If my goal is to lose weight, which cardio machine is best for me in the gym?

The focus that is usually given to this type of articles focuses on the calorie expenditure that each cardiovascular machine offers. In this article we explain why the exercise that burns the most calories is not always the best or why it is better to look at other aspects.

What should our priorities be?

When we seek to lose weight or rather, fat, our main objective should be to maintain as much muscle mass as possible not only for aesthetics, but for health, since it is known that higher levels of strength and muscle mass are a good predictor of long-term health.

Aerobic or cardio exercise is not contraindicated but it is true that it should be a complement to strength training, that is, the basis of our program should be strength, understood as weight training. We should try to progress in strength training to chain mechanical and metabolic stimuli on our increasing muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise can play an accessory role in this entire process, especially in people who have a job or life in general sedentary and a very pronounced overweight or obesity. For people in the first case it is more important to increase the daily calorie expenditure not associated with exercise (NEAT) than to think about which is the cardiovascular machine that burns more calories when you only spend over the same half hour.

Why aren’t calories always the most important thing?

Don’t misunderstand me for the above question. It is clear that in order to lose weight and/or fat it is necessary to create a calorie deficit, either by cutting calorie intake or by increasing the usual calorie expenditure, or better yet, the combination of both.

If we have said that the basis of a slimming program should be progress in strength training, the fact of abusing cardiovascular machines can interfere with adaptations to strength training. This is known as concurrent training where sports like CrossFit are the best example.

But we are not CrossFit athletes, we just want to lose fat so although you can combine both activities, you must give each one the priority it deserves. In the case of combining cardio with weights, the ideal is to choose the cardio modality or machine that generates the least impact on our joints and nervous system. This is why the HIIT is complicated to insert into a strength program.

So, although it is true that there are machines that require a higher calorie expenditure, it is precisely these that have the greatest impact on our recovery. It must be borne in mind that calculating precisely the calorie expenditure that each machine involves is complicated if not impossible with the means we have.

Even with equal intensity and duration of exercise, calorie expenditure will depend on weight and body composition, age, sex or level of training.

However, an estimated 300 and 700 kcal are invested per hour depending on the machine you use.

The treadmill, the elliptical and the static bicycle are the best, followed by the rowing machine and the climber. But as we have been saying, we should not fall into the trap of letting ourselves be seduced by the effort that burns more calories but by the impact that effort, or stimulus, will have on our body and that is that excessive cardio and muscle are not very good friends.

As a personal matter I usually recommend walking fast with a small inclination on the treadmill at about 6-7 km / h. This is enough to generate a good additional calorie expenditure without interfering with recovery and without additional impact and stress.

What should I take into account when choosing one machine or another?

The answer is the least likely to interfere with weight training. If I have trained my torso, the ideal is to choose a machine that mobilizes mainly the muscles of the lower body, such as the bicycle, the belt or the elliptical, keeping the arms static, that is, without holding the poles.

On the other hand, if I have trained with my leg, options such as rowing or climbing may be better, although the latter mobilises both the lower and upper train and rowing usually involves a very high subjective perception of effort.

Finally, it must be borne in mind that whatever machine we use, the more time we devote to it in the long term, the fewer calories we spend because our body will invest fewer calories at the same effort as it will make more efficient use of energy.