncomfortable. This is very important, as the ellipticals weight is essentially related to its flywheel. Just like an exercise bike, a heavier flywheel translates to more fluid pedaling. At a minimum: 7 kg.
More critical criteria
Make sure to take these aspects into account as well:
- Should the flywheel be in front or in the rear?
- With a rear wheel, pedaling simulates jogging, with a circular stride: the transfer of weight from one leg to the other is greater, with less muscle effort. It’s perfect for weight loss.
- With a front wheel – rarer on mainstream models – pedaling reproduces the movement of a cross-country skier, with a flatter stride. There is less stress on the knees. Muscles get more work, and the speed of rotation is slower. This is ideal for building muscle.
- Stationary handlebars or mobile workout arms?
- Fixed handlebars aid in lower body work.
- Mobile workout arms enable upper body work: 80% of the body’s muscles are engaged when using mobile workout arms. .
- Remember: the console is not just some gadget to play with. If you’re doing a cardio workout, you should measure your heart rate via a back or abdominal belt, which are more reliable and less restrictive than handlebar sensors. And this “gadget” is actually a computer that measures your effort and your progress, providing a constant motivational tool that also monitors your performance.
Ellipticals: offering a complete, valuable workout
The elliptical’s pedal-pushing movement works the thighs, glutes and calves. With the mobile workout arms, your arms, shoulders and chest also get in on the action. As you work to maintain your balance and keep your back straight,, you also work your abdominal and lumbar muscles.
Ellipticals also provide excellent cardio training, which we know is essential to good health. The machine improves cardiovascular capacity and regulates tension. Some studies even suggest that it can help to prevent type 2 diabetes and reduce “bad” cholesterol1, help prevent Alzheimer’s2, Parkinson’s and other diseases related to old age3!
- 1 “ Points forts associés à un entrainement cardiovasculaire ”, Site du Cabinet de physiothérapie Dr Loucif
- 2 “ Aerobic exercice slows cognitive decline in Alzheimers disease ”, Reuters, 27/02/2018
- 3 “ Can aerobic exercice protect against dementia? ” , Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, ©BioMed Central Ltd 2011