From the treadmill to the elliptical, via the stair climber, the rower and the bike, here is what you need to know before getting started.
Are there any benefits to choosing an elliptical trainer over a treadmill for doing cardio at the gym?
When you strive for the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, you’re probably headed for the cardio equipment at the gym. And you might be wondering, given all the options (treadmill, exercise bike, elliptical, stairlift, rowing machine, and sometimes more), if you’re choosing the right one.
Each cardio machine has its pros and cons. These advantages and disadvantages, however, differ from person to person.
Age, function and mobility, as well as existing health conditions or injuries, all of these make a difference when it comes to choosing the best device for you, as will your specific fitness goals. fitness.
All of the cardio machines mentioned above are designed to improve cardiovascular health, which means they increase heart rate and breathing rate to strengthen heart muscle and improve endurance. But some of them also develop strength. So think about what you expect from your training. Are you there for a strictly cardio workout or a workout that combines cardio and strength, for example? The answers to these questions will help you choose the device that’s right for you. Also, if you have a disability, injury, or other health condition that might prevent you from exercising safely, or using any of these devices, tell your doctor or health care provider before starting a new exercise program.
Finally, if you want to do cardio at the gym using one of these machines, pick one that you enjoy using (as long as it’s safe to do so). If you find a workout you enjoy doing, it will be that much easier to come back to it and stick with it. After all, the movement you do (whatever it is) is better than a “perfect” workout you don’t do.
Here’s an overview of some common cardio machines and their specific pros and cons:
What it is
A device with an endless treadmill that allows you to walk or run. This is the basis of cardio machines.
The treadmill mainly helps to develop cardiovascular endurance. But walking or running also works your lower body muscles, including your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. It’s not the most effective way to build those muscles, but using the treadmill helps maintain them.
You can adjust the speed and incline to increase intensity or perform interval or HIIT training. According to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, the treadmill burns more fat than the elliptical and rowing machine. (It should be noted that this study included only nine men and no women).
Being on the phone and looking down or up at a TV in the gym can strain your neck. Likewise, walking too close to the console or hanging onto the rails can affect your body’s gait cycle. Try to stay in the middle of the belt and avoid getting caught in it. (If you cannot safely use a treadmill without holding on, another device may be a better option. See below). The treadmill can also be a high impact activity. While running or walking on a treadmill isn’t as hard on the joints as running on concrete, exercising on a track or grass outside will be a more joint-friendly form of exercise.
What it is
Stationary exercise or exercise bikes come in a variety of styles, such as air bike (where pedaling pushes air through the wheel, providing resistance), spin bike or indoor (where you can manually adjust the resistance), and recumbent bike (where you sit in an inclined position), among others.
The quadriceps and hamstrings are the most stressed muscles when cycling. Using an exercise bike also helps strengthen lower body muscles. By increasing the resistance, you can also get a muscle-building workout while doing cardio.
On some bike models, you can increase the resistance and pedal upright, which simulates climbing a hill. Indoor cycling is favorable for people recovering from lower extremity injuries. If you have balance issues, an exercise bike is a good option for you because your feet are in a fixed position (unlike a treadmill or stair machine).
Although it is a low impact and easy on the joints exercise, if you suffer from anterior knee pain (pain in the front of the knee), try switching to the elliptical instead, because the pedaling motion on the bike can put too much force on the knee.
What is this ?
The elliptical is a stationary device equipped with two large pedals that move in a circular fashion in space, as well as a handlebar that moves back and forth. The elliptical is used standing up.
Quads, hamstrings, and calves are all challenged during this type of exercise, especially if the resistance is increased. If the resistance is not high, it is mainly a cardio workout.
As a low-impact exercise, the elliptical is great for beginners, as well as people recovering from injury or undergoing physical therapy. There’s no pounding, your feet never leave the pedals they’re on. The elliptical (along with the rowing machine, below) may also be an option for people with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, according to the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine study.
Avoid hunching, lifting your heels, or leaning too far back, all common errors seen on the elliptical. Maintain a correct center of gravity on the device.
What is this ?
As its name suggests, the stairlift is a device that simulates climbing stairs. There are many types, such as the step mill (turning staircase, similar to an escalator), the stair stepper (which has a pedal for each foot) or the vertical climbers (which looks like a ladder).
The stair climber really activates the glutes, quadriceps and calves. A stepper is more of a cardio workout (you set the speed), while a stepper lets you set the resistance, which further strengthens the muscles.
Rock climbing is generally a high intensity exercise. That’s why the stair climber is one of the most calorie-burning cardio machines.
Since this is high intensity exercise, you may not be able to do this type of exercise for as long as less intense exercise.
If you have knee or hip problems, a stair machine may make the pain worse, use an elliptical trainer instead. On a stair mill, it’s common to use the handrails to support your weight and relieve your legs, but this can put too much pressure on your shoulders and wrists. If you have trouble keeping up with the machine, reduce the speed.
What it is
A rowing machine is a device where you sit on a sliding seat and use both hands to pull a handle to move back and forth, mimicking the motion of a rowing machine.
The muscles of the upper back and shoulders, the quadriceps, the calves and the glutes are used during the pushing and pulling phases.
The rowing machine can be a complete tool. It is a complete fitness device. It allows you to do cardio and strengthen the upper and lower body. You can also adjust it to get the workout you’re looking for. For example, by decreasing the resistance, the training becomes essentially cardio, by increasing the resistance, the muscles are more activated. Rowing is also a low-impact activity, which means it’s easy on the joints.
The rowing machine may seem intimidating if you’ve never used one, but once you get the hang of the pushing and pulling motion, you’ll feel more confident. Start with the lowest resistance and increase it as you feel more comfortable on the machine (and your endurance improves).