This post shares about health and fitness benefits of elliptical cross-trainer exercise machines, brands available in India and how to buy them including what factors to consider. You'll see more and more relevant information added in this post.
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1. Are elliptical machines better than treadmills for basic aerobic workouts?
Answer from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
You can get an effective aerobic workout with both an elliptical machine and a treadmill. In general, you can let your fitness goals determine whether you choose an elliptical machine or a treadmill — or a different piece of exercise equipment.
However, elliptical machines might offer some advantages over treadmills. For example:
2. Dual Action Workout
What makes an elliptical trainer unique is the combined upper and lower body workout. In fact, there is no other fitness equipment that simultaneously works as many muscle groups. That is why many refer to an elliptical as a cross-trainer.
With an elliptical trainer, you get a workout that utilizes the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, chest, back, triceps and biceps. The obvious benefit from exercising more muscles is that you tone more of your body. Furthermore, you also optimize your energy expenditure. You end up burning more calories and fat in less time. It is also suggested that there is a reduced perceived rate of exertion with an elliptical workout. You are actually exercising harder then you would normally perceive.
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.
3. How to find an exercise machine that suits you, and make the most out of any machine workout.
Elliptical Machines pack a little less punch on the joints, and either can be a good alternative to the treadmill, says Matthew Vukovich, exercise physiologist and associate professor at South Dakota State University.
Because you use them in a standing position, you're using lots of muscle mass, so the calorie burn rate is still pretty high.
Elliptical machines with arm components can further increase the numbers of calories you burn, says Stamford. But if you're a beginner, he doesn’t recommend using your arms at first.
4. How to Buy an elliptical exercise machine?
The variety of elliptical trainers is a very important point. Because there are so many ways an elliptical can be made, there are a lot of competing choices and marketing claims. Many of these claims are complete fabrications just to get you to buy their machines so you need to be very careful.
Read http://walking.about.com/od/treadmilling/a/elliptical.htm for responses to the following questions:
A. How Much to Spend for an Elliptical Trainer
A. 1. What is Your Budget?
A. 2. Have You Used an Elliptical Trainer?
A. 3. How Experienced are You with an Elliptical Trainer?
A. 4. Determine Which Features You Want
B. Decide Who, Where, and How You Will Use the Elliptical Trainer
B. 1. Who will be using the elliptical trainer?
B. 2. Where will you use the elliptical trainer?
B. 3. How will you use the elliptical trainer?
C. DETERMINING QUALITY LEVELS
This is the most difficult part of buying an elliptical trainer. There are some great marketing people in the fitness business. Their goal is to make you think that their elliptical trainer is worth much more than someone else’s elliptical trainer, regardless of price.
Although it is difficult to absolutely determine quality from the price of the product, it is still the best way to separate the quality levels of ellipticals. It makes sense as well. A manufacturer has to spend more money on a better quality elliptical trainer. Therefore, they have to charge more for it as well.
D. Determining Elliptical User Variables
D. 1. User Weight
D. 2. Time Used
D. 3. Number of Users
The strength of any elliptical trainer or its Achilles' heel is its drive system. By drive system, we are speaking of the drive axle, axle bearings, drive belt, generator or alternator, and power PCB. If these are well-engineered it will hide a multitude of sins. Components are important but engineering is more important in this area. For instance, one manufacturer uses cheaper quality components but gets away with it (sometimes) because their engineering is so good. We have also seen others who have fantastic components but poor reliability due to poor engineering.
DIFFERENT ELLIPTICAL TYPES AND SMOOTHNESS
Frankly, the difference in elliptical trainer smoothness has three main considerations: Design type, quality of build, and weight of the flywheel. To decide which type of elliptical will feel smoother to you – you will have to try the different models. When doing this make sure that you try them in the same price range. Otherwise you will get a skewed view of the type. The smoothness will depend a lot on your physiology.
The quality of construction will make a difference in smoothness. You will easily be able to tell the difference in the same type of machines. Make sure that you decide on which type of elliptical design you want before you attempt to determine the quality of construction. Otherwise the differences in type smoothness will skew the results. The flywheel weight will determine to a great extent the smoothness of the machine. The heavier the flywheel the more inertia is available to keep the drive system turning. The only drawback to the heavy flywheel is that the drive axle bearings will wear more quickly.
DRIVE SYSTEM COMPONENTS
The different drive system components that make up the elliptical drive system are the drive axle, axle bearings, drive belt, generator or alternator, and power PCB. Unfortunately you will not be able to determine the quality level of these components by looking at the machine.
Some questions that you can ask the sales person will help you get some general notions of the machine.
Sealed bearings are generally better in these units than shielded bearings. This is because the sealed bearings are better at keeping dirt out of the ball track.
Alternator or generator powered units will typically have more expensive repairs than plug in machines.
An overly noisy elliptical trainer points to poor engineering, poor components, or poor assembly.
These provide variation in your workout.
HEART RATE CONTROL (HRC)
The best option in this category is HR handgrips you can hold onto that determine your heart rate. The manufacturers have made this system much more accurate than it was in the past but they are still quite inaccurate on the low cost machines.
WARRANTY & MAINTENANCE
Warranties lately have become crazy so don’t get carried away with the Lifetime warranties on this or that elliptical trainer. Ultimately, you want to make sure you get an elliptical that you like, is easy for you to operate, and feels good for use. If you don’t like it, you won’t need the warranty anyway because you won’t use the machine enough to break it.
In regard to maintenance, keeping it clean is the golden rule. To help with this, put it on an elliptical mat and periodically clean the entire elliptical.