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Cardio Machines: Treadmills, Stationary Bikes, Ellipticals, Rowing Machines and Stair Climbers. Which to use for fastest fat loss?

Posted by nikh

Cardio Machines: Treadmills, Stationary Bikes, Ellipticals, Rowing Machines and Stair Climbers. Which to use for fastest fat loss?

The weather outside is dreadful, and (for some reason) you need to let off some steam. You go to the gym and decide, that today, you’re gonna do a good cardio workout. Treadmills, Stationary bikes, Elliptical machines and Stair climbers are at your disposal. How would you know which to use for best results? This article is just my opinion — how I’d make the decision to use which cardio machine at the gym (if at all). I am no cardio bunny. This means that I do not encourage anyone to use any cardio machine excessively. Why? Because doing the same routine cardio stuff is one of the worst exercise ideas ever, and I explained this extensively in chapters 4 and 6 in my book, Forever Young Forever Fit. That said, sometimes, it’s cool to use cardio machines. They are useful for:

  • quick warm ups before you start strength training, or
  • HIIT workouts,
  • as finishers (a workout routine at the end of a strength workout),
  • as easy-going workout on restless rest days,
  • as rehab workouts (if you’re trying to get injured joints moving).

Different workout machines work differently and are used for different purpose. Lets look at some of the really useful cardio machines available to us at gyms. Some of which one can buy for the home.

Stationary Bikes

exercise-bike I’ve written extensively about stationary bikes. Do refer to these articles:

  1. Best Stationary Bike Workout Routines for Effective Fat Loss
  2. Upright Stationary Bikes vs Recumbent Bikes – Which will give you a better calorie burning workout?

Stationary bikes are my preferred choice of cardio gym equipment. Biking allows us to focus on working the leg muscles without worrying about losing balance and tripping. This is useful if you have these fitness goals:

  • you want to increase strength in your leg muscles significantly (so exercise with higher resistance but lower speed.)
  • you want to increase your cardiovascular output so that you do not tire easily doing daily tasks (so exercise with lighter load, and spin your legs fast)
  • you want to lose weight by burning extra fat (so exercise in intervals)

The stationary exercise bike is great for any beginner, who wants to start an exercise regime. It’s a no-impact cardio, because you’re just sitting on the bike and not pounding on joints.

Treadmills

Walking is the most natural form of exercise that anyone can do. We burn more energy than we perceive to be doing when we walk. It’s simply a natural human movement.  Read also: The Power of Walking an Hour a Day : More than Weight Loss. Treadmills are useful if you have these fitness goals:

  • you want to get warmed up for a strength workout — do a slow paced run for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • you want to walk faster and get less tired doing routine things — do a brisk walk on the treadmill 20 minutes.
  • you want to strengthen muscles in your legs and back — do brisk walk plus add a little bit of hill.
  • you want to burn energy, let off steam — run.

Read also this article on other ways to use the treadmill: More than Just Cardio – How to Get Effective Strength Training Workouts on a Treadmill. These are advanced moves, be careful! The treadmill can be a versatile piece of equipment, if you know how to use it well.

Elliptical Machines


elliptical-machine
These are sexy things, and they are fun to use.  Like the stationary bike, these allow for no-impact workout. People who are new to workouts, the aged, or anyone with injury can benefit from using the elliptical machine. Ellipticals have their plus and minuses. The plus is that you can work yourself out to exhaustion, and muscle fatigue. The minus is that, like the stationary bike, the exercises tend to get repetitive. Repetition is not all bad, but you need variety if you want to achieve full body fitness. Ellipticals aren’t better than stationary bikes. Even though it may seem like these machines allow you to work the upper body (because of the movable handles), I’ve personally not been able to really work my arms properly with those alone. These are useful if you have these fitness goals:

  • you want to increase strength in your leg muscles (so exercise with higher resistance but lower speed.)
  • you want to increase your cardiovascular output so that you do not tire easily doing daily tasks (so exercise with lighter load,  and try to move fast)
  • you want to lose weight by burning extra fat (so exercise in intervals)

My advice is to use these machines for a while, have fun with them, but don’t use them all the time.

Stair Climbers / Step Mills

There are two kinds of stair climbers:

  1. the type that as real steps that you have to step up on each time (otherwise you fall off) — like the Stairmaster Step Mill image above.
  2. the types that looks like an elliptical, your feet stays on a pedal that moves up and down.

In my opinion, the second one (that looks like an elliptical) is useless. Forget it. Don’t use it. The first, aka the Stairmaster type, is actually a really good piece of equipment. It’s the hardest cardio machine to get used to. This are useful if you have these fitness goals:

  • you want to really increase strength in your leg muscles (do at a speed you can handle without falling off the machine!)
  • you want to increase your cardiovascular output so that you do not tire easily doing daily tasks (especially if you’re bad at climbing stairs, this will help tremendously)
  • you want to lose weight by burning extra fat

The stair climber is a really challenging equipment to use. It is also dangerous for beginners because there is always a threat of falling off the high machine. But, if you’re already used to doing extensive cardio on other machines, you can try the Stairmaster for challenge.

Rowing Machines

rowing-machine This one is different from the rest because rowing machines do not really work the lower body. Rowers are great complement to the other cardio machines, so I’d advice fans of cardio workouts to alternate between rowing and the rest.  That said, rowing machines are life savers when you’ve got leg injury and need to rest your joints. This are useful if you have these fitness goals:

  • you want to really increase strength in upper back and shoulders
  • you want to increase your cardiovascular output so that you do not tire easily doing daily tasks
  • you want to lose weight by burning extra fat from doing high intensity rowing

Rowing Machines:

Cardio Machines for the Home Gym

If you’ve got space in your home and are looking to buy a cardio machine, there are home grade equipment you can buy. I like to use Amazon.com as a guide because of the strict customer care policy, and because you can refer to the relative product reviews before choosing a model. Are cardio machines necessary? Well, it depends on individual preference, and also on our mood. Use whatever that’s available to get the workout done and get results!

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