Four Reasons Why An Elliptical Trainer Is The Best Winter Workout Machine

Elliptical Machine sketchWhen the temperatures drop, it can be difficult to get motivated (see our motivation tips post) to go out and drive to the gym, let alone go out for a jog. But if your New Year’s resolution is to get fit in 2015, you can still achieve your fitness goals with an elliptical trainer, the ultimate winter indoor workout machine.

1. Total Body Workout

When you work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, called synergistic core-based training, you also engage the core and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. This type of total body workout also helps you to build endurance because it is harder to work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Elliptical trainers easily allow users to achieve this total body workout by featuring options to add on resistance and adjust the incline. By simply adding on a heavier resistance and using the moving handlebars of the trainer, you can easily work the muscles of the upper and lower body, while also using your core muscles for stabilization.

One way users can tone muscles and strengthen the cardiovascular system at the same time is through hill training. With an elliptical trainer, you can simulate hills without having to face chilly temps outdoors by following the built-in workout programs many trainers include, or by adjusting the incline manually while keeping the resistance at a challenging level. By creating a steep incline, you focus on working the muscles of the lower body, which also raises your heart rate even more.

2. Joint Relief

Elliptical trainers are known for being an excellent low-impact option, but elliptical trainers can also help runners and cyclers’ cross-train, giving joints a break while maintaining cardiovascular endurance and building up the muscles around the joints. In short, elliptical trainers not only protect the joints, but also make them stronger. For this reason, marathon runners will often incorporate elliptical trainers into their race prep routine to help with endurance, and to prevent injury. If you are training for a race during the winter months, using an elliptical trainer can also offer a bit of relief for joints or work as a convenient way to warm up before going out for a run or bike ride.

Elliptical trainers are also ideal for people with injuries who still want to exercise, or Arthritis suffers who may have more problems in the winter. Regular use on an elliptical trainer can alleviate symptoms and help to build up the joints.

3. Interval Training

No other indoor workout machine can achieve interval training results like an elliptical trainer, which is also perfect for beating boredom. Elliptical trainers offer workout variety like none other with the ability to adjust multiple features, from the incline to the resistance level. Interval training can be easily achieved using an elliptical trainer by either using preset workout programs (depending on the model you have) or by following a routine.

Interval training, also known as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) allows you to torch the most calories in the shortest amount of time. Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. The idea behind interval training is that you will burn more calories and improve your aerobic capacity because you are working on both endurance and muscle toning, so as your cardiovascular fitness improves you will be able to exercise longer and with more intensity.

To achieve interval training, a sample routine would be: start with a quick 5-10 minute warm-up with low speed and resistance, and no incline. Then, alternate between periods of high intensity moves and rest. Start with increasing the resistance level to a setting that you can only maintain for 30 seconds, moving at a pace that is as fast as you can handle. Think of the feeling of pushing up a very steep hill. Then, after 30 seconds or so take it down to lighter resistance (not zero) and recover for about two minutes to catch your breath; alternate between these periods of intensity and rest for at least 20 minutes.

4. Quiet and Compact

Perhaps the most attractive feature of an elliptical trainer is its design. Depending on the brand and model, elliptical trainers are typically quieter than treadmills and more compact, great for indoor workouts on cold days. Many brands will also offer trainers with a folding design for easy storage.

Looking for some tips on how to find the top performing elliptical trainers for 2015? To begin, consider your goals and do your research. For example, if your goal is to work out for 30 minutes every day but you want to avoid boredom, you may look for trainers with built-in advanced entertainment systems. If your goal is to train for a race, you may want to look for trainers with goal tracking and heart rate monitoring options.

If you need help on where to begin and what to look for, some important basic features to consider are: the flywheel weight (which will determine the feel of the trainer), the number of resistance levels, if its front or rear drive design, and any adjustable features like the stride and incline. These are important factors that will impact the price, so be aware when doing your research so that you can find the perfect trainer for you without spending more than you need to.