How to Buy a Cross Trainer
Are you considering a cross trainer to use at home and don’t know which one to pick? Whether you prefer to work at home or miss the gym, there are cross trainers or elliptical trainers – to fit your needs and preferences.
I know it’s a challenge to see all the products available and wonder which one to get. However, it’s important to keep your health on track and improve fitness levels.
A cross trainer works the abdomen, legs, and arms at the same time. You’ve probably been to the gym and seen this as regular feature. But buying one for your home is a great idea. Whether you’ve got a spare bedroom, home gym, garage, or want it in the living room, it’s suitable for almost anywhere. Plus, it works well for people without a lot of space, so if you can only fit one piece of equipment, this is the one for you!
Those who don’t want gym equipment out there for everyone to see or don’t have the space to keep it out there are sure to find some machines on wheels. That makes it easier to move into the corner and out of the way.
Best Cross Trainers
When choosing the right cross trainer, you’ve got to consider performance and price. It’s paramount that you know the basics and how to use a cross trainer. However, I think that the preset programs on the machine are essential, as well as incline levels and stride length.
How Much Do Cross Trainers Cost?
The elliptical machine price you pay is going to depend on the features, build quality, and size.
Cross trainers under £500
Affordable cross trainers for home use often skip non-essential features. Therefore, they aren’t going to have smart connectivity, an information console, or incline help. You can expect to pay between £150 and £500 for a more affordable option. However, you should be aware that cheap machines might not feel stable when you’re working at high speeds.
It’s possible to get around not having an information screen by using a fitness tracker. Download one to your smartphone or buy one separately.
If you want to spend around £500 to £1,000 for a midrange cross trainer, you can get better specifications. There’s often an information display to give feedback on time, speed, calories burned, and distance.
A cross trainer in this range is more solidly built. Often, it features electronic instead of manual resistance.
If you want to go big and spend more for a high-quality piece of equipment, you need a premium machine. Expensive cross trainers for home use often have a bigger information console. There are plenty of preset programs, and you can choose your incline.
They’re typically built to be strong and durable. However, the one caveat is that they can be over £13,000.
How to Choose a Cross Trainer
There are different elliptical cross trainer types that you can buy. However, there are a few things to consider before selecting the right machine for your needs.
Cross trainers are available in different types, but some of the most popular ones take account of the following:
- Incline Cross Trainer
This type of cross trainer allows you to focus on a diverse group of muscles. You can change the level of incline to simulate training on the flat surface or walking uphill This is ideal for targeting the quads and core muscles.
- Variable Stride Length Cross Trainer
This type of cross trainer offers an array of stride settings in a single equipment. It enables the consumer to pick between a shorter stride and an intensive, running motion or pedaling a long stride.
- Electro-Magnetic Resistance Cross Trainers
This fitness equipment makes use of the varying magnetic field to handle the level of resistance. This is the kind of resistance found on some high-quality cross-trainers.
- Ergometer Cross Trainer
This is another remarkable exercise tool that measures resistance in watts. This is a key feature for the consumer to manually put in the work. It’s often used by athletes that have specific goals.
- Belt Resistance Cross Trainer
This utilized a flywheel and belt to handle the level of the resistance. These are likely to be reasonable cross-trainers that have a low-quality build. If you’re searching for a machine that is reliable and robust, we highly recommend that you choose other types or styles of cross-trainers.
- Rear Drive Cross Trainer
This type of cross trainer comes with the flywheel at the back of the equipment.
- Front Drive Cross Trainer
This one comes with a flywheel weight located at the front. The selection of a rear or front drive machine is down to individual preference but there isn’t a significant difference in performance between the two types of drive.
- Fan Cross Trainer
This type of cross trainer has a restricted resistance range and is considered one of the cheapest types. This provides a limited workout and is not made to last. If finance allows, choose the electro-magnetic resistance cross-trainer.
Belt or Electromagnetic Resistance
You can find different resistance types from cross trainer machines. The most common is ultimately the electromagnetic one, and I believe it’s better. However, if you need a cheaper model, be prepared to have belt resistance only.
Things to consider when buying a cross trainer:
Sometimes, when you get the cross trainer at home, the rest of your family wants to join in. This is great because everyone can improve their fitness levels, but the machine needs to have different stride lengths. That way, everyone can adjust the length of their strides depending on size and the elliptical workout style. Stride length is the utmost distance between the front of the rear foot and the rear of the front foot as you do the training. It is an important aspect to consider the length of the stride when purchasing a cross-trainer. As a whole, the higher quality machine have a long stride length of more than 18 inches. The stride length will affect the range of movement. Using a walking movement on this equipment just needs a short stride length. Boosting the intensity and speed of the exercise prolongs the length of the stride. Once you purchase a cross-trainer with a short stride, your exercise will be limited, and the motion can feel uncomfortable.
Many high-end machines can set you back a hefty amount. However, they’re going to last a long time, and it’s a one-time expense.
Still, there are basic options available if you’re short of space or on a tight budget. Make sure you figure out which training style you’re going to do most and how often you use the machine. Then, select a model that works for you.
You want to know how good you’re doing or how many calories you’ve burned. If you’re going to track progress, consider a cross trainer with preset workout programs and an LCD monitor. That way, it can display all of the information you need. Otherwise, you can download a fitness tracking app to your phone or buy a separate device.
Cross trainers often have to handle sets. The first one is the safety handles, and they don’t move. This gives you more stability when you’re working at high speeds. Typically, the safety handles have built-in sensors, so you can monitor your heart rate and pulse.
The other handle set does move. They’re called motion handles, so they work in tandem with the pedals. You can hold them while you work out to give the arms some love at the same time as you’re working the legs.
How Much Space Do You Need for a Cross Trainer?
An average cross trainer at home takes up roughly the same space as a treadmill might. Therefore, you can expect the machine to take up about 4 to 6.5 feet. You can also find foldable cross trainers when you’re not using them. If the room is busy, this could be a great option.
You’ve got to think about safety when using your equipment. Therefore, you should clear the space to either side of the machine and behind it. I recommend that you leave double the width of the cross trainer, so between 8 and 13 feet on the sides and about 3 feet behind you.
If you’ve got a low ceiling, make sure that you use care when positioning the cross trainer. As its pedals turn, you are going to rise higher. It’s important that your head has enough clearance while using the machine.
There are multiple types of cross trainers, and it’s important to know what they are. That way, you make the right decision when you buy one. Let’s take a look at them now:
Electric vs. Manual
Manual elliptical cross trainers are powered only by your movement. Therefore, you don’t have a display or buttons to press to change the resistance level easily and quickly. Instead, there’s a dial that you must turn until you get the right manual level you’re happy with.
They’re very basic and light on features, so they’re sure to be cheaper than electric models.
Electric cross trainers make it easier and more convenient to change resistance levels with the touch of a button. Therefore, you don’t have to break the flow of the workout to make it harder.
Having a higher resistance level is better. The higher the number will provide you a good range of resistance, the same to having more gears on a stationary bike. A cross-trainer with twenty resistance levels may not provide more resistance than equipment with ten levels. Therefore, in general, it is worth considering the number resistance of the machine. But the amount of resistance levels on an elliptical shouldn’t be considered as a sign of quality.
Front Drive vs. Rear Drive
Cross trainers with front-drive setups mean the flywheel is positioned toward the front of the machine and is before the pedals. They’re often more compact and suitable for small spaces at your home.
The machine’s weight and center of gravity are more in line with the console, so it might have better balance, too. Plus, the stride makes it feel like you’re climbing up the stairs.
With a rear-drive cross trainer, the flywheel is behind the pedals. They’re often heavier and pricier than the front-drive products.
Generally, the rear-drive cross trainer lets you adjust your stride length to meet your preferences and height. However, the stride with a rear-drive machine feels more like walking or jogging.
Cross trainer 2 in one
You can also find 2-in-1 cross trainers out there, which means it automatically transforms into a stationary or exercise bike. The seat is at the back and can be lowered so that you can sit on it. They offer more variety because you can do different exercises, and they can also be cheaper than purchasing two separate pieces of equipment.
Buy Best Home Elliptical Cross Trainer
Below, you are going to find the seven best cross trainers out there. I’ve narrowed it down to these products because they’re a decent price, have the basic features, and some of them have more than that.
Read about each one. Then, you’re going to know what they can do and how they can benefit you. It’s going to be much easier to select the right cross trainer once you have this information.
Cross Trainer Review
Branx Magnetic X-Fit Cross Trainer
The Branx model has a sleek look and a high stride length of 19.5 inches. It also features Bluetooth connectivity and is highly accommodating. You’re going to appreciate the water bottle, which is right under the information console.
With the iConsole+, you can control your intensity, speed, and more right from your mobile phone. There’s even a USB charging station on the elliptical so that your phone doesn’t die right in the middle of your workout.
You’re going to appreciate the non-slip adjustable pedals. Ensure that they’re at the right position for your legs and feet. Plus, there’s a chest strap included to help you feel more stable and check your heart rate while you’re working out.
One of the great things here is that there are 16 different resistance levels, so you can improve fitness as you become stronger. Plus, I like the body fat readout because it keeps you accountable while you’re working out each day.
Reasons to Buy
- Bluetooth connectivity
- 16 resistance levels
- Holds almost 300 pounds
- USB charging station included (for mobile phones)
Reasons to Avoid
- Hard-to-follow instructions
- Looks unsteady
Review 4 Stars. View price at Amazon.
XS Sports Luna Model Pro Elliptical Cross Trainer
The XS Sports brand offers the Luna Pro, which is a two-in-one cross trainer and exercise bike. You can easily see the sensors in the safety handlebars, which can show you your heart rate as you’re working out.
I’m impressed with this XS Sports cross trainer because it can actually be used as a stationary bike. This means you get more ways to workout with one piece of equipment.
It features an interesting design because the flywheel is mounted on the front instead of at the back like other cross trainers. However, it’s still durable, and you can use it for low- and high-intensity workout programmes.
With its multi-function LCD display, you’re going to see all the pertinent information while you workout. This includes a scan mode, calorie mode, distance, pulse, speed, and time you’ve been on the machine.
Plus, you can use it to work the shoulders, arms, buttocks, hips, and legs. In fact, it’s designed to simulate your natural walking movements. You can also ‘walk’ backward and forward with the machine.
There are stride bars along with the safety handles. They move back and forth and can be used for an upper-body workout. This gives you a total-body workout machine that can be set up almost anywhere in your home.
However, the best part by XS Sports is the steel frame with the extra-wide pedals. You’re going to feel confident getting on and off, and your feet aren’t going to feel cramped while working out.
Reasons to Buy
- Stationary bike and elliptical
- Front-mounted flywheel
- Tons of information from the LCD
- Steel frame
Reasons to Avoid
- Shorter pedals
- Can feel odd using elliptical with the seat right there
- Doesn’t appear to be sturdy
Review 3 Stars
View price at Amazon here
XS Sports Tri Elliptical Cross Trainer
Everyone enjoys working out at home because it’s easier, and you don’t have to travel when you decide to workout. If you want the best cross trainer, then the XS Sports brand has you covered. It’s amazing because it’s actually an exercise bike plus an elliptical. Regardless of what you want to do that day, you’re going to achieve your goals.
As with other elliptical machines, this one has two sets of handlebars. The first set is stationary and right by the LCD. If you put your hands on the buttons, the machine can take your pulse for you to see how had you’re working.
The second set of handlebars move, so you can hold them and get an arm/shoulder workout. However, you don’t have to hold those handles if you don’t want to.
There’s also the exercise bike inclusion, which means there’s a seat with a durable post. You can adjust it to meet your needs. Then, when you choose to use it, hold the handlebars to get a better workout.
I’m really impressed with the ‘feet’ of the machine. They have a wide base, so it’s more stable and long-lasting. However, I think you’re going to appreciate the front-mounted flywheel, which adds stability, too.
The best part here is the LCD readout. It gives you tons of information, such as calories burned, speed, time, distance, and pulse. You’re going to know how long you’ve been working out, how far you might have traveled in real life, and so much more.
Reasons to Buy
- Durable frame
- Pulse sensors included
- Exercise bike attachment
Reasons to Avoid
- Not as sturdy when at high speeds
- Many parts to assemble
- Loosened nuts and bolts with time
Review 4 Stars
View best price at Amazon.
Dripex Cross Trainer Machine
The Dripex brand features a two-in-one cross trainer and stationary bike machine. It offers precise balance with the two-way flywheel and has a V-belt drive. Therefore, it runs quietly and smoothly. Still, you’re going to get a challenging and smooth elliptical motion during your workout.
You’re going to appreciate the strong frame because it’s durable and can hold up to 265 pounds. There are also the large anti-slip pedals, so you can work out based on your stride and needs. Plus, they’re comfortable, and you’re not going to get injured while using the machine.
There are two sets of handles, and one set doesn’t move. It’s there mostly for safety so that you can hold it and balance yourself. Plus, there’s a pulse rate monitor embedded in these handles, which checks your heart rate for you while you workout.
With the moveable handlebars, there’s a sweat-resistant surface. This helps you focus more on the workout and less about your hands staying in place.
Magnetic resistance is what’s used for this machine. Plus, there are 16 levels of resistance to help you reach your goals. You can easily change the resistance level while you’re working to get more out of the workout.
Reasons to Buy
- Unique design
- Sturdy frame
- Exercise bike included
Reasons to Avoid
- Can develop a squeak with time
- Stationary bike attachment not long enough for taller people
- Jerky motions possible
Cross Trainer Review: 2 Stars
For best price at Amazon, click here.
Christopeit-sport Cs5 Cross Trainer
If you prefer something small and simple at home, the Christopeit-sport brand has what you need. It features a magnetic brake system, so it isn’t electronic. This also means that you’re going to use your body weight to power it. However, you’re also going to find that it’s quieter and easier to use.
The flywheel is positioned at the back, and it goes farther than the pedals. This actually gives you more stability while you’re working out. However, you do need to keep your body shifted forward slightly to offset the flywheel being so far backward.
There’s still the LCD, and it’s large enough to see while you’re moving. It’s powered by a battery, so you’ve got to keep them on hand if you want to see all the information. With seven different functions, you can keep track of everything. This includes your distance, speed, time, RPM, BMI (body fat), and calories.
I was impressed that the station handle is in the shape of an upside-down U. It’s easier to grip when you get going. No matter where you hold, there are pulse sensors inside to give you heart rate readings while you work out.
You’ve got to appreciate the pedals because there are three ways to adjust them to get the right length. This is ideal if more than one person uses the machine in the home.
Reasons to Buy
- Large LCD
- Adjustable pedal length
- Compact, small
- Professional quality
Reasons to Avoid
- Can develop squeaks
- Issues with LCD and battery needs
- Hard to get resistance levels right
Overall 3 Stars
View price here
Bluefin Fitness CURV Elliptical Cross Trainer
If you’re interested in smart technology, you probably want your exercise equipment to have smartphone connectivity. The Bluefin CURV has an integrated smartphone app designed specifically for it. Therefore, you can download the Kinomap app and have access to many training videos, classes, and more structured workouts.
You’re going to like the fluid motion of the elliptical machine, and it’s whisper-quiet. This means that no one is going to hear you working out. Though the flywheel is quite small, it also means it’s self-powering, and you do all the work.
When you look at the machine, you can tell it works in a downward motion. This is often easier on the joints and makes it easier to start and stop.
Even though it’s manual, it still comes with an LCD computer. There are preloaded programs available, including 16 resistance levels. You can work at a regular pace or go on cross-country sprints. Plus, it’s a low-impact machine, but it still allows you to work out at a high intensity. It’s not going to hurt your knees or ankles, but you’re going to feel the burn.
This LCD helps you measure how long you’ve been working out, how far you’ve traveled, your pulse rate, and calories burned.
Reasons to Buy
- Smartphone connectivity
- Fluid motions
- Whisper-quiet functionality
- Various built-in programs
Reasons to Avoid
- Requires batteries for the LCD
- No back handle for moving/storage
- Inaccurate pulse monitor
Overall 4 Stars
For best deals. View price here
Best Cross Trainer
Sportstech Stock Cross Trainer CX625
Sometimes, you want something that looks professional and what might be found at a gym, and the Sportstech brand doesn’t disappoint. There are 22 different pre-installed programs available, so you can have a varied workout each time you use it.
Plus, you can download the special app to view training and workout videos. If that weren’t enough, you can put your phone or tablet right on the machine so that you don’t have to use a separate piece of equipment to hold it in place. There’s also a way to stream the videos from the app on your television, so you can get a great workout anytime.
Included with the purchase are a heart rate belt and pre-installed HRC programs. Therefore, you’re going to get precise results. If you’re working out for a long period, there’s a water bottle holder, which means you don’t have to stop and go get something to drink.
Something needs to be said about the flywheel. It’s a larger one, but that means it’s more durable. Plus, the entire machine is compact, so it doesn’t take up much space. Which is rare for a flywheel this size. You can easily move it around the house to keep it out of sight and use it whenever you want.
Reasons to Buy
- Smartphone app available
- Stream on your television
- Heart rate monitor included
Reasons to Avoid
- Can be noisy while working out
- No LCD (must use phone or tablet)
Review: 5 Stars
For best deals. View price here
FAQs about Cross Trainers
I know that you’re anxious to hop online and start the process of ordering your cross trainer from the ones on this list. However, you’ve got to have all of the information possible, and you probably still have questions. When I bought my first elliptical, I know I wondered about these same things, so I included the answers below.
Are Cross Trainers Noisy?
Some cross trainers can develop a slight squeak with time. Routine maintenance and grease can prevent that. However, if you’re worried about it, make sure you put the cross trainer in an area that isn’t going to disrupt others in the household.
Also, if you live in an apartment building, consider asking the neighbors (all sides) if they can hear you. That way, you can establish a workout routine that doesn’t bother anyone else. Otherwise, you can put the cross trainer on a mat, which can muffle the exercise noises and prevent any embarrassment later.
Should I Put the Cross Trainer in My Garage?
Your empty garage can seem like the perfect spot for a cross trainer because it’s private and has plenty of space. However, most manufacturers recommend that you don’t do this because the garage could be damp. This can negatively affect the inner components of the machine.
Also, you could kick up dirt while working out in the garage, which can get stuck inside the motor and do significant damage. Ultimately, you should read the manufacturer’s instruction manual on placement before putting the cross trainer in the unheated garage. Otherwise, you face the risk of invalidating the warranty.
What Are Some Tips for Using My Cross Trainer?
Even though you haven’t gotten the cross trainer yet, you may worry about using it effectively and safely. Once you get it, you can improve your results with these helpful cross trainer tips:
- Vary the Workout. With a cross trainer, you can target different muscles by mixing up the approach to exercise. Use the safety handle when you’re focused more on the legs, lean a bit forward, and pedal quickly. If you’re planning to work the arms more, use the motion handles and stand up straight.
- Pedal Backwards. Most people walk forward, so the muscles in the back of the legs don’t get as much use. Try to target different muscles by pedaling in reverse on your cross trainer.
- Interval Training. This was a catchy buzzword a few years ago, and the benefits of intervals have stuck. Boost cardiovascular fitness and get more from each workout by going extremely fast for 30 seconds. Then, rest for 30 seconds to a minute and work at a comfortable pace. Continue doing this for the entire workout so that you don’t get bored with the routine.
- Pick Your Resistance Level Carefully. If the resistance levels are too low, you’re going to pedal fast and not get a good workout. However, if it’s too high, you risk straining the muscles.
How Good is a Cross Trainer for Losing Weight?
A cross trainer is primarily a cardio workout machine. If you’re focused on cardiovascular health, then an elliptical is the right choice for you. Here are some of the elliptical benefits:
- You can burn significant calories.
- It’s possible to work your entire body at the same time.
- The exercise is low-impact, but it can still be highly intense.
- Since the movements are more fluid, your joints are protected, even if you’re at a running pace.
- You can easily change the intensity of your workout programmes by adjusting the resistance level on the machine.
- People of all fitness levels can use this, including beginners and advanced/fit exercisers.
- Lose weight and get fit with a cross trainer by performing cardio exercise.
- Pair a healthy diet with cross trainer workout programmes for maximum results.
- Loosen up tense muscles by using your cross trainer at a relaxing pace.
- If you have poor balance, you’re safer on a cross trainer because your feet don’t leave the pedals, so you feel more comfortable.
Which Is Better? A Treadmill or a Cross Trainer?
Everyone feels the need to compare different workout machines, and it’s often hard to do. A treadmill offers cardiovascular workouts, and so does a cross trainer. They are both incredibly popular machines and can help you get the cardio you crave.
However, I do feel that an elliptical cross trainer has a slight edge because it can help you burn more calories and works more muscles in your body. Since you’re working the upper body, too, you’re going to boost your heart rate, and that burns calories.
Though you can run on a treadmill to have high-intensity workouts, it’s often rough on the knees and other lower body joints. Therefore, you could get injured and thwart all of your fitness plans and goals. With an elliptical cross trainer, the low-impact movement can protect the joints, and there are ways to get a high-intense workout.
How to repair a cross trainer
There isn’t much you’ve got to do for your cross trainer to keep it running smoothly. However, you should clean it periodically to ensure that there’s no dust or objects lodged in the motor or flywheel.
You should also check the screws periodically or before each use. If you notice that some are loose, make sure to hand-tighten them until they can’t be turned anymore. That way, you don’t risk hurting yourself because parts come off or do damage to your floors or home.
Lubrication is also a must. The moving parts are going to make squeaky noises if you don’t grease them up. That ensures that there is fluidity when they’re moving. You can find special lubricating products for exercise machines or use vegetable oil from your pantry. Just make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions and see its recommendations. That way, you don’t end up voiding the warranty because you used the wrong lubrication.
Also, it’s important to check the batteries in the display. They are going to wear down with time, and you don’t want to be in the middle of your workout and lose your stats. This is especially true if you keep track of the calories burned or distance you travel.
Should I Get a 2-in-1 System?
A few of the products listed were actually exercise bikes and cross trainers. If you like doing both types of exercise and have limited space, then yes, a 2-in-1 is a great choice. However, some people dislike the bike seat position when they’re trying to walk. Some brands allow you to take that off when you’re not using it or move it to the side where it’s out of the way.
Also, you have to be careful because sometimes, the bike seat is too far away from the handles. This causes you to lean forward and break posture to use it, which can cause pain in the shoulders and back.
I always recommend getting two machines for the price of one. However, you need to pay attention to the measurements and make sure that the seat is going to be comfortable to use. If you’re short or very tall, you may have problems with it. There’s no sense in buying something when you can’t use every feature available!
Are cross trainers worth it?
Cross trainers have become a hot commodity, and almost everyone wants them. They’re easy to use, and they’re easy on the joints, so those with bad knees can still get a great workout without doing damage.
It’s important to pick the right piece of equipment. You probably don’t have a ton of space, and you want something that gives you a full workout. Since an elliptical cross trainer has moving handles, you can use it to tone your arms and shoulders while getting a cardio workout. Therefore, it’s an excellent choice and suitable for all skill levels.
An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!