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Heart to Heart with Cardio Machines: losing bodyfat during your bodybuilding workouts People can be funny at times. They skip the stairs and take the elevator to the second floor – and then drop $3000 for a stepper machine to condition their thighs or burn bodyfat! While a large fitness or bodybuilding center is your best option for working out, there may be times when getting to the gym to do your cardio is just not possible. In this case a home cardio machine may be a solution. But keep in mind most are not cheap. Furthermore, an estimated 50% of the machines people purchase, eventually end up in garages and spare bedrooms, abandoned after an initial burst of enthusiasm.

So before you head to a department store, you should seriously consider which machine works best for you, and more importantly, whether or not it would be more beneficial to using the machines at your gym. While working out at home has advantages, you will never find the kind of equipment that is available in a modern fitness facility. But if you’re still determined to park yourself in front of the TV and do your workout, let’s take a closer look at the common machines found in both department stores and fitness centers.

Treadmills are popular for a simple reason: most humans know how to walk. The nice thing about treadmills is that you can set the speed to your own pace. As your fitness level increases, you can increase the speed to compensate. Most treadmills also allow you to increase the angle from flat to 10 or 15 degrees or more. Now 15 degrees doesn’t sound like much, but try running uphill on this incline and you’ll quickly see the difference. It’s a great way to burn bodyfat.

The main disadvantage of treadmills is that your entire body weight is continuously pivoting on the knees and ankles. For many bodybuilders, running or jogging, is hard on the joints. These problems tend to occur more as we get older. However, for those of you who don’t have knee or ankle problems, treadmills will stimulate your cardio system to the max. As a word of caution always start the belt before you step on. Keep a solid, upright posture and don’t slouch forward or lean back.

Stationary cycles
Although it’s more fun to ride outside, weather and time may force you to perform your cardio cycling indoors. Stationary bikes focus on using the same muscles as treadmills, but have several additional advantages. Firstly they take up less space. Which means most bodybuilding gyms have lots of them. They also cost about half the price of a treadmill. Finally cycles support your bodyweight so there is much less stress placed on the knees. The latest rage is recumbent cycles. In this case the peddles are located out in front of you rather than below. To lessen the impact on the knees, adjust the seat so that there is a slight bend at the knee of the outstretched leg. You should not be able to lock the leg out completely. If you find yourself “reaching” with your outstretched leg, the seat is too low (or in the case of the recumbent cycle, too close).

Despite offering one of the quickest and most thorough cardio workouts, rowers have developed a poor reputation because of the stress they place on the lower back. But they are really no more dangerous than the seated row machine used for training your back muscles. In fact they are probably less dangerous are the resistance is much lower. Rowers only account for about 5% of the cardio equipment market but they're among the best aerobic machines for burning bodyfat. One of the nice things about rowers is their simplicity. There’s no fancy programming to perform and no complicated technique to master. Simply sit down in the seat, grab the handlebar, and start rowing!

If treadmills and cycles were the most popular machines in the 1980’s, crosstrainers are a product of the 1990’s. Cross-trainers mimic cross-country skiing. You place your feet in a set of flat supports and grab the vertical poles or handles. On most cross-trainers, the handles and foot supports are mechanically linked, so coordination should not be a problem. As the arms move back and forth, the legs make an elliptical or circular peddling type motion. The advantage of this circular motion is that it places less stress on the knees and ankles. This is because your weight is evenly distributed over the entire lower body. When using the crosstrainer, always maintain good posture. Do not lean back or slouch forward. Slouching forward is hard on the lower back and leaning back could cause you to slip.

Although most machines in this category can be called steppers, the more popular name is Stairmasters. For those with pre-existing knee or ankle problems, the Stairmaster should be avoided for cardio workouts. The problem with Stairmasters is that the up and down stepping motion forces the knees and ankles to support virtually the entire bodyweight. If you have a pre-existing knee or ankle problem - or are relatively new to exercise - we suggest trying it after you have strengthened these areas with other types of cardio and bodybuilding exercises.

Bob Howard expert on bodybuilding and steroids. Are you looking for more of his bodybuilding articles? Article © Bob Howard 5/5/2006


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