When you walk into the gym, you may scan the machines to see what’s free so you can get your cardio workout on without waiting. But are you losing out on a better workout by not being more picky?
Before you grab a machine, consider which is the most effective at helping you reach your fitness goals. Train harder and smarter by selecting the right fitness machine to match your goals. Here’s a rundown on what you can expect from the most common pieces of gym equipment.
Treadmill – Treadmills work for both running and walking, and they offer the biggest drop in calories for the time spent. Just by walking at a brisk pace — around 4.0 to 4.5 — you’ll shed 100 calories per mile. Inch the speed up so that you’re running, and you may realize a calorie drop of 600 to 1200 calories per hour. Add an interval to more closely mimic walking or running on real ground and to shed more calories. While a treadmill only works your lower body, you can use hand weights or wrist weights to challenge your upper body.
Elliptical – Elliptical machines with arm levers have the advantage of working your whole body, and not just your legs. These have the ability to run forward and backwards to challenge your quads or hamstrings respectively. These generally burn 600 to 900 calories per hour, with more calories lost if you’re working your arms as well. Since elliptical machines are gentler on the joints, they’re well suited for folks returning to working out after a long break or an injury.
Medicine Ball – Medicine balls don’t have cardio benefits, but they can be an important component of strength training. If you’re interested in enhancing your workout with a medicine ball, you can work your core muscles, strengthen and tone muscles and increase the challenge in full-body fitness exercises like burpees.
Stair Climber – Stair climbers are gentler on joints than treadmills, but can irritate the lower back muscles. They may not be right for everyone. They concentrate their power on toning your calves, butt and your thighs so they don’t have any effect on your upper body. These offer less of a calorie burn than the other cardio machines, generally coming in around 400 to 500 calories per hour. Stair climbers that resemble actual stairs will burn more calories and are competitive with a treadmill in terms of fitness benefits.
Rowing Machine – A rowing machine (or erg) seems very specialized, but it can actually be a great workout for everyone. The erg challenges upper and lower body muscles while also giving you a great cardio workout. Burn 500 calories in just 30 minutes through rowing. Put on an exciting podcast to make your row more interesting, or switch things up by rowing lightly for a couple of minutes then power rowing for one minute.
When working out, always pay attention to how you feel. If you become short of breath or are in pain, stop. Weight comes off when you consume fewer calories per day than you burn. While all of these machines offer excellent fitness benefits, you’ll need to eat healthily to really drop the pounds.
Have patience when developing a new gym routine. You won’t see changes overnight, but regular fitness will have an impact on your body.