Which Gym Cardio Machine Is Best For You?

Find out which cardio machine best suits your goals, and the workouts that can help you crank up the intensity


Do you ever find yourself aimlessly wandering around the gym in search of the perfect workout? The hardest step — getting to the gym — is over. Now, you’re ready to put in the work. However, sticking to the same workout routine day-in and day-out can be boring and mind-numbing. Talk about a motivation diffuser. It’s like listening to the same song over and over — you become sick of it.

So, how do you stay motivated? One way is to switch up your workout regimen by incorporating new exercises. Below is a list of different ways you can crank up the intensity of your workout using the many different cardio machines found at most gyms — not only to help you decide which is best for you, but also so that you can make the most of each and every workout.

Although the StairMaster has been around for decades, it still is one of the most common machines you will find in your gym. As most know, the exercise from this machine is equivalent to stadium sprints or running up stairs. The health benefits range from increased cardiovascular fitness to lower-body conditioning. The climbing motion builds great strength in the lower body. Because this machine is non-impact, people with knee or back issues will be able to endure a great workout without compromising their physical condition.

The StairMaster is a great tool for aerobic conditioning and regulating your heart rate. By using this machine regularly for just 20 minutes, three to five times a week, you can increase your endurance and stamina. As your fitness level increases, you can challenge yourself to increase the speed and resistance.


The elliptical machine may look a little intimidating if you have never tried it before, but that hesitation goes away after learning about the results it yields. Similar to the StairMaster, the elliptical machine is easier on the body in general. This is great for people who have joint, knee and lower back issues. The gliding motion is low-impact but still provides you with an effective workout.

The pace of the elliptical is up to you. With its built-in programs, you have a lot of variety to choose from. If you are short on time, you can turn-up the intensity by increasing the resistance. In addition, because the motion of the machine includes moving the handles (which move your legs), you can get a great upper-body workout as well. One of the greatest benefits of using an elliptical is that you can get a full body workout is less than 30 minutes.

Moving the elliptical in reverse is another great way to switch up your workouts on this machine. Reversing the motion will work your calves and hamstrings more than when moving forward.

Related: How to Actually Get a Good Workout on the Elliptical Machine


The rower has been around for a long time, but recently it’s become more and more popular for all types of exercisers. A rowing machine uses every part of the body and especially focuses on the core and legs. Unlike most other machines, the rower distributes work fairly evenly across all parts of the body. Roughly 60 percent comes from the legs and about 40 percent from the upper body. Rowing is a great strength training workout but it also keeps your heart rate elevated at the same time. Compared to a spin class, rowing can burn anywhere from two to three times the amount of calories.

To increase your rowing experience, you can incorporate mat exercises between high-intensity intervals on the rower. Mat exercises could include planks, bicycle crunches or push-ups. And the best part is you don’t need any additional equipment.

The treadmill is a great machine to use for interval training or jogging. One major benefit of using a treadmill is the softer rubber surface, which provides lower impact on your body, verses running outdoors on the hard cement.


One method to crank up your workouts on the treadmill is to do a five-minute warm-up jog, and then every five minutes thereafter increase your speed by three levels. Once you hit your fastest, hardest speed, hold for 5-minutes and then reduce it by two levels, totaling 30 minutes of work. This technique gives you something to work towards during your workout instead of blankly starring at the time lapsed. Other tips include increasing the incline, walking sideways on the treadmill, incorporating 5 to 10 pound weights, or doing a mixture of all three.

Related: 5 Easy Ways to Beat Boredom on the Treadmill

Consistently switching up your workouts will not only keep you interested and motivated, but it will keep your body guessing, which can help reduce your chance of hitting a plateau. Most importantly, though, next time you hit the gym make the most of your time by heading in with a plan of action.

More Reading:
The Surprising Ways Lifting Weights Will Change Your Life
Even the Fittest People Overlook this Important Healthy Habit
5 Cardio Workouts that Burn Major Calories and Blast Fat Fast