A regular cardio machine routine certainly deserves kudos. It’s a great way to burn calories quickly and stay fit. But, you won’t be doing your physique any favors if you make one of these common cardio machine mistakes.
The mistake: Short strides and too much bouncing cause an inefficient cardio workout, not to mention joint pain.
The fix: “Take long, smooth, purposeful strides to minimize the amount of shock and pressure absorbed by the knees and ankles,” says personal trainer and registered dietitian Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness Studios in Virginia Beach, Va.
Bonus: Keep your gaze forward—not down—to help straighten your neck and back.
The mistake: You get a great quadriceps workout from pedaling forward, but neglect the hamstrings and glutes.
The fix: “Occasionally reverse your stride to target the posterior portion of the leg, and depending on the incline, the butt as well,” White says.
Bonus: “If your feet tend to go numb or feel prickly, try sliding your feet back and sitting into your heels to take pressure off your toes and allow blood to flow to the feet,” White adds.
The mistake: Hunching over the handlebars, which steals energy from the legs to the arms, essentially wasting your cardio workout.
The fix: Leave your hands by your sides—or pump your arms to get more bang for your buck—to ensure your legs do all the work. Slow down to increase resistance if necessary.
Bonus: Push down with your heels when you step—not your toes—to engage your hamstrings and avoid overworking your quads.
The mistake: Hopping on the bike without adjusting the seat to fit you, which makes for an inefficient cardio performance and discomfort.
The fix: “Raise or lower the seat so that your knee is at a 25-30 degree angle when the pedal is extended downward,” White says.
Bonus: Keep your back long and straight, and don’t round your shoulders.
The mistake: You speed your way through your workout with no regard for resistance.
The fix: “It is important to vary both speed and resistance depending on the particular cardio workout, as well as your overall goals,” White says.
Bonus: Keep your strokes smooth, and as you stroke backward, press your feet into the pedals.