The Complete Cross Trainers Guide
What factors should you look out for when you’re buying an elliptical trainer? It can be tough to know where to start with so many options and styles available.
This cross trainer buying guide will aim to provide you with all the information you need to find the machine that’s best for you, but please don’t hesitate to ask our friendly experts if you need some additional help.
These great machines, that are also known as elliptical trainers, are great for your entire body. And, unlike treadmills, they don’t put that much strain on your knees, so you should fear no injury of such a kind.
But, how can you find out which cross trainer is the best for you and your needs? What factors should you look out for when you’re buying an elliptical trainer?
These questions will be answered in the following buyer’s guide.
Types Of Cross Trainers
There are several types of cross trainers on the market. If you want to find the best one for you, take a look at the following types:
Incline Cross Trainers
As the name suggests, these trainers offer different levels of incline. They are the best ones you can get if you’re looking to work out all the muscle groups on your body. The range of the incline allows you to work out like you’re going up a hill, or just walking on flat ground. The muscle groups that are mostly targeted are the upper thighs and the core.
Variable Stride Length Cross Trainers
The variable stride length cross trainers allow you to choose from a variety of different stride lengths. What does that mean, though? Well, you can opt for shorter strides, which simulate a walking motion, or for longer strides which resemble more of a running motion. We would definitely suggest this type of cross trainers for families, as they are great for the different stride lengths that are usually different in family members.
Electro-Magnetic Resistance Cross Trainers
This type of cross trainer is what you will usually find on the premium section of elliptical trainers. This is because the resistance level on these is controlled by a magnetic field. As you can imagine, this isn’t the cheapest mechanism to make, so it can only be found in more premium options. This, however, offers much greater performance than the ones we’ve already mentioned.
Ergometer Cross Trainers
Staying on the topic of resistance, this type of cross trainers uses watts to measure the resistance. This is more geared towards professional runners who want the best accuracy. This makes this type of elliptical trainer not as important for casual runners, or beginners. Plus, ergometer cross trainers aren’t really on the cheap side.
Belt Resistance Cross Trainers
This is a more classic type of resistance, and it’s the one we usually think of when talking about cross trainers. Belt resistance cross trainers use a belt and a flywheel in order to control the resistance. But keep in mind that these are usually really cheap and durability is below average. So, if you want something that will last you for years, go for something more expensive.
Fan Elliptical Trainers
Just like belt resistance cross trainers, the fan elliptical ones are for those of you who are on a very tight budget. The resistance that they offer is by no means great, but it isn’t really bad either. But their durability is an issue, so you should opt for something like an electro-magnetic cross trainer, if you’re looking for something that will last for some time.
Front Driven Cross Trainers
The last type of cross trainers that we’re going to mention are front driven cross trainers. As the name suggests, these have a flywheel that stays at the front of the trainer. These are a great option if your budget is not really tight, but you still don’t want to pay for a more premium option.
The price point of an elliptical trainer is probably the most important factor you should look out for. Prices vary a lot though, depending on the features that a model offers, as well as the build quality and its size. Let’s take a look at three different price points:
Budget Cross Trainers
This price range is for those of you who are on a tight budget, but still want to get a good cross trainer. Don’t expect these trainers to have all the fancy features that you will usually see on advertisements. Incline is usually non-existent, and an information console is usually very basic as well.
The prices usually range from £100 to £300, which is a fairly low price for cross trainers. What you might notice on budget cross trainers is that they can feel a bit unstable when on high speeds.
Mid-Range Cross Trainers
This is our personal favourite price range. These are usually not cheap, but not too expensive for what they offer. You’re usually getting a lot of information like the calories you’ve burned, along with your current speed, the distance that you’ve travelled, etc.
The prices are around £300 to £800, which is a great price for cross trainers. You will definitely notice that these are much more sturdy. The resistance is also produced electronically, rather than manually.
Premium Cross Trainers
This is the best of the best when it comes to cross trainers. As with most products, if you want to get the best, you have to spend the most. These are usually bought by people for their personal gym. So, as you can imagine, they are pretty big. But they are the best you can find on the market.
You are usually getting a huge information console with tons of programs and an amazing incline range. There’s a significant difference in their durability as well.
Now, when it comes to their price, they can range anywhere from £1000 to £10000. So, if you want to get the best cross trainers, you have to spend a large sum of money.
Most cross trainers take as much space as a rowing machine. So, you can expect budget and mid-range models to be small enough to fit in your house. Some cross trainers can also be folded, so that you can store them when you’re not using them.
But keep in mind that a cross trainer is not a treadmill. You must leave some space around it, to prevent any injuries, or breaking something in your house.
We have already mentioned some features that you can find on cross trainers. But, let’s take a more in-depth look at all the different features there are, and why each one matters when you’re looking for a cross trainer.
If you have ever used an exercise bike, you will know that there are different resistance levels when you cycle. The same is true in cross trainers. Cross trainers usually have a wide range of resistance levels. The higher the resistance, the more difficult it becomes to keep the motion of the trainer.
As we have previously said, the more expensive cross trainers offer a greater range of resistance levels, whereas some really cheap models don’t offer any range at all.
Motion Handles and Safety Handles
All the cross trainers on the market have two sets of handles. Each set has a different name. The ones that always stay stationary are named safety handles. These are to be used when you reach higher speeds and you want more stability. Most of them usually have some sensors which allow you to keep an eye on your heart rate.
The second set of handles are called motion handles. As you can imagine, these move according to the motion of the pedals. This way, you are working your arms and your legs out.
As we have mentioned a lot of times already, some incline will make your workout much more challenging. While incline support is usually found on more expensive cross trainers, we would definitely suggest that you find one that accommodates your budget, as it is extremely helpful.
We have already said that some cross trainers can be folded. A foldable design is always our go-to option, since it’s the best one if you want to keep your elliptical trainer in your house, and you’re not lucky enough to have your own home gym.
You can easily fold up your cross trainer right after you have finished working out, and then you can find some space to store it until your next workout.
Stride length is something that is usually mentioned in the description of most cross trainers. The stride length is pretty much the range of motion that you can get from your cross trainer. The longer the stride, the more demanding the workout will be. Most of the expensive cross trainers allow you to change that manually.
As the name suggests, this console has all the information you will need. You can usually view different feedback, like the distance you’ve travelled, the calories you’ve burned, your speed and the time you’ve been working out for.
These were the most important factors you should look for when buying a cross trainer. Our last tip would be to aim for mid-range cross trainers, as they tend to be a great value for money.