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The Life Fitness
How to Find the Best Elliptical Machine for You
Working out at home is a great idea, if you have the motivation to stay dedicated to your workout. It’s convenient, you can work out any time you want without waiting for a machine to be available and the other annoyances of going to a gym. Not to mention, you’ll save a ton of money on transportation and gym membership costs. The key is to find a machine that will give you the best workout possible.
Although treadmills are popular, they can be really hard on your body, particularly your ankles, knees, and lower back. An elliptical allows you to maintain the same form as if you are running, but it gives you the additional support you need to lower the impact to your joints and other parts of your body. You get the same leg and arm motion, so the workout is similar, but you can actually push yourself harder on an elliptical, because you are in control of the speed the entire time.
The most expensive ellipticals cost more than $2,000, but you don’t have to spend this much to get a good machine that will give you the workout you need. Some of the more expensive ellipticals are bulkier and heavier than the less expensive models, so they are more difficult to store and move around. Of course, the higher-end machines may have more features, but you can spend less than $1,000 and still get a good elliptical machine.
Features to Consider Before You Purchase
Not all ellipticals are alike. There are many different features to consider in order to find the best one for you, such as size, ergonomics, and high-end features, among many others. It’s a great idea to try different models before you buy one, so you can be sure you’re getting one that fits your body type and your workout needs – not to mention, your budget. Although you should still check the reviews and customer satisfaction of any elliptical before you buy, nothing beats testing it yourself.
The size of an elliptical machine varies significantly, so if you have limited space for it, you’ll want to make sure you get the correct size, otherwise you’re in for a headache. Some models may break down into a smaller size for storage, but most of them don’t. Besides, if you’re dedicated to working out, it may be a pain to break it down and re-assemble it every day.
The average elliptical is around 6 feet in length and 2.5 feet wide, but the length can vary between about 4 feet and 7 feet, and the pedals may extend out beyond this length as well. You’ll also want to keep in mind the additional height and elevation you’ll need when using the elliptical, to make sure you have enough ceiling height. If you’re workout room is in a typical third bedroom or dedicated gym, you should be fine with any height, but if you’re going to have it in a basement or garage, or another smaller space, you’ll want to pay close attention to the height. Of course, you need room to get on and off the machine, so be sure to include that in your measurements as well.
You should fit on the machine comfortably, without slouching or bending to use the hand grips. Your wrists and arms should be in alignment throughout the entire motion, and if they aren’t, you should try a different machine. Having an awkward posture can cause additional stress to your muscles, joints, tendons and nerves, so you want to avoid that.
The resistance of an elliptical is related to how much force you have to exert when you’re exercising. The lower the resistance, the easier it is to move the handles and pedals, and the higher the resistance, the more difficult it is. When you’re choosing an elliptical machine, you’ll want the lower resistance settings to be easy for you, and it should become challenging at about 75% of the highest resistance setting. Some ellipticals have automatic resistance adjustments, and others require manual adjustments. Another aspect to consider is if the elliptical has an adjustable incline.
Elliptical machines with high-tech features tend to cost more, so it’s up to you to determine if they are worth the additional cost. Some of the extra features include tv monitors, wireless and Bluetooth connections, and virtual exercise program options. A lot of gyms and sports clubs have the higher-end models, so you might want to try one out to see if it’s beneficial for you. If you’re using an app or another type of exercise program, just keep in mind that it’s not always easy to manage during a workout.
Most ellipticals come with built-in exercise programs, but the sophistication of the programs increases with price, in most cases. This is another area you’ll want to look at when you’re trying out different machines. You may not need more than the basic exercise programs to keep your workout challenging, but it’s all about personal preference for this feature. Some of the basic exercise programs may include manual options, hills, intervals, and a few others. Others may allow you to customize your own elliptical exercise programs.
Any exercise equipment can be dangerous, and an elliptical is no exception. If you have young children, you’ll want to be even more cautious, because they can get caught in the moving parts and become severely injured. You should always lock the machine if it has that option, or be sure to keep it secured in a safe place that isn’t accessible to children.
Heart Rate Programs
A heart rate program will automatically adjust the resistance of the elliptical during your workout based on a target heart rate that is created based on your weight, age, and other information you’ll enter in to the interface. If the elliptical has an incline, this will adjust based on your heart rate as well. The resistance and exercise intensity will increase until you reach the target heart rate, and decrease as needed to maintain that rate.
There are different ways the elliptical may measure your heart rate. You can wear a heart rate monitor strapped to your chest, which is the most accurate method, or some ellipticals have sensors on the hand grips that measure your heart rate. The hand sensors may not be as accurate, but it still gives an approximation, so the machine can adjust your workout. If you want the automation of your elliptical, so it adjusts on its own, then you’ll want to make sure you get a machine that includes heart rate monitoring.
Not all ellipticals offer the heart rate program option. Although these machines may still measure your heart rate with sensors or communicate with a sensor strapped to your chest, the intensity and resistance does not adjust based on your heart rate, it’s more for your information so you can adjust on your own, if that’s what you prefer. If you are a more seasoned workout veteran, you may not need the automatic adjustments, but again, it’s good to try out both types to see which you prefer.
Configurations of Elliptical Machines
There are a few different types of elliptical configurations available, and they each have certain unique features that make them different. Elliptical configurations may be front-drive, center-drive, or rear-drive, which describe the location of the drive wheel that is the center of the function of the machine.
The drive wheel is located at the front of a front-drive elliptical, and it’s often enclosed in a large protective cover. The pedals are usually supported by wheels that glide up and down a track, which can sometimes cause unwanted vibration or noise. You will want to look at the quality of the wheels and the track to get the best front-drive elliptical.
A center-drive elliptical has the drive wheel located in the center of the machine. The pedals are attached to rollers that allow for movement, and this type of elliptical is usually the most compact of the three versions. Because the pedals are attached to rollers, a center-drive elliptical has a more gentle, gliding transition between movements than a front-drive machine.
The drive wheel is located in the rear of a rear-drive elliptical, and it is enclosed in a small shielded cover for safety. A rear-drive elliptical typically has a track and roller feature for the pedals and hand grips. Some may have pedals suspended on long arms, which extend beyond the body of the machine. Most rear-drive elliptical machines allow for incline workouts, and they tend to glide smoothly and quietly.
Other Factors to Consider
Ellipticals are extremely heavy and bulky, even if you get the most compact model. Be sure to consider delivery fees and options in your decision before you make your purchase.
Whether you make your purchase in-store or online, it’s important to understand the return or exchange policy for your elliptical. Shipping costs may be rather expensive, and you may be responsible for paying them if you want to return the equipment.
A warranty for this type of purchase is another important factor to consider, because coverage can vary considerably. Although most machines come with a long-term warranty on the frame, others may include additional parts and services that may be beneficial. The typical warranty for an elliptical includes 3 to 7 years of coverage on parts and one year of coverage for labor.
How to Get the Best Elliptical Workout
The most recent exercise programs emphasize increasing and decreasing your heart rate frequently throughout the duration of a workout to maximize the calories and fat you burn. Although some research has shown that ellipticals don’t offer an effective workout, that hasn’t really been proven to be true. In fact, there are effective elliptical workouts you can do that are low impact and still give you that burn you need to push yourself to meet your exercise goals.
Have an Exercise Plan Before You Start
Each day before you begin your workout, you should have a plan that includes what you want to accomplish with your workout. Are you working on cardio, muscle tone, or rehabilitating an injury? There are many different options, and some days you may want to take it easy and do a light workout, while others you may want to get a high-intensity, demanding workout. You should know what you want to achieve with every session.
Use Your Entire Body for a Total Body Workout
The handles are there for a reason – you should use them. If you want to get a total body workout, you have to keep your core engaged and use the handles for optimal upper body exercise. Don’t slouch over the machine, and remain upright at all times. If you feel yourself leaning forward, you may want to slow down a bit, so you don’t injure yourself. Improper posture can cause back and neck pain, which won’t benefit your workout routine.
Vary Your Routine Daily
It’s important to vary your exercise routine, not only to get the best results, but also to stay motivated. If you do the same thing every day, you’re going to get bored after a while. By changing up your elliptical routine, you can work on different muscle groups and focus on building up endurance or burning fat. Your body will eventually adapt to your new routine, so it’s good to change it up to optimize your metabolism and your muscle tone.
Regardless of the elliptical you decide to purchase, it’s really up to you to make the most of it. By utilizing interval training, varying your routine, and using your entire body in your workout, you’ll be on your way to achieving your fitness goals with the convenience of doing it from home. You can also find a variety of different elliptical workouts available online, so you may want to check those out to get some additional workout tips.