What Exercise Machines Are a Good Workout at a Gym?

by Laura W. Smith


Walking into a gym for the first time and looking into a sea of exercise equipment can feel overwhelming. Even if you've been working out for some time, it's hard to know what machines in the gym can give you the best workout during your time there. You need to take into consideration your fitness level, goals and the amount of time you have to commit to exercising to choose what machines are best for you. But across the board, there are some pieces of equipment in almost every gym that will give you a good workout.

The Treadmill

One of the longest standing staples of any gym is the treadmill. The reason this piece of exercise equipment is such a consistent fixture is its diversity. People of various fitness levels and exercise experience can use treadmills. The moving surface of a treadmill places less strain on the joints than hard, immovable ground. You can walk, jog or run on one at adjustable levels of incline and speed. You can workout at a steady aerobic pace for cardiovascular benefits or use high intensity intervals to burn fat. Carrying small barbells or adding ankles weights while you're using the treadmill further increases your calorie burn. It's no wonder that treadmills are some of the first to fill up at the gym.

The Stationary Bike

A less utilized option at the gym is often the stationary bike. Professor of exercise physiology at the University of Louisville Dr. Bryant Stamford says that stationary bikes put less stress on the knees than other machines. A stationary bike is the best workout option for people with knee problems, since the impact of body weight is not a concern. They key to avoiding knee strain on a bike is to make sure the bike is properly fitted to your height. A seat position that leaves you knee with a slight angle when the pedal is in the lowest position is best. You'll burn fewer calories on a stationary bike than on some other equipment, but you can increase your burn by using interval training and higher resistance settings.

The Rowing Machine

Many people avoid the rowing machines because they think they only offer a good upper body workout and don't utilize the larger muscle groups of the legs like other machines. While it is true that rowing machines offer a great upper body workout, you also utilize your legs to push while pulling with your arms. Because you work so many muscle groups while rowing, this machine burns lots of calories. The rowing machine is not for everyone. People who have a lot of weight to lose, are very unfit or lack coordination find the rowing machine to be too uncomfortable and difficult. Nevertheless, because it utilizes so many muscles and offers a high caloric burn, it may be well worth the effort to learn to use this piece of equipment.

Elliptical Machines and Stair Steppers

Elliptical machines and stair steppers both provide less strain on the joints than a treadmill. Because you are standing upright, you're using lots of muscle mass and you're working your largest group of muscles, your legs. This means that ellipticals and stair climbers can help you burn more calories in a short amount of time. Some elliptical machines have movable arm components to help you burn even more. Stair climbers have adjustable step heights to increase intensity, and elliptical trainers have various degrees of resistance as well. Both these machines lend themselves easily to interval training programs that can help you work out harder and add variety to your routine.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.