Stop Wasting Your Time with Worthless Treadmill and Elliptical Machine Workouts!

August 12, 2010

Have you ever considered if treadmill or elliptical workouts are actually that effective… or are there more fun and more effective exercise methods?

by Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist

Now that I pissed off all of the treadmill and elliptical machine worshipers… let me say that if you truly enjoy mindlessly pumping away on a treadmill or elliptical (or exercise bike for that matter too), then by all means, keep doing what you enjoy, because enjoying your exercise is one of the most important aspects to sticking with any exercise program…

However, don’t say that I didn’t warn you that you were wasting your time with all that mindless cardio machine boredom.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I don’t believe in cardio machines, and to be quite honest, I don’t think I’ve personally used a treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike for at least the last 7-8 years or so.

As a matter of fact, I don’t even use cardio machines anymore for warmups before a workout (did before occasionally)… Nowadays, I prefer to do dumbbell or kettlebell snatches and swings mixed with bodyweight exercises as the perfect full body warmup at the beginning of my workouts.

So why do I have such hatred for cardio machines? Well, here goes:

1) Treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes are mind-blowingly BOOOORING!

2) Mindless steady state cardio exercise while watching tv or reading creates a mind / body disconnect resulting in poor results from your exercise routine

3) I’ve seen studies that indicated that treadmill running may be less effective than outdoor running for various reasons such as stride abnormalities on treadmills vs natural running, slightly less caloric burn compared to outdoor running, etc.

(although I never recommend just “jogging” anyway… variable intensity walks / runs or sprints are so much more effective, training your heart rate in a much wider range instead of just the same pace during the entire workout).

4) Treadmills and ellipticals are ridiculously expensive and a waste of money for people that workout at home… there’s so many better options for home workouts you could have spent your money on rather than wasting it on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical.

The perfect home gym setup is MUCH cheaper… there’s no reason you need anything other than a jump rope, bodyweight exercises, a few dumbbells, stability ball, maybe a few kettlebells (if you want to get fancy), and perhaps high tension bands for some more variety. And of course… the great outdoors has some of the best workout options of all… hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, sports, and more!

5) Treadmills and elliptical machines are just a very ineffective way to workout compared to other options. Why should you do treadmill or elliptical workouts when you can get better results by doing more interesting forms of training that actually stimulate a fat-burning hormonal response and stimulate your metabolism to a greater extent.

So what are the alternatives to treadmills and elliptical trainers? Here are some of my favorite types of alternative exercises:

•jumping rope – great mind / body connection (try speed jumping, crosses, double jumps once you get skilled at it)
•bodyweight training – bodyweight squats, pushups, lunges, jumps, bear crawls, mountain climbers and jumpers, planks, and the list goes on and on
•kettlebell training – nothing will get your heart pounding like high repetition KB swings and snatches or clean & presses (can be done with dumbbells too, but I prefer KBs)
•outdoor wind sprinting (the ultimate for a rock hard ripped body… just look at the chiseled powerful bodies of world class sprinters, and compare that to the weakling withered physique of a typical marathoner… nuff said!)
•hill sprinting (yet another classic for a rock hard powerful body)
•rowing machine (ok, I don’t really lump this in as a “cardio” machine like treadmills and ellipticals… I think the rowing machine is actually a great full body workout that actually uses resistance)
•sprint style swimming workouts (a more muscular workout than steady state distance swimming… I actually love the upper body pump I get from sprint style swimming) – this is the same concept as sprinting vs jogging but in a pool instead
•heavy bag punching / kicking workout, speed bag, rebound bag… all great forms of training and much more interesting than boring cardio machines (requires an intense mind / body connection)
•shadow boxing… awesome workout, but if you’re shy, this is best done at home since you’ll get some crazy stares doing this at a typical gym from people who think they’re “too cool” for stuff like that.
Well, I hope that helps give you ideas on how you can get away from all of these mindless and ineffective treadmill and elliptical trainer machines (and exercise bike) workouts that are just wasting your time and energy that could be better spent on more effective workouts.

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