Is a Cross Trainer Good For Knees?

A lot of people ask if a cross trainer is good for the knees. Exercise can lessen joint stiffness and knee pain and, at the same time, improve balance and strength.

But what form of workout is most beneficial? Elliptical trainers are a good choice. This minimal weight bearing stationary workout tool mimics walking with a sliding or gliding motion which is great for joints making them ideal for seniors. Read through our article on the best elliptical for seniors.

Is a cross trainer good for knees? A cross trainer is good for knees because it doesn’t cause knee pain provided you’re using the right technique. Plus if done regularly it can improve knee strength and the muscles around it.

Is Elliptical Good For Bad knees?

The elliptical trainer can be an advantageous full body workout for those with bad knees or knee pain as it offers both strengthening and cardiovascular benefits while exerting less pressure on joints.  

More specifically, here are a few more proven reasons why the elliptical is considered a good cardio option for people with bad knees and chronic arthritis

Why is the elliptical good for bad knees?

Low Impact Workout

It’s a lot less impactful than other exercises such as running and rowing. If you have bad knees the elliptical won’t exacerbate pain because the knees remain stable. Usually, if you run, jog or walk, your knees take a high impact as they repetitively hit the ground. On this training machine, both feet stay in contact with the surface.

Strengthens Muscles Surround Knee

Using an elliptical can strengthen important muscles, ligaments and joints around the knee. Strengthening these muscles will lessen wear and tear on the knee joint and surrounding cartilage.

Elliptical good for knees

Cross Trainer Knee Pain

This low impact means there’s less pounding on your knee, keeps them in a stable position and relieves any issues with bad knees or knee pain.

The fluid motion of this cardio machine lessens the pressure on the knees. In comparison to a treadmill which can be hard on the joints because as you’re lifting your one leg off the surface at a time, all the weight of your body is absorbed by your leg in contact with the surface.

How to protect knee health on elliptical

According to research, the energy expenditure leading to running on treadmill equipment without incline is comparatively similar to the energy use at the pace on an elliptical trainer, even if people think the motion different. 

If you are concerned about the impact on your knees I recommend these knee supports while you use the elliptical:

IPOW 2 Pack Knee Pain Relief & Patella Stabilizer Knee Strap Brace Support for Hiking, Soccer, Basketball, Running, Jumpers Knee, Tennis, Volleyball & Squats.

Also, the elliptical machine has speed and resistance settings, which enable you to personalise your exercise. Forward motions make the calves and quad stronger, while reverse striding can work your hamstrings and the back of your thighs

Elliptical trainers can fall short when compared to the treadmill when it comes to weight-bearing workouts. If the elliptical trainers are a staple of your daily workout, advice is to supplement your workout with flexibility and strength exercises to develop bone health.  


Knee osteoarthritis ranges in severity from gentle or mild, so health experts recommend that anyone experiencing arthritis should see a physical therapist. These experts can assist you in knowing precisely what workout is ideal for you as well as how to do it securely for the level or stage of illness.

Again, if you want to maximise the support on your knees during your elliptical workout, try these knee sleeves for extra knee support:

DOUFURT Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers for Meniscus Tear Knee Pain ACL MCL Injury Recovery Adjustable Knee Support for Men and Women

How to Utilise Elliptical Trainer Better for Bad Knees

To gain more benefits and asses whether it’s worth buying a cross trainer, you need to know how to choose a cross a trainer and how to use it properly, especially if you have bad knees or knee pain. 

Check out this helpful video on using the elliptical with bad knees:

Warm Up: Avoid jumping right into physical activity, not warming up prior to any type of physical exercises may cause injury. After long periods of sitting or lying, loosen up firm joints with simple stretches.

You can simply take a short walk on a treadmill, or if at home use the elliptical trainer at a low setting without any resistance. 

Use the Appropriate Shoes: Stiffness or pain can affect the posture and gain. Shoes with a durable arch support can assist the knees in right alignment. These under armour running trainers are the best I have found for my clients, they offer great support at a reasonable price:

Under Armour womens Charged Assert 9 Running Shoe, Black/White, 8.5 US

Check You Posture: Avoid slouching over if you start to fatigue. Keep the body straight and your shoulders back. 

Use Handlebars: This is useful for balance as well as for offloading the lower extremities. 

Begin Slow and Listen to your body: Start slow with the cross trainer, if you find its immediately painful on your joints do not continue to use.

Obtain guidance from a fitness expert or physiotherapist on the best exercise for your knees if they aren’t ready for an elliptical trainer.

Best Exercise Machine to Strengthen Knees

Elliptical workouts provide a great health benefits. It’s low impact offering makes it a better alternative to a high impact cardio machine like a treadmill or rower. Using a cross trainer is less stressful on hips, knees and back.

You can use the elliptical motion to your advantage by pedalling in reverse which uses hamstrings and calves, taking the pressure off the knees.

Remember to maintain good posture while using across trainer, keeping the shoulder back and head up. Use the upper body handles to move the machine rather than your using your legs, this relies less on bodyweight and is much better for your knees.

Is Elliptical Good for Knees?

In summary the elliptical machine is good for knees as it is low impact and a fluid movement. Compared to heavy impact training like running it’s a solid replacement for those with bad knees. However if you feel any knee pain during the use of the elliptical or have a pre-existing knee condition, contact your physician.

+ posts

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!