You already like using the elliptical trainer because it gives an intense workout. Having to wipe the machine down out of necessity instead of mere courtesy is usually a good indication that your workout was an effective one. If you're looking for a way to dial up the effectiveness, use the ellipticals that include arm action. When you don't have a lot of time, accomplishing two fitness goals with one workout is always welcome.
Elliptical Cross Trainers
If strengthening your biceps happens to be one of the goals on your fitness checklist, go ahead and mark that one off when you use an elliptical cross trainer. Some versions of the machine only get your legs moving, but the cross trainers have moving handles to hold onto that will pull your biceps into the workout along with your chest, back and triceps.
Alternative Bicep Exercises
Using an elliptical cross trainer for your cardio is a wise choice to incorporate exercises to strengthen your biceps and other upper body muscles. You shouldn't rely on the elliptical exclusively to build arm strength, though. Mix your workouts up with cardio and resistance training and incorporate different moves that will challenge your biceps in different ways. Curl movements can be done with barbells, dumbells or cable machines and in a variety of different angles from standing to seated and even lying down.
Other Benefits of an Elliptical Cross Trainer
You might already know that the elliptical cross trainer can provide a workout that gets your heart pumping along with your legs and biceps for a great cardio workout, but the benefits only start there. Because the motion is low impact your knees, hips and back won't be aggravated. By working your arms and other parts of your upper body you'll be calling on more of your muscles. That will increase the efficiency of your fat burning furnace while improving your muscle endurance. You can also pedal backwards on an elliptical cross trainer. You'll still be able to work your biceps, but the reversed foot action will redirect the lower body focus to your glutes and hamstrings.
Choosing an Elliptical Cross Trainer
So the obvious choice for an elliptical that will provide bicep strengthening benefits is to pick one that has arm movement so that you can get the most from your work out. Other things to look for when selecting an elliptical are smooth striding action as well as arm motion. If either is jerky or sticks, you won't get an effective -- or enjoyable -- workout. The frame should be solid and secure and the tracks the wheels of the pedals run on should be solid and not hollow. Choosing an elliptical that has a heart rate monitor is useful to ensure you maintain your target heart rate, something that might make altering your stride necessary once you introduce the arm action into your workout. Other gadgets that are handy to have (but not required for an effective workout) are a timer, mileage or distance display and a speedometer.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.