The Best Cardio Machine

Walk into any gym around the world at 5pm and you will see just about every cardio machine being used in hopes to lose some of that extra weight.  We have all tried at least a few of the machines and everyone has a favorite.  Some people love the elliptical; others prefer a good old run on the treadmill, while others endure the pain on the dreaded stair master.  It may seem like every machine will get the job done, but the truth is that not all cardio machines were created equal.  So let’s get right into it and find out which cardio machines will produce the biggest result for your effort.



The bike is a great piece of cardio equipment that will allow you to burn anywhere from 500 – 1000 calories an hour.  That is great except most people don’t challenge themselves enough on the bike to see those numbers.  Also the recumbent bikes which are the ones that have normal seats are great if you have back problems, but you won’t burn nearly the same amount of calories.

            Hints:  You need to set the resistance to a level that makes it hard to breathe while maintaining 90 rpm.  Also to maximize calorie burning perform interval training by doing a 2-3 minute set at the highest resistance you can while maintaining 90 rpm.  Then drop down to about half that resistance for 2 minutes and then increase the resistance for 2-3 more minutes.  Repeat that for 20 – 30 minutes total.



This is probably the most preferred cardio machine out of all of them, but unfortunately not the best.  The elliptical (with out the arms) will only help you burn about 600 calories an hour.  The cross trainers look the same, but do have the arms will only be slightly more.  Some big problems are that the resistance is not high enough that once you get the machine going it will do most of the work for you.  Also you can’t quite trust the calories burn that the machine records because if you lean on the machine it will say you are burning more calories then you really are.  If you do have knee joint problems then this or the bike would be good machines for you.

            Hints:  Make sure the resistance is high enough that you are actually pushing to make it move.  Also make sure to keep your stride rate between 120-140 while staying up straight and not leaning on the machine.



The treadmill can be a great piece of cardio equipment if you use it for running.  Depending on the speed you can burn anywhere from 600-1,200 calories in an hour.  The incline function on the treadmill is rather useless and if you run at a very high incline you can actually end up hurting yourself; specifically you ankles.  A lot of people also like to just walk on the treadmill; however, this is not very effective and you would only burn between 300-400 calories per hour.  You walk around a lot every day and your body gets use to this and learns to walk very efficiently by not expending much energy. 

            Hints:  If you are going to use a treadmill you should run on it as to avoid what your body is very efficient at.  If for some reason you are unable run and need to walk on the treadmill then use an incline that is not so steep that you need to hold onto the safety rails.  Make sure to set the speed high enough that it is challenging and while walking make sure to pump your arms to use your whole body in order to increase the amount of calories being burned.



The stairs seem like one of the hardest cardio machines out there, but they are not that great of a tool for burning up those extra calories.  Stair-masters which are the ones with the actual steps can help you burn up to 500 calories per hour.  Compared to the other machines this is not that impressive.  Also these machines are tough on you back so if you have lower back problems then I would recommend staying away from them. 

            Hints:  The stair-master can give you a pretty good leg workout though and if you want to increase the amount of calories being burnt then hold a light pair of dumbbells in your hands while using this machine.


That compares some of the more popular cardio machines out there and shows the pros and cons of both.  As far as the best cardio machine, well that is different for everyone depending on your goals, injuries, and body type.  The biggest thing to keep in mind is that cardio is very important to do and you should continue to change things up so that your body doesn’t become too efficient at one type of exercise.