An elliptical bike, also referred to as a cross-trainer, is a stationary piece of exercise equipment used for cardiovascular fitness. Different models either resemble an upright or reclining bike with large pedals that flow in a circular motion when powered by the legs and feet. Most models also have two handles that allow for a front-to-back motion, allowing one to use more muscle groups than are typically employed when riding mobile or normal stationary bikes. Elliptical machines are usually recommended for people at all levels of physical fitness and are often used during physical therapy because they provide a low- or no-impact workout.
Like an upright elliptical machine, the elliptical bike is designed to reduce impact on bones and joints during exercise. Instead of repeatedly landing on the feet as one might do when jogging, stair climbing or playing certain sports, the feet must place constant pressure on the gliding pedals. Working out on the elliptical bike is, therefore, gentler on ankles, knees, and hips, to name just some of the areas that can be abused during high-impact workouts. The low impact could result in fewer injuries. Those with weak joints or osteoporosis may find the elliptical bike especially helpful for keeping up cardiovascular and muscle health.
When working out with an elliptical bike, it is possible to work the legs, buttocks and core muscle groups normally used during cycling sports. The added handles, however, also require the arm and back muscle groups. The result is a total body workout that some believe could help to achieve results faster than, or just as quickly as, riding a mobile bike.
Many manufacturers claim that elliptical machines will burn calories faster than normal bike riding or running because more muscles are required. Several studies, however, suggest that energy output required for an elliptical bike is comparable or slightly less than the energy exerted while riding a mobile bike. Most users do claim that elliptical machines often have a perceived lower rate of effort; in other words, the workout does not feel as physically challenging as riding an actual bike or a typical stationary bike.
Different makers of the elliptical bike offer various features to enhance a workout. One common addition is a computer readout, which may include time and distance and can estimate the amount of calories or kilojoules burned. Some users find that a heart rate monitor is a helpful way to ensure they stay within a target range of exertion. Elliptical bikes may be found at the gym or purchased for home use.