Which Cardio Equipment Is Best For You

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.

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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

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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.

Treadmill Running

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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

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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.

Stationary Bike

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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.

Stepper/Stair Climber

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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)

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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.

* * * * * *

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!

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