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Elliptical cross trainer workouts

Elliptical cross trainer workouts at the gym or local health club will provide exercisers will a fantastic base of fitness and stamina. This article aims to provide a number elliptical cross trainer workouts to use at your local gym.

Elliptical cross trainer workouts: The basics

In order to improve aerobic fitness elliptical cross trainer workouts should include some form of continuous exercise for between 20 to 60 minutes. I use the word 'continuous' loosely as research has shown that one of the best ways to improving fitness is to perform short, sharp high intensity sprints of between 10 - 30 seconds separated by periods of 'active' recovery (say 45 - 90 seconds of lower level exercise). But more about this later.

Exercise and fitness guidelines, written by the ACSM and endorsed by governments around the world, suggest that to improve their aerobic fitness levels, people should aim to perform 2 to 5 aerobic workouts per week, with each session varying in intensity - some performed at a lower intensity and others performed at higher, harder levels.

In order to improve aerobic fitness elliptical cross trainer users should aim to work as between 70 and 85 percent of their Age Predicted Maximal Heart Rate (APMHR).

Elliptical cross trainer workouts: Using APMHR

All elliptical cross trainer workouts should take the Age Predicted Maximal Heart Rate (APMHR), or some other form of intensity grading method (i.e. RPE - see below), into consideration. The APMHR looks at the age of an exerciser and predicts their maximal heart rate based on this figure. The APMHR then suggests the target heart rate needed to improve aerobic fitness using an elliptical cross trainer.

The APMHR suggests that the maximal heart rate is 220, Thus, someone aged 40 years old would have a predicted maximal heart rate of 180 beats per minute. Therefore to work at between 70 and 80 percent of their APMHR a 40 year old exerciser should exercise at 126 to 153 beats per minute for 20 - 60 minutes. 

Elliptical cross trainer workouts: Using RPE

Instead of using the APMHR, elliptical cross trainer users could use a self-assesment exercise intensity scale called the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) when looking to increase fitness using a cross trainer. The RPE asks exercisers to plot their perceived exertion against certain statements, outlined below:

  • 0 - Nothing at all
  • 1 - Very light
  • 2 - Fairly light
  • 3 - Moderate
  • 4 - Some what hard
  • 5 - Hard
  • 6
  • 7 - Very hard
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10 - Very, very hard

To increase fitness using an elliptical cross trainer people should normally work between levels 3 - 7 on the RPE scale.

Elliptical cross trainer: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Traditionally people looking to increase fitness and lose weight were once encouraged to exercise at a steady state / continuous level during their workouts. However, these days exercise scientists suggest the very best way to increase fitness quickly and burn more calories within the 24 hours after exercise is to complete a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session.

This will see exercisers working at near maximal levels for short periods of time during an exercise session. For example, when using an elliptical cross trainer a workout may look something like this

  • 0 - 5 minutes: Warm up
  • 5 - 25 minutes: Sprint for 15 seconds on a high level, moving your legs as quickly as possible followed by 45 seconds of 'cycling' at a lower level whilst maintaining a good yet lower then maximal cycling cadence. Repeat as many times as possible for 20 minutes.
  • 25 - 30 minutes: Cool down

During such a workout exercisers would work maximally for a total of 5 minutes. Also, as they change between active rest and maximal sprints, their heart rate would jump and spike throughout the session. Varying the heart rate in this way during a workout means exercisers will be pushing the boundaries of their current fitness levels to such an extent that their body would be forced to improve their stamina in order to cope in future.

Elliptical cross trainer workouts: Steady state exercise

Steady state workouts should still feature in people's aerobic fitness programming. Steady state elliptical cross training (say at level 3 -4 on the RPE scale) is useful to separate high intensity interval training sessions (intervals working at levels 7 to 10 on the RPE scale).

Steady state elliptical cross trainer workouts allow exercisers to develop fitness without experiencing overtraining, something which could happen if they performed more than two HIIT cross trainer workouts per week.

Elliptical cross trainer workouts: Training programs

The following elliptical cross trainer workouts have been planned to help improve not only overall fitness but also speed, power and muscle tone.

Time
Workout 1
RPE
5 minutes
Slowly build up to Level 3 (Moderate) on the RPE scale.
Level 3
5 minutes
Perform 30 seconds sprints on a high resistance and at close to your maximal rate followed by 30 seconds active rest working at your warm up pace. Repeat 5 times.
Level 6 - 7
5 minutes
Cool down - Reduce your speed and resistance to a little less than your warm up pace.
Level 2 - 3

Time
Workout 2
RPE
5 minutes
Slowly build up to Level 3 (Moderate) on the RPE scale.
Level 3
20 minutes
Perform 15 seconds sprints on a high resistance and at close to your maximal rate followed by 45 seconds active rest working at your warm up pace. Repeat for the desired time.
Level 8 - 9
5 minutes
Cool down - Reduce your speed and resistance to a little less than your warm up pace.
Level 2 - 3

Time
Workout 3
RPE
5 minutes
Slowly build up to Level 3 (Moderate) on the RPE scale.
Level 3
30 minutes
Perform 60 seconds bouts at a higher than warm up pace and resistance followed by 60 seconds of active rest working at your warm up pace. Repeat for the desired time.
Level 5
5 minutes
Cool down - Reduce your speed and resistance to a little less than your warm up pace.
Level 2 - 3

Time
Workout 4
RPE
5 minutes
Slowly build up to Level 3 (Moderate) on the RPE scale.
Level 3
30 minutes
Move your arms and legs at a constant pace for the desired time.
Level 3 - 5
5 minutes
Cool down - Reduce your speed and resistance to a little less than your warm up pace.
Level 2 - 3

Time
Fartlek workout
RPE
5 minutes
Slowly build up to Level 3 (Moderate) on the RPE scale.
Level 3
20 minutes
Change the pace and resistance as and when you like. However, make sure you perform a good number of short sprints and bouts of fast paced activity at varying levels of resistance throughout.
Level 3 - 10
5 minutes
Cool down - Reduce your speed and resistance to a little less than your warm up pace.
Level 2 - 3

These elliptical cross trainer workouts are by no means the only gym elliptical cross trainer workouts available. These ideas have been written to give you a flavour of the type of exercise bike workouts that can be created. By all means create your own cross trainer workouts based on the suggestions above.

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