If you’ve ever heard friends talking about their workouts or even suspiciously eyed the machine that will be under our spotlight today, then you may be wondering, what is an elliptical exactly? Anyone who recalls walking into a big gym for the first time knows first-hand how many different pieces of fitness equipment there are to discover and understand. Undoubtedly, the indoor exercise scene comes with its own vocabulary!
This makes becoming familiar with your favorite kit a must when beginning your journey toward ultimate fitness and wellbeing. If you’d like to master your elliptical meaning as an accompaniment to gym etiquette and fitness terms, then certainly read on. Because we’re about to take a deep dive into the elliptical definition—so that you can get even more out of this wonderfully dynamic and user-friendly resource.
What Is an Elliptical Machine?
The mighty elliptical machine, sometimes also known as an elliptical trainer or cross-trainer, is a stationary exercise machine used for cardiovascular training. The elliptical features two plates upon which the user’s feet rest throughout their workout, and often—although not always—two moving handlebars that they’ll hold just below shoulder height.
So what makes an elliptical machine distinct from other cardio machines? As we dial in on the elliptical definition, it’s useful to note that this machine’s movement is driven by the user—primarily by their legs, but also by their arms and upper body when level-handles are present. This creates a coordinated oscillating motion that marvelously engages the entire body while remaining very low impact. Undoubtedly, a fantastic alternative to try for those who experience discomfort when running, stair climbing, or cycling.
Tracing the Roots of the Elliptical Definition
So who came up with this innovative device? Well, the idea of elliptical path generation was initially explored in the late 1980s by researchers at Purdue University. However, we can look to none other than Total Fitness Equipment staple Precor as the brand that conceptualized and developed the first elliptical machine. Their original model, the Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer (EFX), was introduced in 1995—and gyms around the world have been transformed ever since.
The clever four-bar linkage mechanism that manifests the smooth motion of an elliptical machine involves a flywheel that is attached in turn to a forward foot pedal and—when applicable—the arm handlebars too. Expert design is critical to the effective function of these conjoined parts, making it important to choose a quality brand when shopping for an elliptical machine. Those that are badly engineered can fail to engage the full body in a balanced way, leaving a dent in the effectiveness of your workouts.
Why Are Ellipticals So Popular?
So, having answered the question “What is an elliptical machine?”, the next logical query is why these motion-driven trainers remain so popular today. Crucially, while a workout on an elliptical is a weight-bearing exercise, constant contact with the foot plates affords very little strain on the body’s muscles and tendons.
Simultaneously, the movement required—particularly when handlebars are present—calls a vast array of muscles into action. All elliptical machines draw upon the strength of the quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, hip flexors, and core muscles to be used successfully. Those with handles will also engage the arms, chest, and back, creating a true full-body workout from which recovery is usually swift and soreness minimized.
Over the years, ellipticals have become increasingly sophisticated, offering button-activated settings for intensity and incline—and even preset programs for those looking to make their training sessions a little more adventurous. As experts in the fitness equipment game since 1985, we here at Total Fitness Equipment have been along for the elliptical ride in its entirety. Our team keeps the latest Precor machines in excellent company, offering an array of high-performance ellipticals to suit every user. So why not check out our range? Don’t forget to get in touch if you have any questions.