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Best Cross Trainers for the Home Gym

Updated: Jan 6

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The cross trainer is one of the best cardio exercises for burning fat and toning up. Unlike running or cycling, cross trainers challenge both the upper and lower body muscles. This places higher demands on the aerobic system which can result in improved fitness gains (NSCA's Essentials of Tactical Strength & Conditioning).


Another benefit of cross trainers is that they are a low-impact form of exercise. Low-impact aerobic training provides all the health upsides – improved cardio, weight loss, etc., – but without the impact downsides –such as wear and tear on the joints.


It’s this quality of cross trainers that makes them ideal supplementary training for avid runners. But also, they provide an opportunity for the elderly or people rehabilitating an injury to keep up their cardio.


Whatever your training objective, there’s a cross trainer in this review for you. And because choosing the right trainer can be a bit confusing, what with all the products available, I have included a Buyer’s Guide below. The guide outlines key considerations such as sizing, stride length, and training features.


Best cross trainers quick finder

Best cross trainers #1: Sunny Health & Fitness

Best cross trainers #2: Pro XS Sports

Best cross trainers #4: Reebok

Best cross trainers #5: JTX Tri-Fit


 

Best cross trainers #1: Sunny Health & Fitness

Best cross trainers for home training.

First up we have the ultimate budget cross trainer. Brought to you by the good people at Sunny Health & Fitness, for little over a hundred quid you could adorn your living room with a shiny new elliptical machine.


And though Sunny Health & Fitness’s cross trainer is a simple design, with over 10,000 four to five-star reviews, it has been praised for its durability and features.


Sunny Health & Fitness’s cross trainer comes replete with an LCD monitor that features the atypical performance metrics: training time, ski speed, distance skied, calories expended and heart rate. You’ve got to be honest, that’s a pretty good package for only £120!


Cross trainer key features

  • Elliptical trainer with large anti-slip foot platforms and moving arms.

  • Smooth magnetic resistance with precise micro-tension controller.

  • Large anti-slip foot platforms for secure footing.

  • Hand pulse monitoring system provides heart rate readouts.

  • LCD Monitor: scan, time, speed, distance, calories, distance, and pulse; Max user weight: 100 KG (220 LB).


 

Best elliptical machine #2: Pro XS Sports

Best elliptical machine.

The Pro Xs Sports’ elliptical machine is a comparable product to Sunny Health & Fitness’. It is a simple design that offers essential training features – such as resistance and basic workout plans. But, unlike Sunny’s, the Pro Xs can fold into an exercise bike.


In addition, it also provides performance feedback on your training time, speed, distance, and estimated calorie expenditure.


And though this is undeniably basic, it has received plenty of positive feedback. With over 1500 reviews, it still boasts a healthy four-stars. One reviewer commented that Pro Xs Sports is an excellent cross trainer for the money.

 

Elliptical trainer key features

  • Simple yet sturdy design with the option of folding into an exercise bike.

  • Provides a total body, low-impact, cardiovascular workout! (legs, hips, buttocks, arms & shoulders).

  • Tubular steel frame giving you a secure and stable workout.

  • Multi-directional movement options enable you to target different leg muscles.

  • Large LCD screen display that provides ‘real-time feedback.’


 

Best cross trainers #3: JLL ‘home luxury’ elliptical

Home luxury cross trainer by JLL.

JLL’s home luxury elliptical cross trainer is a premium quality home trainer. This isn’t just an exercise machine to ‘tick over’ on. The robust frame will survive tough workouts for years to come. You’ll be able to train at higher intensities while battling the pre-programmed challenges.


The home luxury cross trainer by JLL comes with a generous multi-function LCD monitor which will display your vitals as you have a bash at that Olympic biathlon time. In addition, you can strap on a heart rate monitor to keep a close eye on your cardiac output.


But it offers a few novel features. For example, the in-built sensors provide feedback on your core temperature and body fat. In addition, it includes a ‘recovery’ setting which is designed to naturally deescalate your physiological systems.

 

Home elliptical key features

  • Large LCD monitor that simultaneously provides real-time feedback on eight performance metrics.

  • Magnetic resistance technology for a more natural feel.

  • The bi-directional design allows you to target different leg muscles.

  • Non-slip footplates improve contact and energy transfer.

  • Dual action handles enable you to engage a wider range of muscle groups.


 

Best cross trainers #4: Reebok

Reebok cross trainer.

Reebok’s cross trainer is a serious step up in quality. For the extra investment, you get a far more durable machine made with premium quality materials. A benefit of a sturdier machine is that you can train at higher intensities without worrying that it’ll fall to bits. I’m not implying that the other cross trainers will, but when you’re paying £120 for an exercise machine, you can’t expect too much from it.


With Reebok’s cross trainer, you can expect a lot more. For example, as well as the heavy-duty frame, Reebok’s cross trainer sports a substantial LCD screen which provides performance analysis. In addition, it keeps you updated on those vital metrics – stride speed, distance, time, calories, pulse, and RPM.


Also, the on-board computer comes with four pre-programmed training sessions which include target time, target distance, target calories and recovery workouts. Making this, by all accounts, a mighty fine cross trainer for the money. Thrown into the bargain is a 2-year warranty on parts and labour. This shows that Reebok has confidence in its product.


Home elliptical key features

  • 9 kg flywheel weight ensures a challenging, smooth and quiet elliptical motion to give you a comfortable, fluid workout experience.

  • The 30 levels of resistance appeal to a diverse range of fitness abilities. This feature makes Reebok’s cross trainer suitable for all the family.

  • Adjustable footplates for improved accessibility.

  • To help keep you motivated, there are 20 fitness programs built into the console; designed by our Reebok master trainers to take you from a gentle exercise to a challenging mountainous hill climb.

  • Comes with 2-year parts and labour warranty as standard.


 

Best cross trainers #5: JTX Tri-Fit

Cross trainer for the home gym.

The Tri-Fit cross trainer by JTX is a seriously heavy-duty training tool. It’s as close as you’re likely to get to a gym-standard trainer without the expense. It’s built to withstand daily use and high-intensity workouts.


It’s able to do this because of the 14.5kg flywheel – which is over double the weight of other machines. The flywheel, in case you didn’t know, is a mechanical device designed to store rotational energy. Of course, because the flywheel does most of the moving, it is often first to wear out. Thus, the heavier and more durable it is, the longer it will last.


JTX’s cross trainer features a range of performance metrics fit for an athlete. But it overtakes the competition by offering compatibility options with external devices – such as Apple and Android. This enables you to connect to the ‘Kinomap app,’ an interactive motivational tool that allows you to follow along to motion videos which automatically adjust the resistance to simulate hill-climbing.


And if that’s not enough, JTX also throws in 2-year parts and labour and a 5-year frame warranty. That smacks of corporate confidence and if you’ve got the cash to splash the extra coin is a cheap price to pay for peace of mind.

 

Home cross-trainer key features

  • Robust design built to last and endure heavy use.

  • Advanced, on-board computer technology that connects with external devices.

  • Free subscription to the iConsole app, a training software that features ‘motivating training tools.’

  • 19 preprogramed workouts including 16 levels of resistance.

  • Adjustable incline control allows you to focus the workout on your stomach and glutes area.

  • Two-year in-home repair warranty which includes parts and labour. Plus a 5-year frame warranty.


 

 

Best cross trainers Buyer’s Guide

Before purchasing a cross trainer, there are a couple of factors that you should consider first. Because there is a broad range of products on the market, some of which feature different applications and designs, choosing a trainer can be a bit confusing.


Also, it’s wise to assess your training experience and intended application. If you plan to use your machine to keep active while watching TV, a budget trainer like the ProX Sport will be best suited for low-intensity workouts.


However, if you intend to use your cross trainer as a fitness augmentation tool, you’ll need a robust machine such as JTX’s Tri-Fit.

 

Fully skiable

Elliptical machines come in two types. Type 1) Fully skiable. Type 2) Not fully skiable. The latter type – not fully skiable – is where the handles are fixed, like the Stairmasters of old. This limits your ability to engage your upper body muscles. Type 2, fully skiable, is arguably a superior design as you have the option of using the handles to engage a wider range of muscle groups.

 

Size

There’s no point manoeuvring our conversation around the elephant in the room. For the fact cannot be escaped. Cross trainers are hefty pieces of exercise equipment and they take up considerable space – compared to a stationary bike or mini stepper. Thus, it would be prudent to check the dimensions of whichever cross trainer you decide to purchase and ensure that your home gym can comfortably accommodate it.

 

Resistance options

Before buying one of the best cross trainers, ensure that it’s got a good resistance range. If the options are few and the upper maximum offers little resistance, then you won’t get as good a workout. When researching resistance – which I’ve done for you in the reviews – look for those trainers with ‘magnetic’ resistance. By all accounts magnetic resistance is superior to alternatives (such as pads) because the resistance feels more natural, is less wearing on the components and is silent. 

 

Incline

This function is not as important as resistance but, depending on your exercise aspirations, it can increase the intensity of your training sessions. Not only does incline raise intensity but it can also be used to target different muscles of the leg. For example, a steep incline focuses on the gluteals – as it becomes more of a stepping action – whereas flat one focuses on the hamstrings and quadriceps. In saying that though, incline is by no means a necessary function and it won’t detract from your workout.

 

Stride length 

Stride length is precisely that: the distance the foot moves from the front position to the back. This is something that only super-tall or super-short people need to worry about. Tall people (6, 3”-plus) will need to make sure that the stride length is relatively long. Failure to do so and you could find yourself smacking your knees against the arm supports. People that identify themselves as being short (5, 5”-less) will need a trainer with a reduced stride length. Some trainers, such as the Reebok FR30, feature adjustable foot plates.

 

Maximum user weight

Maximum weight is something to be considered not because it might collapse while we’re working out – few people would exceed the weight capacity of a cross trainer – but because it is a sign of build quality. A weighty elliptical machine has probably been constructed from heavy-duty materials which is an indication that the frame that holds it all together is likely to be more durable.


Exercise programmes

Exercise programmes are useful for those days when you can’t be bothered (or don’t have the time) to plan a sesh and just want to get on and go. If this sounds a bit like you, then I would recommend checking the range of programme features before making your decision.


 

Frequently asked questions [about cross trainers]

To round out this review of the best cross trainers for the home gym, I’ve answered three frequently asked questions. The questions are concerned with the effectiveness of the cross trainer – as a training tool – and the fitness outcomes that we can expect from using one.

Can cross trainers burn belly fat?

Yes, regular use of your cross trainer can help us burn belly fat. In his book Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest & Health, Professor Liberman outlines studies showing the effectiveness of cardio for losing weight.


In one study, which compared cardio exercise to resistance training for reducing body fat, researchers discovered that cardio yielded the best results. They reported that people who only participated in resistance exercises lost no weight. Whereas those who trained in cardio lost ‘considerably’ fat.


What are elliptical machines good for?

They offer an engaging aerobic workout. In addition, cross trainers, unlike running and cycling, provide a whole-body workout thanks to their dual functionality. To conclude this answer, if you were to buy but one piece of exercise equipment, you wouldn’t go far wrong with a cross trainer.


Will cross trainers build muscle?

In short, no, using cross trainers will not build muscles. Yes, they certainly will help you burn fat and improve muscle tonality while strengthening your cardio-respiratory system. But as for muscle building, the cross trainer is simply not equipped with the load capacity needed to develop size – no cardiovascular exercise is.


To build muscle, you will have to undertake a Resistance Training Programme.


 

About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and fitness coach. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam at info@hungry4fitness.co.uk.

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