The Argos guide to cross trainers - 2 of 4

Back to Health & Fitness Introduction

2. Features to look for in a cross trainer

There are two types of cross trainer. Choose a belt cross trainer if you want a basic workout and don't expect to vary your fitness routine much; they’re excellent value for money and don’t take up much space. However, they usually offer just one level of resistance (the amount of effort it takes to move the pedals and levers).

For more variety, consider a magnetic cross trainer. These use magnets to create resistance to your pushing and pulling, so usually have a range of training levels you can build up to as you get fitter. They also tend to be quieter than belt cross trainers. Use this list of features to recognise the parts of a cross trainer.

Defining the parts

The levers are the vertical 'handlebars' where you hold the machine while cross training. The grips move backwards and forwards in oval shapes as you use the machine; this range of movements helps build flexible limbs.

A cross trainer console

The pedals are where you put your feet when using a cross trainer. They're usually large pads with a non-slip surface like rubber.

The flywheel is inside the cross trainer. As you push and pull it creates momentum so you can build up pace smoothly without overstressing your muscles.

A heart rate monitor detects your pulse, usually through touching the grips, so you can see how hard your heart’s working. Remember, the most effective heart rate for most people while exercising is 70-80% of maximum.

A display is useful if you want to record your performance, to make sure you're reaching your fitness goals. It's an LCD digital readout giving information such as speed and distance covered (as if you’d been ski-ing), calories burned, time and so on. The controls, usually surrounding the display, let you switch the display to the numbers you’re most interested in and enter or change the programme.

What's on the display?

Some of the numbers on a cross trainer’s display can be confusing. Here a key to what they mean.

WHAT THE DISPLAY SAYS WHAT IT MEANS
Speed The speed you’d be travelling at if you were cross country ski-ing
Time The time since your workout started or the time left before you finish on a workout programme
Calories Estimated number of calories you’ve burnt off since starting
Distance Total distance travelled or distance left to go on a programme
Pulse/heartrate Your current heartrate in beats per minute, measured through hand grips, a chest strap, or earlobe clip
Motivation Encouraging messages displayed to keep you going
Power output/watts The total power (energy per unit of time) you’re developing – 100 means you could power a 100W lightbulb and so on. 200W is a good level to maintain for a 30minute workout; a powerful man can produce a maximum of about 800W for short periods.

A note on programmes/progs

Programmes or 'progs' give you a planned workout based on total distance you want to reach or total time you want to work out for. Different programmes may include varying speeds or inclines to add variety. Example programmes include downhill and cross country.

page 2 of 4All cross trainers are different, so check you know which features to look for. With that done, let's choose your machine: Choosing the right cross trainer

Argos guide to cross trainers

Not the machine you were looking for?

There are Buying Guides for: