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Also known as a cross-trainer, the elliptical trainer is a highly-popular piece of exercise equipment. Consider it doubtful a commercial gym exists in the world that lacks the presence of a solid elliptical machine. Seriously, not too many people want to sign up with a gym that isn’t home to an elliptical machine. Treadmills, stationary bicycles, and machines mimicking rock climbing are all present and accounted for inside a reliable fitness facility. These devices’ popularity often pales to that of an elliptical trainer.

In fact, elliptical machines might be more popular than any other type of cardiovascular equipment in existence. The number of positives associated with working out on an elliptical machine is vast. A really good workout as possible with one of these machines, a fact contributing to the immense popularity.

Commercial gyms are not the only locations in which elliptical trainers are found. Fitness enthusiasts and those who have recently decided to get into great shape may choose to purchase a home elliptical machine. True, certain models are very expensive, but there are also reasonable ones available for sale.

Those who have never really worked out before may be wondering why there is so much enthusiasm for elliptical machines. Why are they so popular among so many people?

The answer might be a bit lengthy since an elliptical trainer has so much to offer.

The Relatively New History

Unlike other types of exercise equipment, the elliptical trainer is not something that has been around for decades and decades. The arrival of the elliptical trainer occurred in 1995. The very early designs for the concept of such a device — one based on elliptical path generation — date back as early as 1988 with research conducted at Purdue University.

A company named Precor delivers the Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer, the first working model for the home fitness community. While some may have first looked at the device with skepticism, the fitness world is always looking the “next great new thing” in cardiovascular conditioning and weight loss.

Truthfully, a lot of exercise equipment is a bit more overhyped than functional. Such is not the case with elliptical trainers as these devices are known for scores of benefits not the least of which is the ability to promote healthy aerobic work and calorie burning.

Elliptical Trainer Design

The basic design of an elliptical cross-trainer comprises of two foot pedals and two handle bars. Both the arms and the feet move and this reflects the “crossing” part of cross-training on such a machine. The movements of cross-country skiing share enormous similarities to an elliptical trainer. There are also bits of stair climbing found in the device as well.

The foot pedals are controlled by connecting flywheel. The flywheel moves in accordance with how fast or slows the person working out on the elliptical trainer is going. The legs of the person using the elliptical machine are what powers the device. An elliptical trainer is perfect for those who worry about working out on a machine powered by a motor.

Not all elliptical machines are built the same way. Certain models may be designed with an incline to them. Even with all the variations in the machines, the device is intended to deliver the same result: improved fitness and weight loss.

Quality of construction does count, though. An elliptical trainer made by a quality manufacturer is going to provide a more reliable experience than one made by a less-reputable company. Even good companies do produce the occasional bad model. Reading reviews on various elliptical models is strongly recommended to those who want to make the best and most-informed purchase.

Overall, an elliptical trainer is very simple in design and is capable of delivering excellent results and comes with scores of established benefits.

The Low-Impact Workout Benefit

Cardiovascular conditioning is commonly associated with difficult and even competitive forms of exercise. Cardio kickboxing and racquetball definitely burn up calories, but activities of this nature can be hard on the body. A person has to be in a certain amount of good shape to really get the most out of such exercises in the first place.

Stationary bikes and treadmills are not always easy to exercise on either. A treadmill, in particular, can create problems with the joints since walking or running on one places stress on the ankles and knees. Joint pain may occur right away or it may be the result of cumulative exercises.

The “average person” who is looking to stay in shape probably does not know of any joint pain risks. Then, one day, the pain manifests. Of course, injuries and pain can be associated with any type of exercise equipment. Based on the design of an elliptical trainer, the chances of suffering joint pain are not believed to be as severe as would be the case with a treadmill.

Those with questions about injury and pain risks associated with any type of equipment should discuss concerns with a physical trainer, a physical therapist, and/or a medical professional.

All in all, an elliptical trainer is known for being decidedly low-impact. While it certainly is possible to move on an elliptical machine very fast, most prefer to employ a slow or moderate pace instead. The foot pedals in which the feet are placed come with complement the weight of the user’s feet and “stick” with them when moving. The feet remain in contact with the pedals’ surfaces. As a result, there is no pounding as would be the case when running, jogging, or even walking.

Calorie Burning Benefits

Working out on a treadmill can build up stamina and endurance, which are two very good things to possess. Most are likely to seek out cardio devices capable of burning off fat and calories. An elliptical trainer definitely can help with achieving these goals.

Steady work on an elliptical machine allows for the burning up of calories and fat. Additionally, the muscles in the legs and arms are worked out nicely in a low-impact way. As the muscles repair after a workout, the metabolism will burn calories to help the process. Granted, the post-workout calorie burning is probably not going to be anywhere near what a high-intensity cardio workout or a hard weightlifting session would deliver.

Ellipticals in Brief

Elliptical training machines may be relatively new, but the devices are incredibly popular in fitness circles. So popular are elliptical training units that they are preferred by many over treadmills and bicycles.

Elliptical machines help with improving cardiovascular conditioning and assist in the fat burning process. Ultimately, these are the two things people look for in such workout equipment.