When you are preparing to set up a home gym, it makes sense to choose your equipment carefully. No one has unlimited space to have a machine for every exercise. So if you are looking for a cardio apparatus that will provide you the most varied exercises, an elliptical trainer is your best bet. But before you start your workout program, check out these five tips that will help you utilize your machine to the fullest extent.
There are two basic types of elliptical trainers: rear-drive and front-drive. Rear-drives have the pedals revolving around the back of the machine, whereas front-drive unit pedals revolve around the front. Rear-drive elliptical trainers allow for the legs to move in a true ellipsis, which makes the movements feel more natural. They also tend to be more stable, which can make a big difference for those who use the machine at a higher speed.
2. Elliptical trainers are different from other similar machines
Unlike other cardio machines and on-the-ground cardio exercises, elliptical trainers have virtually no impact. If your form is correct, your feet will never leave the pedals. In the world of aerobic exercise, this is hugely important. Cardio is notoriously hard on your joints, and the harder you work, the more damage you can cause. Not so with elliptical trainers. But that does not mean you do not get a good workout. Elliptical trainers work very differently from machines like treadmills or stair-climbers that seem to fill a similar purpose. You will find it does not put the same stress on your feet, ankles and knees, but it will work your muscles more thoroughly.
3. Proper form is key
As with any exercise, it is absolutely crucial that you use your elliptical trainer correctly each time to get the maximum workout and avoid injury. When you are on the machine, you should be in this position:
- Standing up straight
- Shoulders back
- Head up
- Resting your hands lightly on handlebars
Wear clothing that is not loose, and maintain a reasonable speed. Until you are comfortable with your body’s motion, you would be wise to take it slowly and frequently evaluate your technique.
4. Go backwards
One of the major benefits of elliptical trainers is versatility. They can pedal backward and forward, which works different muscle groups. Either direction will work your gluteal muscles and quadriceps, but pedaling backward works your calves and hamstrings more. The American College of Sports Medicine found that people who had suffered knee injuries recovered greater aerobic capacity and strength in the quadriceps and hamstrings if they went backward. If going backward can help people recover faster, imagine what strengthening and toning a more comprehensive set of muscle groups can do to help you prevent those injuries in the first place.
5. Incorporate elliptical training into other workouts
Because elliptical training is so low-impact, it is an excellent exercise to incorporate into other workouts. Cross-training has come into vogue recently because it is so important to focus on different types of exercise to work all the muscle groups. Don’t think you have to abandon your old, beloved workout regimes to use an elliptical trainer. If you choose, you can do it all.
If you decide on an elliptical trainer, you are making a wise purchase. Building a home gym or even just buying a single piece of exercise equipment should not just be a means to exercise. It should be an investment in your health.
Nicole is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all health and fitness related topics, including everything from the most effective diets to the best elliptical machines in Perth, Australia