5 Cross Trainer Workouts to Help You Get in Shape

Do you have a cross trainer but aren’t sure how to get the most out of it? You’re in luck! In this article, we’re going to break down why cross trainer workouts can be great for your health and provide some actual workouts you can perform.

The good news is you don’t need to buy a workout DVD or expensive course to get a great workout on your elliptical. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced fitness enthusiast, you can use these workouts to get your blood pumping.

TIP: Want a home cross trainer to get fit without paying for a gym? Check out our list of the best cross trainers for home use.

What Are The Advantages of Working Out on a Cross Trainer?

There are many ways to get in shape, so what makes cross trainers a better option than cycling, running or plyometrics?

While there’s no “best” way to exercise for fat loss or cardiovascular fitness, there are several benefits to cross trainers in comparison to other types of cardio.

One of the advantages of cross trainers is that they’re low impact, so you can get a great workout without beating up your joints and bones. In contrast, many traditional forms of exercise, such as running, are hard on joints like your knees and ankles.

Another benefit is that you can get a full body workout. Instead of just targeting specific parts of the body, the cross trainer lets you exercise everything; especially the machines that have moving arm grips. Plus, because this type of workout is still weight bearing, it helps build muscle tone.

Precautions When Using a Cross Trainer Workout Plan

As with any physical activity, there are some precautions you need to be aware of so that you can perform workouts effectively and safely.

It’s essential that you use the correct form. Keep your back straight and head upright. Don’t slouch as it could create extra stress on your body. Place your hands on the handles directly where the heart rate sensors are. You’ll also want to keep your feet flat on the pedals, while moving your legs in a continuous and fluid motion.

It’s also important to warm up when using the cross trainer. Don’t just jump on the elliptical at a high level of intensity. Start with a light pace and slowly increase until your heart rate is up and your muscles are warm. On a similar note, remember to cool down and stretch after you finish.

Finally, it’s always recommended to ask your doctor before starting any new workout program.

5 Cross Trainer Workouts for All Abilities

Each of the five workouts below is listed as a time sequence with two numbers.

The first number shows how long you should be working in the current segment. The second is the rating of perceived exertion (RPE). This is a scale of 1-10 to estimate how hard you’re working out, with 10 being maximum exertion. We prefer RPE to giving resistance values, as it’s based on how you feel.

1. Introductory Cross Trainer Workout for Beginners

This routine is designed for new cross trainer users who want to work their whole body, without too much strain.

Total time: 20 mins

  • Min 0-5 (RPE 4): Maintain a comfortable pace at a low resistance.
  • Min 5-8 (RPE 5): Gradually increase your resistance until you’re working out harder than the warm-up.
  • Min 8-10 (RPE 6): Increase resistance until you’re working marginally harder than the previous segment.
  • Min 10-12 (RPE 5): Return to a 5 exertion level by decreasing the resistance.
  • Min 12-15 (RPE 6): The toughest section of this workout is now a three minute effort and 6 RPE.
  • Min 15-20 (RPE 3): Decrease the resistance and speed to a level you can hold a conversation, then stay here for five minutes to cool down.

Note: This workout is adapted from the one found here.

2. Beginner HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Workout

HIIT routines are great for getting your heart rate up and burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time. They also benefit from the “after burn” effect, where your body continues to burn calories after you finish working out.

Total time: 25 mins

  • Min 0-5 (RPE 4): Start with a comfortable pace for five minutes until your muscles are warm.
  • Min 5-20 (30 Second Intervals, RPE 7): Increase resistance to an RPE 7 for a 30 second interval. Once finished, slow down to a RPE 3-4 for 2-minutes by lowering the resistance. Repeat this 30 second on, 2-minutes off cycle 5 more times (6 total).
  • Min 20-25 (RPE 3): Cool down after your intervals.

Note: This workout is adapted from the one found here.

3. 20 Minute Beginner Workout

This workout routine is great for beginners who want to get a good workout but don’t have a lot of time. It’s also a useful introduction to interval training – although with less intensity than a true HIIT workout.

Total time: 20 mins

  • Min 0-5 (RPE 4): Warm up at a gentle pace with moderate resistance.
  • Min 5-15 (2 minute intervals, RPE 6): Alternate between an RPE of 6 and 4 every two minutes, by adjusting the resistance and your speed.
  • Min 15-20 (RPE 3): Cool down at a gentle pace.

Note: Adapted from a routine found here.

4. Intermediate HIIT Workout

After you’ve done the beginner level HIIT workout a few times, it’s time to push it to the next level with an intermediate workout.

This workout sticks with 30-second high-intensity intervals throughout. The only thing that changes is the length of recovery times.

Total Time: 25 mins

  • Min 0-5 (RPE 4): Warm up with a low resistance and moderate pace.
  • Min 5-5.5 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 5.5-7 (RPE 4): Recover for a minute and a half at a lower resistance.
  • Min 7-7.5 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 7.5-8.75 (RPE 4): Recover for a minute and 15 seconds at a lower resistance.
  • Min 8.75-9.25 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 9.25-10.25 (RPE 4): Recover for a minute at a lower resistance.
  • Min 10.25-10.75 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 10.75-11.75 (RPE 4): Recover for a minute at a lower resistance.
  • Min 11.75-12.25 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 12.25-13 (RPE 4): Recover for 45 seconds at a lower resistance.
  • Min 13-13.5 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 13.5-14.25 (RPE 4): Recover for 45 seconds at a lower resistance.
  • Min 14.25-14.75 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 14.75-15.75 (RPE 4): Recover for one minute at a lower resistance.
  • Min 15.75-16.25 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 16.25-17.25 (RPE 4): Recover for one minute at a lower resistance.
  • Min 17.25-17.75 (RPE 8): Sprint at a higher resistance for 30 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 17:75-19:25 (RPE 8): Recover for one minute and 30 seconds at a lower resistance.
  • Min 19.25-20 (RPE 8): One final Sprint at a higher resistance for 35 seconds at an RPE of 8.
  • Min 20-25 (RPE 3): Cool down on a lower resistance.

Note: Adapted from a routine found here.

5. Full Body Intermediate Workout

This routine works out all of your major muscle groups while also getting your heart rate up.

Total Time: 30 mins

  • Min 0-3 (RPE 3): Warm up with a low resistance.
  • Min 3-5 (RPE 4): Continue warm up with a slightly higher resistance.
  • Min 5-7 (RPE 5): Slightly increase the resistance but workout with no hands on the handles.
  • Min 7-9 (RPE 6): Again increase the resistance, but use hands pulling towards you.
  • Min 9-11 (RPE 5): Reduce resistance to previous level and workout with no hands.
  • Min 11-13 (RPE 7): Increase resistance and workout without hands pushing away from you.
  • Min 13-15 (RPE 5): Reduce resistance to previous level and workout with no hands.
  • Min 15-16 (RPE 8): Increase resistance and pedal faster (almost a sprint) for one minute.
  • Min 16-18 (RPE 6): Maintain the same resistance but pedal backwards.
  • Min 18-19 (RPE 7): Maintain the same resistance but pedal forwards with no hands.
  • Min 19-21 (RPE 8): Increase resistance and workout without hands pushing away from you.
  • Min 21-23 (RPE 5): Reduce the resistance and pedal with no hands.
  • Min 23-24 (RPE 8): Increase resistance and speed to a near-sprint, using both hands and legs.
  • Min 24-26 (RPE 5): Reduce resistance and pedal with hands at a moderate pace.
  • Min 26-27 (RPE 4): Cool down with a lower resistance.
  • Min 27-29 (RPE 3): Continue cooling down by pedalling backwards.
  • Min 29-30 (RPE 1): Finish cooldown with a slow speed and minimal resistance.

Note: Adapted from a workout found here.

Summary

Cross trainer workouts are great for full body cardiovascular exercise and strength building, all while being low-impact on your body.

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get a great workout either – these 5 routines prove that. No matter what skill level you are, from beginner to experienced, you’ll be able to improve your fitness and strength.

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