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Which Cardio Machine is Best?

by Brad Callen

There are a couple important factors that you need to address when looking for the "best cardio machine" for you. The first of which is the most important and far out ways any other factors. This is, of course, personal preference. If you don't enjoy working out on a certain machine, you probably won't continue to do it for very long. The key to permanent weight loss is persistence. If you don't enjoy working out on the machine, you won't stay persistent and won't see results. It's as simple as that.

The second factor is your goals. Some people would rather burn more fat, while others would simply like to build and tone muscle. Different machines burn calories at different rates and build muscles in different ways. Knowing which machines will burn more fat and which will build more muscle will help you determine which cardio machine is best for you. Regardless of the machine, it's imperative that you follow a good workout plan to see results. Below you will find short reviews on some of the more popular cardio machines.

Elliptical Trainer
Burn rank: 3rd (tie)
Build rank: 4th

Benefits: The elliptical machine was built to emulate that of running. It is a very good machine if you have sore joints or simply want to be easy on your joints while getting most of the benefits of running.

Limitations: You have to workout at a higher intensity level in order to burn as many calories as running on a treadmill.

Rowing Machine
Burn Rank: 5th
Build Rank: 1st

Benefits: The rowing machine is by far the best cardio machine to build muscle in the upper body, notably the back muscles (lats). It also burns enough calories to be considered a cardiovascular exercise. In fact, it is the only cardio exercise that builds muscles in the upper body.

Limitations: The only limitation here is poor technique. Many people simply don't row correctly and end up having lower back pain. This can be overcome by keeping your back straight and doing all of the work with your upper back and arms.

Stair Climber
Burn Rank: 3rd (tie)
Build Rank: 3rd

Benefits: This is probably the best cardio exercise to build the calves and buttocks muscles. But you must remember, in order to see a difference in weight loss, you must workout at a high intensity level, really work up a sweat.

Limitations: Although the stair climber is very good at toning the buttocks, the stationary bike may be a better choice. So unless you prefer the stair climber over the bike, stick with the bike, as it provides more benefits.

Stationary Bike
Burn Rank: 2nd
Build Rank: 2nd

Benefits: The stationary bike offers great benefits when it comes to burning calories and building and toning the legs.

Limitations: Many people develop lower back pain because they tend to lean over while riding a stationary bike. To overcome this you can do 1 of 2 things. You could simply sit more upright, or you could build your core muscles (abs) by doing crunches and sit-ups. Most people don't realize this, but as you strengthen you stomach, you also put let pressure on your lower back to keep you upright.

Treadmill
Burn Rank: 1st
Build Rank: 5th

Benefits: The old school treadmill is by far the best way to burn fat from your mid section. It's also, for many, the least fun exercise of all cardio machines.

Limitations: Treadmills can be harder on your joints than the other cardio machines; however, the better the treadmill, the more "give" it will have to protect your joints. Running on a treadmill is much easier on your body that simply running outside or around a track.

All of these exercises are great and do different things for your body, but as I've always said, if you don't follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, all of your work in the gym is for not. Good luck!

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