Ever walked into the cardio room at your gym and instantly felt overwhelmed by the various types of machines strewn throughout it? Whether you are just starting out at the gym or have been a long time member, chances are there’s a cardio machine you haven’t tried. Here’s the lowdown on the physical benefits each machine provides so that you can decide which one you need to incorporate into your workout routine.
This cross training machine stimulates the motions of walking or running by utilizing smooth controlled motion that does not put undue pressure on joints and bones. The popularity of this machine is largely due to its ability to simultaneously exercise several muscle groups and provide a non-impact workout that works both the upper and lower body. For instance, most elliptical machines have handrails that the user pulls and pushes continuously which works the upper-body muscles including deltoids, triceps, biceps, and pectorillis major. The lower body is exercised through continuous forward or reverse strides that engage the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, as well as muscles in the shins and calves. Abdominal and back muscles are also engaged as the user works to stabilize their body on the machine. The elliptical is an ideal cardio machine for anyone looking for an all-in-one workout that has calorie burning benefits similar to that of running, but without the risk of injuries due to repetitive impact.
This machine has a moving platform that allows users to walk or run without having to step one foot on a track or sidewalk. Constantly running on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt is hard on bones and joints, and puts athletes at risk of developing painful injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and torn ligaments. Treadmills provide runners and walkers safer surfaces to get moving on, ones with better shock absorption that reduces the amount of stress on feet, knees and the lower back. As the cushioning and smooth surface of a treadmill makes workouts a little easier, users are also able to focus more on proper technique and form during workouts. Individuals, who want a calorie blasting way to work their whole body and improve strength and endurance, should hit up this machine. The treadmill is also your best bet if you want a cardio routine that works your lower body muscles, specifically the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and gluteal muscles.
This is one bike that isn’t going anywhere, no matter how hard you petal, but it can help get you to a stronger, leaner you. While it might not have wheels, it is equipped with a saddle, pedals, and handlebars that can give you a workout similar to that of a cyclist. This low-impact cardio machine involves an easy range of movement that does not put too much stress on joints. As the forward pedaling motion directs resistance to the legs, using the stationary bike is a great way to strengthen muscles such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. And even though you are sitting, stationary bikes are great for your midsection as maintaining the correct posture engages the back muscles as well as the core muscles in the abdomen and oblique. If you’re looking for a machine that will help you build endurance and develop long lean muscle, take a seat next time you’re at the gym. The stationary bike is also safe if you are suffering from osteoporosis or back injuries, as it decreases pressure on more sensitive bones, helps joints stay flexible, and strengthens muscles that support joints.
Anyone who has ever climbed a few flights of stairs knows from the burning sensation in their legs that they just got a pretty good workout. Which is why it is no surprise that there is a cardio machine that simulates this very action. The stair stepper gives your lower body a great workout as it engages a large group of muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, hip flexors, and calves. This machine is also an ideal way to get your heart rate up while increasing your stamina and strength. While this machine doesn’t necessarily provide a full body workout if you are looking for a low impact way to tone and shape your leg muscles, 15 minutes climbing stairs can do wonders.
Want to get the same workout as a rowing athlete without ever having to get near a body of water? A rower machine uses resistance to simulate the same movements of rowing, allowing the user to move back and forth by pulling on a handle. It is one of the most comprehensive cardio machines as it engages all of the body’s major muscle groups. Rowing works out almost all of the back muscles to some degree, but mainly the rhomboids, between the shoulder blades, and the latissimus dors in the middle of the back. The pulling motion works arm muscles particularly the biceps, triceps and forearms, while the repetitive motion of bending and extending the knees works out the quadriceps and gluteal muscles. Rowing also engages the core muscles in the upper and lower abdominal, obliques, and the lower back. With all of these muscles groups working together, it is no surprise that the rowing machine helps users develop overall muscle strength, while burning a significant amount of calories.
Remember, cardio exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself in order to stay healthy and fit, as it helps to increase your lung capacity and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio each week, as well as participate in muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week. With their timers, programmed workouts, and incline and resistance controls, cardio machines are a convenient way to make sure you your heart pumping on a regular basis. With the variety of cardio machines in gyms everywhere, you have no excuses when it comes to finding the perfect one to fit your personal preferences, so let us know which ones work for you.