Advantages of Each Machine
How do you know which piece of cardio equipment is right for you? Let's look at the advantages of each type of machine.
Treadmills potentially have a higher calories-per-hour burn-rate, since each step requires the user to launch their entire bodyweight upwards (you can use more if settings on machines are increased).
Treadmills also motivate the user since the belt does not slow down unless turned down, so the user is forced to keep walking/running or risk tripping.
Incline Trainer Advantages
Most people report that weight loss and increased cardiovascular fitness are their principle goals when beginning an exercise program. Increased muscular fitness and appearance are also high on the list of goals. For the working professional, the over-extended or the individual not wanting to spend hours and hours at the gym, the search for optimal exercise training is of preeminent importance.
Incline trainers are meant for people who want to walk at higher inclines. They are treadmills that go up to 40% incline. Research shows that if you walk between 18-22% incline at 2 mph, you will burn twice the amount of calories than a treadmill at the same speed. When you walk or run at a higher incline, you'll target leg and buttock muscle building and burn more calories.
You can also increase your heart rate and cardiovascular demand without increasing speed to high levels. This lets exercisers increase cardiovascular fitness without increasing the risk of treadmill injury.
The increased muscular demands of walking and running give you a muscular fitness workout during your cardio workout. Incline trainers increase the user's ability to burn fat through increased muscular activity at slower speeds, accelerating weight loss.
Ellipticals mimic the motion of cross country skiing. They give you a high calorie burn with seemingly less effort than a treadmill. This machine targets your whole body and has less impact on your joints than a treadmill. There's also less chance of injury than with a treadmill.
If you're not going to be running, a treadclimber is a great option, as you may not use all the advantages of a treadmill. The biggest advantage of a treadclimber is the calorie burn. You will burn more calories per hour than a treadmill. It also has a lower impact on your joints than a treadmill.
The fastest a treadclimber will go is 4.5 miles/hour. But even at 2 miles per hour you're getting a better workout than the same speed on a treadmill - that's because you're stepping, constantly going uphill, and the deck is shorter than a treadmill so you have to pick your legs up quicker with each step. You are also taxing the largest muscles in your body because of the incline - your legs and buttocks.
For losing weight and toning, the treadclimber strengthens your legs better because you're going uphill, which triggers more muscles in your leg. You also have to keep yourself stable on it so you work more core muscles (when you're not holding on to the handles).
Steppers are great for firming buttock and leg muscles. They have less impact on your joints than a treadmill (but more than an elliptical).
The best cardio work-out is a stepper, but people tend to like it the least because it is difficult. Sometimes it's better to use this machine once a week (as example) to test yourself and see how long you can workout on it.
A step-mill is the better specific selection, as it mimics a stairwell, not a perpendicular ladder. A step-mill retains the 38 degree angle best suited to human movement.
Bikes have a low impact - they can increase heart rates without substantial stress on the knees, ankles, feet or hips. A recumbent bike is actually better than an upright bike, as it allows the user to have an open chest cavity and better enable breathing, thus taxing the legs more.