What Is A Hybrid Trainer And Should You Get One?
Looking at different pieces of fitness equipment but struggling to figure out which one is best for you? You aren’t alone. Many people go through this exact same thing as they go about their workout program because they just aren’t quite sure the benefits of each.
With so many different options on the market, it can be hard to really know what you’re getting into. And, if you’re purchasing the equipment for use at home, you can’t afford to make a mistake. You can only buy one piece of cardio equipment so you want to make sure that you are making a good decision.
One of the newer options to hit the scene is what’s referred to as a hybrid trainer. What are these all about and are they for you?
Let’s take a closer look so that you get the real deal on the hybrid trainer.
What Is A Hybrid Trainer?
First let’s talk about what this is. A hybrid trainer takes two very popular modes of cardio training – the elliptical trainer and the bike and combines it into one. With this single piece of equipment, you are essentially able to do two things at once, giving you greater freedom with your workout session and possibly delivering better results as well.
Since a huge part of seeing good success with your workout is constantly challenging your body, this piece of equipment is going to allow you to do this better than if you just had a single piece of cardio equipment alone.
The Benefits Of A Hybrid Trainer
So what are the benefits of a hybrid trainer? What do you stand to gain from using it? Essentially, you’re going to get all the benefits of a bike and an elliptical in one.
- Non impact nature
If you have joint pain, this machine will be an excellent choice. While running and jogging are both terrific forms of exercise, the drawback is that they are both very high impact in nature, leading you open to overuse injuries.
It’s not uncommon to see runners sidelined due to twisted ankles, shin splits, knee pain, or back injuries and all of this can be chalked up to the fact that it’s a very high impact type of activity.
If you can find something that isn’t so high impact, you can stop having to take so much time off every few months due to these issues.
- Great lower body strengthening
Another nice benefit of the hybrid trainer is that you will get terrific lower body strengthening benefits. Both the bike and the elliptical allow you to place a good amount of resistance on the lower body as you go about the activity. You can increase the tension on the pedals, which now means your glutes, hamstrings, and quads have to work harder to get the same movement pattern done.
If you want to ensure an even balanced mix of results, you should alternate between pedaling forward and back on the elliptical and then incorporate the bike in the mix. The bike on these machines is the recumbent bike, which is good news because it will help to create an even muscle balance distribution between the hamstrings and the quads.
The upright bike, on the other hand, is more quad focused, so you would be more likely to lack hamstring activation when using it.
- Upper body strengthening and toning
While the bike portion of the hybrid trainer won’t do much for helping to tone your upper body, the elliptical sure will. As long as you are sure to use the handlebars when doing the exercise pattern, you can definitely see good arm strengthening and toning benefits.
Moving the handle bars back and forth will help you work your biceps and triceps, as well as the front of your shoulders. It’s also a good upper body workout as your back and chest will be brought into play.
This makes it an ideal form of exercise for those who aren’t doing any other form of strength training but want to ensure that their upper body doesn’t get missed over.
- Superior calorie burn
If you are looking to burn calories, look no further than the hybrid trainer. The elliptical portion of this machine is what really shines as the elliptical trainer offers an excellent calorie burn. This is due to the fact that it does get the upper body involved as well, whereas most other cardio machines are just focusing on the lower body (or possibly just the upper in the case of an upper body bike).
Because it calls into play the upper body as well, this also means that you’ll have an easier time to getting your heart rate up. The more muscles you work when doing any given movement, the harder your heart will have to beat in order to pump blood around the body, therefore the easier time you’ll have achieving the cardiovascular goals you’ve set.
- Cardiovascular health benefits
Speaking of cardiovascular benefits, the hybrid trainer is first and foremost a cardio based machine so you can expect to see excellent benefits in this regard. Cardiovascular training is important for reducing your cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, improving heart muscle function, and decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. This means offers it all, regardless of which component you choose to exercise on.
- Fun to use
Because you can use either the elliptical or the bike while using the hybrid trainer, this makes it more fun to use. Many people find they get bored doing the same cardio exercise over and over again, so the simple fact this machine lets you switch it up is terrific news. You’ll be able to do whatever you feel like doing in that given moment, making it a more versatile workout session.
The Drawbacks Of A Hybrid Trainer
So now that you see the benefits of the hybrid trainer, what are the drawbacks? What unfortunate things will you experience?
Their really aren’t many. Both are excellent modes of cardio training and will help you see amazing results with your cardio training program.
The only real drawback is that you won’t see massive gains in strength like you would from weight lifting, however this applies to all methods of cardio machine training, not just the hybrid trainer. It’s normal and to be expected because as mentioned, these are first and foremost, cardio training machines.
The only other potential drawback you may face is that if you are someone who is prone to knee pain, you may find that eventually, it could get worse if you use both of these often enough. While the machines are low impact in nature, both do involve having the knee in a bent knee position with every stride you take (cycle you do), therefore there is still a lot of wear and tear on the knee joint.
This machine won’t put you at risk for many injuries, but a knee injury is a possibly so you’ll definitely want to take caution against that. Balancing out your training days with adequate rest days should be sufficient for helping you prevent knee problems from taking place.
Who Hybrid Trainers Are Best Suited For
The hybrid trainer really can be used by just about everyone. It’s a great option for those who are just looking to improve their general fitness but is also a fantastic choice for those who are hoping to enhance their overall athletic performance.
It can be used by those who are coming off an injury and who nee da low impact means of exercise as well as by those who are looking to prevent an injury in the future.
The more important thing to remember with the hybrid trainer is that because it’s so versatile, you really can customize the workout to your own needs and preferences. This is what makes it possible for anyone to use it with ease.
Who Should Not Use A Hybrid Trainer
The only people who should not consider using a hybrid trainer are those who have severe knee issues, as noted above and who have not discussed it over with their doctor or physical trainer. If you have chronic knee pain, you’ll want to talk it over with your treatment specialist before starting to ensure the constant bending of the knee is not going to cause aggravation.
Additionally, if you are a runner at heart, you probably won’t enjoy this machine that much and would be simply better off getting a treadmill. Unless, of course, you are purchasing the machine to use as a form of cross training when you really need to take time away from your runs.
If you have not yet looked into a hybrid trainer, now is the time to do so. You really can’t go wrong picking up this piece of fitness equipment and if you are consistent with your exercise routine, you can rest assured you’ll use it for years to come.
Photo credit: Nutthaseth Van/Shutterstock; RB-Photo/Shutterstock; George Rudy/Shutterstock