Gym cardio machines are never perfect simulations of their outdoor equivalents, and their design considerations can affect your workout. Here are a few tips for using them well:
— Engage your core muscles consistently to improve your movement and protect your back
— Treadmills and stair climbers don’t give you much of a workout if you’re using the rails for balance; slow down to a pace where you don’t need the rails (and work up from there)
— If it’s tough to balance without the rails, consider using a machine that incorporates handles, like a rowing machine or bike (both seated, which adds stability), or an elliptical.
— Sometimes you need to learn a new skill, like rowing machine technique. Sometimes it’s understanding what the machine is really aiming for. For example, an elliptical isn’t just a “no-impact treadmill” — it also borrows from the gliding movement of cross-country skiing.
— Upright stationary bikes must have their seats (pedal distance) adjusted: check this every time. Too high and you can’t pedal efficiently; too low and you can hurt your knees. (How to do this)
Learning a new movement feels harder because it really is more work, but that fatiguing effort will drop away as you practice and improve. And you’ll get more out of your time on the machine.
Image: don’t use the treadmill rails for balance, but this probably won’t work, either. If this happens, consider using different equipment.