There are five different cardio machines at most gyms– the treadmill, the stationary bike, the elliptical, the rowing machine and the stair master. You should choose a machine that you are most comfortable with and that will give you the most benefit. If the reason you do cardio is for general fitness/health, then your goal should be to get your heart-rate to about 65% of your max. (220-age x 65%).
5 Different Cardio Machines
1) Rowing Machine– best overall workout. It uses the strength of your upper body as well as your lower body. Two big problems with this machine- the first is that no one ever uses it right. It requires coordination of all your body parts at the same time (men especially have problems with this). I had been an avid gym goer and competed in one competition and was halfway through my certification to be a online personal trainer before I learned how to do it properly. The second problem with this machine is that it’s hard to find a machine that’s calibrated properly. Even the best/brand new gym equipment never seems to get it right. If you can do it, great…I only try a week before I go canoeing and call it training.
2) Treadmill– second best overall cardio workout. Again, running engages the entire body (though you feel it much less in your back than with the rowing machine). There is something insanely satisfying about finishing a run (runner’s high). I personally hate running, so I only use this maybe twice a month or so. Something to be careful about- running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside, so before you attempt a marathon, test your body on the pavement. Running in general is hard on the knees and other joints, so make sure you include strength training with your running to keep the joints strong.
“Elliptical is my favorite of the 5 different cardio machines!”
3) Elliptical– There are several types of elliptical out there. I don’t “get” most of them, but the ones that you can adjust the incline on are awesome for defining the lower body. The ones with moving arms are useless…use weights to define your arms…when you use the elliptical, you are just taking away from the proper cardio workout. What elliptical have over treadmills is that the user controls the speed, so if you need to make a sudden stop, all you have to do it stop…no looking for the massive red button you can never seem to find in a hurry. Also, it’s much easier on your joints. A lot of people say they don’t get as good a workout on the elliptical as on the treadmill, it probably has to do with the intensity they are working at, as well as the incline. Adjust both so that you can feel it. Check your heart-rate. That’s what matters most anyway.
4) Stationary Bike – Bikes are awesome. They provide a super lower body workout, and if you position yourself properly on the bike, they also provide a great upper body workout. Any bike with a backrest is useless in my mind. You are only working your legs on this bike, and therefore have to work twice as hard to get the same results. How hard is it to ride a bike?
“5th different cardio machine”
5) Stairmaster – This is another one of those machines that you need to use properly to get the full benefit (and no one ever does). I don’t know why gyms still get these…they were a fad of the 80’s and 90’s, but I think they suck. They don’t mimic any real-life movement and aren’t like climbing the stairs. You can get a pretty good leg workout if you use it right, but using it right means not touching the arm rests…watch these machines next time you are at the gym…everyone who uses them rests on the arm rests…when you do this, you are just moving your legs, and are not getting of the precious resistance in there. I haven’t been on one of these in about 6 years. The step-mill on the other hand is awesome. Not all gyms have one of these, they are the ones that look like actual stairs coming out. They mimic real-life stairs more closely, and give a great cardio burn. Again, I see too many people resting on the armrests on these…why are you resting on a piece of cardio??
The whole purpose of cardio is to improve your cardiac and respiratory systems (and probably reduce fat or something)- so no matter machine you choose to do this with, make it your main focus…after getting proper instruction on how to use the machines. Finding online nutrition service providers can also assist in weight loss.