Has the great debate over the cardio machine left you scratching your head trying to decide which of these cardio options will help most with fat loss?
What is the best for improving cardiovascular endurance?
What is the answer to these questions?
It depends on who you ask.
A CrossFit athlete can say that rowing machines are the best cardio because they engage so many muscles and blast tons of calories in minutes.
A gym manager might say that the elliptical trainer is best because it’s so safe, has a low risk of injury, is super easy to use, and gym members seem to gravitate towards them.
A busy go getter might like the treadmill more because he can multitask and get the job done while squeezing out a heart pumping workout.
All three make cardio options possible and “good”.
The truth is that:
The best cardio machine for you depends on your goals and which machine you like best.
After all, a machine you hate to use won’t be a valuable tool in your quest for weight loss, no matter how much others like it.
With that in mind, I introduce you to the good, the bad, and the differences between each of these three cardio machines and you decide which one is best with your fitness goals and tastes.
What is the best weight loss solution, rowing machine versus elliptical?
Both the rowing machine and the elliptical trainer are capable of burning fat and helping in your weight loss journey.
Both use the upper and lower body, and offer a “full” cardio workout, which I like.
I’ll talk about it again in a minute.
Since we are talking about weight loss, I feel I have to say:
Weight loss happens in the kitchen!
80% of weight loss success depends on what you put in your mouth. Your diet matters more than the cardio machine you decide is best for your home gym.
Only 20% depends on the exercise you do!
Of that 20 percent, the difference between rower and elliptical is minimal. Both will give you a great workout if you put in the effort.
What is the difference between rowing machine, elliptical bike and treadmill?
The rowing machine, or erg machine, uses most of the muscles and can really make the heart pump. This is a fast, fat-burning cardio option.
The muscles used by the rower are:
Fast fat burning
Using all of these muscles with every stroke makes it easy to see why this cardio machine is capable of killing many calories in minutes.
The rowing machine uses all the major muscle groups, and is a cardio body endurance workout of butt kicks.
A rowing session can often take as little as 20 minutes or less to complete, so if you’re short on time, the rowing machine might be the one for you.
A challenge to learn how to use correctly
You must use the rowing machine with a suitable shape!
If you jump up, increase your stamina and just go you are risking strain, pain or even back injury.
If you use improper shape or the wrong resistance setting, many benefits of rowing are lost.
Improper forms can cause you to lose some of the muscles you should be engaging in stroke, making training less effective.
Increasing the resistance too high, like on you 10, will give you an anaerobic workout and will encourage or even cause poor fitness.
TIP: Set the resistance somewhere between 4 and 6 if you are just starting to get cardio training and give your body the best chance of using the correct form.
Take-away rowing machine:
It burns the most calories in the shortest time, uses the whole body, but is also the most difficult to use properly.
The treadmill is a pretty basic cardio machine. It is easier to use than a rowing machine, but there is still room for error and injury if not used correctly.
The good news:
A treadmill is easy enough to learn how to use.
Tip: Don’t lean or hang on the handles – if you need to, it’s time to turn the settings down a notch. The handles are there for balance, plus you burn fewer hanging calories.
The treadmill uses these muscles:
Many busy people like the treadmill because you can read, reply to emails, watch the news on TV or play games on your tablet while on the treadmill.
The treadmill is a lower body workout, so your hands are free to use multitasking.
Most treadmills have incline and resistance settings that allow you to control how hard you want to go. Most of them even have built-in programs to change the intensity, incline and speed for you.
You can set a high incline using a low speed and really aim for the glutes. Or you can use a low incline at high speed and get your heart pumping.
You can also use a low to moderate speed and incline and watch a few episodes of your favorite program for an easy workout that lets you relax a little.
Variable, potentially intense, and allows you to do more activities, with the downside that it only works in the lower body.
The elliptical trainer is the easiest to use of the three: rowing machine vs. elliptical vs. treadmill.
Most elliptical trainers you come across also have arm resistance bars, so you get some upper body training along with lower body work.
Muscles used on the elliptical trainer:
Negligible learning curve
There is a reason why many people you see at the gym use elliptical trainers. They are easy to use and not intimidating at all.
Just go up and you have no choice but to follow the movement of the cars.
It’s hard to move wrong on the elliptical trainer. The hardest part can be learning how to program the console and changing resistance.
Easy on the body
Elliptical trainers are very low impact, so they do not strain the knee joints or any other area of the body. They don’t aggravate back pain like rowing, and they don’t cause foot injuries, which is possible with running.
Elliptical Trainer Takeaway:
Elliptical trainers are the safe bet. Low risk of injury, easy to use and works on both the upper and lower body.