What Muscles Do Cross Trainers Work? Find Out Here!

October 26, 2020
Acacia Crossley

With everyone leading such busy lives, it is important that the little time that people get to designate to exercise is used effectively and is beneficial to their end fitness goals. In order to assure that, it is vital to know exactly what muscles your cross trainer is working and if these are the muscles you want to work towards improving.

Upper Muscles

The Chest

When using a cross trainer, it is important to maintain good posture so that you do not suddenly jolt your body while it is in an odd position. By keeping your back straight and keeping your arms up level with your chest, you will be engaging your chest muscles in a way that you would not get with an exercise bike or if you were running.

The Back

Much like with any chest workout, your back muscles will also benefit from a cross-trainer. When you pump the handles and move your arms, you are also pulling and pushing at your back muscles making them more defined.

There are also certain exercises that you can do on a cross trainer that can improve your stability and posture. For example, if you take away the use of either your arms or legs then you have to keep your back straight in order to keep stable while the machine is still moving, effectively improving your body's overall stability and core.

Biceps And Triceps

These are the main upper body muscles that a cross trainer aims to challenge the most. The push and pull motion that is required to move the handlebars targets your biceps and triceps with each pump of your arms.

With other exercise equipment like a home exercise bike, your arms are more often than not missed out on when you are using that workout equipment. However, with a cross trainer, you get to work both your arm muscles and your leg muscles at the same time by default. To only work out your legs on one of these machines, you would have to make the effort to not hold the handlebars. Some of the videos that have reached high viewership thanks to reliable YouTube providers like The Marketing Heaven can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Lower Muscles

The Calves

Due to the motion of a cross trainer mimicking a mix between a run and the pedalling of a bike, a cross trainer works double time to improve the strength of your calves and define them. Depending on the level of resistance you have your machine set to, your calves may have to work even harder to pump the levers backwards and forwards, effectively working at those muscles.

All The Glutes

A cross trainer is one of those few pieces of gym equipment that works both your gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius. Due to your legs constantly working to push your body forward and backwards, you will unconsciously tighten your glutes to keep your body stable as you move. This will result in you toning your butt more than you would if you were just running on a treadmill.

Quads And Hamstrings

Much like with your upper body's biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings are the muscles that cross trainers and made to specifically aim at on your lower body.

By pushing and pulling your legs to move the levers forwards and backwards, you are effectively working out both the front and backs of your legs. Especially so if you decide to add resistance.

How To Better Improve Your Cross Trainer Workout

Now that you know exactly what muscles are being worked in your body when you are using a cross trainer, how can you work to better your workouts and keep challenging your body? Here are a few quick tips to make your cross trainer based workouts more beneficial to your physical goals:

It's All About The Arms

Just because your cross trainer includes arm levers does not mean that you have to use them or the machine as it was intended. Typically, a cross trainer is an aerobic-based exercise machine designed to target your arms and legs. However, if you do not use your arms when using the machine then you will also be able to work out your core, something that many people have trouble finding the right type of exercises for.

Your body will still need to work to pump the legs of the equipment forwards and backwards, so by not using your hands to help push and pull your legs, you are forcing your core to work to stabilize the rest of your body. This is the same kind of thing that is achieved by ab crunches or planks.

On the other hand, you can use only your arms to work the machine. If you make no effort to move the levers with your legs and hold youse the handlebars to pump the machine, then you can engage muscle in your chest, shoulders, and back. As long as you keep your back straight and effectively warm up your body before you start working out, then you will be able to avoid injury.

Use Your Legs

Just like with the hand levers, you do not have to use the leg levers as would be considered typical of a cross trainer to achieve a good workout. You could always pedal your legs backwards instead of forwards to engage your quads.

By switching up the direction that you are moving, your body will have to recalculate the way your muscles are being used and make for an effective but simple change to your workout. Likewise, by pedalling backwards you are having to engage your core to help keep your body balanced so you get to work out an area of muscles that you may not have by using the cross trainer as it was intended.


Even Though a cross trainer's main job is to push and pull the muscles at the front and back of your arms and legs, by default you are also workout a range of other muscles that are often missed out on during a machine workout.

However, just because the cross trainer is designed to be used in a certain way does not mean that that is the only way to use it. By removing either your arms or legs form the effort to move the elvers backwards and forwards, you are targeting a whole new range of muscles while still using the same piece of equipment.

About the author

Acacia works as a freelance content writer alongside getting their film degree. They enjoy writing about health, food and technology and keeps up to date with what is current and popular today.

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