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Not all cardio machines are equal. Many people consider cardio exercise to be boring. If you are not a running lover, maybe even you (like most of us) struggle to complete 30 minutes on a cardio machine. The fact is that you can spend much less time on cardio exercises and burn a lot more calories if you know which cardio machine to use. Check with us what options you have.
We will introduce you the best and the worst cardio machines based on efficiency (as much as possible burned calories in the shortest possible time, improved aerobic health), functionality (whether movement on the machine has anything to do with the movements we do in daily activities) and availability (probability to find it in your gym).
Treadmill is always the best choice. Unlike other cardio machines, it provides more options than straining your body. Moreover, it is easy to use. Just press the start button and use the arrow keys to set the speed or incline. Even leaning walking can be quite strenuous. If you want to get the most out of the exercise on the treadmill, try running without holding the handles.
For exercising your ass, stairs are a great help. What could be more functional than walking on a never-ending staircase? Try different intervals and you will experience incredible training. Try not to involved too much your upper body by holding on to the handles. Like this you would have feeling that you are exercising hard, but your training will be less intense and you will burn fewer calories.
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3. Rowing machine
You can find a rowing machine in almost every gym and many people are convinced that this machine offers the most effective form of cardio training. You exercise your entire body in a wide range of movements which can be challenging but effective at the same time. Only 10 minutes of interval training will burn a significant amount of calories. The biggest disadvantages of this machine is that bad technique can limit its efficiency (but this is like with everything else).
4. Spinning bike
A spinning bike can be a really great choice. Try long distances, intervals with high intensity or hours of spinning. Beginners watch out! In the beginning, you can get strange and hard to explain bruises when sitting on a less comfortable seat for longer.
5. SkiErg machine
At first glance, the SkiErg or the ski simulator looks a bit like a standing rowing machine to exercise your upper body. If you want to engage more of your bottom parts, try position in a slight squad. If SkiErg is in your gym, you should not miss it. However, remember that in this exercise you are doing a really specific movement that you do not encounter in your life so commonly … unless you practice for the Winter Olympics.
6. Elliptical machine
The elliptical machine is almost at the very end of this chart as it does not offer enough versatility. Compared to other cardio machines, movement on it is unnatural and inefficient. Also, setting a resistance or difficulty level below 10 does not provide sufficient calorie burning. Its positive aspect is that it saves joints more but cycling or swimming are much more effective options if you are injured.
7. Bicycle with backrest
Your entire upper body, torso, and even your butt are at rest and this bike wants nothing from your body other than engaging your legs. If you are looking for a chair to sit on while reading or watching your favorite series, it is the right nut for you.
This ranking was compiled from a study from Journal of American Medical Association that compared indoor exercise machines – ski simulator, bicycle, rowing machine, stepper, escalator and treadmill and found out that walking or running on a treadmill had the highest level of energy expenditure and aerobic demands compared to all other machines. 1
Scientists have found that energy expenditure is 40% higher on the treadmill during walking and running compared to cycling. In addition, the treadmill and the rowing machine were the only two pieces of equipment that produced VO2-max values that meet the rules for improving cardio respiratory fitness.
This was later also supported by researches from Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland) who conducted similar study and found out that treadmill, ski trainer and rowing machine led to higher energy expenditure compared to cycling. 2
What cardio will you choose?
Now that you are all educated, you can go into the world and make a better cardio decision. We recommend you to try this list by yourself. Spend a week or some time testing these machines to see which one is most effective. You will know if you find the right one.
Write us in the comments which cardio machines you use or what experiences you have with cardio machines. If you like the article, share it.
 Zeni, A. I., Hoffman, M. D., & Clifford, P. S. Energy expenditure with indoor exercise machines – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8618368/
 Moyna, N. M., Robertson, R. J., Meckes, C. L., Peoples, J. A., Millich, N. B., & Thompson, P. D. Intermodal comparison of energy expenditure at exercise intensities corresponding to the perceptual preference range – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11474346/