The cross trainer is a staple across most gyms nowadays and many people have invested in them for their home gym needs. They’re the ideal machine for low-impact cardio so you can burn calories, lose weight, and tone your muscles without pounding your joints to smithereens. Sounds pretty ideal right?
If you’re reading this then you’re either a gym goer or are considering getting into gym, and are wondering if there is a “best” way to use a cross trainer. Can there be more than one way to use a cross trainer? Don’t you just get on it and pedal? You might be surprised at what you find out!
While the best way to train will depend on what your goals are, there are some general tips that will help you to get the most out of your cross training.
Warm up and cool down – Always warm up before you begin your training session and make sure you cool down properly afterwards. Consider stretching afterwards as well as this can help to loosen muscle tightness, improve flexibility, and reduce stiffness the day after a workout.
Stay Hydrated – Most cross trainers are equipped with cup or bottle holders so make sure you always have water with you. Keep yourself hydrated while you train to avoid overheating, getting lightheaded, and dehydration.
Mount the cross trainer carefully– Get onto the cross trainer slowly and carefully to ensure you keep your balance and do not injure yourself. The best way to do this is to keep the left pedal in the most downward position, place your left foot on it carefully whilst holding the handles, and transfer your weight to that foot before stepping onto the right pedal and evening out.
Watch your form– Don’t slouch forward onto your arms as this will take weight off of your legs and make the work out seem easier. An easy workout feels easy probably because it isn’t doing anything to help you, so you want to feel a bit of burn. Stand up straight rather, and engage all of your muscle groups. Think about your movements.
Watch out for loose ends– Make sure you are not at risk of loose hair or clothing getting caught by moving machine parts. This can cause the machine to jam and might result in serious injury.
Make a plan– Setting a goal before you start and laying out how you are going to achieve it will help you to challenge yourself and succeed. This can help you to monitor your progress and ensure you are not over exerting yourself or making it too easy.
These things might seem obvious to you, but they are extremely important to keep in mind anyway. Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s move onto the more specific stuff!
Getting the Most Out of Your Session – Match Your Training to Your Goal!
If your goal is to…
Engage your core.
Letting go of the handles will make you engage your core muscles in order to keep your balance. While this might not be the best option for an entire workout, doing it for short periods will help you to work your back, and stomach muscles which can help to ease back pain, improve your posture, and create a slimmer waistline.
Tone your thighs.
Pedalling backwards instead of forwards helps to keep your body guessing so that you don’t settle too much into a set routine. It also helps to tone your thigh muscles and improve your balance.
Burn more calories.
Add intervals to boost your workout. Alternate between short bursts of high intensity training with longer, slower, recovery phases. This will help you to burn more calories than going at a steady pace for longer periods. As you get fitter, you can increase the high intensity bursts and decrease the recovery periods. Interval training also boosts your metabolism which will aid you in losing weight and burning calories.
Work both your upper and lower body.
Pushing and pulling on the handles with your arms can distribute the workout strain between your upper and lower body, thus giving you a more well-rounded work out. If your aim is to target specific muscles, this is another good way of doing so.
Hopefully these lists have given you a good idea of how best to approach the cross trainer and have made you feel more confident in doing so! Think about what you want to achieve before you even start so that you don’t end up wasting your time. Who wants to pedal for an hour only to realise they aren’t feeling any challenge or difference? No one!
If in doubt, you can always consult your personal trainer or a member of gym staff and they will be able to assist you in creating the best routine for what you want to achieve. One other important thing to remember is not to push yourself too hard. Overexerting yourself can lead to strain and injury, as well as stiffness that can impair your ability to continue training. Take care of your body at all times.
Need an extra hand?
Are you looking for some work out examples to try next time you go to the gym? This list offers a handy outline of several different work outs that could be just what you’re looking for! Ascertain what level you are at and what results you want to see, then pick a programme and get pedalling!