Cardio machines: Which one is right for you?
Despite the huge variety of machines at the gym, almost everyone has a go-to favorite for their cardio workout. Maybe it’s the treadmill, so you can clock a three-mile run without venturing into the blazing summer sun. Or perhaps you prefer to keep it easy and burn calories while watching Shark Tank reruns on the elliptical. Playing favorites isn’t always a good idea, though. Your body adapts if you work out the same way day after day and you could lose interest if you don’t introduce some variety. On top of that, the different cardio machines each have unique benefits and are good for different situations.
- Stationary Bike: This machine causes the least impact on your joints, making it a great option for people with knee pain or injuries. Burn more calories at a standing climb with high resistance, just like you’re in a spinning class, rather than pedaling away in seated position like you’re taking a leisurely ride home from work.
- Treadmill: Since you’re able to adjust the speed and incline, treadmills come in handy when you want to maintain a certain pace or run intervals (perfect for race training!). Experts say you’ll burn more calories on the treadmill than you will on other cardio machines. To get the most value out of your time on the treadmill, mimic how you would walk or run outside by avoiding the handrails, varying your speed and adding a two-percent incline to compensate for the belt propelling you along.
- Stair Stepper: These machines offer a low-impact workout for people with weak bones or injured joints. Plus, stair steppers can help slow bone loss since the movement counts as a weight-bearing exercise. Proper, upright posture will increase the number of calories that you burn.
- Elliptical: Most elliptical machines work your legs, chest, shoulders, back and arms at the same time, allowing you to complete a full-body workout in 20 minutes. However, a study found elliptical trainers have the least accurate calorie counters, overestimating calories burned by 42 percent. That’s because elliptical machines don’t replicate your natural gate, and the varying range of motion between manufacturers makes it nearly impossible to establish a standard calorie burn rate. Achieve a more challenging workout by increasing the resistance, changing interval programs and using the arm components available on some machines.
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