It is definitely a whirlwind of choices when it comets cardio machines in the gym. With advancements in technology and the surge of people making fitness a part of their daily lives, new machines and new ways of getting in your cardio pop up all the time. Remember when it used to just be a treadmill or stationary bike? The came the Nordic Trak, and the Stairmaster, and so on. However, just because they are newer or fancier doesn’t always mean they are the best way to get in your cardiovascular exercise. So we have researched the top machines to use for cardio in the gym, and the ones to avoid!
Classics are classics for a reason, and whether you ask Bodybuilding.com, personal trainers, or even doctors, the treadmill comes out on top! The reason is simple, versatility,functionality, and availability. Treadmills are all over the place, even the most space hotel gyms usually have one and mainstream fitness centers have entire banks of them. Unlike a lot of cardio equipment, the treadmill allows you to move the way your body is naturally meant to move, meaning there is a low likelihood of injury or strain. Treadmills also allow you to challenge yourself on multiple levels of speed as well as incline making it a diverse cardio machine as well. So tie on those running shoes and sprint for great heart health!
The Runner-Up: The Stair Climber (avg. 800-1400 calories burned per hour)
The Stair Climber is about as straightforward as it gets when it comes to how it works and why it is good. Climbing endless stairs is not only hard work, but great muscle training for your legs and glutes, not to mention solid core training. However, the key with this machine is not supporting yourself with the railings. The calorie burning potential plummets when you support your upper body, making it way easier to walk on. Try short periods of intense climbing then rating or slowing the pace to near stop.
This one is pretty easy to figure out why. Your entire upper body, core, and even your butt are completely at rest for this machine, only engaging your legs at an extremely low level of intensity. Yes, even upping the difficulty setting still only hits small muscle areas in comparison with the more effective stair mill or tread mill. Let’s face it, if you can read a book while doing it, you’re probably not getting a great workout!
The Worst Runner-Up: The Elliptical
Sorry ladies, but this extremely popular cardio machine is little more than sporty couch-surfing. The movement of an elliptical is unnatural and awkward for the body making it ultimately ineffective, especially in comparison to a tread mill. Trainers at Bodybuilding.com even go as far to say that going below difficulty level 10 “is about as effective at burning calories as sitting on the couch”. The one positive about this machine is the low-impact nature, protecting your knees and other joints. Then again, sitting on the couch is pretty low impact too.