Informational Guide

ARC Trainer Vs Elliptical

In the following article, we will look at some of the top features of both the ARC trainer & the elliptical to see which is best for your cardio needs.


The ARC Trainer is one of the most modern versions of workout machines. At first, it might look similar to the elliptical, but while it has some similar features, the ARC trainer moves your feet through an arc instead of an elliptical plain. The Cybex ARC Trainer might not be the most notorious option, but it features solid construction.

In the following article, we will look at some of the top features of both the ARC trainer and the elliptical. We will consider some of the main features and break them down into a couple of sections. You should be able to get all the information you might need. Now, you can determine whether you need an ARC trainer or an elliptical for your personal fitness needs.

Released to the public in 2003, the ARC Trainer is a registered trademark of the CYBEX brand. It features a variety of improvements on the elliptical. It is a stationary device that allows you to work out. It works similarly to the elliptical, but instead of forming an elliptical plain, the ARC trainer will create an arc of movement (hence the name).

The ARC has been studied to reduce the strain on your joints and your knees. People who have osteoporosis should be able to get the best effect due to reducing the impact of the unit of the knees. There are tons of great benefits associated with the ARC trainer, and we aim to look at some of these to benefits:

  • Lose Weight Effectively 
    The main goal of any fitness unit is to help you lose some weight. The ARC trainer is designed to help you lose some weight, and it has similar features to the elliptical. Cybex has included tons of different programs that can help you effectively reduce weight.
  • Low Impact Workouts 
    The main benefit of the ARC Trainer, when compared to the elliptical, is the low impact workouts. You don’t need to deal with the frustration of having so much strain on your knees and joints. These lower impact workouts are great for people looking to protect their joints.
  • Gain And Strengthen Your Muscles 
    While you will not necessarily gain muscle when it comes to cardio workouts, you will be able to strengthen your muscles. The fact that you do not gain muscle has nothing to do with the elliptical, and you will need to focus on your diet.
  • Increases Your Stamina And Endurance 
    Since you are not inclined to build tons of muscle, the focus will be endurance. The ARC Trainer is designed with this in mind, and it should help you effectively increase your stamina when needed.
  • Accommodates People With Disabilities 
    Finally, the ARC Trainer is designed to help people that cannot work out conventionally. The unit is designed to help you reduce the strain on certain parts of your body, which means that it could be effective for those dealing with disabilities.
ARC trainer

Arc Trainer Vs. Elliptical (How These Machines Differ)

Before you can consider buying one of these machines, you will need to understand some of the differences. These differences will allow you to understand where one of these machines might exceed the other. The only way to find out how they differ to carefully go through every aspect of the unit:


Cybex ARC Trainer

Elliptical Machine

Motion And Angles

The ARC Trainer is more controlled when it comes to the motion and angle of the footplates. As one unit goes down, the other is already in a forward position. Additionally, your feet will remain flat at 180-degrees.

When it comes to the elliptical, it moves in a slightly different motion. The unit will move in an ellipse. However, it tilts your feet, which could also place some strain on your legs.

Knee Movement And Power

When it comes to your knees, the arc that is created is perfect for your knees, and it reduces some of the strain that is placed on your lower body.

Unfortunately, the elliptical has an elliptical motion, and this tends to place a lot of strain on your knees when one leg is forward and the other at the back.

Resistance Level

When looking at the ARC Trainer, you will notice the technology and the programs the unit has to offer. The resistance levels automatically adjust depending on your body weight. Many believe it leads to 60% better weight loss.

The elliptical trainer has similar features to a treadmill, and this means that it has random resistance levels you will need to deal with when working out.

Burning Calories/Weight loss

The ARC Trainer is slightly more accurate, leading to about 60% more efficiency when looking to lose weight.

It will take you some time to figure out the best routine for your workout needs with random resistance levels.

Ease of Use

Due to the tech advancements, you will have a user control panel. In terms of the functionality of the ARC Trainer, you can rely on the panel and get started in a few seconds.

While the elliptical is also easy to use, the downside is that it could take a while for you to get comfortable with the right weight capacity and workout routine.

Cost of Equipment

The ARC Trainer is one of the most expensive workout machines. However, the value and the features you get should make up for this. Unfortunately, maintenance can also be costly to deal with.

The elliptical is readily available in all shops and online. This also means that the components for the machine are readily available. The elliptical is slightly more affordable and easier to maintain than the ARC Trainer.

Capacity And Size

The ARC Trainer is slightly heavier and larger than the elliptical, which means it is much harder to move around. However, it should hold more weight capacity, but you need assistance to set it up.

When looking at the elliptical, you will notice that it is slightly different and much smaller. However, numerous brands sell a version of the elliptical, and they all vary in terms of these features.

As you might have noticed, both of these units are similar, and tons of different features make them stand out. The ARC Trainer is one of the most expensive training units on the market today, but it features some great value for your money. The elliptical is cheaper and will work for individuals that don't have any physical restrictions.

How To Work Out On An Arc Trainer

If you are considering the ARC Trainer, you will need to make sure that you understand the workout routine. While there is a standard setup that most people follow, it will all come down to your disabilities and your workout goals. Here is one of the most acceptable workout routines that most people follow on the ARC Trainer:

1. The Setup

The first thing you will need to look at is the setup of the unit. Once you receive the ARC Trainer, you will need to assemble the unit or have a professional assist you. You will have to find the right spot in your home that is comfortable with enough room for you to work out comfortably. Once it is set up and all the assembly is done, you can start working out.

2. Programming

The ARC Trainer has a built-in CPU that will allow you to log all your details. Once you have logged some of these details, you are ready to work out. You will need to enter your correct age and your weight. However, many of the most advanced models should be able to detect most of the information related to your body.

The reason for entering the information is because the unit will adjust to your pedaling motion and the speed at which you are pedaling. However, you can change the setup to only operate between certain resistance levels. For the most part, many people use the unit to work out at a level between 30 and 60.

3. Getting Started

Once the programming is done, you should be ready to start working out. The benefit of the ARC Trainer is that it offers you a ton of different programs that you can choose from. These programs will make it possible to work out depending on your specific needs. The Pre-Set modes have been designed by experts, which means that it offers tons of versatility.

Program Types You Can Follow With The ARC Trainer

We all know that the ARC Trainer has tons of pre-set modes. However, there is so much more that you can do with these machines. While you might not have all the programs coded into the system, these tips can help with fitness and workout acclimatization. Here are some of the top workout routines for you to perform:

General Fitness

The general fitness workouts refer to just taking some time every day and exploring the ARC Trainer. If you just want to focus on maintaining your fitness level, you can follow some of the pre-set programs. The resistance will adjust with your effort level and speed to give you a basic workout routine.

Heart Rate Recovery

The heart rate recovery routine is slightly different than the previous option. You will be pushing your heart rate to the limit. There is a general heart rate speed that puts your body in fat loss mode. You will be trying to attain this heart rate and keep it for a couple of seconds or even minutes. After reaching the fat-burning zone, you can slightly reduce your heart rate while maintaining a slow rhythm for your heart rate to come back to its standard rate.

Circuit Training

If you have ever been to your local gym or fitness center, you will notice that the circuit is often located close in the middle. The circuit comprises a variety of equipment that will enable you to work out numerous body parts in quick succession. There are two methods to do this with the ARC Trainer:

  • Method 1 
    You can use the ARC Trainer to shift between the different workouts that are available. You can alternate these workouts in quick succession that make it possible to create a circuit.
  • Method 2 
    The second method is to add the ARC Trainer to some of the other workout equipment you might have. You can move from one machine to the other and eventually add the ARC Trainer to improve the workout.

Off-Day Cross-Training

Cross-training or Cross Fit is one of the biggest trending workout routines you can follow. However, you cannot work out every day and need to take a rest day after a couple of workouts. The Arc Trainer is a great option to use on these off days. It should give you a low-impact workout that will keep you in shape and improve recovery.

Max Strength

While many people try to do strength workouts when it comes to the ARC Trainer, it is not always possible to build muscle. You will notice that if you are looking to build some muscle, you should consider improving your diet. Eating more calories and working out should allow you to build some muscle mass.

Full-Body Workouts

Finally, the ARC Trainer is one of the most versatile tools that you can use. The unit does not only emphasize your lower body, but you are also moving your arms. The benefit of this is that you can perform full-body workouts. These full-body workouts will improve your body's ability to reduce your fat storages.

Keep in mind that performing full-body workouts will be much harder than simply following the pre-set modes. These pre-set modes will ensure your upper body is worked a little, but you will need to increase the intensity. The ARC Trainer will place emphasis on the lower body. To target the upper body, the routine needs to be a little more vigorous.

How To Work Out On An Elliptical

Since the ARC Trainer is slightly more expensive, many people still tend to look at the elliptical as one of the best options available. However, understanding how to work out on the elliptical could make tour life much easier. Here is how you can get started with the elliptical and a few workout programs to make your life easier:

1. The Setup

The ARC Trainer might be hard for you to set up. However, the elliptical also needs some assembly when it comes to setting up the unit. The elliptical does not have as many features, which means that it is much easier for you to set up. You could also have a professional assist you in the process of setting up the unit.

2. Getting Started

Once you are done, you will need to get ready for a workout. The elliptical is similar to the treadmill, and you will have a variety of different workouts to choose from. Unfortunately, it does not adapt to the weight of your body. However, there are modern ellipticals that could make it possible for you to have custom workout routines.

Program Types You Can Follow With The Elliptical

Once you are ready with the unit, you should be ready to start working out. Even though the elliptical has some great features and pre-set programs, there is so much more than you can do with the unit. The elliptical is a versatile workout machine, and we have isolated some of the top workout programs one can follow:

Life Fitness elliptical

Total Body Workout

The elliptical is one of the best machines when it comes to doing a total body workout. The unit allows you to train the upper body and the lower body. By following some of the more rigorous workouts, you should be able to train the entire body without having to worry about doing additional exercises on the side.

Glutes And Core Workout

The elliptical is designed to target a large part of your body. It can help you target the glutes naturally. As you are working out and moving your lower body, it should automatically target your glutes to make it much easier for you to work out. However, training your core takes a little more ingenuity as the strain placed on your core is limited.

To improve the targeting of your core, you might want to keep the core contracted. Additionally, you can create some form of a circuit workout. The circuit workout will enable you to target the core; while you are alternating between core exercises, you can access the elliptical. As mentioned, it is hard to directly target the core on the elliptical.

HIIT Workout

If you want one of the best workout routines of the modern era, you should probably consider the HIIT workout. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) will allow you to spike your heart rate for a couple of seconds or minutes before bringing it down back to a natural heart rate. When using the elliptical, you can change the resistance manually to speed up the heart rate and bring it down when you are resting.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Is the arc trainer good for cardio?

The ARC Trainer is one of the best units you can use when it comes to cardio. The unit is designed to work with your specific body weight and type, making it a reliable option to consider. There are tons of ways you can do cardio on the ARC Trainer, and all of them should be useful for beginners and experienced fitness enthusiasts.

How long should I use the arc trainer?

Workouts vary depending on your goals and your level of fitness. However, most beginners should start with 30-60 minutes for at least 3 days per week. The more improved your fitness level becomes, the more days you can add. Eventually, you can do 90-minutes per day for 5 days. Keep in mind that you need the rest time for recovery.

Does the arc trainer build glutes?

Glutes are one of the main muscles that are targeted by the ARC Trainer. The unit will place a lot of emphasis on the lower body, and this makes it more efficient when it comes to building the muscles in your lower body. You must focus on training the upper body to balance out the effectiveness of the ARC Trainer on your lower body.

What is the difference between an arc trainer and a treadmill?

The treadmill is probably one of the most impressive and useful workout machines on the market today. It features tons of great benefits, and the unit should allow you to improve fitness. However, the ARC Trainer adds the elements of the elliptical to the treadmill, which means that more of your body is targeted.

According to Cybex (Patent Holder For The Arc trainer), individuals stand to lose 16% more weight and burn far more calories when using the ARC Trainer. As mentioned, it will focus on more elements of your body, which tends to lead to even more weight loss.


When comparing fitness equipment, you should always keep in mind that each has been designed for a specific purpose. However, the ARC trainer and elliptical have many of the same features, but the ARC Trainer is slightly more advanced. It gives you more versatility to play with should ensure you get good value for your money.