A cross trainer, or an elliptical machine, is a piece of gym machinery used to simulate walking, running, and even stair climbing. The major benefit of this as opposed to a treadmill, is that it very low impact on the joints. Perfect if you are trying to avoid injury, or are perhaps coming back from an injury. Some can even use a cross trainer for running while injured as it doesn’t put the same pressure on them. We take a look at the features of a cross trainer, the benefits and how it can help you as a runner. 

Features of an Elliptical Machine

If you have seen one of these machines, perhaps in the gym or scrolling through the pages of Instagram, you will notice that they are big machines. We have one at home and I can’t tell you the fun and games we had getting it in our transit van and then up the outside steps to our house.

You need to ensure you have space for one before you commit to purchasing one. They are not cheap. Admittedly as is rather large and smaller models are available. 


An Elliptical Motion 

The pedals move in an elliptical pattern, which combines the movements of stair climbing, walking, and running.

Handles for Upper Body

Many cross trainers come with handles that move back and forth. This allows the user to engage the upper body, providing a full-body workout.

Adjustable Resistance

Adjust the resistance levels to increase or decrease the intensity of their workout.

Built-In Programs

Many cross-trainers come with pre-programmed workout routines designed to target different fitness goals.

Display Console

This typically shows metrics such as time, distance, speed, calories burned, and heart rate.

The Benefits of a Cross-Trainer 

There are many benefits of a cross-trainer. Only the other day we were scrolling Facebook or Instagram and happened across Eilish McColgan using one. That’s because there are many benefits for runners including:

  • Low Impact: The smooth motion of a cross trainer reduces stress on the joints, making it suitable for people with joint issues or those recovering from injuries. It is also good when you are on recovery days or want to take it easier than going out and pounding the pavements. 
  • Cardiovascular Fitness: Regular use can improve cardiovascular health. Like any kind of exercise, once you increase that heart rate, it is going to be good for you. Because you can adjust the resistance, you can set the kind of workout that you want. 
  • Weight Loss and Muscle Toning: It helps in burning calories and toning muscles in the legs, arms, and core.
  • Convenience: It can be used indoors, making it a convenient option for home workouts regardless of weather conditions. When you are short on time you don’t need to leave the house. Hop on the cross trainer in your lunch break if you work from home. 

Does cross-training burn as many calories as running?

You may wonder if you will get the same benefit from an elliptical machine as you will from running. While the good news is, it doesn’t vary a great deal however, running requires more effort than cross-training so will burn more calories. It is still possible to get a decent workout and calorie burn.

Harvard Health study showed that a 155lb person can burn 324 calories when using an elliptical machine for 30 minutes. That same person will burn 360 calories while running ten-minute miles for 30 minutes on a treadmill. Of course, this is not the same for everyone and should only be used as a guide. 

Tips for Using a Cross-Trainer

  • Warm-Up: Always start with a warm-up to prepare your muscles and prevent injuries.
  • Posture: Maintain an upright posture with your core engaged to maximize the effectiveness of the workout.
  • Variety: Change up the resistance and incline settings to target different muscle groups and keep your workouts challenging.

Where Can You Buy a Cross Trainer?

A quick search on Google will return a myriad of cross-trainers for sale. Amazon is always our got to purely because it’s easy, convenient and you can read tonnes of reviews from others. Leading sports brands also sell them but it will obviously be determined what you are looking for and what you can afford. Budget will be a factor and you need to ensure that you know what you want from your machine. Check out all the features it offers and whether it does everything you need it to first. Always a good idea to read the reviews from others as well to ensure that you know what you are getting. 

You will also need to measure it and ensure that you have space for it in your home. The last thing you want is for it to become a clothes horse in the middle of one of your living rooms. 

If you are serious about exercise though, and you are a regular runner, it is definitely a worthwhile purchase and will no doubt add something extra to your training.