What Muscles Do Cross Trainers Work? A Complete Guide to Your Physical Strength


Working out is not as simple as picking up a weight and lifting it until you get tired. Nor is it as easy as jogging for a few minutes every day! Exercise is complex, and it’s important to understand what parts of your body you’re utilising and strengthening to maximize your chance of increasing your physical strength. With that said, many fitness enthusiasts may be wondering what muscles do cross trainers work.

If you’re an avid cross training fan, we’ve got all of the answers for you! We have compiled a list of cross trainer information to ensure that you’re fully aware of what muscles you are working on.


What Muscles Do Cross Trainers Work?

What Cross Trainers Are

There’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the popular fitness machine that is the elliptical. These stationary machines allow you to place your feet on platforms that move with your body. With the help of handlebars, you get to making running-like movements while suspended!

Cross trainers are very similar to the elliptical, but they do have a few additional benefits that separate it from the later. The biggest difference is that while the elliptical is great for the lower body, the cross trainer also helps to exercise your upper body.

This is done by making the previously stationary handlebars with moving ones. These bars will now move back and forth with the movements of your hands. Due to the combined exertion of your upper and lower body, your core will also be engaged. This helps you get a more full-body workout and will help maximise the number of calories that you can burn.

What Muscles Do Cross Trainers Work

Thanks to the full-body training that the cross trainer provides, you’ll be able to work out all of the following muscles:

  • The glutes
  • The quads
  • The hamstrings
  • The calves
  • The lower shin
  • The triceps
  • The biceps
  • Your chest
  • Your abdominals

The elliptical will only target the first five items on this list. So, if engaging your chest, abdominals, triceps and biceps is key to your fitness goals, make sure you swap out that machine!


The Other Benefits of Cross Trainers

Working on your muscles is a common reason that many people exercise, but it’s not the only benefit to it. The cross trainer has various benefits that you’ll take away beyond just the muscles.

Weight loss and fat burning are one of the best benefits of using a cross trainer efficiently. You can burn as many as 500 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your weight and intensity. Paired with a calorie deficit, this can help you lose weight quickly!

Cross trainers will typically come with prebuilt workouts that are listed as options when you start your workout. This will help ensure that the machine is at a resistance level where you’re optimizing calories burned or focusing harder on building certain muscles.

These machines give you a fantastic aerobic workout. You’ll gain benefits when it comes to lung, heart, and muscle health. You’ll also work towards increasing your stamina and endurance abilities!

Cross trainers are considered low impact fitness machines, too. This means that it’s a great piece of machinery to use if you have joint problems or are in recovery for an injury. You’ll put less stress on your joints and give yourself more time to enjoy the various other benefits of this machine!

Here are a few of the other benefits of using a cross trainer:

  • It can help improve your balance
  • It’s an easy machine to use while reading or watching media
  • It’s a relatively safe piece of exercise equipment to use
  • It can help prevent injuries
  • It’s beginner-friendly
  • They can be purchased and kept in the home


The Optimal Cross Trainer Workout

Now that you know the answer to that all-important question of what muscles do cross trainers work, you can start to think about how you’ll use this wonderful machine!

There is no one perfect workout for every cross trainer user, but there are a few that are incredibly beneficial to most users. It is designed to target your entire body and burn plenty of calories.

To start out, you should begin at an easy resistance between two and four, depending on your current fitness. Spend three minutes walking the cross trainer at about 130 SPM (steps per minute), which is a comfortable pace where you could still talk without getting winded.

After your three minutes is up, you’ll want to start stepping at a faster pace of around 150 SPM. Do not change the resistance just yet!

Once you’ve been on the cross trainer for five minutes total, keep going at your pace of 150 SPM and crank the resistance up to five. Settle into this pace of 150 SPM at a resistance of five and maintain it for two minutes. Then bring the resistance level up to a seven, and ride this one out for another two minutes.

You’ll then work your way back down to a resistance of five, and then to three again, at two minutes each. Keep climbing back and forth between resistance levels until you are either too tired to move on or until you’ve been on the elliptical for 30 total minutes.

Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you can bring the resistance back down to a comfortable two. Spend three to five minutes at a slow pace as a cool down.


Exercises That Supplement Cross Trainers

Using a cross trainer is a great method of exercise, but you don’t want it to be your only one!

You may be working your muscles, but cross trainer use is still a largely aerobic workout. So, you’ll want to combine added strength training in with your workout routine.

This can be done by exercises that include general weight lifting, push-ups, pull-ups, and more!


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What muscles do cross trainers work? Well, plenty of them! The cross trainer has various benefits that will provide you with a full-body workout. The use of these machines can facilitate weight loss, help you recover from injuries, and more! We’d be surprised if you’re not convinced to start using one yet. So, what are you waiting for?