How To Use A Cross Trainer Effectively - Find Out Here!

How to use a cross-trainer

Since the inception of the cross trainer, this piece of equipment has completely revolutionized the commercial and home gym equipment industry. This is greatly attributed to the fact that it combines the benefit of a bicycle, a stair stepper, and a cross country ski machine.

The cross trainer is the perfect equipment for anyone whose fitness goals are both toning the arm/leg muscles and improving their cardiovascular health. Also, according to fitness experts, cross trainers (elliptical trainers) are one of the best low-impact equipment meaning, they do not strain your knees and joints.

This makes it viable for use by people who just suffered limb accidents or have been diagnosed with joints diseases such as arthritis. The best part of it all is, a cross trainer is easy to use regardless of whether you have experience with gym equipment or not.

You will not have to worry about holding up the line at the gym trying to figure out what goes where. However, just to be prepared, here is an easy guide on how to use a cross-trainer;

Step by step guide to get you started on the elliptical

Like all modern gym equipment, an elliptical trainer comes with a bunch of controls that differ from brand to brand. Typically, the controls will be placed on a console that is made as easy as it can get to read.

However, if you experience difficulty getting the hang of the controls, feel free to seek the help of a trainer or watch YouTube reviews for that specific brand.

Also, do not just jump on a cross trainer right when you want to start a workout. Try to do a short warm-up to prepare your muscles. You could either do simple stretching exercises, do a brisk jog or a short run.

Alternatively, since most cross trainers come equipped to support different levels of resistance, you can choose to start at the lowest intensity as a warm up then work your way up.

After the warm up, then comes the hard part. Here is a step by step guide;

1.Prepare for your elliptical workout

It’s very imperative to prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the workout as opposed to just hoping on to the machine without a plan.

Start by familiarizing yourself with where the important controls are e.g.; the resistance level button, the pedal incline button and the reverse button. This way, you do not have to stop for long periods when you want to change the settings.

You will find that most machines allow you to input your age, weight, calories you plan to burn, and how long you intend to work out. This helps to keep a clearer track of your fitness goals.

After inputting your details, the machine will suggest to you the resistance level and incline angle to go with (Ps; a low incline angle gives you a semblance of cross country skiing, a medium incline is akin to riding a bicycle and a high incline mimics the feeling of climbing stairs)

Obviously, the higher your goals are, the more resistance you should go with.

2.Get on the cross trainer

You should be very careful stepping on the pedals as they may start to move causing you to lose balance and tumble over. Too prevent such an occurrence, firmly grip the handle bars before placing your feet on the pedals.

3.Switch on the machine

Some machines turn on as soon as you peddle but if you do not see the console light up, locate the start button and you should be ready to begin.

4.Start accelerating at an even pace

Start peddling like you would on a bicycle. Once the right leg goes down, your right arm will be pulled closer to your body and vice versa. Try to ensure you do not bend or buckle your knees as this tends to put too much pressure on the joints.

Ensure you straighten your legs completely when they go down and engage your arms too to distribute the weight.

5.Switch up the resistance and pedal directions

After getting the hang of it by pedaling for a few minutes, try and up the resistance as speed only will not give you the desired effects. If you just suffered from an accident, consult beforehand with your doctor on how much strain and resistance your bones can take to prevent further injury.

Similarly, switch up the incline level of the pedals after every set to ensure you get to reap the full benefits of an elliptical trainer. Many people do not know that the pedals can turn backward too which helps you work out the core and glutes.

However, the backward feature puts a lot of strain on your knees hence should only be tried with people who have worked out on the cross trainer for a long while. It is also very hard to balance!

6.Engage the swing arms feature

Most modern cross trainers come with swing arms as opposed to fixed ones. If yours is one of the newer versions, try and use this feature as much as possible as it provides for a more substantial full body workout.

Sadly, by using the swing arms, you have to sacrifice working your legs and butt.

Trainers sometimes prefer using the machine with fixed arms settings because it facilitates for a more rigorous lower body workout. So it all depends on your fitness goals.

Additional tips when using a cross trainer

In order to benefit fully from a cross trainer, you should;

  • Alternate your workouts and settings daily

This will make your sessions more interesting and prevent you from only working one part of the body.

  • Avoid distractions

While some prefer to catch up on their favorite shows, listen to a podcast, etc. as they work, it is advised that you completely rid of distractions when on a cross trainer. This way, you get to pay attention to your body posture, your pace, and to be able to discern when you need to up your settings.

  • Maintain a straight posture

Make sure you maintain a straight body posture all through the session as it allows you to benefit fully from your pedaling effort whilst also allows you to work out your core and abs. leaning forward makes the workout seem easier which in turn delivers mediocre results.


A cross trainer is a very good addition to your gym equipment inventory whether it is a home gym or a public one. This is because it is easy to use and allows for satisfactory low impact exercises that not only strengthen your muscles but also help improve your cardiovascular health.

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