A Buyer's Guide To Cross Trainers

Cross Trainer Buying Guide

Cross trainers are the ultimate piece of cardio equipment - they're the perfect addition to any commercial or home gym. Both beginners and experienced athletes can reap the many benefits that a cross trainer provides. The versatility of modern cross trainers, with the various features and applications that they come with, allow gym goers to reach and exceed their fitness goals - improving their endurance, strength, and cardiovascular system.

However, before beginning your search, you have a few things to consider - to ensure that you come out the other end with the perfect cross trainer for your specific goals.

In this guide, we'll be diving into all of the different elements of a cross trainer and how they can benefit you, as well as the best cross trainer brands and models available on the market.

Read on to find out all the different benefits that come with using a cross trainer in your fitness plan.

Cross Trainer Benefits

Incorporating a cross trainer in your cardio plan will help you meet your fitness goals in a variety of ways. It will help you lose weight, build muscle, and improve your overall fitness levels. The benefits you'll receive from working out on a cross trainer will only be realised if you remain consistent. Here are a few of the main benefits:

Full Body Workouts

Cross trainers can help build muscle in your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes and arms - providing a full body workout. The versatility of a cardio machine sits in the ability to change resistance levels. You can gain muscle mass by increasing the resistance levels, in turn putting your muscles under stress as you're having to put a lot more effort into pushing and pulling. Alternatively, if your goal is to improve your cardio levels or lose weight, you can lower the resistance and train for a longer period of time - burning calories through extended periods of movement.

It's Better For Your Joints

Using a cross trainer is a lot healthier on your joints than other cardio alternatives such as running. Your feet won't leave the cross trainer pedals which decreases the impact on your knees, ankles, hips and back which reduces the likelihood of sustaining an injury - letting you workout for longer without having to take breaks.

Health Benefits

Remaining consistent with your cross trainer workouts will have amazing benefits for your overall health. The cardio exercise performed on a cross trainer will help to strengthen your heart, and even just a few sessions a week will improve your general aerobic fitness and increase your lung capacity.

You Can Target Areas of Your Body

You can modify your workout to focus on specific body parts. If you want to build and tone your arms, for example, relax your leg muscles and allow your arms to pump backward and forward. Some cross trainers, like the Precor EFX 835 Experience Series Cross Trainer, will allow you to manipulate the incline of the machine 13-40° so that you can target common problem areas such as your thighs, glutes and stomach.

Now that you're familiar with some of the main benefits that a cross trainer has to offer, let's discuss some of the different considerations for buying the perfect cross trainer for you.

What You Need to Consider

When you're looking to buy a cross trainer, there are a few different factors you need to take into account. Different cross trainers come with a whole range of various features, so you'll need to think about your fitness goals - and what you'll need to achieve them. Factors such as incline, the kind of console, brand, and stride length will all have to be considered before choosing which cross trainer is right for you.

Stride Length

Your stride length is the distance between the back of your front foot and the front of your rear foot as you're running. When choosing the perfect cross trainer, it's very important to match the stride length of the machine to your natural stride length. As a general rule, most commercial cross trainers have a stride length between 16"-21".

How you are intending to workout dictates what kind of stride length you'll be needing. For example, if you’re using a cross trainer for walking, a shorter stride length will be sufficient. However, if you're intending on upping the speed and intensity, then a longer stride length will be needed. Having the wrong stride length on your cross trainer will result in it feeling uncomfortable and awkward, which isn't ideal.

Resistance Levels

The resistance levels on a cross trainer play a big part in how effective your workout will be. If you're looking to gain muscle mass, then you'll need a machine with high resistance levels that will put your muscles through their paces. On the other hand, if you're just starting out or want to use the cross trainer for general aerobic fitness, then you can look for machines with lower resistance levels that will let you train for longer periods of time.

Console

The console on your machine will dictate what kind of feedback and information you receive during your workout. Some consoles are basic and just show time, distance and speed, whereas others offer more complex information such as heart rate readings, calories burned and even music playback capabilities. 

The information that you need feedback on will decide what kind of console is best for you. If your main goal is to increase your aerobic fitness, then a basic console which simply displays time and speed is probably adequate. However, if you're looking to burn calories or monitor heart rate as part of an extended workout program, then it's worth investing in a cross trainer with more advanced features and technology.

Check the Maximum User Weight

Cross trainers vary in the maximum weight they can hold. Always check that your model is able to handle your bodyweight before purchasing, otherwise you’ll risk breaking the machine as well as causing injury to yourself.

Brand and Model

Before you buy a cross trainer, it's worth doing your research into the brand of machine that you're purchasing. Different brands have different strengths and are known for providing certain features; some brands offer more durability than others, while other brands may be best suited to cater for intense workouts.

It's also important to take note of which model you'll be buying. Newer models will usually feature upgraded technology, better safety features and more advanced feedback consoles compared to older models.

Let's take a look at some of the best cross trainers that are available on the market that are perfect if you're a commercial gym owner, or simply needing a cross trainer for home use and you're on a budget:

STAR TRAC 8CT 8 Series Commercial Cross Trainer with LCD Console

The Star Trac 8CT 8 Series Cross Trainer is the culmination of two decades of design innovation. If you're searching for a full-commercial-grade cross trainer from one of the world's most well-known brands in fitness, the 8CT 8 Series Cross Trainer is a fantastic place to start.

The 8CT has a one-step, easy access design that allows for safe access for the widest range of users. For better biomechanics and 'Soft Trac' pedal technology, the pedal placement concept offers a best in class Q factor.

Specification

  • Length: 1930mm / 76in 

  • Width 760mm / 30in

  • Height: 1830mm / 72in

  • Product Weight: 207kg / 456lb

  • Max User Weight: 159kg / 350lb

  • Power Supply: 240v supply required

  • Console Type: LCD console with OpenHub™ connectivity

  • Heart Rate Sensors: Built in hand sensors and polar chest strap compatible

Precor AMT 885 Openstride - V7 Software (TV/Internet features)

 

This is the AMT that's used in fitness centres all over the world. The Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT) 885 is designed to accommodate all users, regardless of size, and offers a low-impact workout. The AMT 885 allows you to customise your stride pattern to establish a personalised and effective workout every time - all in one piece of equipment.

Specification

  • Length: 1990mm / 79.6in 

  • Width 720mm / 28.8in

  • Height: 1760mm / 70.4in

  • Product Weight: 202kg / 445lb

  • Drive Type: Front Drive

  • Self Powered: Yes

  • Max User Weight: 159kg / 350lb

  • Pre-set Programs: 23

  • Console Type: LCD - Precor P80 Console, V5 Software

  • Heart Rate Sensors: Yes, built in hand sensors and polar chest strap compatible.

Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Cross Trainer (Home Use)

 

Dyaco's SOLE E35 elliptical cross trainer is the ideal cross trainer for your fitness journey. It's been developed to be simple and comfortable to use while working out. This new improved version has been beautifully redesigned for a more modern aesthetic, so it not only works well, but it also looks great in your home. Other features have also been added to this model, including a tablet holder, USB charging point, and Bluetooth audio connection, allowing you to stay connected and entertained while working out.

Specification:

  • Length: 2090mm / 82in 

  • Width: 820mm / 32in

  • Height: 1800mm / 77in

  • Product Weight: 111kg / 241lbs

  • Stride Length: 508mm / 20in

  • Max User Weight: 150kg / 330lbs

  • Console Type: 7.5in LCD with white back lit display

  • Standard Programs: 10

  • Heart Rate Sensors: Yes, built in and chest strap compatible.

  • Folding Design: No, fixed frame.

  • Incline Levels: 20

  • Resistance Levels: 20

  • Integrated Fan: Yes

Technogym Excite+ 500i Synchro Cross Trainer

 

The Technogym Excite+ 500i Cross Trainer (also known as a synchro) is the most popular model in the range from the world's leading commercial gym equipment manufacturer. The 500i is designed to provide a low-impact, complete-body workout that minimises strain on joints and muscles while still challenging users of all levels. This model is great for enhancing coordination, balance, joint flexibility, and stability while also providing a rigorous cardio session thanks to its ergonomic design that ensures users maintain a natural posture throughout the activity.

Specification

  • Length: 2040mm / 80.3in 

  • Width 700mm / 27.6in

  • Height: 1600mm / 63in

  • Product Weight: 150kg / 330lb

  • Drive Type: Rear Drive

  • Self Powered: No

  • Max User Weight: 180kg / 400lb

  • Pre-set Programs: 8

  • Console Type: LED

  • Heart Rate Sensors: Polar chest strap compatible but there are no hand sensors on this model.

Matrix Fitness E5x Suspended Cross Trainer

 

The Matrix Fitness E5x Suspended Cross Trainer provides a comprehensive workout for your entire body, including the hamstrings, quads, glutes and core abdominals. It's also a wonderful way to enhance cardio endurance and promote weight loss by using it on a regular basis. It also has a three-speed fan to keep you cool.

Specification

  • Length: 1780mm / 70in

  • Width 740mm / 29.2in

  • Height: 1740mm / 68.5in

  • Product Weight: 181kg / 400lb

  • Drive Type: Front Drive

  • Self Powered: 21 powered and self-powered

  • Max User Weight: 181kg / 400lb

  • Console Type: LED

  • Heart Rate Sensors: Yes, built in hand sensors and polar chest strap compatible.

Precor EFX 835 Experience Series Cross Trainer


The Precor EFX 835 is an elliptical fitness crosstrainer that's self-powered, has CrossRamp angles of 13 to 40 degrees, moving handlebars, 15 preset programs, 20 resistance levels, touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring with Smart Rate and advanced metrics recording.

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