Cardio Machine Secrets to Burn More Fat
Using cardio machines are good ways to burn calories. The key is using the equipment properly, so that fat loss is optimized. Here are some simple things you can do to maximize your workout.
Quit moving at the same, constant rate. No matter what machine you use, have periods of higher intensity, followed by a recovery. It's called interval training.
For beginners interval training may mean pushing yourself hard for as little as 15-30 seconds, then taking 30-60 seconds at a slower pace to recover. As you get more fit, you can gradually increase the intense periods of your workout. Make sure that no single interval (period of intense exercise) lasts longer than four minutes.
For a good workout, all your interval time added up together can be as little as six minutes, to as much as 20 for someone in great shape.
On the stationary bike, get out of your seat. When you're pushing through an interval, increase the resistance and stand up like you would when climbing a hill. Standing engages your core for stability and gives your upper body more of a workout.
Increase the elevation on a treadmill. Running on a flat treadmill is easier than running on flat ground because there's no wind resistance. The elevation (or incline) on a treadmill should be set to at least 1%, just to mimic the energy you need to use running outside on a level track.
Change the incline on a treadmill to 3% and you get a double bonus. According to a study in Medicine & Science, a 3% incline will reduce leg shock by 24 percent, dramatically lowering the risk of overuse injuries. It also increases the workload on hamstrings and hips, raising both your heart rate and calorie burn. If you're doing an interval workout, lower the incline during periods of recovery.
Resist the urge to grab the handles on a treadmill as you increase the incline. Holding onto the rails will decrease your ability to balance and make you more prone to stumble. You want those stabilizer muscles to improve while you're exercising, so when you go about your daily routine you'll be less likely to fall.
Holding onto the treadmill handles also decreases the amount of work your body experiences, especially as the incline increases. There isn't a significant benefit to increasing the incline another percentage point, if you're just going to hang on tighter.
Use your legs more on rowing machines. All too often people will lean forward on a rower, then use their lower torso to pull the handle as they lean back. All that upper body movement can quickly lead to lower back injuries and cheats you of the maximum fat-burning potential.
Instead, push or drive with your legs and pull the handle to your sternum. Then don't engage the legs on the return stroke until the handle moves past your knees. Practice the movement slowly until you've got it mastered.
On an elliptical, make sure your incline settings are appropriate for your body size. People that are shorter, or who have shorter strides may not have long enough legs to move properly through each cycle of the foot pedals. If you're shifting your weight heavily from one side of your body to the other to keep moving, the incline is probably set too high.
Check your knees on an elliptical as well. They should have a slight bend in them. If your legs are going straight and you're using momentum to push through, you're not maximizing the calorie burn.
Finally, start tracking your heart rate during cardio workouts. You can use apps like DigiFit on a smartphone to see how much you're pushing yourself each time. All too often we "feel" like our workouts are intense, when in reality they're not changing. But by using some kind of tracking program linked to your heart rate, you can get clear and immediate feedback on how hard you're working.
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