We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
Rear-drive units have a bulky, plastic covering in the back.
Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images
To the uninformed exerciser, the location of the motor on an elliptical machine may not seem to make much difference. When you try them out, however, you might find that they're quite different indeed -- different enough to think about dropping even more cash on the more expensive model to avoid the problems that come with the less-expensive ones. Before you buy or start using an elliptical trainer on a regular basis, it helps to know something about the differences.
Rear-drive elliptical trainers, as the name suggests, have a motor at the back of the unit. Rear-drive units have a more free-flowing, natural elliptical stride, likely due to the adjustable-incline option that comes with these units, suggests the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Because of the natural stride, people tend to prefer rear-drive units. The down-side is that rear-drive units tend to be more expensive.
Front-drive elliptical trainers, meanwhile, are often the less-expensive models, though prices can vary widely. Front-drive units typically do not have an adjustable incline, so the incline adjustments your body needs to make with each stride are done with articulating pedals. Some front-drive units don't have articulating pedals at all, which can make for an uncomfortable ride, according to ACSM.
How to Choose
With either type of elliptical, another key factor is the stride length, or the distance between the front pedal motion and the back. The stride length can vary widely from about 14 inches to about 21 inches. Naturally, a taller person is going to struggle with a shorter stride length, since it will feel less natural. If you're thinking of buying an elliptical -- or you're just using the machines at the gym -- first check the stride length in the owner's manual, if possible. Then try out a few different models, using a few rear-drive and front-drive units to get a feel for the differences in the motion, stride length and overall ease of use. If you buy a unit, make sure it has a warranty and an easy-to-access service plan, so that you can get help should something go wrong.
No matter what type of unit you're using, proper form is going to help you get the best workout possible -- meaning you'll burn the most calories and avoid injury. Wear a pair of supportive athletic shoes and avoid any loose clothing that could get caught in the machine. If your elliptical has arm levers, use them to add intensity to your workout. If your machine only has hand rails, don't lean on them or place too much weight on them. They're there for occasional balance support, and if you hold them too tightly, your workout won't be as beneficial. Hold your shoulders back and down, stand up straight and tighten your abdominals to recruit your core throughout the exercise.