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Cross Trainers

Written by James Cooper
Last Updated
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Finding the best cross trainer is important for home users. Unlike those training at the gym, there’s no room for complex fitness gear. As their name suggests, cross trainers combine multiple fitness machines. They can offer the fun experience of an elliptical trainer combined with the helpfulness of a stepper or the intense profile of the stationary bike.

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    Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer

Made combining the benefits of an elliptical with the comfort of the seating, the cross trainer activates the upper and the lower body muscles. Used for getting in shape and for weight loss, it’s one of the best elliptical cross trainers for those

Low body impact makes it very versatile for overweight users who might not be able to consider running for weight loss. With reduced joint impact, it represents one of the versatile options to those who want to enjoy up to a few hours of training per day with no hip or knee pain.

A reclining seat with 3 adjustable positions makes it very comfortable. The elderly or anyone experiencing low back pain can use cross training to stay in shape. The seat adjusts higher and lower according to the height of the user, ensuring all those who use it can reach the pedals while resting against the backrest.

Full-body workouts are the norm of the cross trainer. Both the arms and the legs move during the workout which means the user burns more calories. Cardiovascular benefits are among the highest with these types of trainers, as compared to recumbent bikes.

Shipped with a workout mat, the trainer is easy to use at home. The workout mat protects the floor while also dampening vibrations, making it a quiet performer. Those with kids are among users who’re more likely to use the mat to reduce vibrations.

Transportation wheels make it easy to store as well. The 2 wheels in the front allow users to move the trainer around the house without completely lifting it off the ground. A single user can move the trainer around which means it can be a great solution for anyone into training in multiple locations around the house.

PROS

Burns 17.4% more calories than a recumbent bike

Based on adjustable magnetic resistance

Includes a digital calorie counter

CONS

Made without a fan

How to choose the best cross trainer

The Best cross trainer bike needs to follow a few characteristics that give it versatility. Among them, the ability to fully adjust the seating position is essential. The ability to track essential workout data such as calories, time spent on the trainer, and resistance levels are the most important.

Information such as the burned calories is also crucial for anyone training for a certain fitness objective. Some of the leading cross trainers of the moment can show this information, together with real-time heart rate measurements. Keeping an eye on heart rate is one of the most reliable methods of losing weight. As a general guide, here’s what it looks like according to age groups.

  • 20-30 – 133-139bpm
  • 30-40 – 136-132bpm
  • 40-50 – 122-125bpm
  • 50-55 – 115-118bpm
  • 56-60 – 112-115bpm
  • 61-65 – 109-11bpm
  • 66-70 – 105 – 108bpm

Of course, these beats per minute according to age group are just an estimate, as they can vary from person to person. But a cross trainer can show real-time pulse data. Alongside these readings, the best trainer should also consider the following.

Length of stride

A good cross trainer should have a stride length between 16 and 21 inches. The biomechanics of the movement is going to be different depending on the length of the stride for all users. Since their height of the user influences the stride, shorter users should choose cross trainers with shorter stride length while tall users should stay closer to the 21in mark.

Stride length also dictates the smoothness of the movement. All home cross trainers need to be smooth to support the best workout. Even if they might not be at the same level with gym equipment alternatives, a good cross trainer should also be able to offer a stride where feet sit on the pedals for the entire range of motion. While some users prefer to train on their toes, the pedal should be flat for extra stability.

The length of the pedals is also important. To easily get on and off the cross trainer, oversized pedals are going to work the best. Cross trainers don’t need to come with safety straps as spin bikes for safety purposes. Oversized pedals with an anti-slip surface are going to be the best for the average user.

Resistance levels

Fitness machines are made in resistance levels. It’s here that users find the progressive overload and workout variation needed for the best overall fitness. At least 12 resistance levels are needed for the best trainer and in some cases, this needs to be easy to adjust. Some cross trainers come with iFit compatibility where users need to change the resistance levels during the workout to follow along.

Cross trainers either come with a front flywheel or a back flywheel. But its positioning should not limit its resistance levels adjustability. As on an elliptical machine, these levels can even vary up to 100. Fitness machines made with so many adjustment levels even simulate climbing floors during workouts.

But adding resistance to the workout is one of the main methods to raise the heart rate to the fat-burning zones mentioned above. This can also be achieved by training faster. Cross trainers often come with movable arms which also increase heart beat faster than a traditional stepper.

Resistance levels can also be used to build muscle. The heavier it is to train, the more muscle power is recruited during the workout. As a result, those using a cross trainer are also among users who can benefit from body sculpting benefits.

On-board computers

All digital user input is tied to the on-board computer or built-in display. This is what separates users’ experience the most. First, all users should know that a good display raises the final price of the fitness gear. But at the same time, it may come with a backlit screen and digits which are easy to ready.

Some of the best cross trainers only come with a small digital display. Without requiring too much battery power, even a small digital display can be used to track essential workout data which includes heart rate measurements.

But on-board computers are also used to navigate menus when it comes to connectivity options. Fitness trainers which support music playback can show basic track data such as artist name and song name on the digital screen on some cross trainers.

Most importantly, the on-board screen needs to show a timer and a calorie-burning estimate. The elapsed workout time needs to be quantified easily. Those who only aim to burn a certain number of calories during their workout should also be able to see a rough estimate on the screen.

Now considered as standard in all cardiovascular fitness gear, the calorie counter is essential when it comes to losing weight efforts. Cross trainers are among the most efficient machines both for these statistics and for the workouts themselves, based on their low impact construction.

Seated vs standing cross trainers

Not all cross trainers are the same. Some look very similar to an elliptical machine. Others look very similar to a recumbent bike. Users need to ask themselves if having a seat is mandatory for the cross trainer. The type of seat might also be important as not all of them come with a backrest.

Having a seat is only part of the benefit of training with the best cross trainer. This seat should also come with height adjustability to fit all users. The seat also takes a lot of the pressure off the lower back. Those struggling with back pain are the first to look for seated training options, which aren’t as many as they’d hope for today.

Seated training still burns calories. But it also allows a comfortable workout without having to use the arms. However, the best trainers also involve some type of arms movement for users who want to burn calories faster with full-body workouts. Furthermore, having movable arms also allow users to maintain good mobility in the upper body, shoulders, and forearms. The lower body is a worker on the pedals with the legs constantly moving while on the training to complete the full-body training session.

Storage and dimensions

The Teeter cross trainer recommended above has the dimensions of 54 x 38 x 52.5 inches. It is considered a compact trainer and users should plan their home accordingly. The cross trainer is considerably wider than a spin bike. Even larger than a recumbent bike, a cross trainer needs a bit of room to the sides as well. Since Teeter also offers a workout mat, users should plan sufficient storage space in their homes for the trainer.

Once the workout is done, users can also easily move it in a corner as a good cross trainer comes with transportation wheels, as seen on Teeters’ example above. However, only a handful of cross trainers are made with a foldable design today, which further limits space-saving capacity as compared to a rower or other similar machines.

The dimensions of the fitness machine also need to consider height. It elevates the user at least 15in above the ground and training inside requires sufficient head clearance. Those planning to train in basements need to ensure there’s sufficient head clearance for the machine and the upright user.

Pulse sensors

Pulse sensors are only seen on the best cross trainer. Here’s where they can be found. Normally, they’re added to the movable arms of the machine, right on the grip. If the machine features multi-grip construction, multiple pulse grips can be added to all of these grip points.

If the cross trainer comes with a seat, it should also come with pulse sensors to the sides of the seat on the handlebars. Since users don’t reach pulse sensors while seated, they should look for the products which offer multiple pulse sensors around the trainer to keep an eye on the heart rate regardless of the workout position.

Pulse sensors have good accuracy in general. However, if used for medical purposes, users should also consider a backup chest strap. This is a method to test out the accuracy of the readings for a more targeted workout. However, many cross trainers still don’t work with additional chest straps.

Connectivity

Connectivity options are starting to increase today. While the average cross trainer has no connectivity options, there are a few good Bluetooth alternatives. These might come with built-in speakers. Together with Bluetooth technology, they can be used to stream music from apps such as Spotify.

But entertainment is not the only purpose of Bluetooth connectivity. Those who want to keep an eye on their long-term cardiovascular health can use a chest strap which is Bluetooth-connected to show heartbeats per minute. Using the same wireless technology, users can record their cardiovascular results in dedicated apps.

Some of these apps are further compatible with apps such as MyFitnessPal which are then used to embed this data and calorie intake for better health results. With the right diet, users can improve their health and physical shape.

Connectivity options also include supports for tablets. These are found in new cross trainers. Users who like to watch YouTube videos or listen to music now have another option to place their tablets right on the trainer. This is why many of them integrate a tablet holder either above or below the main display.

iFit compatibility

iFit is a virtual trainer which guides users through daily workouts. Compatible only with the latest cross trainers, it can be a good addition to those who have no idea on how to plan their workouts. Based on a subscription plan, it can be one of the virtual personal trainer options made for the novice user.

iFit compatibility is still limited, even on the best cross trainers. However, fitness machines without support for this technology might still be used with class workouts based on free online training videos. The way the guided workouts are planned is very similar to those in spin class.

For example, the trainer dictates when trainees workout harder and when they can lower the intensity level. These guided workouts might also be a method of breaking up the monotony of daily training and stay motivated in the long run. Furthermore, there are plenty of options to consider when it comes to overall versatility with these guided options even in an offline mode as the best cross trainers include at least minimal guidance in the user’s manual.

Workout programs

Up to 21 workout programs can be found on the best cross trainers. These are the offline alternative to an online personal trainer. The guided workouts adjust workout intensity and difficulty on their own. Even having 10 pre-programmed workouts is beneficial to the user who wants a new challenge every day.

These workout programs are centered around the fat burn, cardiovascular health, and general recovery workouts with reduced intensity. The idea is they are all made for a certain purpose. Users who don’t want to train for a specific fitness purpose don’t need to use these programs as they can train at their own pace.

User profiles

A regular cross trainer only supports 1 user profile. The best alternatives are made to support up to 4 user profiles which mean there are high chances of establishing a multi-user experience at home where all family members train. For example, the user profile can remember certain settings such as preferred workouts and even personal cardiovascular parameters.

Some cross trainers also support user-defined workouts which can be saved under individual user profiles. However, none of these machines can store more than 4 user profiles at the same time. If a 5th user tries to save a personal prole, it will override the first user profile. This is why most cross trainers with user profiles are only made to support up to 4 users without in-between data override.

Flywheel

The weight of the flywheel dictates the feel of the cross trainer. Most professionals recommend a flywheel with a minimum weight of 11lbs. But the differences are considerable and not all users are the same. For example, the elderly might not need the heaviest flywheel to truly enjoy a workout.

At the same time, some of the heaviest flywheels are made with a weight of over 37lbs. These are very efficient at sculpting muscles and offering a great overall workout with plenty of intensity. However, a heavy flywheel is not going to be something beginners feel particularly comfortable with.

Accessories

Accessories are very limited on a cross trainer. However, having a water bottle holder is a must based on the long nature of the workouts. Water bottle holders are normally added right under the central console or in front of the seat. The idea is that the water bottle needs to be within easy reach.

Other accessories include USB charging ports. These are used to keep mobile phones or tablets charged while training and watching videos or listening to music. Charging ports also require a power outlet that needs to have the cross trainer close to a wall plug.

Included casters are also a considerable advantage for those who plan to move the cross trainer around the house. Nor everybody can keep the trainer in the middle of the room at all times. This is the main reason transportation wheels are the most practical accessory on cross trainers. Some of the lowe end fitness machines are still made without built-in casters.

Assembly

Assembly is normally not included with cross trainers. Amazon runs an assembly service which is available in parts of the country. However, those who require this service normally have to pay more to have a professional come and install the cross trainer for them. The upside of this extra is that the fitness machines is going to be fine-tuned for optimum performance.

The right shoes to use with a cross trainer

When it comes to the best cross training shoes, those with cushioning work best. Supportive and neutral shoes are going to offer proper stability regardless of the length of the stride. The best cross trainers include Nike Metcon or Adidas-made shoes. New Balance, Under Armour, and Reebok make CrossFit shoes which can be versatile here. But the biggest benefit of choosing a good shoe is their grip.

With a rubber outsole, they need to offer stability while on the cross trainer. Training in sandals or formal shoes is not recommended. Those who need arch support or those with overpronation issues should know that just because they don’t run on a treadmill, they should still wear the right shoes even when on a cross trainer. Cross trainer exercises can still be demanding, especially since they tend to be longer than treadmill running sessions.

If using the best cross trainer bike combo, users should look for shoes neutral support. Thick cushioning doesn’t favor stability when biking. Any shoes close to a sneaker with a low midsole is going to be a good choice for cross training purposes. Running shoes in general are a good choice for cross training. Breathable, with extra midfoot support and good shock absorption, they’re comfortable for most users. Their breathability and the extra support in the forefoot favors HIIT workouts where cardio training requires superior feet cooling.

EVA cushioning is not needed on a cross trainer, as even shoes with thin cushioning such as Metcon 4 and Metcon 5 from Nike are excellent options for those training at home. Those on a budget might also consider Puma and Asics pair of cross training shoes for a comfortable fit. Other workouts shoes such as the Inov-8 F-Lite also offer the lateral support needed for intense workouts. Their thick rubber sole offers extra stability on the peadals. The best training shoes are often overlooked with home workouts but improper training sneakers with low-quality footbeds can lead to issues such as Plantar Fasciitis in time.

Lateral movements are rare on these trainers, this is why the toe box is where most of the weight of the user is. Men’s and women’s trainer shoes need to be made with a mesh upper instead of a TPU upper for high breathability, especially when targeting high heart rate training. The best shoes here are similar to New Balance Minimus with their breathable mesh. With abrasion-resistance and classic lacing, the offer the stability needed on the trainer.

Since a cross trainer is rarely used on its own, users should choose versatile workout shoes which also support other weight loss exercises. For beginners, this can include running. For advanced users, this can include rope climbing and box jumps. However, those who also do weightlifting not he side need

Frequently Asked Questions


Is cross trainer good for losing weight?

In general, a cross trainer is only used for weight loss. It is estimated that the average users can burn around 800 calories when training intensely on the cross trainer. However, this number can be significantly smaller when training at low intensity. Some users might even struggle to burn 400 calories per hour if abiding by low pace workouts.

Most users are going to be somewhere in-between these extremes. However, simply training is going to be difficult to support weight loss efforts. This is the main reason those who also take care of nutrition are going to have the best weight loss results.

Basic foods can be split into macronutrients and micronutrients. Caloric intake and caloric expenditure are going to be the best guidance systems for quick weight loss. Simply put, users need to burn more calories they consume each day. Luckily, the full-body cross trainer is an excellent machine for this purpose.

What are cross trainers?

The cross trainer is often confused as an elliptical machine. But it can be interpreted as an elliptical machine that allows the user to sit down. This is why it combines principles from recumbent bikes with principles from elliptical machines.

Any user looking to maximize workout performance needs to be able to follow strict workout principles to understand a cross trainer. For example, a cross trainer doesn’t allow the user to remove the seat. This is the main reason the cross trainer is an excellent choice for those who need extra support. Made for users with back problems, the elderly, or any user who needs to train in a seated position with the option to train standing or not, the cross trainer is one of the most versatile fitness machines to be used at home.

How to choose cross trainers?

Cross trainers can burn more than 800 calories per hour as mentioned above. But the biggest reason to use a cross trainer is its low impact on the body. There’s not jumping as on a treadmill and users don’t need to put unnecessary pressure on their knees while training.

This opens up the versatile fitness machine as an option for those with knee problems. Those suffering from bursitis, tendonitis, tendon tears, anterior cruciate ligament injuries, and collateral ligament injuries are among the first real benefits of a cross trainer. This fitness machine might be one of the few which they can still use to burn calories.

Cross trainers also save space at home. Instead of purchasing a recumbent bike and an elliptical machine, users only need such a trainer. This means they save space and they also save money. Even the most expensive cross trainer is going to be a wiser financial investment compared to purchasing 2 fitness machines.

What is the best cross trainer for home use?

As seen in reviews, the Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer is the best for home use. It combines a compact profile with movable arms from a seated position. It means that the user can enjoy a full-body workout with low impact on the knees in small spaces. This would be difficult to achieve with other fitness machines such as rowers.

What is a better bike or cross trainer?

A bike offers a solid option for weight loss fitness objectives. However, the fixed handlebar of the bike offers no upper body muscle activation. As a result, it is not optimal for weight loss and even for general fitness workouts as it only focuses on the lower body.