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Ellipticals and Treadmills are a Waste of Your Exercise Time

May 20, 2008
I'm sure I just upset some of those out there that think ellipticals and treadmills are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I'm going to assert to you in this article, that they are both a big fat waste of your time!

First though, let me state that if you really truly enjoy mindlessly pumping away on an elliptical or treadmill (or an exercise bike too), then by all means, you've got to keep doing what you enjoy, because enjoying your exercise program is one of the most important keys to actually sticking with any exercise routine for the long haul.

However, don't say that I didn't warn you that you were wasting your time with all that mindless cardiovascular machine boredom. Also, you might find ideas in this article that you enjoy a lot more than ellipticals and treadmills and will get you better weight loss results too!

If I have not mentioned it before, I don't believe in cardio machines, and personally, I haven't even touched an elliptical, treadmill, or exercise bike in at least 6 or 7 years (if not more).

Actually, I never even use cardiovascular machines anymore for warm-ups before a workout (I used to on occasion)... These days, I prefer to do kettle bell or dumbbell swings or snatches mixed with body weight exercises as a great full body warm-up at the beginning of my workouts.

So why in the world do I have such a deep dislike for cardio machines? Here are my 5 main reasons:

1) Mindless steady state exercise while watching tv or reading creates a mind/body disconnect resulting in poor results.

2) Ellipticals and treadmills are just plain boring!

3) Ellipticals and treadmills are also a very inefficient method of working out in comparison to other options you have available. Why would you do elliptical or treadmill work outs if you can get much better results by doing more fun and interesting forms of exercise that actually stimulate your metabolism to a greater extent and increase your fat-burning hormonal response to the workout.

4) Ellipticals and treadmills are ridiculously expensive and a waste of money for people that work out at home... there are so many better options for home work outs you could spend your money on rather than throwing it away on an elliptical, treadmill, exercise bike (which are most likely just going to gather dust anyway).

I prefer a much cheaper home gym setup... You really don't need a whole lot more than a good jump rope, body weight exercises, a stability ball, some dumbells (adjustable work great), possibly a couple kettle bells, and perhaps resistance bands for some extra variety.

5) I have also seen studies that showed evidence that treadmill jogging may be less effective than outdoor jogging for many reasons such as slightly less calorie expenditure compared to outdoor jogging, stride abnormalities on treadmills vs natural jogging, etc.

(although I would never advise just "jogging" anyway... varied intensity walks or runs and/or sprint intervals are a much more effective training routine, which exercises your heart in a much wider heart-rate range instead of just the same heart rate the whole time).

So what are some good alternatives to ellipticals and treadmills? Here are a few of the best:

Kettle bell training - nothing will get your heart thumping like high rep KB snatches and swings or clean & presses (can be done with dumbells as well, but I prefer KBs).

Jump rope - great mind/body connection (try speed jumping, crossovers, and double jumps once you get good)

Body weight training - lunges, body weight squats, pushups, jumping exercises, planks, bear crawls, mountain climbers, etc.

Outdoor wind sprints - this is the ultimate training for a super lean ripped body... just take a look at the powerful chiseled physiques of world class sprinters, and compare that to the withered weakling bodies of typical marathoners... enough said!

Sprint swimming - more of a muscle toning workout than steady pace distance swimming... I actually love the upper body pump I get from sprint style swimming (this is the same concept as sprint intervals vs steady pace jogging but in a pool)

Hill sprints - yet another staple for a rock hard and ripped body.

Shadow boxing - incredible workout, but if you are shy, you might want to do this at home since you will get some crazy looks from people if you're doing this at a typical gym.

Rowing machine - I don't lump this in as a "cardio" machine like ellipticals or treadmills... instead, I think the rowing machine is truly a great full body workout that actually uses real resistance.

Heavy bag punching/kicking workout, rebound bag, or speed bag - all are great workouts and much more entertaining than typical boring cardio machines (also requires an intense mind/body connection which is essential for success)

I hope you've enjoyed this look at why elliptical machines and treadmills are such an ineffective and boring method of working out, and perhaps you've found some fun new ways to spice up your exercise routine.
About the Author
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