How to Use a Cross Trainer

A cross trainer or sometimes referred to as an elliptical trainer is a popular type of exercise exercise rapidly becoming the most sought-after fitness machine in-home and gyms worldwide. This is an ideal choice for anyone wanting a safe, total body workout.

This is also considered one of the best weight-bearing total body fitness machines available on the market today, and no other fitness machine provides as many perks. Check out our review of the best cross trainers.

Using a Cross Trainer

This exercise equipment works much like a stair climber, and it just lessens the impact to your joints and knees. It has footpads to stand on while doing a workout. You grasp onto handles that move like you would when crossing country skiing.

This machine allows you to engage in a weight-bearing elliptical workout that helps develop muscle and improve your cardiovascular fitness. Unlike running or taking a walk, the cross-trainer offers a complete body workout without seriously impacting your joints, particularly your knees.

how to use an elliptical trainer

A lot of ellipticals available on the market come with an arm attached to a bar at one end of the equipment and an axis at the other end. This axis rotates once the bar moves and the end moves in a flat back and forth motion.

The elliptical trainer’s resistance is made either through a band, which links to the flywheel, or by magnetic resistance. The movement of this machine is smooth, like you are riding bikes. You can also switch the movement into reverse and rotate the leg parts you’re working on.

Elliptical Teaching Points

Ellipticals can be a great low impact cardio that burn calories. Like any workout machine out there, proper use is vital to maximizing or getting the most efficient workout and, at the same time, mitigating any harm or injury.

When using any exercise equipment, always start with a warm up. For an elliptical, you can begin using the machine at a low intensity for the first couple of minutes.

Cross Trainer Teaching Points

A cross trainer and elliptical are the same machine so do not worry about getting these confused with one another. The teaching points are therefore the same, always start with a warm up and a low intensity.

To get the most out of your workout try to use the handlebars as well as the foot pedals, this will offer a full body workout. If this is too much at first, stick with the foot pedals and hold onto the fixed handlebars.

You can ask for a point of reference from an expert or trainer the very first time you using this exercise equipment. Always bear in mind that all cross trainers are a little bit different, and in case you’re not at ease with the keys and controls, it is helpful to get some guides prior to starting.

using an elliptical trainer for beginners

Taking a few minutes to read the guides on the machine’s console will be helpful for you. These offer simple step by step directions on the proper application of that specific fitness equipment. Let’s dive into how to use a cross trainer

How Do You Use a Cross Trainer

Using a cross trainer is simple. If you have never used the machine before and are totally new, follow the steps below:

  1. Step onto the elliptical, make sure you are facing the console. Usually, nothing will take place until you begin pedaling.
  2. To switch on the monitor, begin pedaling by pushing the pedals in a forward movement with the feet. 
  3. Push and pull on the handles in an even way.
  4. Follow the guides shown on the screen to choose one of the pre-set programs. You can also opt to a manual to set your own exercise.
  5. Increase or reduce the resistance in pedaling during your exercises. You can do this by hitting the up and down keys. A lot of elliptical trainers available on the market come with a heart monitor feature located in the handles that you can use to gauge the intensity of your workout.
  6. Prior to stepping off the machine, ensure that it has totally stopped. If you begin to feel pain or at any point during the exercise, slow down and you can completely stop the machine to avoid injury.

Cross Trainer Technique 

Having a good technique will not only avoid injury but also make sure you get the most out of each time you step on the cross trainer.

Pedaling in a forward movement makes it simpler for you to balance your elliptical workout. This also simulates natural motion. Pedaling backward is regarded as an advanced technique in an elliptical workout. If you do use the elliptical backwards you can target different muscles than when pedalling forwards.

You need to stand upright on this fitness machine and, as much as possible, keep away from leaning forward or backward. Make sure you can balance without leaning the handles for assistance.

You also need to keep away from holding the handles firmly or too tightly. You have to look straight ahead as well.

Check out this useful video on how to use a cross trainer properly:

Always bear in mind that you want some high impact workout to develop strong bones and, at the same time, to avoid osteoporosis. Therefore, if you are using this fitness equipment exclusively, you may need to consider putting in some weight training.

You can also integrate some weight-bearing workouts to your daily or weekly exercises to burn fat faster.

This exercise equipment also doesn’t need much in the way of balance or proprioception which makes it perfect for any beginner.

What does this exercise equipment work?

It is also very important to know what elliptical work on your body. Using the exercise equipment is conventionally seen as a cardio workout. Particularly at a lower level, utilizing it will get your heart rate up.

This also helps the body deliver more oxygen to the muscles. It is very beneficial if you are looking to burn calories and boost your aerobic fitness.

What is the Best Cross Trainer Workout for Beginner?

Is this your first time using a cross-trainer? If so, you need to know first the workout intended for first-timers. First, try ten minutes on a low resistance, slowly building up to thirty minutes. As your level of fitness develops, you can increase the resistance up to a higher level to shed more calories as well as boost muscular endurance.

You are looking at approximately 200 cal burn for half an hour of training at a moderate pace.

A simple beginner workout can be something like this:

Warm up: five minutes at level three, incline twenty percent.

Main Workout: twenty minutes, alternating between five and seven-level every two minutes

Cooldown: five minutes at level three.

If you want to see an improvement to your fitness level or want to see development in muscular endurance, you can use this machine for at least four sessions weekly for 20 minutes at a minimum.

Then, you can try interval training on this machine that is a remarkable way of testing your stamina as well as obtain a complete body workout completed in a short span of time. 

How Do I Turn on My Elliptical

Most elliptical trainers will turn on automatically when you start pedalling the foot pedals. Do this by pushing the pedals forward while pulling the handles backwards.

However, if your elliptical doesn’t turn on automatically when pedalling it could be a a minor issue like dead batteries in the console. Or it could be a more serious issue that is preventing the elliptical from turning on such as a failed power supply or a bad electrical connection.

Here are some steps on how to fix turn on your elliptical if it won’t start automatically:

Battery Powered

  • Replace the batteries in the console if it is battery powered.
  • Regularly change the batteries during routine maintenance of the elliptical.

Electrical Powered

  • Unplug the elliptical and check the power cord.
  • Reconnect cord wires if they have come disconnected.
  • If the power cord is damaged, replace it.
  • If there is no damage to the power cord and it seems in working order then the console needs to be replaced.

Follow these steps for most ellipticals. Contact the customer service team of your branded elliptical. Most issues are covered by warranty so don’t panic!


So now you know how to use a cross trainer. An elliptical trainer or cross-trainer makes sure to burn calories and lose fat with equal perfection for a tuned and healthy body. With the assistance of this machine, you can work out your upper and lower part of the body. Irrespective of your age, you can utilize this machine that is ideal for home gym as well. 

There are a lot of factors that go into making the right selection when buying an elliptical. Check out our buying guide here which shows the top 10 cross trainers for all levels of fitness.

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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!