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10 Best cross trainers for an indoor cardio hit at home

SKIP TO: What’s the difference between an elliptical and a cross trainer? | What type of cross trainer resistance should you choose? | Is a cross trainer as good as walking? | How much time should I spend on a cross trainer? | Do you need a cross trainer with a heart rate monitor? | What kind of cross training programmes can you use? | Is a cross trainer better than a treadmill?

What’s the difference between an elliptical and a cross trainer?

“The biggest difference between the two is the movement,” says Claxton. “The movement of a cross trainer includes working your arms in a pull and push motion as the handles move and resistance can be added or reduced. An elliptical machine will have static handles and only allow the legs to move but the range of movement is different. This might be particularly good for someone with an upper-body injury. Since cross trainers have improved, they now provide a static handle which is more central, so overall a cross trainer would be my preferred kit as a trainer.”

What type of cross trainer resistance should you choose?

Many cross trainers are hard to differentiate by eye alone, but not all use the same resistance type. The two kinds to spot are belt and (more commonly) magnetic. While the latter tend to make for quieter, smoother flywheels, they’re also often more expensive than their belt equivalents.

Some of the most high-end options incorporate digital resistance, too, meaning that you can further alter resistance through a series of button presses. Premium brands such as TechnoGym love this addition since it allows trainers leading virtual training classes to increase and decrease your resistance for you. Not interested in whether yours is magnetic or belt operated? Definitely take resistance levels into consideration nonetheless: more challenging workouts will require levels that meet and exceed 20.

Is a cross trainer as good as walking?

According to Claxton, “A cross trainer could arguably be better than walking as you can target more muscle groups whilst training. However, walking outside can have many mental health benefits as well as physical.” In other words, mixing things up is, as usual, your best bet. A blend of cross trainer sessions and some more relaxed fresh air walking seems a safe bet for mind and body.

How much time should I spend on a cross trainer?

“Time would always depend on your goal,” says Claxton. “Personally, I’d keep it to around 10-15 minutes so you stay engaged with the exercise you’re doing and it’s an amount of time where you can really put some effort in.” High-intensity exercise for lower amounts of time like Claxton is suggesting can really help pump your heart rate up while preventing you from getting bored in the process. As usual, though, you’re more than welcome to mix things up and see what works best for you.

Do you need a cross trainer with a heart-rate monitor?

A heart-rate monitor is frequently found on electrical gym equipment because being more intimately acquainted with your own body is always sensible. Not only will a heart-rate monitor clue you into how you’re responding to increasingly intense routines, it can also be used for optimising your workouts. An increasing number of trainers are advocating for heart rate adjusted routines, which use “zones” — categorised from sustainable to intensive — to plan out a session. Already have access to chest straps and/or a sports watch? You might not need to add heart-rate monitor to your new cross trainer’s must-have list.

What kind of cross training programmes can you use?

You should find an LED screen on even the most wallet-friendly of ellipticals: these are where you’ll find a suite of pre-installed programmes to follow, which usually imitate climbs, trainer-led classes or HIIT sessions. Increase your budget, though, and you’re looking at a world of choice that can even include virtual, trainer-lead classes and dedicated apps. For the easily distracted, we also recommend Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi optimisation so you can use other training apps and platforms.

Is a cross trainer better than a treadmill?

No matter how forensic nutritional information becomes and complex gyms can look, one thing remains true: any kind of cardiovascular workout is better than none. While that certainly means that a daily walk will work wonders, those wanting to blitz more calories will undoubtedly prefer something more substantial. That’s usually when electrical equipment comes into play, and for many, the treadmill is not the fix-all.

The main difference between the treadmill and the cross trainer is a matter of impact: the latter, like rowing machines and exercise bikes, put less pressure on your joints, making them preferable for those with injuries. Having said that, the best between the two is always going to be the one that you enjoy (or just tolerate) the most. For many, that’s rowing, trail running, or even stand-up paddleboarding. If it’s cross training for you, then that’s the bests a treadmill every time.

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