What Muscles Are Used, Toned, Built On A Cross Trainer?

Published by Kirsten Carter
Last Updated on March 25, 2021

Can a Cross Trainer Help Me Tone & Grow My Muscles?

In comparison to other fitness equipment on the market, a cross trainer is great as it can give you a full-body workout, rather than just a lower, allowing you to engage and work all the muscles in your body.

When you workout on a cross-trainer you work your heart, core, glutes, arms and legs, as well as building your cardio endurance, allowing you to tone and grow your muscles over time.

To understand which muscles exactly are used in a cross trainer and how to train them effectively, we have put together our best guide below which should help answer all of your questions.

Which Muscles Are Used On a Cross Trainer

As we mentioned above, a cross-trainer can use a variety of muscles in your upper and lower body when you work out, to understand how to use your cross trainer to maximise the training of specific muscles, we have listed these muscles below.

The Heart

Let's start with our heart. A cross trainer can help strengthen your heart and lungs as it raises your heart rate and makes them work harder, increasing the blood flow around your body.

Over time this can also help you with endurance as you keep working out consistently, do ensure you incorporate some rest days now and then, however.

The Lower Body

A cross trainer is pretty much one of the best machines out there for toning your lower half, we have split the muscles into different groups below so as you can understand exactly how your cross-trainer uses each of them.

  • Hamstrings - The hamstrings in your legs are engaged by a cross-trainer through a process called flexion and extension, this occurs while you are pedalling on the machine as you are bending and straightening your legs. To engage this muscle further, try increasing the incline, you could sit back a little too as this will shift your muscles to work harder.
  • Quadriceps - Next up with have quadriceps, these muscles are similarly engaged on the cross trainer when the hamstrings are, however, you typically only feel the burn from them after you have worked out rather than during. There is not a specific way to work your quads, but just know they're the ones that are responsible for the burn you get the next day.
  • Calves - When pedalling forwards or even backwards on your trainer, your calves will be getting a pretty good workout in. You will likely get toned calves pretty soon after you make cross-training part of your daily workout routine. Upping the resistance or letting go of the handlebars can help make your quads work harder.
  • Glutes - A cross trainer provides a great workout for your glutes, unlike exercise bikes for example. The hip extension movements you perform during cross-training are what engages your glutes. To help make your glutes work harder, you can sit back until your knees reach a 90-degree position or increase the incline of the machine.

The Upper Body

One of the things we love about cross trainers is that they help you tone and use the muscles in your arms due to handlebar back and forth motion as you pedal.

We have listed the upper body muscles used below.

  • Biceps & Triceps - Your biceps and triceps are engaged on a cross-trainer as you push the handlebars of the cross trainer back and forth, the triceps are working when you push, and the biceps are working when you pull the bars back towards you.
  • Core/Abs - Squeezing your abs as you cross-train can help strengthen them, they are also engaged as they are helping you maintain balance and keep posture when using the machine. To make them work harder try letting go of the handlebars, as this will force it to tighten to keep you steady.
  • Back & Chest - Your chest and back muscles are additionally engaged when you push the handlebars back and forth and keep balance.

Best Workouts For Growing Muscle On a Cross Trainer

Now we know which muscles are used by a cross trainer and how to activate them through different positions, we have listed out two example workouts below which you can try out on your cross trainer to activate your muscles; the first one is for your glutes and the second for beginners who want to use all the muscles listed above.

Workout Number One

  • 3-minute warm-up - We start with a small warm-up at resistance level 3.
  • 2 minute extra warm-up - Resistance level 5.
  • 5-minute high intensity - Increase speed slightly at resistance level 9.
  • 2-minute high intensity - Resistance level 11.
  • 3-minute recovery - Resistance level 7.
  • 2 minutes backwards - Resistance level 11.
  • 2 minutes backwards - Resistance level 7.
  • 1-minute forward - Resistance level 7.
  • 3-minute high intensity - Level 11.
  • 2-minute high intensity - Level 9.
  • 3-minute recovery - Level 5.
  • 2-minute finisher - Level 3.

The workout will be sure to set your glutes on fire, and for maximum engagement, we recommend sitting back slightly, you could also add in more intervals that involve you pedalling back to change up the way your muscles are used, the whole thing should take around 30 minutes.

Workout Number Two

  • 3 minute - Resistance level 5.
  • 2 minute - Level 5.
  • 2 minute - Level 8 plus higher speed.
  • 1 minute - Level 10 and sprint.
  • 2 minute - Level six recovery.
  • 2 minute - Level 10 sprint.
  • 2 minute - Level 8 recovery.
  • 1 minute - Level 10 sprint.
  • 2 minute - Level 7 recovery.
  • 1 minute - Level 8 sprint.
  • 2 minute - Level 5 recovery.

This workout is perfect to include all your muscles and a quicky for people who are short on time and even new to cross-training. The whole workout should take 20 minutes.

How To Build Muscle & Tone With a Cross Trainer

If you are looking to specifically tone and build muscle with a cross-trainer then you may need to use weights as well as your cross-training sessions to see a difference. For people who want to avoid getting bulky, cross-training will not do this, it will focus more on defining and toning your muscles.

To help tone and build your muscle depending on your goal, with have listed out some essential tips below that should help you see results.

  • Get more sleep - Before anything can change in your body, you need to make sure you are giving it the rest that it needs, this means making sure you are getting enough rest each night with at least 8 hours of sleep so as your muscles have time to recover and repair.
  • Use your cross trainer daily - Intergate cardio sessions on your treadmill every day to shred unwanted fat and activate your upper and lower body muscles.
  • Up your protein - For building and repairing muscle, your body will need to dig into its protein stores, so you need to make sure you upping your protein intake to match this, otherwise you could end up losing muscle rather than gaining any.
  • Eat more (if you are looking to add additional muscle rather than tone) - So as you can build extra muscle, make sure you are in a calorie surplus with these extra calories being from protein, for toning you don't need to do this.
  • Stay hydrated - Hydration is key to keeping your body energised and happy, have a bottle on hand when you are working out on your cross trainer and aim to drink at least 8 glasses a day.
  • Add two weight sessions a week - You will be able to help tone muscle by using a cross trainer, but you should also supplement it with some weight training to build muscle, doing this two times a week can help make a difference.
  • Challenge yourself - Try pedalling backwards and doing HIIT sessions on your cross trainer, doing so will up your endurance and help tone up your body if you increase the resistance on the machine.

How Long Will It Take To See Results From a Cross Trainer?

This depends on your body and how consistent you are with your training, but you should be able to notice a difference in your body after a month of working out with your cross trainer, whether your goal is to tone up, feel fitter or lose weight.

Always ensure you are eating a healthy diet and meeting your nutritional requirements as this will speed up the process.

Frequently Asked Questions About Muscles Used With a Cross Trainer

What are some other health benefits I can get from using a cross-trainer? 

Some other health benefits you can get from using a cross-trainer are better mood, improved joint health, lower cholesterol and more endurance.

How can I activate my muscles more with a cross-trainer?

You can activate your muscles more by dropping your arms, pedalling backwards, upping the resistance and adding in more intervals to your workouts.

Will a cross-trainer help tone my arm muscles?

Yes, these trainers will help tone your arm muscles as they are constantly activated when pushing the handlebars of your machine back and forth.

Last Words

To conclude, a cross trainer is one of the best home exercise equipment you can buy in comparison to a treadmill or an exercise bike as it works your upper and your lower body muscles, engaging them in different ways to help you with the motion you perform when pedalling on the trainer.

About the author
Published by Kirsten Carter
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