Building cardiovascular fitness is an essential part of any keep-fit regime, and it therefore comes as no surprise that there are plenty of gyms and equipment manufacturers that are trying to cash in on this.
There are plenty of options out there – from treadmills and exercise bikes to weirder contraptions like the Skierg – but which are the best cardio machines for weight loss?
Don’t be fooled by the weird machines and strange fads. These unique methods have their downsides.
Just because a piece of equipment is the next big craze in fitness and your gym is proudly showing it off to all members, that doesn’t mean that it is the best option for cardio.
There are lots of machines out there that try and give a different approach to cardio exercise, such as the Jacobs Ladder and the Skierg, but while they are fun for a change of pace and a little diversity in the routine, they are not necessarily any more effective.
The motions and intensity aren’t going to burn calories in the same way as more traditional machines. The other problem here comes from the fact that these machines just aren’t all that accessible.
You may read about them in blogs and think they look fun, but there is no guarantee that your local gym will have the funds, or the desire to purchase one.
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Focus on the tried and tested machines that you know you can use each session…
The best thing to do is to look for machines that are accessible and can be used in a straightforward regime.
This way you can not only be sure of burning off plenty of calories and making improvements to your cardiovascular health, you can be sure of building a strong routine on the same piece of equipment and measuring your progress.
The big three here have to be the exercise bike, rowing machine and treadmill.
Some criticize the potential of the rowing machine because it is an unnatural motion but, when carried out correctly, it does provide a good workout across the whole body.
The effectiveness of exercise bikes, meanwhile, can depend greatly on the style. Recumbent bikes are more comfortable, but they are definitely the laid-back option compared to more intense spinning sessions or an Airdyne bike.
Airdyne bikes, on the other hand, provide a tougher workout and have that added benefit of wind resistance.
The number one option here, however, has to be the treadmill. It is as simple to use as they come, every gym has plenty of them ready to go and they can be tailored to suit all users.
You can take a brisk walk if you need a low impact option or go for a run if you really want to push yourself. You can also adjust the speed and incline of the belt for a greater challenge.
On top of this, studies show that they provide a greater cardiovascular workout than other machine.
One published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that treadmill work leads to the highest rates and aerobic demands and energy expenditure.
The effectiveness of a machine can often come down to technique…
There are some exceptions to the rule about basic, accessible machines being the way to go here and the best example of this is the elliptical machine.
These machines look as though they can give the best work out possible, because they are working your arms and legs, but they may not be as effective as you think.
You also have to consider the way that you use a machine, not just the machine itself. They all have potential, but that potential can be better harnessed with the right movements and technique.
A great example of this is the stair master. This machine can seem like tough challenges for working the legs and building cardiovascular strength, but the level at which it does so can depend on on what you are doing with your arms.
Are they taking your weight and supporting you on the hand rail, or are they free to move?
Find a machine that you can enjoy and work with on a regular basis…
Different users will have different opinions on the best cardio machines for weight loss and that is because it comes down to personal preferences, fitness needs and availability.
The treadmill and exercise bike are a great starting point for people getting started with cardio, but if you can build a regular routine on a more obscure piece of equipment – and are seeing clear benefits – stick with it.