If you really want to get fit and healthy, you need to be doing cardio alongside your strength training. You’ve got to give your heart a workout just as much as your other muscles if you want success.
You can break down cardio equipment into 4 main groupings: treadmill, elliptical, recumbent/biking and vertical/stair climbing.
Most people have seen a treadmill and know it basically allows you to run or walk in place. Treadmills are a great option if you can’t or don’t like to run outside. Running puts added stress on your knees and feet so it’s important to find a high quality treadmill with shock absorption. Also make sure you’ve got some great running shoes to support and protect your feet.
Similar to the treadmill is the elliptical. This machine puts less stress on your knees and legs by eliminating the “shock” altogether. With an elliptical, your feet are always in contact with the machine. You move your legs in an egg-shaped, or elliptical pattern (hence the name).
If you’ve got any sort of stress related injury, you might be better served with the recumbent bike. This piece of equipment will help you elevate your heart rate, but most of the weight is on your backside instead of your knees and ankles.
It can be tempting to go easy on the bike and just sort of coast along, but remember, we’re trying to elevate your heart rate here, not just check “ cardio” off our to-do list. Try adjusting the levels until you find a challenging enough intensity. Many bikes will have programs to choose from, so you can even do some intervals.
My favorite piece of cardio equipment is the stair climber. I’m a big fan of vertical cardio and the stair climber is the most effective equipment to achieve it. If you notice you’re out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, you can imagine the workout a stair climber will give you.
Mix It Up
The ideal cardio workout is to mix it up. Try using all 4 types of cardio equipment so you don’t get bored. Whether it’s alternating daily or weekly, try not to stick to the same piece of equipment if you have the choice.
Also, get creative and figure out how you can mimic these movements out in nature. For example, alternating a hike for the stair climber will help keep your vertical cardio routine from getting stale and boring. The goal is to get moving. Shaking up your routine will help you keep moving.