Updated: May 9
Elliptical trainers first entered the market in the 1990s, invented by Precor company.
An elliptical trainer or cross-trainer (also called an X-trainer) is a stationary exercise machine used to simulate stair climbing, walking, or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints, hence decreasing the risk of impact injuries. For this reason, people with some injuries can use an elliptical to stay fit, as the low impact affects them little. Elliptical trainers offer a non-impact cardiovascular workout that can vary from light to high intensity based on the speed of the exercise and the resistance preference set by the user.
Why Purchase a Cross Trainer?
Elliptical cross trainers provide an elliptical movement that reduces the stresses and impacts associated with other forms of exercise such as running or using exercise bikes and other types of fitness equipment.
As well as protecting joints from strain, shear and compression type injuries, elliptical engineers also wanted to ensure that movement required minimal co-ordination and involved a maximum proportion of the lower body large muscle groups to help promote aerobic fitness gains and efficient fat burning. What they came up with was an elliptical or elliptic type movement, where the feet perform an ellipse, whose long axis is aligned roughly parallel to the ground. The cross trainer was born, and with the addition of upper body handles to work the chest back and arms, it quickly evolved. Today, home-use cross trainers are almost as popular as treadmills.
Read our guide to elliptical trainers.
Before Buying a Cheap Cross Trainer
Sometimes purchasing a cheap clearance cross trainer can prove to be a risky investment. The elliptical cross trainer is a complex piece of fitness equipment that caters to a variety of fitness levels and offers a low impact work out. For this reason, the elliptical trainer must be durable and well built. The elliptical trainer mirrors running and walking somewhat like a treadmill. However, instead of the foot coming down on a hard surface, the feet move in a smooth, seamless ellipse fashion like using an exercise bike. This eliminates a vast amount of damage to the knees, ankles and joints that a treadmill may impose.
As a consumer, when purchasing a cheap clearance elliptical trainer, we strongly recommend you do some research before buying. The amount you would expect to pay widely depends on whether the elliptical trainer is motorized or non-motorized. Other factors include the brand name, the programs available on the elliptical machine and other options that the machine offers. Also, you need to pay attention to the length of stride that the elliptical has to offer. A stride length of 20 inches provides best effectiveness though smaller stride paths are efficient unless you are very tall.
There are many websites that offer cheap clearance Ellipticals on sale. A person just needs to be aware of the website and make sure it is a reputable website like ours that specializes in fitness equipment. There are some good legitimate sales on cheap clearance cross trainers but make sure the company is bricks and mortar.
Features to Look Out For:
• Braking system - Almost all elliptical trainers use magnetic braking, and you will need this option if you want programs.
• Lower body movement feel - The feel of a cross trainer is very subjective. Ideally it should feel smooth throughout the range of movement, with a natural stride pattern - not jerk or snatch, or with a footplate that changes direction very suddenly as it reaches the end of the ellipse.
• Upper body movement feel - The handles should be comfortable to grip and without significant play as the handles change direction. Check that at high resistance levels, there is no rocking or instability.
• Ellipse stride length adjustment - Some machines allow you to shorten or lengthen the stride, making it easier to match the machine's movement to your own natural stride pattern.
• Console feedback and ease of use - How clear and comprehensive is the displayed information? How easy is it to access programs (if there are any)? Are the buttons clearly visible and easy to use?
• The maximum workload - How much workload can the elliptical provide when used flat out? If you are fit, look for at least 250 watts.
• Elliptical programs - Some can offer variety and motivation by simulating various hill courses, allowing you to create your own or by controlling your heart rate and more.
• Power type - Some elliptical trainers are self-powered whilst others require a mains connection.
Most elliptical trainers work the user's upper and lower body (although some models do not have moving upper body components). Though elliptical trainers are considered to be minimal-impact, they are an example of a weight-bearing form of exercise. They can be self-powered by user-generated motion or need to be plugged in for adjustment of motion and/or for supplying their electronic consoles and resistance systems.