Not All Cardio Machines Are Created Equal

Don’t sabotage your fitness goals
Not All Cardio Machines Are Created Equal


Ask any endurance athlete and he or she will tell you—cardio is king. Though most supplement their workouts with other forms of training, cardio is the bulk of what they do.

First-timers at the gym and those getting back into fitness start with cardio. It’s beginner-friendly and effective.

The following are tips from Matt Thorsen, masters in Exercise Science and product specialist at SportsArt. His tips will help you use each piece of cardio equipment to achieve maximum results for each body part.


Best for: legs, glutes, cardiorespiratory


How to use:

Increase the incline and decrease the speed to perform a glute and calf blasting workout.

Be sure not to hold on to the handles to really make your muscles work.

Level out the incline and increase the speed to go for a run, which is great for cardiorespiratory training, positive joint impact, and overall core and lower extremity muscle training.

Getting bored? Mix up your treadmill training by adding in backwards walking, side-shuffle, or karaoke style movements to keep the training feel fresh and perhaps more sport specific.


Best for: Low impact and quadriceps (specifically the Vasti muscle group), and active recovery


How to use:

There is generally little variability that can be done by means of altering the unit’s mechanics. Therefore, different types of training should be used.

Increase the cycle’s resistance to replicate a hill climb, or increase the RPM to simulate a sprint. This will increase the activation of the quadriceps and equate to power training.

If you are sore or previously completed a rigorous workout, lower the resistance or RPM for a steady ride that would be beneficial for active recovery.


Best for: Low impact, quads, glutes, and calves


How to use:

If using an adjustable ramp height elliptical:

Increase the ramp height to place a focus on glute and quadriceps activation.

Lower the ramp height to focus on calves.

Set the ramp to medium height for an overall balance of the leg and hip muscles.

If using an adjustable stride length elliptical:

Increase the stride length to increase muscle activation of the glutes, calves and hamstrings.

Decrease the stride length to place focus on the quadriceps.

If using an elliptical with moving arms:

Incorporate a deliberate push/pull movement on the arms to activate chest, back, biceps, triceps, and core musculature.

More readings:

Best High-Intensity Cardio Workouts to Do in 20 Minutes

15 Exercises That Burn More Calories Than Running

17 Most Common Fitness Injuries and How to Prevent Them