What makes an elliptical trainer unique is the combined upper and lower body workout. That is why many refer to an elliptical as a trainer or cross-trainer.
Elliptical trainers offer the benefit of a low-impact workout, while exercising both your upper and lower body. The elliptical is a cross between a treadmill and a cross country ski machine, but instead of your feet sliding back and forth like they would on skis, the pedals will move in an oval or elliptical pattern. Since your feet never leave the pedals, your feet don’t strike the ground so there is less stress and strain on your joints. It is like walking or running in midair.
The shape of the elliptical movement mimics the natural path of the ankle, knee and hip joints during walking, jogging or running. In comparison, when you walk or run, every step causes a jolt to your body. This affects not only the joints in your legs, but also your lower back.
With an elliptical trainer, you work your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, chest, back, triceps and biceps. The obvious benefit from exercising more muscles is that you tone more of your body. You end up burning more calories and fat in less time. Of course, to get the full benefit of the dual action workout, it is important that you distribute the resistance between your upper and lower body. Many people who exercise on an elliptical trainer place most of the resistance on their lower body and only go through the motions with the upper handlebars
To mount the machine from the side, grab the handle bar for balance and step on the pedals. The pedals have no resistance to your weight so be careful when climbing on and off. Once you have begun the pedal momentum, you simply keep pedaling while the elliptical trainer automatically begins to record your time and distance manually. Get acquainted on how to use the programs and pick a timed workout that suits your fitness goals.
Learn how to use the elliptical trainer’s stationary handrails; they are there to help you keep your balance. You should not lean or slouch on the rail; the proper position is to keep your body upright and your head straight. To get a better workout on your trunk and legs, drop your hands to your sides. This will demand more work on your core muscles as you strive to maintain balance while pedaling.
Another important aspect in elliptical trainer use is the pedaling direction - you can pedal forwards or backwards. The elliptical is a cross between a treadmill and a cross country ski machine, but instead of your feet sliding back and forth, the pedals will move in an oval or elliptical pattern.