Cardio workouts lead to reduced stress, healthier heart and lungs, improved muscle density and decreased risk of some types of cancer and heart disease. In addition, doing cardio exercise can lead to an increase in muscle size when implemented alongside weight training. With so many cardio machine options, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here, we break down the major types of cardio equipment and the benefits to help you find the right one for your needs and fitness goals.
Treadmills are the bread and butter of cardio machines. They are a simple moving platform with an adjustable speed and incline for limitless training options. They can be used for low-intensity or high-intensity cardio workouts. Users of all skill levels, ages, and sizes can build endurance, lose weight, and improve cardiovascular health by training on a treadmill.
Treadmills are effective for all types of cardio and conditioning, from walking and jogging, to high intensity interval training. Treadmills are a great option if you are training for a race, or trying to lose weight. For those seeking to lose weight, treadmills are an effective option because they are weight-bearing, meaning that you bear the whole weight of your body while using them, and thus can burn more calories during your workout.
While using the treadmill keep in mind not to run too close to the consul, and that it is better not to look up at a TV while using the machine. Looking up to watch a screen while using a treadmill can hurt your neck, and harm your running form.
Ellipticals are a great cardio machine option for beginners. These cardio machines are low-impact and easy to navigate. Simply step onto the large pedals, start moving, and you’re ready to go.
Similarly to treadmills, ellipticals have an adjustable resistance to offer more options for your workout. Increase the resistance to push yourself more, or use a lower resistance when first starting out to get acquainted with the movement. Start Moderately and increase your resistance and incline later as you build endurance.
Ellipticals are easy to use for beginners and they are easier on the hips and knees than treadmills are. They are good if you struggle with balance and can be a fantastic option if you are recovering from an injury for an effective low-impact workout.
While using an Elliptical it is important to maintain proper form. Keep your back straightened, abs tucked, and pelvis forward.
Also called stair climbers, moving stairs or stair machines. These cardio machines give you the impact of the stair climbing that you would typically do on bleachers, or real stairs. As with ellipticals, these are great for beginners. At a low-intensity they also offer a much higher caloric burn than you would get on a treadmill at the same pace.
StairMasters are a great option for a low-impact cardio workout that increases stamina. StairMasters engage all the major muscle groups of the lower body- glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. They are great for toning, excellent strength builders, and great for building endurance in your legs.
While training on a stair-master keep in mind that you don’t want to keep your body completely straight. Because of the movement of a StairMaster it is normal to have a slight lean and you don’t want to overcompensate for this, which could add strain to your neck and back. Also remember that the handrails are for balance, not to support your body. Don’t cheat. If you need to slow it down a notch when first starting out, do that.
Also referred to as stationary bikes, or indoor cycle machines. These machines offer a seat, pedals, handles, and a consul. Just like riding a bike, you start by adjusting your machine to your height. Next, strap your feet into the foot straps, and adjust the consul to your specific workout needs.
While the energy demand from Spin bikes is not as high as running, as on a treadmill, they provide a calorie-burning heart pumping challenge and total body workout. They strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors.
Spin bikes are not high impact, and they are easier on the joints than treadmills. They are a great option if you have a sore upper body, if you have back or lower body injuries, or if you want long duration endurance training.
Recumbent bikes have the seat back, pedals out in front of the user, and consul directly ahead. recumbent Bikes are not weight-bearing so they can be easier to start out with. Similar to Spin bikes, these give pretty good all-around lower body strength boosting benefits during your cardio session.
Recumbent bikes work with hamstrings and quads evenly as compared to spin bikes, which focus exclusively on quads. However, recumbent bikes may offer less fat reduction when you train at a higher level. Sprint training is a less convenient option on recumbent bikes than it is on spin bikes.
Recumbent bikes are one of the lowest intensity cardio machines and thus a great option if you are looking to read or catch up on a football game while getting in your daily movement.
Rowers, also known as rowing machines, mimic the motion of rowing a boat. They consist of a sliding seat and handle on a retractable row cable. Your feet stay in place while you use most of your body to work the machine. Rowers have more muscular activation than many other gym machines.
Rowers are very versatile and can be used for aerobic training, anaerobic training, or muscle recovery. Rowers can also be a great option if you have less time, because you can get a solid workout in, in as little as 20 minutes. The higher your stroke rate, the more calories that you’ll burn on a rower. On the flip side, you can also use a rower for a low intensity workout as rowers have a low impact on joints. They can be a great option if you’re sore from yesterday’s workout.
While doing a total body workout, keep in mind that proper form is important on a rower to make the most of your training and to avoid any joint strain.
Arc Trainers mimic hiking and target the lower body. They look similar to an elliptical, but function differently. Arc Trainers only generate force during the weight bearing cycle of your stride, which makes them easier on the joints. Similarly to the elliptical, Arc trainers are also low-impact.
Arc trainers put minimal stress on the knee, ankle, hip and vertebrae, while burning more calories than the standard elliptical. Keep in mind with the arc trainers, that proper form is again important to prevent injuries and to maintain low joint impact.
Precor AMTs (Adaptive-Motion-Trainer)
Precor AMTs are highly adjustable cardio machines that can mimic the workout that you would have on a treadmill, elliptical, or stair climber. They also resemble the elliptical in their shape and size, but they change entirely based on the way you choose to step on them. Precor AMT changeable components include the speed, incline, resistance, step direction, step height, and step length.
By changing the length and depth of your stride on a Precor AMT you can adjust which muscles you want to work, and how. Precor AMTs have the potential to burn more calories than an elliptical because of the many different workout variations that they can be used for.
When using a Precor AMT it is important to make sure to engage the hips and glutes, NOT putting weight on your knees. It is also critical that you maintain good posture while training on the Precor AMT.
If you want to furnish your gym with the cardio machine best suited to your workout needs, check out our options here at Buy and Sell Fitness. Buying pre-owned equipment is a great way to save on your gym equipment and allow you to begin to furnish your own at-home gym or training space at a low cost without skimping on quality.