An elliptical trainer is just one of many types of ellipticals to choose from.

Types of Ellipticals That Tone & Burn Calories

by Danielle Clark

Most gyms are packed full of cardio equipment, including elliptical machines. There can be several to choose from, both in the gym and for home use if you’re considering buying one. For busy moms looking to get in shape or stay in shape, ellipticals can give you a fat-burning workout that helps you tone and sculpt muscles. Ellipticals also give you a low-impact workout, avoiding unnecessary strain on joints and muscles.

Elliptical Cross-Trainer

An elliptical cross-trainer is a popular choice when it comes to ellipticals. This machine offers both an upper- and lower-body workout. There’s a pedaling platform for your feet and metal arms you push and pull. The arms and legs alternate rhythmically, giving you a full-body workout. Cross-trainers also allow you to pedal backward, increase resistance and, on some models, increase the incline. With the cross-trainer you’ll work several muscle groups, increasing your calorie burn and toning more muscles.

Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical trainers offer you the same lower-body workout as the cross-trainer, but without the upper-body movement. The pedals move forward, alternating the left and right foot in a forward circular rotation. With the trainer you can increase the resistance and the incline for a tougher workout, and most allow backward pedaling. Any adjustments in resistance and incline will shift emphasis to certain muscle groups, which may be displayed on the trainer’s console, depending on the model at your gym, according to You’ll burn calories with the trainer and tone the lower body. Unlike the cross-trainer, you’ll emphasize a lower-body rather than a full-body workout.

Elliptical Glider

The glider is similar to the trainer in terms of looks. Both the glider and trainer do not include handlebars for an upper-body workout. The difference between a glider and a trainer is the movement of the pedals. With a glider you’ll move in an up-and-down fashion, whereas the trainer has a circular forward movement. Trainers and gliders work the leg muscles through hip and knee extensions, according to The intensity can be increased on the glider by changing the resistance. You’ll burn calories with the glider and also engage additional lower-body muscles, toning more of your lower body.

Outdoor Elliptical Bikes

Outdoor elliptical bikes started being sold in early 2010. This high-tech fitness machine is a cross between the elliptical and the bike. The modified elliptical trainer is not found in the gym, but is designed to ride the roads like a bike. The outdoor elliptical bike mimics running outdoors, but instead of feeling the impact of the road you stand on large pedals and push forward much like you would with an elliptical trainer, according to Fox News. Similar to a bike, the outdoor elliptical bikes have gear shifts and handlebar brakes, giving you a control over the intensity and safety of the workout. A study performed by University of California San Diego compared the outdoor elliptical bike and a traditional cycling workout and found that the elliptical bike burned approximately 30 percent more calories. You’ll get the same lower-body toning, but burn more calories than you would if just cycling.

About the Author

Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.

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