Cardio is an essential part of working out effectively. Getting the heart rate pumping is an excellent way to warm up and burn calories. You’ve seen and used cardio equipment at your gym, but are you sure you’re getting the absolute most out of it?
Here’s a guide to making sure you’re using popular cardio equipment properly so you know you’re getting the most out of your workout.
Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Before we get into the equipment, the first and most crucial thing to remember is to always warm up and cool down. No matter which equipment you are using, start each session by gradually warming up and taking things slowly. After you’ve finished your main workout, slow down and take things easy for a few minutes to avoid injuries.
The treadmill is a gym classic. If you can’t or don’t want to run outdoors, treadmills are for you. But they can also become a bit boring. Is not exactly the same as running outdoors, after all.
How can you make sure you’re getting the most out of treadmills? You can start by trying out different programs. Treadmills from top brands like Life Fitness will have specific programs to try, such as those that allow you to run up hills. If you are starting to get bored with plain running, try these out and mix up your routine.
You should avoid holding onto the handrail while you are walking or running because these are really just to help you get on and off. Also, try to stay upright rather than leaning forwards, and look straight ahead rather than down.
Spin bikes are very popular in gyms. Fun, furious and great for burning a large number of calories, this low-impact exercise provides a full workout. So how should you get the most out of spin bikes or other types of exercise bikes?
For a start, invest in some cycling shoes. Using these, you can clip into the pedals, and this will help to work more muscles. Also, make sure the foot straps are tight. That way, you don’t just push down on the pedals, but you also pull up and generate more power.
Try to mix up your workout. You may not think there is much variation, but you can try sitting for periods and then standing on the pedals for a while. It makes for a tough workout, but great for building strength. Also, experiment with different load and tension settings.
The rowing machine is an excellent option if you want to enjoy a full cardio workout while developing more power in your arms and legs.
To use the rowing machine properly, avoid gripping too hard. Ideally, you want to grip just hard enough to keep hold of the handles.
Don’t use your arms too much either. Your leg should be doing most of the work, and this will help you to develop more power and get more from each session.
Always push back instead of up. Technique is important with the rower, and if you feel yourself come off the seat, this means you’re pushing up too much. Keep good posture too and make sure you sit up properly.
You might also want to set up a session with a friend and try racing each other over a set distance. Adding an element of competition can help to keep things interesting.
Cross-trainers are another popular type of cardio machine, and they are a good option for anyone who wants an alternative to high-impact treadmills. One of the great things about a cross-trainer is that it also gives your arms a workout, not just your legs.
Try to switch things up on the cross-trainer by going in reverse occasionally. By going backwards instead of forwards, you are creating a new challenge, and it also helps to work your thigh muscles.
Try letting go of the bars for a few minutes at a time and focus completely on your legs. This will help to work your core and improve your balance.
Alternatively, focus on only using your arms for short periods by pushing and pulling on the bars rather than using your legs. This will help to work your arms, back and chest.
Climbing stairs might not sound like a whole lot of fun, but it’s a great way to enjoy a full cardio workout. Stepping machines replicate climbing stairs, providing you with a fantastic way to build strength in your legs.
To make sure you are getting the most out of it, make sure you’re using your hands properly. They should only be used for balance rather than supporting your weight. It’s harder this way, but it gives you a better workout.
One of the easiest ways to switch things up and enjoy your workout more is to use specific landmarks. For example, you could find a program that allows you to climb up the Statue of Liberty. Try different landmarks and time how quickly you can get to the top.
The Most Important Tip of All
The most important thing with cardio machines is to have fun! As you can see, any machine can become dull if you do the same old thing every time. Try to get the most out of your workout by mixing things up, challenging yourself against your friends and keeping things interesting. If you can do that, you’ll start to notice the benefits in no time.