Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Elliptical Trainers

Precor EFX 423 Precision Series Elliptical Cross Trainer Review

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The Precor EFX 423 Elliptical Trainer represents the first machine to be available as part of the company’s Precision Series, which also includes the EFX 425 and EFX 447.

But with such a jump in price between this and the top elliptical in Precor’s Energy Series, we wanted to find out what new features you can expect to find, and how much of an impact they will have on your workouts.

In order to do this, we decided to cover each of the most important points in our own review. These include the CrossRamp incline, preset workout programs, differences in resistance levels, and any improvements in the warranty.

Variable Stride Geometry Mimics Natural Running

A reversible stride allows you to target lower body muscles from a variety of angles

One of the biggest differences you’ll see between the 245 and 423 Ellipticals is the loss of the moveable handles.

This may seem like you’re going backwards in terms of features when you consider that the only other machine that offers only stationary handles was the very first elliptical in the Energy Series.

However, we also want to compare the workout programs, CrossRamp upgrades, and heart rate tracking options before we start deciding which model represents the best value for money.

In terms of the ergonomics and workout options, the lack of moveable handles will inevitably reduce the amount of training you’re giving to your upper body.

That being said, the Variable Stride Geometry still manages to recreate the motion of your natural running path extremely accurately.

For example, the movement in the foot pedals as they adjust to the incline of the CrossRamp helps to reduce unnecessary stress on your ankle and hip joints, promoting a much safer upright running posture.

This can also have the effect of reducing muscle fatigue, allowing you to run longer each workout and realise your health and fitness goals more quickly.

CrossRamp Technology

It’s worth quickly pointing out that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the unique incline function of the CrossRamp.

Although it first started making an appearance on the mid-range 225 elliptical in the Energy Series, it wasn’t until the later 245 model that we started to see dramatic increases in the number of incline settings available.

The angle of the CrossRamp even started being displayed as one of the pieces of feedback that was assigned its own display screen. But now that we’ve moved up to the Precision Series, this incline has been improved yet again.

You can now choose from any one of 20 incline levels, which range from 15 degrees all the way up to 40 degrees. This is in contrast to what the top machine in the Energy Series can offer, which is 25 degrees as a maximum incline, and only lets you choose from 8 different positions.

Precor 423 Precision Series Elliptical Trainer

Precor EFX 423 Precision – Features Summary

  • Precor Cross Ramp technology adjusts the shape of the elliptical path your feet travel so you can target specific muscles
  • Patented elliptical path perfectly mimics a natural running stride, allowing exercisers to keep their heels down and maintain proper biometrics
  • 10 preset workouts help you stay challenged
  • Built-in Work Out Accelerators suggest ways to get more out of your workout
  • Use the console’s headphone jack and on-screen volume control to safely & securely listen to music from your own player
  • CrossRamp Movement: Motorized variable
  • CrossRamp Elevation Range: 15° – 40°
  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Touch sensor and wireless with any Polar compatible chest strap transmitter
  • Number of Workout Metrics: 13
  • Preset Workouts: 10
  • User IDs: 2
  • Resistance System: Electromagnetic
  • Resistance Levels: 20
  • Console Display: 5-inch high contrast LCD
  • CrossRamp & Resistance Controls: Tap style Dome Keys

Safety Features and Transport

Arguably the most important part of any fitness routine is injury prevention. If you suffer an injury due to poor form in the weights room, trying to lifting more than you are capable of or even a torn muscle from not warming up sufficiently, then your fitness goals can be set back months or even years.

Ellipticals are already one of the safest pieces of fitness equipment you can own, but this is especially true of the Precor EFX 423.

The stride motion is fixed so there are fewer issues with stability compared to running on a treadmill. Pedals also pivot as they adjust to your natural stride motion to relieve pressure on your ankles and calf muscles. But there are some further unique additions that the Precor have built into the Energy and Precision Series’.

Although these are the same no matter which model you buy in either series, they’re certainly still worth a mention.

YouTube video showing the Precor Precision Series in action:

The first is a manual safety measure, whereby a small locking pin can be inserted under the foot pedal to prevent them from moving along the guide rails.

As soon as you are ready to start your workout, this can be quickly removed and stored out of the way in a custom designed compartment under the same pedal.

The second safety feature is electronic, and involves the use of a key sequence pass code.

What this means is that you can choose a key sequence that will prevent any of the buttons or screens from functioning, meaning you can’t start a workout or even adjust the CrossRamp incline.

Both features are ideal for if you have young children in the house, as unlike some designs, this particular elliptical can’t be folded away.

There’s no need to worry about getting locked out of your own console either, as even if you do enable this feature (disabled by default), Precor supply you with a master code that can override any sequence you might have configured and allow you access again.

Preset Workout Programs

The combination of incline and resistance levels can make the 10 preset workouts even more challenging

Being able to vary your workouts on a regular basis is key to reaching and surpassing your goals as quickly as possible.

Regular, measurable changes in resistance and incline profiles are what keep your body guessing and help to prevent muscle adaptation, which can lead to a plateau in your results.

Before we give a quick rundown on the workout programs themselves, we should mention that – like with the moving handles – it may feel like you’re actually going back a model.

Due to the way Precor have scaled each Series, it’s not until you reach the top models (245 for the Energy Series and 447 for the Precision Series) that you start to see the full workout collection and performance tracking options.

But despite this, the Precor EFX 423 does still provide you with 20 resistance levels (more than any Energy Series elliptical), 10 preset workouts, and 2 user IDs to store information against.

This is really only the minimum amount of information needed to ensure the most accurate feedback possible for your heart rate (age) and number of calories burned (weight).

10 Workout Programs:

  • Interval workouts (1-1 and 1-2) – Unless you’re looking for an elliptical to buy for your very first workout routine, the chances are you’ve heard about the effectiveness of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).The key difference with this style of training is the intervals – switching from a low intensity rest phase to a high intensity burst phase.

    These two workouts allow you to choose the ratio of work to rest, with the 1-2 program following a profile of 2 minutes rest followed by 4 minutes work.

  • Weight Loss – This should technically be classed as a third interval program, albeit lower intensity.By switching between 50% and 70% of your maximum heart rate with alternating four-minute intervals, the this workout is specifically designed to help you lose weight efficiently.
  • Basic Heart Rate Control – Using the telemetry heart rate tracking feature or inbuilt sensor handles to deliver a reading to the console.The incline and resistance level will then automatically adjust to keep you within your target range.
  • Crosstrainer – The first of the workouts so far to require several changes in direction.At 25%, 50%, and 75% of your total workout time, text will appear on the display that prompts you to change running stride direction.

    The profile itself follows a much steeper version of the one seen for the Hill Climb program.

You also have the Manual, Aerobic, Gluteal, Cross Country, and Hill Climb to choose from, the final 3 of which include a workout accelerator similar to that found under the Crosstrainer program.

Display Console Design

The display console can support tablets and iPods for entertainment while you workout

Together with a natural stride motion and challenging level of resistance options, one of the most important features to look for on any elliptical is the display console.

This is what can tell you how much more distance you’ve covered compared to your previous workout, whether or not you are in the optimum heart rate range to achieve your fitness goals, and how many calories you’re burning.

But much of this type of workout feedback is exclusive to high-end ellipticals. The difficulty is in finding a machine that manages to provide this feedback in a clear and meaningful way, that’s also aesthetically attractive and easy to use.

That’s why Precor have decided to take the same innovative console design that worked so well on their earlier Energy Series ellipticals, and incorporate it into their flagship Precision Series machines as well.

As with the Energy Series, the earlier models are slightly more limited in terms of their entertainment features, but still manage to accurately measure a variety of fitness information and display it back to you via the high contrast screens.

This includes your distance, strides per minute, time, current heart rate, calories burned, and which heart rate zone you fall into based on Precor’s visual SmartRate scale.

Changes in Handle Design

While the screens and button functions are identical to those found on the EFX 225 model, there have been some subtle but useful changes made in the area surrounding the console.

The first difference is in the stationary handle design. Whereas their design was angled inwards on the 225, the Precor EFX 423 has instead chosen to keep the handles parallel and slightly further from the console.

Not only has this created the space for two additional water bottle holder / storage areas, but has also made it slightly easier to access the volume adjustment, user profile, and workout buttons.

To make the most of this more open design, Precor have also added a much larger center storage compartment directly below the console. This is essentially a more secure option for phone and MP3 player storage while you workout, but is also ideal for magazines.

One last feature of the console we looked at was its compatibility with tablets and iPods, but this is something we’ll talk about more in our review of the entertainment options.

Heart Rate Tracking and Entertainment Options

Heart rate tracking is more accurate when using the telemetry chest strap supplied

Another of the major differences between the Precor EFX 423 and the 245 is the fact that this is the first time one of the machines has included a chest strap transmitter for more accurate heart rate reporting.

This is in addition to the touch and telemetry heart rate tracking that was also offered by the ellipticals in the Energy Series.

With a number of studies now backing up the fact that exercise at different heart rate ranges can lead to greater success in reaching specific goals, such as endurance and weight loss, being able to track your pulse accurately is incredibly important.

You no longer have to hold onto the inbuilt hand sensors to get a reading, as the chest belt will constantly transmit the feedback to a receiver built into the console.

This information is then interpreted and converted into a number of highlighted bands on the main screen by a feature known as SmartRate.

SmartRate takes your current number of beats per minute and calculates it as a percentage of your maximum, using a formula recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.

This percentage is then used to light up the required number of bars, which relate to a variety of fitness goals, each clearly labelled on the screen.

High, Cardio, and Fat Burn are the ones you’ll probably see lit up most often, but there’s also a Warm Up level for before you start your main workout.

Listening to Music and Watching Films

One of the best ways of ensuring you stick to any fitness routine is by choosing an exercise you enjoy.

But as well as the quality of the exercise, it can also be a good idea to choose an elliptical that’s compatible with a range of multimedia devices, so that you can listen to music and even watch your favourite movies.

That’s actually what the entire top section of the console has been designed for, with enough width and height to securely accommodate larger tablets.

You even have Precor’s SmartGrip holder to prevent any unwanted movement during more intense workouts.

If you want to listen to music and own an iPod, you’ll be pleased to know that the Precor EFX 423 has been specially designed to connect to your device.

Although you don’t quite get the full set of audio controls (play/pause/track forward etc.) as you do with the EFX 245 and EFX 447 models, you can still adjust the volume directly through the console.

Connectivity for both types of device is quick and easy, with a cable threading through the reading tray to the access cover on the back of the console. But unfortunately, because this is a 3.5mm jack instead of a USB port (found on the 245 and 447 models), your devices won’t be charging while you use them.

Ease of Assembly

The user manual contains parts lists and assembly instructions to help get you setup as quickly as possible

When taking into account its weight and dimensions, you might be wondering just how long it would take you to get a machine like this setup in your own home.

Are there any steps that require additional assistance with heavy lifting, or is there even a service whereby the elliptical will be assembled for you? These are questions we wondered ourselves, so thought the answers deserved to be included in our review.

Firstly, due to the weight, shipping dimensions, and in an effort to protect the parts during transport, the machine arrives in two boxes.

A caution has been included on the first page of the assembly instructions stating that the assembly process is definitely not something you want to do alone, and that you should seek assistance before unpacking any of the parts.

A quick look through the user manual shows that Precor have put a lot of thought into making this process and the way various components fit together as simple as possible.

The entire base frame and back hood arrives already pre-assembled, leaving just the console bracket, console, stabilizers, incline ramp, and base levellers left to attach.

Most of these steps don’t require heavy lifting, but it is certainly useful to have an extra pair of hands available to hold parts while you bolt them together.

The final section describes how to level the front of the machine using the base levelling feet, which have been included in place of the standard front base stabilizer.

These are a useful feature to have if you need to compensate for any slightly uneven ground, and have been evenly distributed to help provide added stability.

With such clear instructions and some assistance, the Precor EXF 423 shouldn’t take much longer than 45 minutes to get ready for your first workout.

What’s Covered by the Warranty?

  • Frame and welds: Lifetime
  • Parts and wear items: 10 years
  • Console: 3 years
  • Labor: 1 year

Even after the impressive warranty coverage that was offered with the ellipticals in their Energy Series, Precor have also managed to improve upon the length of warranty that extends to the parts and wear items.

Whereas the Energy ellipticals only offer 5 years, the Precor EFX 423 comes with a 10 year warranty on these parts. This backs up what we’ve been saying throughout our review about it being a high quality home fitness machine.

Precor Elliptical Guide

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

As the entry-level elliptical in the Precision Series, we were interested to see there had been such a large increase in incline options since Precor's Energy ellipticals.

But the same smooth range of motion, safety features, and clean display console interface are all features we are glad to see haven't changed.

Unfortunately you do lose the Preva workout tracking app connection, but this does return if you decide to switch to the top model in the Precision series.

Overall, we would have liked to see a few of the custom workouts from the 447 make their way onto the 423, but if this is something that you really need then you might be best choosing the 245.

The Precor EFX 243 and 245 are also almost identical in terms of price, so you only need to decide whether you need more incline options or more workouts.

Product dimensions: 213cm (L) x 79cm (W) x 171cm (H) Product weight: 210 lbs Weight limit: 350 lbs

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