Variable-stride crosstrainers from the biggest brands
The variable-stride crosstrainer (sometimes called AMT or vario) is a recent fitness machine that combines a number of exercises such as walking or running, stepper movement and that of cross-country skiing. Variable-stride crosstrainers have pedals suspended above the ground that move back and forth and up and down. Since the user's feet never touch the ground, the impacts that occur when walking or running are eliminated, which is essential for people suffering from back problems. The suspended pedals move at the request of the user and, during training, mainly stress the legs.
The machines are designed in such a way that the resistance can be changed to make training easier or more intense. Because the variable-stride crosstrainer’s movement is fluid, the use of such an apparatus will not cause any stress on the level of the spine.
The advantages of the variable-stride crosstrainer
- Very low stress on the spine and joints in general.
- This device provides an effective cardiovascular workout and helps build muscle strength when the higher resistance settings are used.
- Most variable-stride crosstrainers allow the user to adjust the resistance levels.
- This type of crosstrainer allows the user to print the movement of the pedals himself, which exercises several muscle groups and adds variety to the workout.
- Some models of elliptical trainers also have handles that will stress the upper part of the body (in a movement similar to that of cross-country skiing).
The disadvantages of the variable-stride crosstrainer
- Some people find it difficult to start the movement because of the pedals that are not resting on the ground. On the other hand, you have to exert enough push to start the movement.
- As the movements are flexible and offer a low impact, this exercise requires no force and therefore does not strengthen the bones and muscles (a key element for the prevention of osteoporosis).
- The effort is mainly concentrated on the legs, even on machines which have a “ski” function thanks to their mobile arms. Practitioners will therefore take care to add exercises that apply to the upper body in order to benefit from a balanced training.
- Variable-stride crosstrainers are expensive.
- Annual maintenance may add additional costs.
What to Check Before Buying a Variable stride crosstrainer
Ideally, it's best to test the model at a gym or sporting goods store to determine if it offers the features you expect and, more prosaically, the space it occupies (variable-stride crosstrainers are large).
In addition, the following characteristics are also to be considered:
- The setting and relevance of the maximum stride length.
- Movement of pedals and arm grips. The movement should be gentle and uniform. If not, the exercise will cause stress at the joints.
- The maximum user weight that the machine can support. Some models do not tolerate more than 100 kilos while high-end devices can go up to 200 kilos.
- Noise pollution in operation. Low and mid-range variable-stride crosstrainers are louder and interfere with other activities in the same room.
- Availability of spare parts. Spare parts must be readily available in order to reduce the downtime of the machine.