What is an Elliptical Trainer?

Elliptical Trainer Basics

An elliptical trainer gives you a great cardio workout. It was designed specifically to be easy on your joints.

Since their introduction in the 1990s, elliptical machines have become increasingly popular.

Ellipticals were designed specifically to provide a high quality cardio workout that’s also low impact and easy on your joints.

What is an Elliptical Trainer?

Like a strange marriage of a cross-country ski machine and a stair climber, elliptical trainers have foot pedals and moving arm handles that allow you to get a full-body workout, exercising both your arms and your legs.

They are sometimes called elliptical trainers, elliptical machines, or just plain “ellipticals.”

Basic Design

The arm handles are similar to ski poles and move at the same time as the pedals. Some models allow you to turn the arm handles off.

Elliptical trainers don’t have electric motors like a treadmill. Instead, they have a heavy flywheel with an adjustable tension strap that allows you to control how hard it is to pedal.

Getting Started is Easy

Ellipticals have a smooth, undulating, fluid motion and are relatively easy to use. For example, you need a much higher initial fitness level use a a cross-country ski machine, but you can start using an elliptical machine at any level.

It may take you a little while to get used to an elliptical. When you try one for the first time, the motion of the pedals and arms may feel rather strange. But you’ll get used to it quickly and it will start to feel very natural.

Elliptical vs. Treadmill

If you are considering using an elliptical, you might also have thought about trying a treadmill.

Elliptical vs Treadmill Article

Thinking about using an elliptical? Wonder how it compares to a treadmill? Read our article or watch our video: Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Which is Best?

The treadmill is a close cousin of the elliptical. Both will give you a great cardio workout, but there are some important differences.

If you want a good comparison of an elliptical vs. a treadmill, be sure to read our related article or watch our video:
Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Which is Best?

Have you tried an elliptical? Did you like it? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

References & Sources: (show)(hide)

    • “Elliptical Guide.”
    • Consumer Reports.
    • Web.
    • Laskowski, Edward R., M.D.
    • “Are elliptical machines better than treadmills for basic aerobic workouts?.”
    • Mayo Clinic.
    • Web. 4 June 2011.

Comments Add Your Own Comment

  1. Nancy Watanabe says:

    The video and explanations are very helpful. I would definitely choose the elliptical, mainly because it is easier on the joints. Currently, I do not have enough room for an elliptical in my apartment. I am a sedentary research professor specializing in comparative literary history, criticism, and theory. I live in a traffic congested large (and growing) urban area. Certainly I would benefit from the ability to exercise in my home, and an elliptical could afford me a healthier life style. Thank you.

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