Exercise machines help you burn calories, build muscle and improve your endurance. Certain machines deliver a more intense cardiovascular workout than others, meaning you burn calories at a faster rate. The way you use cardiovascular exercise equipment also affects how efficiently you burn fat. Use the machines’ settings and additional tools to maximize your workout’s aerobic and strengthening benefits.
Burn Calories on a Treadmill
Of all the equipment in your gym or club, the cardiovascular exercise machines deliver the workout that burns the most calories. Running on a treadmill burns more calories than any other machine-centered workout. Before you begin, check the settings and select an intense pace to burn more calories. If you weigh between 125 and 185 pounds and jog at 5 mph for one hour, you burn between 480 and 710 or more calories, depending upon your fitness level and weight. Pick up your pace to 7.5 mph and you burn between 750 and 1,110 calories, which means you can lose up to 2.5 pounds per week running six of the days. Rather than running faster, you can also intensify the workout and burn extra calories by setting the treadmill at an incline, so you’re running “uphill.”
Use an Elliptical Trainer
An elliptical trainer can offer you an excellent aerobic workout. However, because you power the pace of an elliptical trainer, it is easy to slip into coasting when you get tired. To maximize its calorie-burning benefits, work out at high speed and use a machine that has movable handles so you work your arms as well. An added benefit of exercising on an elliptical trainer is that your feet never leave the pedals, making it a low-impact aerobic workout. An hour on the elliptical can burn 540 to 800 calories or more. You can also adjust the resistance and incline on an elliptical trainer to burn extra calories.
Other Cardiovascular Exercise Machines
Other machines that make you raise your heart rate also burn calories efficiently. For example, climbing a stair treadmill burns between 360 and 532 calories in one hour. The workout is lower-impact, so it will not stress your joints, muscles and tendons as much as running high speed on a treadmill. Stair-climbing also provides a strengthening workout for your gluteal, thigh and calf muscles. However, avoid leaning on or holding onto the machine; it reduces the number of calories burned. Using a stationary rowing machines provides a total body-strengthening and aerobic workout, burning between 310 and 754 calories in one hour. Doing indoor cycling at a vigorous rate burns 630 and 932 calories per hour.
Interval Training on Exercise Machines
Most exercise machines feature settings that allow you to make the workout more intense, thus burning more calories. If your machine has an interval setting, using it will dramatically boost your calories burned. This setting varies your pace, usually starting with a warm-up, moving to a vigorous pace then adding in some sprints. The sprints boost your heart rate higher and keep it there, even when you slow down to a recovery pace. You can program your own intervals on an exercise machine by increasing the pace or changing the incline every few minutes and sustaining the sprint or climb for at least 30 seconds. Consult your doctor before beginning interval training or any other new exercise regimen.
It’s that time of year again—the snow’s melting, the sun’s shining, and those thick sweaters in the closet are about to go into storage. It’s the perfect time to reignite your motivation by breaking away from your boring gym routine and embracing the great outdoors. Kick off spring with a healthy start by getting the right gear, revamping your routine, and doing some “spring cleaning” in your pantry. Here are 20 simple tips to get you started.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Book a Physical
Believe it or not, only about 20 percent of Americans get an annual check-up. Be one of them! While you might look and feel just fine (or really hate needles), it’s important to keep tabs on things like blood pressure, cholesterol, and vitamin deficiencies before designing your workout program.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Set a Schedule… but Be Realistic
If you haven’t been working out much this winter, don’t write down that you’ll do outdoor cardio exercises for 30 minutes a day, six days a week. You’ll only find yourself getting frustrated and will be more likely to give up on your workout program. Post your exercise plan in places you’ll look frequently, like the calendar app on your smartphone or at your desk at work.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Team Up
You’re more likely to stick with your plan if you’ve got a partner in crime. Choose someone who has similar goals who’s schedule fits with your own. Your best bet: Get together at the same time four days a week, whether it’s before work or just before dinner.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Buy New Running Shoes
If you’ve been hitting the gym (and the treadmill) all winter, chances are, you’re due for a new pair. Most running shoes last somewhere between 300 and 400 miles—but if you use them to walk around or do other parts of your gym routine, that wear and tear counts, too. Go to a running specialty store to get fitted, and have them look at your gait/pronation to find the best shoe for you.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Clean Out Your Pantry
Still have that tin of popcorn from the holidays or a box of chocolates from Valentine’s Day? Get rid of them. And while you’re at it, throw away other foods low in nutritional value, like chips, pretzels, sugary cereals, white bread and, yes, even those 100 calorie snack packs (a cookies still a cookie, even if you squash it flat and drop five in a bag).
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Protect Your Skin
Now that it’s warming up, you’ll be heading outside again. This means more sunshine (and vitamin D, which is a good thing), but it also means that your skin is exposed to harmful UV rays. Rub waterproof lotion with at least SPF 15 or more over all exposed areas of your body. Don’t forget easy-to-miss areas like behind your ears, the back of your neck and the crease near your underarms.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Pump Up Your Playlist
Still listening to the same tracks from December? Do some iPod “spring cleaning” by downloading a fresh workout playlist to get you going.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Jump Rope
Heading outside and doing this favorite childhood “workout” can burn about 208 calories in just 20 minutes. Add other outdoor cardio exercises like walking lunges, short sprints, and jumping jacks, and you’ve got yourself a circuit program you can do right in your backyard.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Update Your Workout Wardrobe
Still sweating it out in cotton T-shirts? Throw away worn-out workout duds and replace them with shorts, tanks and tees in breathable, wick fabrics. While you’re at it, update your sports bras, too (a typical bra has a lifespan of about six months, although hand-washing can make them last longer).
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Stretch Out
The best way to prevent injury is to stretch before and after your workouts. Here’s how it’s done: Warm up with 10 minutes of light outdoor cardio exercises, then do dynamic stretching—as in, stretching while moving. This includes lunges, touching your toes and walking your hands forward, swinging your legs while standing and twisting from side to side. After your workout, complete “static” stretches—a.k.a. your typical “touch and hold” routine. Yoga, Pilates, and dance classes are also great ways to stay flexible.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Stay Hydrated
Avoid muscle cramping and fatigue by drinking about two liters of water a day, and 17 ounces about two hours before exercising. Another general rule of thumb: The more you sweat, the more fluids you need to replace, so drink up after a vigorous workout. Use stainless steel bottles to avoid some of the chemicals associated with certain plastic varieties (such as Bisphenol A, or BPA).
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Plan a Trip
Outdoor exercises are great, but if the weather’s still cool where you live, take a “health” vacation to a resort with hiking, biking and other activities (plus warm weather), or sign up for a yoga retreat.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Get Sporty
Break up your routine with outdoor exercises like tennis or golf, or team up with friends for an afternoon of ultimate Frisbee. Even kickball will get your heart going—and you don’t have to be athletically gifted to play!
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Hit the Farmers Market
Soak up some of that spring sunshine while you shop for fresh fruits and veggies. Other items worth picking up include fish, dried fruits, and nuts.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Change Your Thinking
Instead of designing goals based purely on weight loss, concentrate on how you feel. If counting calories has you down, think in terms of portions instead. Constantly checking the clock during your workout? Chances are you need to find a sport or activity you actually enjoy.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Step Off the Scale
Muscle weighs more than fat, so although you may look more toned, there’s a chance you might not be shedding pounds at the rate you’d expect. To get an accurate measure of your progress, use measuring tape once every two weeks to see where you’re trimming inches from your waist, hips, and other target areas.
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Jump On the Twitter Train
Get vocal about your fitness routine and goals and make friends with other women looking to get motivated this spring with a Twitter feed. Give updates on your progress, post links to your favorite fitness articles and products, and cheer on others (they’ll do the same for you).
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Tie On Weights
Tone up arms and legs by doing your regular routine—whether it’s walking to the store, cleaning your house or walking the dog—while using wrist and/or ankle weights. The resistance will help strengthen muscles (and get your body that much more ready for bikini season).
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Sign Up for a Race
Adding positive goals to your fitness routine will make you feel better and also give a purpose to your training other than losing weight or fitting into those skinny jeans. Look into local road races—the 5K distance is perfect for beginners—and sign up with your training partner. It’s also a great way to get involved in your local fitness community!
Spring Training Fitness Tip: Reward Yourself
Don’t forget to take care of your hard-worked body! A sports massage is the perfect way to pamper yourself, while alleviating toxins and speeding up muscle recovery. We love Just Calm Down Spa in New York City; even if you can’t get there, you can still get your hands on the muscle-soothing cream their therapists swear by: Topricin. Rub this fast-absorbing topical pain reliever on after a tough workout and your muscles will thank you.