Whether you’re thinking about purchasing a machine for your own home use, or deciding which machine to work out on at the gym, you want to know where you can get the best results. A good place to start is to take a look at your own body. Do you have any joint or knee problems? If you do, you’ll want to use a low-impact machine. But if you love running and your knees can take a beating, the treadmill may be the thing for you.
We’ll take a look at the characteristics of a few different types of machines here so you can make the best decision for yourself. We’ll also include the number of calories you can burn each our because, hey, that’s why we want to use them in the first place.
The treadmill: always a classic
Working out on a treadmill takes a certain kind of focus. For some reason, it can feel the most repetitive of the cardio machines. If you’re going to use a treadmill, make sure that your joints are up for it. It’s the machine that creates the most impact on your body. Power walking on a treadmill is a good option and creates the same amount of stress as an elliptical machine. When you want to start running, make sure that you’re using good shoes. Shoes that are designed for running will be more supportive and also offer more cushion for the impact. Even though you aren’t running outside, don’t skip this necessity. Your ankles and knees will thank you later.
Using a treadmill for weight loss is a little more involved than just walking or running regularly. Your body can get used to your routine, even exercise, so it’s good to spice things up a little. Once a week, your treadmill workout should be twice as long as normal. You can go slower, but keep going until you double your time. This will help you to get out of your comfort zone and burn more calories. Also, you should experiment with the training programs on the machine and work in a 1% incline once a week. You can also follow a hill program. The key is to keep pushing a little beyond what you get used to. Running on a treadmill incline over 1% isn’t recommended though, as it can be tough on the joints.
So how many calories can you burn on a treadmill? Well, that depends. If you weigh 135 lbs, you could burn around 300 calories walking for an hour. But if you’re 185, you can burn about 400 calories walking. When you start jogging, those amounts go to about 530 and 750. And if you do a faster run for an hour, you can burn 700 to 1000 calories. That’s enough to order another entree at Panda Express (just kidding!).
The elliptical: like walking on sand
If you’ve ever walked on the sand before, you know how it takes way more effort than walking on pavement.
It engages a lot more muscles in your body. You’re walking on an uneven surface, so your body has to work harder to keep its balance. This is why many people like to run on the beach—they can burn more calories than on a regular jog.
The elliptical works in a similar way. Your stride doesn’t come to a stop like on a treadmill or stair climber. Instead, your leg muscles are engaged the whole way around. Plus, ellipticals work out your upper body as well. They’re part of the total-body family of cardio machines which work, well, your total body.
So how much can you burn on an elliptical? This depends on your body mass. If you weigh 125 lbs, you could burn about 550 calories in an hour. This is for a normal-intensity workout. But if you’re 185, you could burn 800 calories in an hour-long workout. Now if you boost your workout intensity, you have the ability to burn as much as 1000 to 1300. Plus, working out at a higher intensity is more doable on the elliptical since its easier on your body.
The stationary bike: do your own Tour de France
There doesn’t seem to be another cardio activity as much about teamwork as cycling. Cyclists can be found in towns and cities all over the world, and it seems natural to find groups of cyclists together. You can take part in this camaraderie by going to spin class at the gym, or working out on a machine that provides a live link to a trainer.
Whether you want to workout alongside other people or not, the stationary bike is a time-tested way to reach your weight loss goals. As with any workout routine, you have to do it regularly (at least 3 times a week) to achieve results. It also helps if you continue to push yourself. Once you feel like something is easy for you, try to raise the bar a little. On a bike, you could increase the time that you work out for or the intensity that you’re cycling. You can also increase the resistance, to train as if you’re going uphill.
For a 130 lbs person, an hour of moderate intensity on a stationary bike can burn about 400 calories. At a high intensity, this person could burn between 620 and 700 calories per hour. For a 180 lbs person, these numbers go up to 600 and 850, respectively. But one thing to know about the stationary bike is that its low-intensity setting is actually very low. You’d only burn maybe 150-250 calories per hour doing the minimum.
The rowing machine: less user-friendly but more intense
The rowing machine might get less use at the gym than the other kinds of cardio machines. One reason for this is that it’s often located with the weights and not the other cardio equipment. That’s because it’s also a strength building machine. It can be a little tricky to get the hang of, but if you’re able to do it, you can burn some serious calories.
A rowing machine works on your back, your abs, your arms, your legs, and even more areas of your body. The rowing machine mimics the act of rowing a boat and can provide a great workout. If it’s your first time using one, you should ask for some guidance or study some tutorials first. It’s important to keep a straight back so you don’t injure yourself. Also, keep the resistance level under 3. It might feel too easy, but you want to work up some good form before going higher.
So how many calories can you expect to burn using this machine? Starting off at a medium intensity, a 135 lbs person could burn 400 calories in an hour, while a 185 lbs person could burn 600 calories in an hour. Working out at a higher intensity will let a 135 lbs person burn 600 calories an hour or a 185 lbs person burn 800 calories in an hour.
The stair stepper: endless flights of stairs
The stair stepper machine is another popular cardio apparatus. There are many variations of this machine. Some can have foot pedals that go up and down, while others are like mini-escalators with actual stairs that go around. Walking up stairs is way harder than walking on flat ground, and you can take advantage of this as a workout with this machine.
You can tailor your own workout on a stair stepper. Not only can you choose the intensity or speed for the steps, but you can modify your actual step to emphasize different muscles. If you want to work on your calves, you can do mini-steps and try only extending your foot. Or, to really engage your quads, straighten your back but dip down a little, like your doing squat-steps.
The stair stepper was the first low-impact machine and it became very popular in the 80s. But what kind of calorie burn can you expect? The amount of calories you burn is proportional to how much you weigh. A 125 lbs person could burn about 360 calories in an hour, while a 185 lbs person could burn around 530 calories in an hour. It might not be the highest calorie burner on our list, but you’ll notice increased leg strength if you do this exercise regularly.
Which one’s the best?
So which is the best cardio machine for weight loss? Well, it depends. The best machine is the one that you’ll work out on regularly. If you feel like the treadmill is the easiest to do then use that. If you really like cycling but live in a rainy climate, a stationary bike could be a good option for you. The goal is to lose weight, and the only way to do that is with regular exercise. But if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut, it might be a good idea to take a spin around some unfamiliar machines. Ultimately, your calorie burn will depend on the amount of effort you put into your exercise. Try them all out to see what’s best for you.