Unlike many people in the fitness industry, I actually think that all cardio machines have some value. I would separate the machines into two groups. The first group is what I would call primary cardio machines. These are the pieces of equipment you use to jack up your metabolism, release fatty acids from your fat cells, and increase your HGH levels. The secondary cardio machines are valuable for steady state low intensity cardio. When combined in a strategic way, you can maximize fat loss by taking advantage of both types of equipment.
[When used properly and with a sense of purpose and intensity, the treadmill can be considered a Primary Cardio Machine.]
The Ability of a Cardio Machine to Illicit an HGH Response
The biggest thing which separates various pieces of cardio equipment is the ability of that piece of equipment to to create what some call the “HGH flush”. That is when an exercise makes you short of breath, and your skin hot to the touch. This is a good indicator that your exercise was intense enough to boost your metabolism following your workout as well as increase your body’s natural HGH output. Many people haven’t experienced this type of exercise since Junior High, when your teacher made you “run lines” or made you sprint for one lap around the track.
Not All Machines Have the Same “Bang for the Buck”
Sprinting on a treadmill is tougher than doing cardio on an Elliptical Trainer. Jogging on a StepMill Machine is considerably more difficult than exercising on a typical Stair Climber. Doing intervals on an Upright Stationary Bike is quite a bit tougher than doing the same interval routine on a Recumbent Stationary Bike. The Stepmill Machine is what I consider the toughest piece of cardio equipment in the gym. It is the stair climber that looks like a mini-escalator with real stairs that rotate towards you. This evil machine will make you work up a sweat…especially when you do your HIIT routine on it.
The 3 Main Primary Cardio Machines
Here is my list of three…The Treadmill, The Stepmill, and the Upright Stationary Bike. These lend themselves well to intervals and definitely get the whole “HGH Flush” going when done with enough intensity. Unfortunately you won’t see many gyms with Stepmills, but if your gym has one then take advantage of it. You will get tremendous results.
Almost Everything Else Is Secondary
Here are some secondary cardio machines…the Elliptical Trainer, the Recumbent Stationary Bike, the Stair Climber, Nordic Track, and Rower. You could try hard to do intervals on these pieces of equipment and could certainly work up a sweat, but not to the same degree as the other 3 that I listed above.
How to Strategically Combine Both Types of Machines
My advice is to do intervals on one of the Primary Cardio Machines for 10-15 minutes, followed by moderate steady state cardio on one of the Secondary Cardio Machines for 20 minutes. Doing HIIT followed by steady state cardio is called the Stubborn Fat Protocol. I threw together a 3 page mini-course which explains how to do this for maximum fat loss: Fat Loss Cardio
Why Not Just Stay on The Same Machine At a Slower Pace?
There are two reasons I suggest you change equipment after performing HIIT. The first reason is that it is mentally draining to stay on the same piece of equipment for 30-40 minutes. The change of location will do you some good. The second reason is that your body will respond better to a bit of variety when it comes to cardio.
Primary Machines Can Be Used As Secondary
You can take any piece of primary equipment and use it in place of a secondary machine, but you should Not try to it the other way around. For example: You could do intervals on a treadmill then follow that with exercising at a slow pace on an upright stationary bike for steady state cardio. You would not want to try to do Intervals on a Nordic Track. You certainly could go through the motions on a secondary machine and do intervals, but you are not going to get the same level of HGH response.
Ignore the “Calories Burned” Readings on Cardio Machines
Once you understand how to do effective cardio workouts, you will realize that these little “calories burned” readings on these machines mean nothing. For effective fat loss cardio you are looking for two things: Intense enough intervals to release fatty acids from your fat cells…followed by steady state cardio to use that fat for energy.
What if You Don’t Have Any Cardio Equipment?
If you don’t belong to a gym, or don’t have cardio equipment…then you can “recreate” the HIIT effect from primary cardio machines in a number of ways. I have two popular posts about ow to do HIIT without expensive equipment. The first method is Jumping Rope. Try this killer Jump Rope Routine! If you only have access to a room with no equipment whatsoever, you can do a Intervals with bodyweight exercises only. Here is a post I did about a bodyweight routine I did this past winter: Body Weight Circuits Are Kickin’ My Butt!
Note: After doing jump rope intervals or body weight circuits, then you can do something like a fast walk or slow jog outside. When pressed for time, you can eliminate the steady state cardio all together. The majority of your fat loss results will come from the intense intervals…the steady state cardio is just “icing on the cake”. One last thing…you can replicate HIIT with weights as well: A Circuit Training Routine That Actually Makes Sense!
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