Buying An Elliptical Cross Trainer

Elliptical Cross Trainers

Elliptical cross trainers are low impact and offer a true full body workout. Before purchasing though, it is important to make sure you understand all the key components.

This guide is designed to help you identify the various components that make up an elliptical cross trainer and how to compare the quality of various machines. As with all machinery, you get what you pay for so being sure of your usage requirements and matching these with the right machine will save you later in the form of possible breakdowns and repairs.

This guide is designed to help you better understand the various components that make up an elliptical cross trainer and how to compare the quality of different machines. As with all equipment of this kind, the more the product costs, the higher quality it will inevitably be. So it's important to know your usage requirements and matching these with the right machine. This can save you from future headaches in the form of possible breakdowns and repairs.

Drive Source

The first thing to consider before purchasing an elliptical cross trainer is that they come in two main styles – front and rear drive.

Front drive ellipticals are called this because the drive axle is located in front of the user. When you are using the machine, you will see the drive wheel turning.

Rear drive ellipticals are called this because the drive axle is located behind the user on the machine. When you are using the machine, you cannot see the drive wheel turning.

The difference is up to personal choice, there is argument for and against both types. To find out what you prefer, try both options before you buy. Rear elliptical cross trainers appear in gyms more regularly than front drive machines.

Elliptical Cross Trainer Frames

The size and construction of an elliptical cross trainer is important. Usually the cheaper option means the frame and construction will be lighter and less durable, and so goes the more expensive, the stronger the frame and more durable the construction.

Frame strength both in the steel tube and the welded joints is very important. When an elliptical cross trainer is being used there are many stress points which carry quite high loads. Remember this machine is supporting your full body weight so you do not want anything breaking!

Frame stiffness is also important; if the frame is flexing when you're using it, it will wear out quickly. In addition, annoying squeaking or scraping noises will appear. Test the stiffness of a frame by standing on the foot pads and gently pulling and pushing on the handle bars. There should be very little or no flex movement during this test.

Stride Length

More popular machines have a stride length between 35cm and 55cm. An elliptical cross trainer with a shorter stride length can feel choppy in its motion instead of smooth and fluid. Some newer machines have the ability to adjust the stride length which adds more versatility.

Resistance System

Most models have a magnetic resistance system where the flywheel is surrounded by a u-shaped magnet that can reduce or increase tension. These are fairly quiet and effective. In more advanced models you can find an eddy current brake system (ECB). The ECB works with an aluminium wheel and an electromagnetic current that controls the tension. Because the ECB system doesn’t have any moving parts it’s more durable and reliable than other resistance systems.

Console Controls and Displays

Console Controls and Displays

The control panel will have some form of LCD or LED display. They are available in various colours, shapes and sizes; much of the choice comes down to your personal preference and what type of information you wish to see.

The display can show such information as speed, distance, time, laps, incline, calories burned and heart rate. They aid in your experience but more programmes and gadgets don't necessarily mean a better quality product.

Heart Rate Control

Many elliptical cross trainers come with sensors for monitoring your heart rate whilst exercising. Basic models have inbuilt sensors for the user to grip which shows a read out of your heart rate. More advanced models have a wireless chest strap, these are more accurate than hand sensors.

Heart rate information allows you to work within a specific zone which can be set on the HRC (Heart Rate Control) programme. The elliptical cross trainer will then raise and lower the intensity of the workout to maintain your heart rate in that pre-set zone. These programs are great for achieving specific goals, particularly weight loss.

After-Sales Service

Finally, the most important consideration when purchasing an elliptical cross trainer is the company that supplies you the product. Do they offer after-sales services and back-up spare parts?

An elliptical cross trainer is an investment, so be sure you are dealing with an established supplier that has a good history in the industry. Ensure they carry adequate stocks of spare parts and employ trained service technicians. This is especially important if you are purchasing online.

Check the warranties and make sure the supplier has the ability to back them up. Warranty promises are only as good as the company making them!

If you want to find the right elliptical cross trainer for you, check out our product selector:
Which Elliptical Cross Trainer is right for you?
View our Elliptical Cross Trainer range