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What is an Alpine Trainer?

Micki Elizabeth
Micki Elizabeth

An alpine trainer is a piece of stationary cardiovascular fitness equipment meant to provide a total body workout with minimal impact on the joints. Much like an elliptical trainer, this type of machine often mimics a walking or jogging stride while placing constant, light pressure on the joints. Most machines also allow a user to vary the level of resistance. The major difference between an alpine trainer and a typical cross-training cardio machine is the rope and pulley system that exercises the core, back and arms, which likens one’s movement to cross-country skiing. It is this perceived difference that prompts many fitness experts to claim the alpine machine is more effective than elliptical trainers.

These trainers appear to be growing rapidly in popularity because of the claim that they provide a more complete workout than most other machines can. Some, but not all elliptical trainers, have handles that move back and forth as an individual moves the pedals, the idea being that the more muscle groups used, the more of an overall workout one can achieve. Studies have suggested, however, that because the pedal and handle movements are not independent on elliptical trainers, these machines do not provide as complete a workout as some manufacturers imply. The handles, which will move regardless of whether an individual places force on them or not, are believed by some to do very little for upper body strength.

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Man boxing

The alpine trainer, on the other hand, employs two handles attached to pulleys, both of which are totally independent from the movement of the machine’s pedals. The pulleys often allow for varied levels of resistance, just like the pedals. The movement required to work the rope and pulley system is comparable to weight machines with cables.

An alpine trainer allows an individual to customize his exercise session in a number of ways. As the pedals and handles function independently of one another, one could choose to focus either on the lower body or the upper body only. The pedals on this type of machine usually allow for forward or backward movement, and the pulleys may be pulled to various lengths and in many directions. Both of these factors create more options for muscle isolation. Most cardio machines come equipped with a screen that displays readouts of time, distance, calories or kilojoules burned and other measurements to help track the efficiency of a workout.

Alpine trainers may be found in many gyms or purchased for home use. Currently, machines are still relatively expensive to purchase for individual use. If one is considering buying an alpine trainer, they should look for a machine with a flywheel of a heavy weight. Typically, the heavier the weight of the flywheel, the smoother one’s stride can be. Customer reviews, which can often be found online, are another good way for each individual to find the machine that is right for him.

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