January 30


Benefits of the Cross Trainer and How to Use it to Lose Weight

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The no impact full body cardiovascular workout could have a serious impact on your calorie burning. Have you ever wondered what the actual benefits of the cross trainer are and how this piece of kit can help you?

A cross trainer (or elliptical trainer) has become a regular part of the ‘gymscape’ over the last couple of decades.  It offers the aerobic benefits of cross country skiing and running, without any of the impact forces.


Getting Started with a Cross Trainer Workout

The machine’s action is in fact a combination of the movements of the other two exercises.  Since the upper body is involved it recruits more muscles that running and provides a great calorie burning option – often at a reduced perceived level of exertion.

Rather than using one of the pre-set programmes, most cross trainers should have a ‘quick start’, ‘free exercise’ or ‘manual’ mode. Use this to enable you to follow the workouts below.  Additionally, you may have to enter your height, age, weight or other information depending on the model before you start. It's usually easy enough to do – just follow the on-screen prompts.  You will also be able to adjust the resistance offered by the machine. Furthermore, some manufacturers allow you to adjust the stride length as well.

Beginner Cross Trainer Workout for those new to training

'Down The Clock'

Use RPE to build up your exercise confidence and calorie burning.

Set the machine up so that it is in free exercise mode.  Use RPE as your guide, where 1 is easy and 10 is flat out.

Begin exercising at a very comfortable pace, at an RPE of 2-3 for 5 minutes to warm up.

Do 3 minutes at an RPE of 7-8

Recover for 2 minutes at an RPE of 2-3

Do 1 minute at an RPE of 7-8


Warm down with 5 minutes at an RPE of 1-2

Total exercise time: 22 minutes

Benefits of the Cross Trainer for Beginners:

Working out to your RPE will allow you to control the workout. 

Its reducing intervals will enable you to maintain a relatively high intensity which is great for calorie burning.  

As a result, you'll experience an enjoyable and profitable workout!

Something for Intermediate Exercisers

'Resisted Intervals'

A workout which is a little more demanding

Set the machine up for free exercise

Warm up with 5 minutes at an RPE of 2-3

Next increase the resistance offered by the machine and/or increase your pace so that you work out in the 7-8 RPE range for 5 minutes

Drop the resistance down for 2 minutes and workout at an RPE of 6-7

Repeat 3 times

Warm down with 5 minutes at an RPE of 2-3

Total exercise time: 29 minutes

The 15 minutes you’ll be completing at increased resistance and elevated heart rate will burn significant numbers of calories. Additionally, you'll be increasing muscle recruitment across all your body’s major muscle groups.

Benefits of the Cross Trainer for Advanced Exercisers

'Beat your Distance

A tough and taxing workout

Set the machine up for free exercise and complete a 5 minute warm up at an RPE of 2-3

Increase the resistance level to a tough 7 out of 10

Exercise at RPE 6 to 8 for 2 minutes

(Note the distance you achieve)

Take 3 minutes recovery at RPE 2-4

Perform 4 more 2-minute efforts attempting to match or beat the distance you covered in the first 2-minute block

Take 3 minutes recovery (RPE 2-4) between each 2 minute working interval

Warm down at 2-4 RPE for 5 minutes

Total exercise time: 27 minutes

You'll develop high-end aerobic power and strength. It's also an opportunity to work on pace judgement. Additionally, the two minute targets will act as great motivators to keep you going.

Want to find out more about effective workouts and how to judge how hard you're working? Have a read through this post on the relationship between sweat and exercise.

Does sweating more equal a better workout?

Find out how and why your body sweats and why it shouldn't be used to determine an effective workout

About the author

Paul Stokes

Paul Stokes BSc (Hons) is a Certified Personal Trainer, Accredited Sports Nutritionist, qualified Exercise to Music Instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, Massage Therapist and teaches 8 of the Les Mills Group Exercise programs.

He currently works in the Oil & Gas industry as a Wellness Coach, imparting his vast knowledge and experience to improve the quality of life of several hundred offshore workers.

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