How Do Cross Trainers Help You Keep Fit?
You may have heard cross trainers are good for weight loss, but how true is that? Will the cross trainer actually burn a decent amount of calories, or is the calorie display lying to you? If a machine is advertised as ‘low impact’ and ‘less strenuous’ then surely it is going to be less effective than jogging or other more intense forms of cardio exercise?
So how are cross trainers good for losing weight, and can they actually help you lose weight at all? Read on to find out!
Full Body Workout
The cross trainer works around 80% of your muscles including several of your upper-body muscle groups. Many cross trainers come with mechanical ‘arms’ which you can hold onto and push for a full body workout, or if you would prefer to focus on your lower body and abdominals you can leave the arms and focus on your lower body.
Gaining muscle won’t just make you stronger, it will actually help you burn calories too because the more muscle you have the more calories your body will have to burn just to maintain those muscles. Some women are turned off exercises that build muscle because they are worried about bulking up too much, but men and women have different hormones and, as testosterone is one of the hormones responsible for creating bulky muscles, women are very unlikely to turn into the Hulk if they take up weight lifting.
Cross training won’t work your upper half in the same way that weight training will, but it is one of the few exercise machines which can give you a full-body workout. As the cross trainer engages more of your muscles, you will also find that you won’t feel the same ‘burn’. This may make you think that the exercise isn’t working, but it will enable you to keep working out for longer so you can actually burn more calories.
Interval training can cut the length of your workout whilst still giving you the same results. Interval training involves pushing yourself to the max for a short period of time (normally under one minute), returning to a regular speed whilst you recover, and then pushing yourself again.
This can actually help burn more calories than exercising at the same steady pace for twice as long. When you exercise through intense bursts of exercise your body will experience an oxygen shortage and it will require more oxygen during the ‘recovery period’, which will force your body to burn more calories even after you have finished exercising.
Interval training (or HIIT training) can increase your metabolism for up to 48 hours, it can cut your workout time and give you the same or even better results, and it can help you burn calories even after you’ve stopped exercising. What’s not to love?
It is fairly easy and safe to increase the speed on a cross trainer. Higher-end machines should have an LCD display which will help you keep track of your speed, help you control the resistance, and give you an indication of how many calories you have burned.
Cross training is a good choice for beginners, but you won’t have to trash your machine when you reach a higher level of fitness. Most cross trainers come with adjustable resistance levels which you can continue to increase over time. You might start out at a low resistance level, but over time you should continue to increase the resistance so you can keep pushing your body over time as you improve.
It’s important that you are able to increase your resistance over time because, if you keep working at the same level as your improve, your body won’t have to work as hard. This will make your body complacent, it won’t have to burn as many calories, and you may stop losing weight as your body becomes used to its routine. You need to keep pushing yourself if you want to see long-term results, and adjustable resistance levels will help you do that.
Cross training is a low-impact form of cardiovascular activity, which means it will put less pressure on your joints and knees so you can workout even if you suffer from joint problems. If you want to lose weight but you are concerned about damaging your joints or otherwise injuring yourself then the cross trainer is a good choice because you are less likely to injure yourself when you use it.
Cross trainers are generally safer than higher impact machines like treadmills. They are also a good ‘entry level’ machine for people who may be unfit and intimidated by treadmills and more intense forms of exercise. The cross trainer will make you feel safe and secure so you can get used to how the machine works. You are in control over how much effort you put into the machine, and you are able to stop safely at any time.
Less Pain, More Gain
Any form of exercise may leave you with sore muscles if you are not used to exercising those specific muscle groups, but some forms of exercise can leave you practically bed-ridden for days after your initial workout and unfortunately this is enough to turn some beginners off exercise altogether.
Working out on a cross trainer is less likely to concentrate on one specific muscle group which means you are less likely to feel that ‘burn’ and wake up the next day with sore muscles. This may sound like a bad thing, but instead of spending the day after your workout lying in bed in agony you should be able to get back on that cross trainer and keep working out regularly.
When some people first get into fitness they push themselves too far and find that they can barely bend their knees for days after let alone keep training. Whilst you might have burned a lot of calories on that one day, it is not going to have a lasting impact unless you keep up the good work.
Some exercise machines require all of your concentration, but when you use a cross trainer you should be able to watch TV or do other activities at the same time. Some cross trainers operate very quietly, so you will be able to concentrate on your favourite music or TV programmes whilst you work out.
If you have another thing to focus on it may encourage you to work out for longer, and rather than spending your spare time sprawled in front of the TV you can actually get some exercise and keep yourself entertained at the same time!
Burn Those Calories!
Research suggests that you can burn around 770 calories per hour on the cross trainer, although this will obviously depend on your weight, the length of your workout and how hard you are working. Doctors and dieticians will normally advise you to cut down on 500 calories a day if you want to lose weight, so if you used your cross trainer for around 45 minutes a day you should be able to stick to the same diet you eat now and still lose weight!
Losing weight isn’t just about exercise. If you want to lose weight in the long term you will need to stick to a relatively healthy diet, you may need to cut down on your calories, and you should limit the number of snacks and fizzy drinks you consume on a regular basis. No one is saying you can’t have the odd treat now and again (very restrictive diets are harder to stick to so it’s not actually encouraged), but you can’t work out for half an hour, eat a huge high-calorie meal and expect to lose weight.
Regular exercise will help you lose weight, but it will also help you get fit, improve your health and generally improve your life. Cross-training is not the only form of exercise, but it is a great choice if you are after a low impact full body workout which is suitable for beginners and experts alike.