Tagged: elliptical

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.

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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!

CARDIO CONFESSION

I have a confession to make . . . I am a personal trainer who personally hates cardio! That’s right, I do not enjoy running (see 9/2013 post “Why can’t I run?“), I avoid hour long cardio-based group classes, and am bored to tears with stair-steppers, elliptical machines, spin classes, you name it. I find it all mind-numbingly dull and excruciating on my body and brain.

 

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So what kind of a trainer does that make me, you ask? Well, it actually makes me an excellent trainer for I share a perspective with many of my clients that most trainers do not. When was the last time you worked out with a trainer and they didn’t prescribe a huge chunk of time (either before or after their session) where you were planted on a stationary cardio machine?

I have also gone out of my way to study and experiment with alternative options that benefit cardiovascular systems, assist in rapid fat loss, and improve endurance, all without being a slave to a machine for more than about 10 minutes.

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Seeing as the fitness marketplace is littered with DVDs and programs all promising huge results in a minimum amount of time, my training style clearly mirrors a popular trend which many clients seek. Why do 45 minutes when 8-20 minutes of Tabata or HIIT will suffice? Plus if you can do less and still achieve cardio benefits, help build, tone and strengthen muscles – all of which as we all know help burn calories and fat – then why wouldn’t you?

Now this doesn’t mean I can’t train you to run a marathon, or teach an aerobic step class, it simply means that if you train with me, you will receive a well-rounded work that even the biggest exercise-un-enthusiast can get through and see results.

 

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I share this with you now because I for years I have down played my feelings about cardio for fear they would make me seem less of a fitness professional, less fit, and less qualified, etc. But recently a relatively new client of mine said, with much relief in her voice, how happy she was that I “don’t make me do a whole bunch of cardio day after day” and further that she couldn’t believe she was “seeing great results without long sessions of drenching cardio all the time” (her previous approach to fitness).

So if you are a cardio un-enthusiast like me, hold your head up high and know that you are not alone, and that it does NOT mean you can’t be in great shape. Look at it this way – you get out of the gym quicker and on to living and enjoying life, which in the end is why we work out in the first place, right?