A Guide to Selecting a Hybrid Elliptical Machine
Your muscles know nothing. It's your brain. Exercise is something you've got to do the rest of your life. It's a lifestyle. Dying is easy. Living is a pain in the neck. You've got to work at it.
The fitness expert Jack LaLanne knew that exercise is something that a person has to do their entire lives. But, what about people who are recovering from injury? Or people who don’t have as much mobility as they did in their youth? The elliptical trainer, patented by Larry D. Miller in 2004, tries to duplicate the natural elliptical motion of your feet when walking, cycling, climbing stairs, or running–but while reducing the amount of pressure that these exercises exert on your joints. And the hybrid elliptical machine combines several types of low-impact exercises in a single machine. This way, you can develop a much wider range of muscle groups!
But there are still variations among hybrid elliptical machines. Some machines include exercises that simulate climbing stairs, while others can also simulate bike riding. But, as opposed to handlebars on a bike, they’ll compel you to move your arms and upper body as well, to get them into shape as well. We’ll also see how they’re able to monitor your speed, distance, calories burned, and heart rate. A hybrid elliptical machine achieves what several gym machines do, all in one!
How is a hybrid elliptical machine different from any other elliptical trainer?
An elliptical trainer in principle just involves the stepping or pedaling action of your feet. You can find elliptical machines that can fit under your desk, such as the DeskCycle Ellipse Under Desk Elliptical Machine.
DeskCycle Ellipse Under Desk Elliptical Machine
There are also elliptical machines with moving handlebars, such as the Body Rider Body Flex Sports Elliptical Exercise Machine, which will develop your upper body as well.
Body Rider Body Flex Sports Elliptical Exercise Machine
However, neither of these two are “hybrid” machines per se. We’ll see that a hybrid machine will combine more exercise options, such as that of a step climber, an upright bicycle, or a recumbent bicycle. It thus gives more opportunities to target multiple muscle groups with its smooth, natural gliding motion that doesn’t put undue stress on sensitive joints or muscles. Depending on the model, a hybrid elliptical machine will let you adjust your stride length, as well as utilize built-in programs and displays.
Types of Hybrid Elliptical Machines
Looking at the Best Reviews Guide list of hybrid elliptical machines, we’ll see that they fall into two main categories: those that don’t have a bike seat, and those that include a bike seat.
Hybrid elliptical machines with no seat:
There are hybrid elliptical machines that replicate walking or climbing stairs. An example is the Yosuda Pro Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical Machine. It combines low-impact exercise of muscle groups like an elliptical machine, as well as the exertion demanded by a stair stepper and that of a treadmill.
Yosuda Pro Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical Machine
Hybrid elliptical machines with a seat: Besides the stepping motion of an elliptical trainer, these also have a seat that can emulate bike riding. There are two major designs:
Two-in-one design: These combine the pedaling motion of an elliptical machine together with the seating of an upright bike. You can choose to exercise either standing or sitting. An example is the Fitness EU Hybrid Elliptical Upright Bike.
Fitness EU Hybrid Elliptical Upright Bike
Three-in-one design: In addition to providing the advantages of a 2-in-1 hybrid elliptical, these also can function as a recumbent bike, where you sit with back support. It has three different sets of handlebars, depending on the type of exercise motion you’re trying to emulate. An example is the Body Champ 3-in-1 Exercise Machine.
Body Champ 3-in-1 Exercise Machine
What reviewers say
Based on all the consumer reviews we've scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about the hybrid elliptical machine that they purchased:
Easy assembly: Most of the options in the Best Reviews Guide list of hybrid elliptical machines have one price if you opt to assemble the machine yourself, and an additional $100 or so if you require expert assembly. (The manufacturers say that assembly takes roughly 1-2 hours.) Reviewers said that the assembly of the Body Power 3-in-1 Home Gym was not particularly difficult. But, on the other hand, the bicycling option might be too difficult for someone elderly.
Height limitations: Some customers complained that they were too tall (over 6’ 1”) to properly make use of the elliptical option—their legs were too long! They were able to adjust the seat to use it as a stationary bicycle, however. So, take note of the height and weight limitations of these machines.
Problem reading the display: Take note of customers’ reviews of whether it’s easy to read the display on their elliptical machine. Some complained that they had to have light in the room or to clip on a little flashlight, in order to see the screen properly.
Jack of all trades, Master of none: Some customers were disappointed with the Body Champ 3-in-1 Home Gym (Model No. BRT7989), in that it tries to be a stationary exercise bike, recumbent bike, and elliptical machine, but ended up not being as sturdy as a model where you just buy a stand-alone stationary or recumbent bike. They complained about your feet slipping out of the stirrups, or the motion not “feeling right”. This is also something to note when selecting a machine.
Here are some tips from the manufacturers and users, regarding selecting the right hybrid elliptical machine:
Noise level: Some customers complain that their exercise machine tends to be noisy. That depends greatly on the mechanism that provides the resistance as you pedal. The two main mechanisms are a direct-contact resistance flywheel and a magnetic-resistance flywheel. The direct-contact machine uses friction to provide resistance, so this tends to be noisier. If you are looking for a quieter model, then opt for something with a magnetic-resistance flywheel, such as the Yosuda Pro Cardio Climber. It has 16 levels of magnetic resistance. Magnetic resistance machines will tend to be lighter and will require less maintenance since there is less friction, which can wear down parts over time.
Workout tracker: Many of these hybrid elliptical machines have a console that displays your fitness information in real-time. For example, the Body Champ 3-in-1 Exercise Machine includes a computer console that can also hold your smartphone or tablet. It features 21 training programs where you can vary the machine’s resistance as if you’re going up a steeper incline. The monitor also displays your distance, BMI, speed, and more. Some machines allow you to select from preset programs, or from a program that you set for yourself if you’ve mastered everything the preset programs have to offer!
Body Champ 3-in-1 Exercise Machine Console
Setting the resistance manually: Other machines let you adjust the resistance manually, by turning a knob on the machine’s flywheel, as in the Body Power 3-in-1 Home Gym. The screen will display your distance traveled, speed, heart rate, and calories burned.
Body Power 3-in-1 Home Gym resistance control
We went through some of the hybrid elliptical machines in the Best Reviews Guide list. They can help you tone muscle groups in both your lower and upper body, and at the same time relieve stress on your joints. You can manage to work out without being concerned about inadvertently straining your muscles. Most of them are also lightweight and can be folded away compactly. Exercise in the privacy of your own home, at your own convenience!