Cross-trainers burn similar calories to treadmills.
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Cross-trainers, also known as elliptical machines, combine the motion of stair stepping with skiing. They're known for providing an effective aerobic workout without a lot of wear and tear on your joints. But don't let their low-impact nature fool you. They can help you burn as many calories as even the most high-impact cardio machines.
Train to Burn
A study by the National Strength and Conditioning Association published in the June 2010 issue of the вЂњJournal of Strength and Conditioning ResearchвЂќ concluded that elliptical cross-trainers can burn as many calories as running on a treadmill. Researchers found that when exercisers worked at the same rate of perceived exertion on the two machines, they burned a similar amount of calories. The fact that you can use your upper body on the cross-trainer to push and pull the handles means you're using more muscles and that helps you burn more calories.
Factoring the Burn
The actual amount of calories you will burn on the cross-trainer depends on several factors. The most important factor is your intensity. According to "Self" magazine, a 150-pound person burns 232 calories exercising on a cross-trainer for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. That calorie burn increases to 275 calories if the person works at a vigorous pace for the same amount of time. Considering the American Council on Exercise estimates that the same 150-pound person would only burn 226 calories running at a pace of 6 miles per hour for 30 minutes, these numbers prove the elliptical is an effective option for reaching your calorie burn goals. Calorie expenditure is affected by weight so a lighter person burns less, while a heavier person burns more. "Self" magazine estimates that a 130-pound person burns 238 calories on the cross trainer for 30 minutes at a vigorous pace while a 200 pound person burns 367 calories in the same time at the same pace. Other factors can also affect your calorie burn including your age and gender. Men generally burn more calories than women and young people also burn more calories than those who are older.
Burn Through Intervals
If you want to amp up your calorie burn, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the cross trainer. HIIT involves performing a series of short spurts of high-intensity exercise followed by longer periods of active recovery. You can either choose a pre-programmed interval workout on your cross-trainer or do a HIIT workout on the manual setting. Go as fast as you can on the trainer for a short spurts and then slow down long enough to recover before repeating the interval. Interval training will not only burn more calories while you exercise, but it can also keep your metabolism revved, burning more calories for up to 24 hours after you've finished exercising.
Calorie Counters Lie
When calculating how many calories you've burned during your elliptical workout, don't rely on the numbers you see on the machine console. The console numbers are based on an average user and don't take into account all your physical variables that can alter calorie burn. A study conducted at the University of California at San Francisco's Human Performance Center found that elliptical machines can overestimate the amount of calories you burn by 42 percent. Use the console numbers as a guideline, subtracting the total calories burned by 42 percent for a more realistic final number. Then, even if your machine happened to have been accurate and you have underestimated your final number, any extra calories you have burned and not accounted for will be a welcome bonus. You can also wear a personal heart-rate monitor that calculates calories if you want an accurate count of the calories you burn when exercising.