7 Benefits of Using an Elliptical Cross Trainer

The elliptical cross trainer is a fundamental piece of gym equipment, usually found in the cardio section of any gym or health club. It’s a stationary piece of equipment, which includes two long handles and foot pedals. The exercise mimics the movement patterns experienced when walking, running and climbing stairs, to provide an effective, full-body workout. Here are seven benefits of using a cross trainer:

1. Accelerate Weight Loss

The benefits of using an elliptical machine for weight loss are evident, with many people successfully using this piece of equipment to accelerate their fat loss. Research suggests that cross trainers are preferable to some of the alternative machines, such as stair climbers and exercise bikes. In terms of calories burned, workouts on cross trainers are comparable with the treadmill, but can often feel easier as larger groups of muscles are used to generate the movement. The precise number of calories burned during a workout on the cross trainer will depend upon a variety of factors, including age, gender and your current level of fitness, but it’s certainly one of the most effective machines to use if your goal is to lose weight.

2. Protect Your Joints

The benefits of a cross trainer go far beyond weight loss, and include the protection of your joints. When considering the pros and cons of the cross trainer vs the treadmill, this is one of the most important distinctions. A workout on the treadmill is considered a high impact workout. On the other hand, workouts using the cross trainer are impact-free. This makes cross trainers a fantastic alternative for people who experience joint problems or pain, as the amount of pressure applied to the joints, particularly in the knee and hip, are reduced significantly.

3. Work the Whole Body

Unlike many other cardio machines, cross trainers work the entire body, providing a full-body workout and increasing the number of calories burned.

To give the arms an effective workout, simply hold onto the handles, pushing and pulling as you move your feet on the pedals. This works the entire upper body, including the chest and shoulders.

As you move the pedals with your feet, your lower body, including your glutes, will get a great workout. In order to target the glutes, you can increase the resistance, or introduce periods of pedalling backwards. The cross trainer is a highly adaptable machine, and workouts can be tailored to target specific muscle groups as and when required.

It’s possible to make some adjustments to your cross trainer routine to help tone your core, including the all-important abdominal muscles. To work your abs more, simply let go of the handles and engage your core muscles. When you’re no longer holding on with your hands, you must use your abdominal muscles to stay balanced. This also provides you with a fantastic core workout.

You can also vary the technique used on the cross trainer to get the best possible thigh workout. Slight changes to the way in which you use the machine can target different muscle groups, helping to keep your thighs toned and strong. For example, when you pedal backwards, you will target your quads (the front of your thighs). If you’re an advanced user, you can even perform squats as you pedal backwards. You shouldn’t attempt this until you’re a regular user, but this can significantly improve the condition of your thighs. Aim to hold the squat for a few seconds each time.

4. Vary the Intensity of Your Workout

The best exercise routines contain a variety of intensities, used together to create an effective regime. When using a cross trainer, you can either choose to mimic a brisk walk, a run, or a challenging stair climb. In order to change the type of workout, you just need to vary the resistance of the machine, and the speed at which you move. If you’re trying to improve your fitness, introduce some high-intensity interval training. This involves mixing some high-intensity bursts with periods of low intensity. You can start low, and build up the intensity over time.

5. Prevent Injuries and Exercise Safely

If you’re new to the gym, it can be overwhelming, and some of the equipment can be difficult to use. This isn’t a problem with the cross trainer, which has an extremely intuitive design – the right technique can be learned in a matter of minutes. Similarly, the cross trainer is also one of the safest pieces of equipment inside the gym. Many people get injured when they fall off a treadmill or have an accident in the free weights section of the gym, but the cross trainer is rarely associated with injuries of any kind. 

6. Get Stronger

Whilst resistance training is often the exercise of choice for strengthening your muscles, using the cross trainer is an excellent alternative, or supplementary exercise to improve all-round strength. Increasing the resistance of the machine means that your body must work harder to achieve the same speed, so crank this up if you’re looking to gain strength. Research has also suggested that the cross trainer can be used as a recovery exercise by people who partake in lots of resistance training. This has been found to help muscles recover much faster, and can result in larger overall strength gains. When using the cross trainer for recovery, it’s important to keep both the resistance and heart rate relatively low, compared to high-intensity exercises.

7. Work Out at Home

If you wish to work out at home, rather than joining a gym, a cross trainer should be at the top of your equipment wish list. They’re relatively inexpensive, don’t take up much room, and provide you with a full-body workout. The cross trainer is often overlooked as equipment for a home gym, with many people choosing a treadmill instead.

Our Most Recommended Elliptical Machines

We've nominated seven elliptical cross trainers from our range aimed at beginner, intermediate and advanced fitness levels:


This elliptical features a silent magnetic drive with eight levels of resistance to challenge you as you progress through your workout. Suitable for users up to 110kg.

Mid Range

This cross trainer also features a silent magnetic drive, but have 16 levels of resistance to challenge you as you progress through your workout. It also features a generous 18inch stride which more closely mimics the natural path of motion and helps you engage more muscles. Suitable for users up to 130kg.

Top Range

This range of elliptical machines offers 20" - 23" inch elliptical stride and up to 20 - 31 levels of resistance. You will feel like you are using a health club or commercial elliptical and are specifically designed to accommodate serious users. You'll find it easier to burn more calories and exercise for longer with a longer stride, premium quality bearings, and an incline ramp. 

Want to learn even more about the benefits of cross trainers? See our full range of ellipticals. or Speak to an elliptical machine expert at Orbit Fitness today on 1300 13 14 13 or email us!

We have a dedicated commercial team focused on delivering world-class fit-outs for all venues and locations.

Published on 24/10/2014

Last updated on 12/11/2021

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