I know what you're thinking, cardio machines, stopping me from gaining progress? No way! Sorry to burst your bubble but there are many people who are putting their gym results to a standstill by using cardio machines! So how does this work out? Let's find out!
What are cardio machines?
Short for cardiovascular, from treadmills, cross trainers, bikes and rowers, any machine which is specifically aiming to raise your heart rate or (getting you sweaty) is a cardio machine. Some of these machines are designed to allow people to do in the gym what they can't (or don't want to do) outside, e.g run or ride a bike. As popular and in demand these machines are, I've always found the users are commonly split into two groups, some people have specific reasons to use them, on the other hand, most average gym users use it as a comfortable and safe piece of equipment which doesn't require you to always be pushed out of your comfort zone.
This is an issue as you'll become so used to being safe that you'll do the same thing all the time! This will eventually be easy for your body, stop your progress and even increase weight gain as your body isn't having to work that hard! Typically I hear that people do: 10 minutes on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the bike and then 10 minutes on the cross trainer. Now, although people are using different machines there isn't really any variety by doing this as all these machines do the same thing which is work your heart. Most users forget to have an objective before they use these machines, for example: What am I going to do in 10mins? Am I travelling a certain amount of distance? Am I focusing on calories burnt? Am I targeting certain heart rate zones? If you don't know any of these, you'll probably find cardio machines will eventually stop your fitness progress for sure.
Now although I've just mentioned a lot of negatives about cardio machines there obviously are benefits! If you're very unfit and need to move more, initially doing 10mins or more on different cardiovascular machines will be great to get you moving whilst increasing stamina and get your body out of its comfort zone! If you're very overweight and have trouble moving or have joint pains/issues, these machines are secure and allow you to move these joints again with minimal pressure comfort, plus burning calories and working your heart! If you have a marathon, a long distance event or even a sprint event, you can mimic the distance you will travel and what speeds you need to reach and push your boundaries without stepping outside! Therefore there are many benefits to using these machines and it's not all bad!
These machines become an issue if none of the above really appeals to you, for example: you're no longer a beginner in the gym, your fitness levels are above normal, you're overweight but can move well enough without those machines or you don't have a specific event to train for. These are all things that indicate PROGRESSION! If you're past the beginners stage and have made training progress, change and broaden the equipment you use in the gym! If getting leaner or losing weight are your main goals then variety and pushing your boundaries will be the best way to do it anyway!
Sometimes it is simply a confidence barrier in using new machines which is very common, if that's the case, ask one of the people working in the gym to write you a plan or ask them to go around the gym and show you new things to use! That's what they're there for! To achieve any fitness goal you need to push your boundaries and come out of your comfort zone. Staying on the same cardio machines doing roughly the same thing will only keep your mind and body working to the same level. When your mind is comfortable so is your body and that equals to your body hitting a plateau. (pause to progress)
So what should you be doing?
Ask more questions, ideally to a fitness professional who can help you in the gym! Everyone will have their own opinion however I'd assume no one who's good in the industry will tell you to only use all cardio machines, if they do, you need to ask someone else. In my opinion, a mixture of resistance, weights and bodyweight movements will work the muscles, strengthen joints, improve movement plus will help tone muscles whilst increasing heart rate and burning calories! This partnered with some use of cardio machines will improve the total amount of calories burnt each session, let you utilise your gym and all its equipment, come out of your comfort zone mentally and physically, and most importantly keep your body progressing with variety!
Although cardio machines help burn calories and get you fitter, using them on their own all the time will not help you lose weight effectively or improve your stamina for long term purposes! Using a variety of resistance weights and machines, bodyweight exercises and cardio machines give you a well rounded workout whilst keeping you moving forward with your goals. If you really can only use cardio machines always have an aim! Beat your previous distance, go a longer time, aim for a specific heart rate or target calories! This will allow your mind and body to keep pushing and progressing and add more variety to the same piece of machinery.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article feel free to share it!
Keep Training Mean Stay Lean!
Have you read our last article?
All articles are written by Luke Teuma, Founder of Lean With Luke.