Thursday, 25 July 2024

Elliptical Trainers

Precor EFX 425 Precision Series Elliptical Machine Review

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The main goal behind Precor’s latest range of treadmills and ellipticals is to bring health club quality equipment to a home gym environment, which is something we wanted to look at in more detail with a review of the Precor EFX 425 Elliptical.

Because the EFX 425 is in the middle of the Precision elliptical range, we’ll also be making comparisons to the flagship EFX 447 model, and lower priced EFX 423 throughout our review.

By making these comparisons, it should become much easier to identify the features you really need, and which model would best suit your own home workouts.

What is CrossRamp Technology?

From when the very first elliptical trainer was developed by Precor in 1995, their goal has always been to recreate the same elliptical path that your feet move through when running, but with a lower impact than a treadmill.

Precor’s ellipticals, including the EFX 425, feature a patented design that combines a rear flywheel with foot pedals that adjust their position to match your ankle flexion and extension.

Precor EFX 425 Precision Series Elliptical Cross Trainer

By automatically adjusting to your foot position, this ensures that your feet remain well supported at all times, particularly your heels. This heel support is what combines with the smooth elliptical motion to help relieve stress on the muscles and tendons in your lower body.

On this particular model, the incline adjustment of CrossRamp is motorized as opposed to manual, meaning you can control the elevation through the full 15-40 degree range using buttons on the display console.

The actual adjustment of the ramp incline is referred to as Variable Stride Geometry, which allows you to place greater emphasis on lower body muscles, particularly at higher inclines.

Being able to adjust the incline of your running stride at a moment’s notice not only offers greater variation in the workout programs available, but also creates an experience that closely emulates the change in terrain that’s expected from running in an outdoor environment.

Precor EFX 425 Precision Series Elliptical Cross Trainer

Precor EFX 425 Precision – Features Summary

  • Precor CrossRamp 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
  • 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 Elevation Range: 15° – 40°
  • Handlebars: Moving
  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Touch sensor and wireless with any Polar compatible chest strap transmitter
  • Number of Workout Metrics: 13
  • 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

A spring-loaded safety pin can be used to lock the pedals in place

Aside from the additional protection that the Variable Stride Geometry and lower impact nature of the elliptical offers your muscles and joints, there is also a useful safety feature available in the form of a locking pin.

This pin sits underneath the front of the pedal, and prevents any movement in the pedals when it’s in place. When you want to use the machine, the pin can easily be disengaged and stored safely out of the away.

Due to the size of the machine and the number of moving parts, this can be a particularly useful feature to have for family environments with young children.

If you’re used to using treadmills, you’ll probably be familiar with having a safety key or emergency stop button, which bring the running belt to a stop in case of a fall. These features aren’t needed with most elliptical trainers, including the EFX 425, as the rotation of the rear flywheel and movement of the pedals is controlled entirely by your own motion.

You do however have the option to customize many of the settings, such as units of measure when displaying workout metrics, default workout time, and maximum CrossRamp setting. This is also the stage at which you can specify a Safety Code.

Having a Safety Code means that until you press a series of keys in a specific order, you won’t be able to gain access to any of the console functions.

When it comes to storage and transport, Precor aren’t a company that tends to offer any folding or compact storage options. This is partly because much of their equipment is designed for high-end commercial installations, such as gyms, hotels, and Universities.

This means that you’ll have to be sure that it’s practical for you to permanently allocate a space to housing the Precor EFX 425.

Fortunately, Precor are one of the only fitness companies we know to actually provide you with a Space Planner tool, which essentially lets you map your entire room. This includes the overall dimensions, adding any furniture, and being able to select your chosen equipment from a list, to see if you have the space required.

Not only does this allow you to plan and allocate space in a home environment, but also in light commercial environments, such as hotels.

Preset workout programs

Together with the smooth, low-impact range of motion created by CrossRamp and the precision stride technology, one of the most impressive features of the Precor EFX 425 is the variation in workout programs.

When you’re buying a machine that’s rated towards the very top of the domestic fitness market, whether that’s a treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike, you need to be sure that you can create workouts that are varied and challenging enough to hold your interest into the foreseeable future.

Preset workout programs for the EFX 425 include Hill Climb and Interval options

This is one of the reasons Precor have pre-programmed a library of workout plans into the console, including interval training, weight loss specific, and heart rate controlled programs.

8 Preset workout categories

  • 1. Interval 1-1 and Interval 1-2 – If you’re not already familiar with the concept of interval training, it’s essentially a form of cardio that periodically switches between periods of high intensity activity and lower intensity recovery periods.The ‘1-1’ and ‘1-2’ refer to the ratio of these periods, with 1-1 meaning the time spent on the recovery section is equal to the time spent on high intensity running. Likewise, the 1-2 means that the length of the work period is twice the length of the recovery period. In this case, 2 minutes of recovery followed by 4 minutes of work.These rotations keep happening until you reached your specified workout duration.

    Due to the intelligence behind the Precor EFC 425 console, if you choose to adjust the intensity of an interval by adjusting the CrossRamp incline or resistance, the machine will actually remember this setting next time you reach that portion of the interval.

  • 2. Weight Loss – Looking at the profile of the Weight Loss program, it could certainly be considered as an extension to the interval programs listed above.However, there are also some important differences and recommendations that make it well suited to preventing weight gain or assisting with losing weight.The work and recovery periods have been extended to 4 minutes each, with a 28 minute total workout time. Also, it’s recommended that you stay within what’s generally considered the optimal fat burning heart rate range, of 50% to 70% of maximum.
  • 3. Basic Heart Rate Control – Although there are several different formulas for calculating your maximum heart rate, when programming the EFX 425, Precor have opted for the formula (207 – (0.67 × your age)).In a recent study by Dr. BM Nes from the Norwegian College of Science and Technology, this was found to be much more accurate across all age ranges, compared to the traditionally accepted formula of (220 – age).So knowing that the accuracy of your heart rate measurement is high, what does this particular program have to offer?

    Whereas maintaining a heart rate 70% of your maximum was simply a recommendation in our Weight Loss program above, in this case the resistance and CrossRamp level will automatically adjust to ensure this is maintained throughout your workout.

  • 4. Hill Climb – When selecting the Hill Climb workout, as you might expect, the display matrix will show a profile that resembles a gradual climb up and down a hill.This is your best option if you are looking to tone and condition lower body muscles due to the automatic adjustment of resistance and CrossRamp settings. This is also the first program where you’re going to be prompted by workout accelerators.These are simple messages that appear on the central screen, suggesting ways in which you can make the workout more challenging. In this case, the suggestion is to reverse your running stride at 25%, 50%, and 75% of the total workout time.
  • 5. Cross Country – Designed with a much more varied profile than the Hill Climb program, Cross Country is the ideal choice if you’ve been following a particular type of workout for an extended period of time.This type of variation isn’t just great for breaking up a routine, but it can also lead to faster results, in terms of fat loss and gains in muscle definition.
  • 6. Aerobic – Designed to improve cardiovascular conditioning, the Aerobic workout gradually increases the CrossRamp setting at 2 minute intervals until it reaches the end of a cycle. At this point, the incline returns to its lowest setting and a new cycle begins.
  • 7. Gluteal – Another of the workouts that suggests times at which you should reverse your running direction, Gluteal targets your thighs and glutes by maintaining a higher intensity level than the workouts we’ve mentioned already.
  • 8. Crosstrainer – Our final workout category, and another of those that provides on-screen prompts of when you should consider reversing your running direction.Based on the design of the profile, this can be considered an extension of the Hill Climb program. Instead of gradually building to a peak incline and resistance level, Crosstrainer will actually peak, and then move you through a gradual decline, as it returns you to the starting position.

Display console design

During your workout, you’re going to want to be focussed on your running, and probably don’t want to spend a significant amount of time searching for workout information that gives you an indication of your performance.

This is one of the reasons Precor have split the information out into 8 separate sections, two of which rely on more visual indicators that text alone.

The information has also been grouped in a way that makes it more intuitive to find what you’re looking for when glancing down, with time, calories burned, and heart rate data at the top, and distance / stride data at the bottom.

The largest screen in the center of the display is used to display a progress graph and status messages, both of which relate to your selected workout program.

The display console has been intuitively designed around multiple screens, with visual indicators for your user profile and heart rate

Aside from the screens displaying text and progress graphs, you also have a clear visual indicator of which user profile is currently selected, as well as clear visibility of your current heart rate range, thanks to the SmartRate scale.

SmartRate becomes active whenever you’re wearing a compatible heart rate chest strap, or holding onto the heart rate hand sensors built into the handles. The scale will then illuminate the required number of bars on the scale to show which of the intensity zones your current heart rate falls into; High, Cardio, Fat Burn, or Warm Up.

Although there’s not a great deal of information about the percentage of your maximum heart rate these levels relate to, High is likely to be close to the 85% recommended maximum, while Fat Burn and Cardio are between 65% and 85%, with Warm Up being anything less than 65%.

This is purely based on our own experience of heart rate guidelines in terms of different fitness goals, and matching these goals with Precor’s terminology.

In our opinion this is a much better way to identify your current heart rate level, when compared to consoles that simply show a percentage, as most people will find it easier to relate to a level of ‘Warm Up’ or ‘Cardio’.

A total of 13 different workout feedback metrics are available during your workout, including Time Elapsed, Target Heart Rate, Calories Burned, Distance, and Average Strides per Minute.

Note: If you plan on using a telemetry chest strap for your heart rate monitoring, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Precor EFX 425 doesn’t support the Bluetooth + App products, only straps with 5 KHz.

Entertainment options

Despite not offering the same USB connection as the later 447 model, the Precor EFX 425 still features a headphone connector that can be used to connect your audio player or tablet to the console.

Via the 3.5 mm headphone jack, you can then listen to your favourite music while adjusting the volume using the controls to the right of the main feedback screens.

Device holders on either side of the main console also make it easier to store your phone and MP3 player, while still ensuring there’s plenty of room to securely store your tablet using the SmartGrip Mobile Phone and Tablet Holder above.

Ease of assembly

Much of the CrossRamp section arrives pre-assembled, reducing the time it takes to get setup

Being the first elliptical in the Precision range to offer moveable handles, the Precor EFX 425 inevitably has slightly more steps to follow for the assembly process.

As with other Precision ellipticals, the base frame centers around a 3-point contact system at the front, with a wider rear stabilizer at the back to support the back hood and rear flywheel.

The 3-point contact system replaces the shorter front base stabilizer bar that you’re likely to see on most ellipticals, and ensures complete stability at higher CrossRamp incline settings.

The assembly process itself is fairly complex, although many of the larger parts have been pre-assembled to some degree before being packaged.

Due to the combined weight of the various parts involved, and the possibility of making minor adjustments to the position of the machine as you’re putting it together, having someone available to assist you is certainly recommended.

There’s nothing particularly complicated about connecting up the console, as the cable from the base frame simply connects to a cable that runs up through the front lift assembly.

It’s fair to say that the assembly process can be quite time consuming, and it’s best to allocate a time window of at least a few hours to ensure you can complete the setup in a single sitting.

There are a few more steps for the EFX 425 and EFX 447, simply because attaching the moving arms requires a certain level of explanation. However, each step is clearly explained with numbered instructions and clear diagrams to help make the whole process as easy to follow as possible.

In terms of how the weight and dimensions compare to the EFX 423, you’re not actually losing anything on the size, as both models have the same dimensions. However, the EFX 425 is 30 lbs heavier than the 423, weighing in at 240 lbs. This is primarily due to the addition of the moveable arms and the parts needed to support them.

What’s covered by the warranty?

As a company, Precor offers 3 main types of warranty; Commercial Cardio, Commercial Strength, and Home Fitness.

The Precor EFX 425 is part of their Precision range, which falls into the Home Fitness category, and is therefore covered by the following warranty:

  • Frame: Life
  • Motor: 10 years
  • Parts: 10 years

  • Console: 3 years
  • Labor: 1 year

This is actually Precor’s top warranty level, exceeding the coverage offered on machines in their Energy series by 5 years on both the motor and parts.

It’s worth bearing in mind that this warranty only applies to the equipment if it is still owned by the original purchaser. This means that if you’re thinking about buying a used machine, Precor’s Home Fitness warranty won’t be valid.

About Precor

Precor has been designing and building premium fitness equipment for health clubs, hotels and spas, universities, and individuals all over the world for nearly three decades. Their success can be attributed to their consistently high level of innovation, a passionate focus on ergonomic motion, proven science, and superior engineering.

Precor continually redefine the levels of quality and service necessary to deliver the very best fitness experiences – all with the goal of improving the ways people improve themselves.

Precor Elliptical Guide

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

If you're considering buying an elliptical trainer for use in your home gym, and if your budget covers the prices associated with the Precision range, then these are certainly amongst the highest quality elliptical machines available outside of a commercial gym environment.

If you're struggling to decide between the EFX 423, 425, and 447, the main difference is that the 425 and 447 models have the option to attach moving arms, whereas the 423 does not. However, to allow you to make a more detailed comparison between the three, we've also created detailed reviews for the EFX 423 and 447.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the price difference between the EFX 425 and EFX 447 models can also be anywhere from $700 to $1000. But with the CrossRamp settings, resistance options, and level of warranty coverage being identical, why the difference in price?

The EFX 447 offers 4 user IDs instead of 2, 24 preset workouts instead of 10, 27 feedback metrics instead of 10, and 4 custom workouts per user ID instead of 0. In our opinion this certainly quantifies the difference in price, and perhaps makes the EFX 447 the more attractive option.

Overall, the Precor EFX 425 is a big improvement over the lower priced EFX 423 elliptical, with a level of features and build quality that sets it apart from similarly priced machines in the $4000 to $5000 range.

Product dimensions: 213cm (L) x 79cm (W) x 171cm (H) Product weight: 240 lbs Weight limit: 350 lbs

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