How Do Cross Trainers Help You Get Fit?
Take a look in any commercial gym and you will rows of people on large stationary machines that seemingly imitate the actions of skiing. These machines for those are not aware are known as Cross Trainers. They are extremely popular amongst gym goers due to the impact free nature of the exercise. While Treadmills depend on replicating the action of running and therefore the heavy impact and stress caused on the knees, hips and lower back by pounding the track, Cross Trainers use the same muscle groups without the damaging effects of gravity that so frequently force gym goers into making regular and expensive visits to sports therapists, massage therapists, physiotherapists and other more holistic therapists.
Exercise is addictive, we become dependent upon not only for our physical health but also as an effective means of combating stress, anxiety and depression. These costly time-outs caused by injury can lead to periods of not only physical inactivity but also increased emotional stress. This is why I recommend to my clients who are not competitive runners, that they get their important dose of cardiovascular activity through the more joint (and ultimately) wallet friendly Cross Trainer.
Cross Trainers work roughly 80% of the bodies muscles, from the shoulders to the calves and everything in between. By working these muscles we increase their size and tone, this increase in size (or hypertrophy) results in them needing more energy to feed themselves. Muscles are like any organism, they need food in order to function correctly. The Muscles will feed directly from the bodies stored fat in order to get the nutrition they need. This doesn’t mean you can now go out and excitedly start eating more of your favourite fatty foods, an intelligently crafted and balanced diet is still vital to the fat burning process.
A hugely and often unmentioned aspect of weight loss is metabolism. The all too popular and all too simple approach of work more whilst eating less only tells half the story, and actually can become counterproductive to the very difficult mission of reaching a target weight and maintaining it. Regular use of the Cross-Trainer, I recommend 30 minutes 4-5 times a week for a healthy individual to help keep our metabolism high and help us continue to burn unwanted fat long after our workout. After a moderately hard Cross-Training session we continue losing weight hours after we have showered and returned home from the gym.
The Cross Trainer, no matter how effective it can be in helping us reach our goals is no magic fix. The magic has to come from you. I will now focus on helping you work out how to assess how much Cross Training you will need to do and then the different ways you can use the cross trainer in order to keep your routine fresh and delivering the results you need.
Principles of Weight Loss
Like any project we undertake, be it managing a new project at work, having a conservatory built at home or even finding the perfect school to send our children, losing weight is no different. In order to do it efficiently and with the least amount of hiccups we need a plan in place. I have a motto: Process, Process, Process. And we all know the age old adage ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’.
Luckily some very clever people, following lots of research have managed to come up with a number of methods that make the job of discovering our ideal calorie intake and energy expenditure much easier.
My Favourite method is the Harris Benedict equation, it is really simple to follow and has worked well for me with hundreds of clients over the years of my training career. The Harris Benedict Equation is a that takes your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and then applies your daily activity level to determine your total daily expenditure of calories. Let me guide you through the necessary steps.
Determine BMR. The body will burn energy no matter what activity it is undertaking. The BMR is the amount of calories it burns at complete rest. For this we have a formula.
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) +(12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
Now once you have your BMR you can multiply it by your activity level to determine daily calorie needs. From the chart below select your activity level and multiply your BMR by corresponding number.
- Little or no exercise: Calorie Calculation =BMR x 1.2
- Light exercise 1-3 days per week: Calorie Calculation =BMR x 1.375
- Moderate exercise 3-5 days per week: Calorie Calculation =BMR x 1.55
- Hard exercise 6-7 days per week: Calorie Calculation=BMR x 1.725
- Very hard exercise 6-7 days per week: Calorie Calculation=BMR x 1.9
Once you have calculated your daily calorie expenditure based off your BMR and the Harris Benedict formula, losing or adding weight is easy;
500kcals per day = 3500 kcals a week / 3500 kcals = a pound of weight. 1 pound of weight a week, although maybe sounding like not enough to some, is healthy and sustainable for the body without damaging the metabolism.
Now you have an idea of how to accurately calculate the amount of kcals you need to burn in order to achieve your weight loss. And you know that the a really safe and super-efficient method of exercise is to utilise the many benefits of the Cross Trainer I will briefly give you some exciting ways to shake up your Cross Trainer workout.
Cross Trainer exercise protocols
The below protocols are not or the beginner, if you are just getting started then completing 20 minutes of moderately paced Cross Training will be enough.
- Interval Training: Set yourself work/rest periods whilst on the machine e.g. 60 seconds hard / 60 seconds light
- Tabata Training: 20 seconds hard / 10 seconds rest over 8 sets
- Upper/Lower splits: 20 seconds using just the arms followed by 20 seconds just the legs and then a 20 second rest before starting at the beginning. Try for 10 minutes
- Combination exercise: 60 seconds hard cross training then jump off and complete 30 sit ups. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 8 times.
The Cross Trainer is not only one of the safest ways to lose weight, it’s also one of the most effective and varied tools we have at our disposal to do so. Much maligned by the weights and cross-fit crowd it has gained somewhat of a bad reputation. I hope this article has gone some way to assuaging some of those unfounded opinions.