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Now first let me state that if you really honestly enjoy your elliptical machine workouts and treadmill exercise routines, then I give you my blessing to keep doing what you love. The reason is that even though ellipticals and treadmills are relatively ineffective compared to other types of exercises, whatever you actually enjoy doing the most is going to benefit you most in the long run because you will be more likely to stick with it more consistently.
However, don't say that I didn't warn you that you might be wasting your time with all these boring mindless cardio machine workouts. I've talked about this previously with my ezine subscribers... I actually do not believe in cardio machines as a good form of working out at all. This might surprise you coming from a fitness nut such as myself, but I don't think I've personally used an exercise bike, treadmill, elliptical, or any other cardio machine for at least 8 years or more.
In fact, I don't even use cardio machines anymore for warm-ups before my workouts. I actually think it's a much more effective warm-up to do dumbbell and/or kettlebell swings, snatches, clean & presses, etc, mixed with bodyweight exercises as a great full-body warm-up before working out.
Why do I think cardio machines are so awful? Well, here's 5 reasons:
1) Treadmills and ellipticals are just a very ineffective way to workout compared to other options. Why should you do treadmill or elliptical workouts when you can get better results by doing more interesting forms of training that actually stimulate a fat-burning hormonal response and stimulate your metabolism to a greater extent.
2) Elliptical machines and treadmills are insanely expensive and a waste of money for people that work out at home... there are so many better things for home workouts you could have spent your money on rather than wasting it on an elliptical machine, treadmill, or exercise bike. You'll see plenty of ideas below for better home workouts if you don't like going to a gym to work out.
3) I have seen several studies that indicated results that treadmill running may be less effective than outdoor running for various reasons such as stride abnormalities on treadmills vs natural running, slightly less caloric burn compared to outdoor running, and so on.
(although I never recommend just "jogging" anyway... variable intensity walking/running or sprinting are much more effective, training your heart rate in a much wider range instead of the same heart rate range the whole time).
4) Steady state exercise (that doesn't require concentration on what you're doing) while watching tv or reading a newspaper or magazine creates a mind/body disconnect resulting in extremely poor results compared to exercise that requires focused attention.
5) Elliptical and treadmill workouts are just mind-numbingly boring!
So what are some good alternatives to elliptical machine and treadmill workouts? Some of my favorites are:
Outdoor wind sprint workouts - This is the ultimate workout for a rock hard lean body... just look at the powerful yet super-lean and ripped bodies of world class sprinters, and compare that to the withering weakling physiques of typical marathoners... what would you rather look like?
Jumping rope - incredible mind/body connection and actually fun (you can try speed jumping, crossover jumps, and double jumps once you get good at it)
Kettlebell workouts - nothing will get your heart pounding and sweat pouring like high rep kettlebell swings and/or snatches (or clean & presses)! These can be done with dumbbells too, but I prefer kettlebells as they have a better "feel" to them and the unbalanced nature of KBs makes you work harder)
Bodyweight exercises - mountain climbers, bodyweight squats, push-ups, jumping drills, lunges, bear crawls, plank holds, and so on.
The good old fashioned rowing machine - I don't really lump this in as a "cardio" machine per se like elliptical machines and treadmills... Rather, I think the rowing machine is actually a great full body workout that actually uses real resistance)
Hill sprinting - running as hard up a hill as possible, followed by walking down and repeating as many times as you can for a full workout (yet another classic drill for a rock hard lean body)
Shadow boxing... a killer workout, but if you are shy, this is best done at home since you will get some crazy looks doing this at a typical gym!
Swimming sprints - a more muscle toning workout compared with steady pace distance swimming... I actually love the upper body pump I get from sprint swimming (instead of swimming slow and steady, with sprint swimming, you swim as fast as you can exerting as much force as you can for 1 lap. Then rest for 15-20 seconds before doing another swim sprint).
Heavy bag punching/kicking workouts, speed bag, rebounding bag... all are tremendous workouts and much more fun than boring cardio machines (requires an very intense mind/body connection which increases results).
I hope this article gives you lots of ideas you can use to go out right away and bring some more variety into your workouts instead of relying on the same old dull elliptical machine and treadmill workout routines. Have fun!
Enjoy, and good luck with your fitness and weight-loss endeavors!
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Mike Geary -
Certified Nutrition Specialist,
Certified Personal Trainer,
Author of the world-wide best-seller: The Truth about Six Pack Abs
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