The Most Effective Cardio Machine Workouts

Featured Article,Fitness,Workout Plans
February 27, 2012

How do you get the best cardio workout in the shortest amount of time? We’ve got the answer.


The gym is chock-full of cardio machines in all shapes and sizes, each promising a quick, calorie-torching experience. But which one truly gives you the most bang for your buck? We asked the experts to share the scoop on the hardest-working cardio machines.

Treadmill: “Running or walking on a treadmill is a great weight-bearing activity, strengthening muscles and bones,” says Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Pros: A 2001 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that running on a treadmill burns calories at a higher rate than the stair climber, rowing machine or exercise bike.
Cons: “The treadmill can place a lot of stress on your joints and muscles,” says Mary George, private trainer at The Sports Club/LA
Rating: 8

Elliptical Trainer: A lower-impact option than the treadmill, the elliptical can provide a gentler cardio workout, great for exercisers with knee or leg injuries.
Pros: “The elliptical puts very low stress on your knees, hips and back,” George says. “Look for one with moving arms to get even more out of your workout.”
Cons: “It is challenging to raise your heart rate as high as you can on a treadmill,” George says.
Rating: 6

RELATED: The Best Cardio Fitness DVDs

Stair Climber: “When done properly, stair climbers can provide a challenging and effective cardio workout while also strengthening the muscles of the lower body,” says Matthews.
Pros: “The constantly revolving stairs provide a high-intensity cardio workout,” says George. “Balance plays a big factor too, so you also get some extra core work.”
Cons: “Avoid the temptation to lean heavily on the sidebars, which will decrease the workout’s effectiveness,” Matthews says. “If you have knee or leg injuries, you may need to choose a lower-impact option.”
Rating: 8

Stationary Bike: “Whether it’s recumbent or upright, stationary bikes place less stress on the joints, and are relatively comfortable once you’ve become accustomed to the saddle,” Matthews says.
Pros: “You can simulate an outdoor bike ride,” George says. “Try the Expresso Bike for a preset workout that will not only make you sweaty, but also keep you entertained with its scenic, virtual cardio workout.”
Cons: “The wrong adjustment on the seat can put pressure on your joints,” George says. “Consult with a fitness professional to help you get the proper alignment.”
Rating: 8

Rowing Machine: You can torch as many as 800 calories an hour on a rowing machine.
Pros: “Rowing provides a full-body workout, working the arms, upper body, core, and legs,” George says.
Cons: “The rower is not set to a constant pace, so you must constantly push yourself to keep your intensity level up,” George says.
Rating: 6


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 189 other followers