How to choose an elliptical cross trainer
How to choose an elliptical cross trainer?
First of all it is important to mention that the term elliptical cross trainer is often mistaken for the word orbitrek. Orbitrek, however, is a manufacturer brand, not a term denoting this type of trainer. Nowadays, such types of trainers based on an elliptical movement are called elliptical trainers, ellipticals or cross trainers.
Before purchasing a cross trainer, you should ask yourself the following questions and choose your cross trainer based on the answers.
Who is going to use the cross trainer?
- one person, two people, the whole family, …
How often do you plan on exercising on the elliptical?
- 1 hour a day, 2 hours a day, 3 times per week 1 hour a day, etc.
What is the height and weight of the user/s?
- the tallest person is 170 cm, 190 cm tall, weighs 60 kg, 90 kg, 120 kg, …
What is your budget for the purchase of the elliptical?
- The price of a cross trainer is directly related to its construction. The main differences in construction of the elliptical are listed below.
The price of a cross trainer depends on its specific construction. The basic parameters that you need to consider when choosing the right cross trainer are:
- weight of the fly-wheel
- braking system
- stride length
- movable joints
- weight capacity
- warranty and service
Let us go through every single parameter in detail. At first sight it may seem that all cross trainers are the same and you can focus on the price only. That, however, is not true.
The fly-wheel of the cross trainer
The parameters of cross trainers usually state the weight of the fly-wheel. Generally speaking – the heavier the fly-wheel, the smoother and more fluent the operation. And the heavier the fly-wheel, the higher the intensity of the exercise. The most basic cross trainers have 5-8 kg heavy fly-wheels. When you are planning to use your elliptical on a long-term basis, which will increase your condition and strength, a 5 kg fly-wheel will be absolutely unsuitable for you, because even maximum resistance will be too low and the movement will be discontinuous. And you will have to buy a new cross trainer. A high quality cross trainer that will offer you a fluent performance and sufficient resistance, should have an at least 10 kg heavy fly-wheel. A cross trainer with a lighter fly-wheel could be suitable only with an inductive braking system. In that case you can set a sufficiently high resistance even with a low-weight fly-wheel.
There are 3 kinds of braking system for elliptical trainers on the market.
Belt resistance braking system, nowadays only in the cheapest models. This system is based on braking with the belt on the fly-wheel. A huge disadvantage of this system is the noise created by friction of the belt on the fly-wheel, which also shortens the life span.
Magnetic braking system, used in most cross trainers today. The base of this system is a metal fly-wheel with a magnet on one side. As you are changing the resistance intensity, the magnet gets closer to or further from the fly-wheel. With this type of braking system there is no mechanical resistance and therefore such cross trainers are characterized by silent operation and a long lifespan.
Inductive braking system, is the most flawless braking system. It is typical for its silent operation, higher level of resistance intensity (braking power is usually given in watts) and it has the longest lifespan of them all. The braking resistance of the fly-wheel is equipped with electrical induction.
There are two types of resistance – manually operated and electronically operated cross trainers.
Manually operated cross trainers usually offer 1-8 levels of resistance. The principle is simple. The resistance is regulated with a mechanical twist knob that moves the magnet closer to or further away from the fly-wheel. Electronically operated cross trainers have a magnet operated by a servomotor and you can regulate the resistance via the computer. Another advantage is a larger number of resistance levels, better adjustment for every user and software equipment.
Stride length of the cross trainer
Probably the most important feature when selecting a cross trainer is the stride length. We all have different heights, weights, arm and leg lengths and by that the biomechanics of body movement. This parameter should be taken into consideration when selecting your cross trainer.
Cheap elliptical trainers have a small body. And a small body means short and high stride. If you are a gym member, you must have already come across a professional elliptical trainer. These professional machines have a stride length of ca. 50 cm. They are very comfortable and suitable for, so to speak, every body type.
Every centimetre of stride length and height is very noticeable. The minimum recommended stride length is 35 cm and height should be as small as possible. If the cross trainer has a small stride height, your joints will be strained much less when moving your entire body.
When selecting your cross trainer, you should choose one with the longest possible stride length and smallest possible stride height. Such movement is suitable for shorter as well as taller body types. If you are looking for an elliptical trainer for the entire family, choose one with the fly-wheel at the front. The whole construction has impact on the mechanics of movement on this trainer. When the fly-wheel is at the front, the cross trainer will reach longer and lower stride. In practice it equals to the stride length of roughly 50 cm. This is particularly suitable for older people, since with lower stride height the ligaments of the knee joint are less strained.
Movable joints of the cross trainer
The movable joints of a cross trainer are most mechanically strained during regular workout. We can divide these movable joints into two categories according to price, since price is directly proportional to quality. The first cheap alternative are sleeve joints. Elliptical trainers in the price range of max. 500€ have metal sleeves in their movable joints that need to be lubricated regularly, otherwise they will start to squeak.
These metal sleeves will start to rub together and that will create an unpleasant sound, halt the movement and instantly lower the effectivity of exercise as well as the lifespan of the elliptical trainer.
The second and much better alternative are movable joints with bearings. If you are not certain that a specific model has these, do not hesitate and ask the seller. Lower-quality products deliberately do not state this information. Bearings in joints mean a maintenance-free and silent operation with long lifespan.
Nowadays, the computer or console of the cross trainer is basic equipment of every model. On manually operated ellipticals, the computer shows basic training figures such as time, speed, amount of burned calories and heart rate. On manually or mechanically operated cross trainers that do not require electronic connection, the computer is supplied with batteries. A small unlit display with figures is a basic facility.
Electronically operated cross trainers have computer-controlled resistance. Better cross trainers are equipped with better computers. Computers can have lit displays for better visibility, they can be of different sizes, various numbers of programs and additional equipment, such as built-in fans for refreshment, built-in speakers, an MP3-player connector or compatibility with tablets and phones.
Heart rate measuring
As we mentioned earlier, pulse or heart rate measuring is very important especially when trying to reach your goals, whether it is fat burning, body shaping or physical fitness and condition.
All modern-day elliptical trainers enable heart rate measuring. Each model has pulse sensors located on the handlebars. Measurements acquired like this can be considered approximate, however, more expensive models offer relatively exact figures.
Walking or running with your hands placed firmly on the handlebars is not very comfortable and therefore high-end models have integrated chest strap monitors. These subsequently provide data to the computer. Based on this data (with HRC programs), the computer adjusts the exercise mode, i.e. the setting of certain parameters.
In case your cross trainer does not have HRC programs, you can see your current heart rate on the display and based on this figure you are manually able to adjust individual settings. Basically, if you need to increase your heart rate, you need to set a higher speed on your cross trainer.
Chest straps are sometimes included in the delivery, if not, you will have to buy them individually. Every seller surely offers them. In case you already have a HRM watch with a chest strap (e.g. POLAR), there is no need to buy another one. The HRM watch will pair with the sensor in the cross trainer and you can fully use all the functions of the HRM watch on top of that (e.g. they memorize the history of all trainings).
běžeckém trenažéru a Vy navíc můžete plně využívat i všechny funkce sporttesteru (např. Si dokážou pamatovat historii jednotlivých tréninků).
Recommendation: Choose a cross trainer with a built-in chest strap receiver. It is an investment that will save you money in the future. All high-quality cross trainers have such a receiver in their basic configuration.
Weight capacity of a cross trainer is a parameter that says a lot about quality and sturdiness of the construction. Basic models have maximum weight capacity of 100 kg. The bigger the elliptical, the sturdier the construction. The maximum weight capacity gradually increases to 120 kg, 130 kg and to 150 kg. Large and robust trainers offer the capacity of up to 180 kg of weight.
When choosing an elliptical for the entire family or for a larger number of users, it is necessary to know the weight of the heaviest user. If your weight is 90 kg, do not choose a cross trainer with maximum weight capacity of 100 kg, even though you can still squeeze into the limit. The bigger the reserve, the lesser the strain on the construction and automatically the longer the lifespan of the trainer.
Assembly and service of a cross trainer
When buying an elliptical cross trainer, you should keep an eye on the fact whether or not the seller provides assembly. Not all of us are DIY assemblers with a cabinet full of tools. Although manufacturers often supply tools for assembly of ellipticals, it is definitely reasonable to turn to a professional. You can make sure that your trainer is properly assembled and will serve to your satisfaction.
Another important question you need to ask the seller is whether or not he provides warranty and post-warranty service at the customer’s home.
Imagine there is a technical defect (a cross trainer is just a machine after all and can break). Suddenly you have to deliver a 120 kg heavy machine to a service that is a couple hundred kilometres far from your home. The first problem occurs when trying to carry this cross trainer eight floors down the stairs. And what next? A courier service can charge you a few dozen euros.
You can easily avoid all this by choosing a seller that offers this service. It is perfectly comfortable. You just pick up the phone, order your service at a specific time and everything else will be handled by the service technicians. Some sellers guarantee regular service inspections as well, you just need to ask. It is definitely worth it!
Recommendation: We recommend buying cross trainers exclusively from sellers that provide on the spot service and assembly. Service technicians have much more experience, since the products literally went through their hands!!!
The legal warranty in our Europe union is 24 months. Some manufacturers provide extended warranty of 3 to 5 years. In such cases you should verify whether the warranty applies to the entire cross trainer or just some parts of it. It is possible that extended warranty only applies to the frame.
Unfortunately a rule that sellers state 5-year warranty, however, as you will find out when reading their warranty conditions, this only applies to the frame and the rest of the machine has a warranty of 24 months. Fortunately, we sell products from brands that offer extended warranty on certain parts. For example the cutting edge brand SPIRIT FITNESS provides lifelong warranty on frames!!!
Recommendation: Verify with the seller, whether the 5-year warranty applies on the entire product or just its parts.
There are many manufacturers of cross trainers on the market. We recommend verified global brands that have been offering their products for years and there are even some that have been producing in the field of fitness for more than 100 years. Some of the globally most famous brands are: SPIRIT FITNESS (USA), XTERRA (USA), SOLE FITNESS (USA), LIFE FITNESS (USA), Hammer (Germany), FINNLO (Germany), FINNLO MAXIMUM (Germany), ENDURANCE FITNESS (USA), KETTLER (Germany), BH FITNESS (Spain), TUNTURI (Finland), LIFESPAN (USA), CYBEX (USA) NORDIC TRACK (USA). American exercise bike brands belong to the elite mainly because of the huge domestic market and demand since the 1950s. For all these years they have been collecting experience and nowadays the American fitness market is the largest in the world.
Recommendation: If you are looking for a high-quality crosstrainer for regular exercise, we recommend the best trainers from SPIRIT FITNESS, SOLE or XTERRA FITNESS.
We are very pleased to be able to share our long-standing experience in the field of fitness, where we have been working since 2008. We hope that the aforementioned information will be put to good use and will help you choose the ideal partner in achieving your goals and dreams. Whether it is your dream body, great condition or solving your health problems.
Our company is a direct importer of several brands as well as an exclusive distributor for the Czech and Slovak Republic.
We also distribute products to our customers in Austria, Germany and the rest of the EU.