Good write up on this site of different Cardio Machines
Why are There So many Different Types of Cardio Machines ?
Cardio Machines were first Developed for Training Purposes not Fat Burning Devices
Cardio machine used to be predominantly used for training. Treadmills were used by people who couldn't get outside to run. Rowing machines were used by people who wanted to train their rowing ability without the inconvenience of getting to the river.
People started to become overweight at an alarming rate and the fitness revolution happened in the 1980s. Cardio machines were designed to simulate daily physical activities which could be done in place on a machine.
Later on in the 1990s elliptical machines were designed specifically for non impact exercise.
Here are Cardio Machines which May be Best for Your Goals
Treadmills are for for the most basic impact exercise walking, jogging and running. Every quality treadmill has the ability to change the speed and incline (level of hill). Treadmills usually have safety features such as an auto stop switch and side handles to make sure you don't kill yourself.
Another feature of the best treadmills is a remote heart rate monitor. It is not convenient to put your hands on the hand heart rate monitors when you running if you are serious about your exercise intensity.
The best treadmills allow you to put a strap around your sternum which will send your heart rate to the treadmill by remote.
Exercise Tip: If you do not like running walking on the treadmill can be just as effective for burning calories, fat and cardiovascular effect. The key is to set the treadmill at a significant incline. Working against gravity will increase difficulty and caloric expenditure.
Do not pull on the handles when you have an incline.. If you grab the handles it completely defeats the purpose of the incline. The calories burned meter on the machine will not be accurate also. If you have to hold on the for dear life you should probably slow down the machine.
Stairmaster is actually a brand of stair stepper machines which predominantly known as Stairmasters now. The motion of a Stairmaster is similar to climbing up steps, but your body weight is actually pushing the steps down. If the difficulty of the Stairmaster is increased, the steps will fall faster which will cause you to step faster.
On a Stairmaster your are working directly against gravity and your body weight. Any time a cardio exercise has a vertical component it will be more difficult than horizontal only activities.
Stairmasters have been known to be hard on the knees. If you have any major muscle imbalances and posture problems the Stairmaster is probably not your best cardio machine.
Exercise Tips: Like most of the best cardio machines it is better for you to not hold onto the handles for dear life. The handles are for balance. If you need to support your body weight with the Stairmaster you should lower the intensity level.
To get the most effective workout on a Stairmaster use an interval program. Which most cardio exercises on machines, the interval programs will allow you to burn the most calories a shorter amount of time.
Interval programs are great because they work you aerobic and anaerobic systems together which has a significant effect on your metabolism.
Elliptical machines are famous for non impact exercise. Non impact exercise means there is minimal compressive forces on your bones and joints.
There are 2 main varieties of elliptical machines. One variety has handles which allow upper and lower body concurrent push-pull movement. The intensity is increased by adding resistance.
The other variety does not have handles and usually allows the incline level of the foot rests to be adjusted as well as resistance.
Exercise Tips: Do not make the elliptical machine your only source of cardio. If you perform only non impact exercise your bone mass and strength could suffer in the long term.
To get the best workout on an elliptical machine with handles, set the resistance high so you have to use your arms as well as your legs.
The rowing machine is the most underrated cardio machine in the gym. Most people do not understand the correct way to use rowing machines.
Rowing machines are obviously the best cardio machines for simulating rowing but they are great for cardio as well if you know how to use them.
Rowing machines are not meant to be a resistance exercise. When people improperly use them they are usually pull very hard with their arms and have bad form.
The difference between rowing machines and all other cardio machines is you completely control how intense your session will be. The faster you go, the more intense your cardio workout will be.
This is why rowing machines are not the most popular cardio machine, you must have motivation to get the full benefit from rowing machines.
Exercise Tips: To get full cardio benefit of the rowing machine you should use one of the programs which is built on the little screen. These programs will show you intervals which allow you to pace yourself so you don't get burned out too quickly.
Stepmills or Stairmills are like the escalators from hell. It is just like you are stepping up your local stadium steps, except they are never ending.
Stepmills are not for the beginner. Even at very low settings Stepmills get your heart rate up very quickly. When you increase the difficulty level, the escalator goes faster.
Something else to take note of is the steps are pretty narrow. If you have feet over size 12 it may be awkward to exercise on the Stepmill which is definitely one of the best cardio machines to get your heart rate up and keep it up.
Exercise Tips: Do not support your entire body weight with the handles. You should hold them for safety reasons but they are not to support your body weight which takes away from the exercise's effects.
You can also step up sideways both ways on Stepmills. This is a great way to help functionally strengthen your legs stabilization mechanism, inner and outer thighs. Do not try this if you have any ligament problems in your knees.