We have touched on the benefits of a cross trainer workout in previous blogs but we decided this great piece of equipment deserves a blog of its own. The cross trainer provides a full cardio workout whilst building strength and muscle tone. It does this by reaching pretty much every major muscle group in your body. Plus, if your machine has arm handles you really are getting an entire body workout. Because of the bodily motion the machines create, it also puts way less pressure on your joints than running on a treadmill for example.
If you are new to gym equipment the cross trainer may look a little intimidating, however because of its full body workout its actually a great place to start. It’s important to set yourself a goal or have a proper plan with cross trainers to make it an effective work out. Here are some workouts to try, and there is a workout for every ability.
First things first make sure you have your position correct. Ensure your back is straight and try to look ahead and not at your feet when working out to avoid hunching. The heart sensors are a good guide for where to place your hands, try not to place them too low as this could also make you tilt forward. Keep your feet flat and push downwards with your heel and then raise your heel when the pedal comes back up – try not to overthink this one as it should come naturally! Your leg movement may feel a little strange at first but the aim is to keep a fluid movement forming a flattened circle.
- 0-5 mins: Maintain a moderate pace at a low resistance (level 4)
- 5-8 mins: Increase your resistance until you feel you are working out more than the warm up (level 5)
- 8-10 mins: Increase resistance further until you are working out marginally more than the previous segment (level 6)
- 10-12 mins: Reduce back to level 5
- 12-15 mins: Increase back up to level 6
- 15-20 mins: Drop down to level 3 for a 5-minute cool down
There, you have just done a 20-minute cross trainer workout! You’re likely to feel this in your quads the next day but the more you work out and the longer you train your endurance will build.
Remember everyone is different and you can adjust the resistance as you see fit – but it’s important to take it steady as a beginner. You can build upon the above workout by increasing resistance and length of intervals or the frequency of this workout in your weekly schedule.
HIIT (high intensity interval training)
HIIT is a cardio workout consisting of short burst of intense exercise. The idea is to push yourself to the max during these intervals – hence they tend to be very short periods, anything from 20 seconds to 2 minutes. It’s the opposite of going for an hour-long jog where your energy is conserved.
To incorporate HIIT into your cross trainer work out, simply interject segments of fast pedaling. After your 5-minute warm up pedal for 60 seconds for as fast as you can. Ensure you then have 2-3 minutes to recover at a normal pace and then try the same intense interval again. You can also try intervals of high resistance, upping the level at each interval.
To gauge what your personal “intensity” is, your moderate speed should feel like going on a gentle, casual run. Low resistance should be 40 to 50 percent of your maximum effort, moderate resistance should be 60 to 70 percent, and high resistance should feel like 80 to 90 percent.
At first you may only manage a few intervals, however, as with any workout the more you do the fitter you become and this will increase with time. Just always remember the cool down as you don’t want to push your body too far.
Once you are comfortable on the cross trainer play around with the resistance. Increasing the resistance will bump up your exertion, heart rate, and oxygen intake, all while building cardiovascular strength. As your fitness increases you will find you can challenge yourself to new levels which keeps your workouts stimulating.
Mix it up
If you find yourself getting bored of your cross trainer it’s probably because you’ve fallen into the trap of doing the same workout day in day out. There are a multitude of things you can inject into your cross-trainer workout to keep you motivated. For a challenge, try pedaling backwards – you will immediately notice the difference in feeling as your muscles work the backwards motion. Alternatively try involving sets of low intensity exercises, like planks or squats or lunges in between intervals on the trainer.
Check out our great selection of cross trainers here.