I walked into my local gym the other day and to my right was a bunch of different cardio exercise equipment. Amazingly, they are almost always full. So, I wondered if these people actually know how to effectively use these cardio machines to their advantage. There are actually no bad and good cardio equipments. How much benefit you get out of them will just depend on whether you know how to use them effectively or not. At the same time, one cardio equipment can help you burn more calories in less time over the others.
Not all cardio exercise equipments are made equal. So, I'm going to categorize them into their level of effectiveness. Here they are:
#1 The Treadmill
The treadmill is the king of cardio exercise equipments. But, you'd have to know how to use it to your advantage. Obviously, running would burn more calories compared to walking. The common mistake that a lot of people make when they're on the treadmill is to either run at a steady, medium speed or hold on to the side rails while walking on an incline or both. There's probably other mistakes out there but these two are very common.
To use the treadmill to more effectively, you'd have to give yourself a little bit more challenge by running at different intensities. For instance, you can warm-up at 3.5 mph for 3 minutes. After warm-up, you can run at a faster pace at 4.5 mph for 20 seconds then increase your speed to 6 mph for another 20 seconds. You can then repeat this sequence without the warm-up section 4 more times then end with a cool-down. This protocol is called high intensity interval training or HIIT and its intensity will help you burn more calories during and after your workout. Beginners can start with this protocol without a problem. Once you've been doing these intervals for 2-3 weeks, you can progress by increasing your speed or your interval time.
So, the next time, you're at the gym, head for the treadmill first and use these instructions for running more effectively.
#2 The Stairmaster
The stairmaster is a great equipment and for good reason. This cardio equipment provides a great, effective alternative when you want to take a break from running. To use the stairmaster, think of high intensity intervals again. Always warm-up for about 3-4 minutes then climb at a higher speed when you're ready to do your intervals. You can start with 4 intervals at 20 seconds and go up from there. Remember to always cool down or move on to the Elliptical as detailed below.
#3 The Elliptical
The elliptical is probably the busiest cardio machine in the gym. A lot of people tend to like it simply because they don't have to run or lift their foot off the ground when they use it. I put it as the #3 machine because it has its place if you're trying to lose weight. But, it definitely shouldn't be your "go to" equipment if losing fat is your goal.
To use the Elliptical more effectively, you would have to use it after you've done your high intensity intervals on the treadmill or the stairmaster. As soon as you're done with your intervals, you can then use the Elliptical for another 20 minutes. This helps you burn any fat that is floating in your blood system so that you don't end up storing it again. When you do your cardio in this sequence, you will be very efficient at burning more calories and more fat in less time.
In summary, you can use the treadmill or the stairmaster for your high intensity intervals then use the elliptical only after you've done your intervals. The rule is not to use the elliptical as a supplement to your cardio routine but not as the only cardio exercise equipment you use. If you use these machines as directed in this article, you will see the fat melt off your body in all the right spots.
Anna Dornier is a certified personal trainer who runs a successful fitness blog. Get your free e-book and 4-week plan to a fit new you, The Fat Loss Primer, by visiting her blog at pathtofatloss.com