Cardio – you either love it or you hate it. If you are a constant follower of this blog you’ve already learned from me that unless you enjoy the feeling like a hamster on a wheel, 20 minutes three times a week on any stationary cardio equipment is enough to be effective for most fitness goals.
If you are an outdoor running or cycling enthusiast, then you can stop reading this blog today and go out and run/bike. But if you are like me and oblige the cardio gods with a weekly dose of walking or climbing in place, then I’ve a few tips to help you decide which cardio equipment is best for you and your goals.
Treadmill Walking with Incline
PROS: Low impact; keeps you into the fat burning zone; great at toning and lifting the glutes.
CONS: Slower on calorie burn than other options; not good if you have balance or feet pain issues.
PROS: Burns lots of calories (depending on length of run); great way to tone legs; indifferent to the weather outside.
CONS: High impact; hard on joints; puts you into an anaerobic heart rate level which does not burn as much fat as aerobic levels (like you’ll achieve walking at an incline).
Elliptical w/Swinging Arm Handles
PROS: Low impact; stable; incorporates upper body toning; burns fat calories.
CONS: Can be boring with so little variety in how to use the machine; easy to not push yourself so you won’t burn fat effectively.
PROS: Can be a great cardio workout (aerobic or anaerobic) if you alternate between hills and flats and keep the tension ramped up; great leg toner too; low impact.
CONS: Very easy to just “cruise” and burn very little fat calories; risk of thigh chaffing and numbing/irritating of the glutes.
PROS: Low impact, easy to maintain fat burning zone.
CONS: Not easy to find proper form and hence high risk of hyper-extended elbows and excessive knee pressure (my least recommended equipment).
Step Mill (Gym Escalator)
PROS: All the benefits of walking a flight of stairs, but you can’t stop and rest; great way to get and stay in your target heart rate zone; offers different ways to step (sideways, backwards) which tone entire lower extremities.
CONS: All the benefits of walking a flight of stairs … but you can’t stop and rest; not good for weak knees; doesn’t offer any upper body toning.
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No matter which you choose – and of course my recommendation is to choose a variety throughout the week – try to stay in your target heart rate (THR) zone for 20 minutes to gain the maximum fat burn. If you don’t know what your THR is/should be ask a trainer at the gym, or write to me.
No go burn some fat, get some tone, and get on with the rest of your day!