Cardiovascular exercise machines provide us with an efficient way to improve our health, burn fat, and build muscle, but the following 5 cardio mistakes could be stalling your fitness progress.
Many people, myself included, would rather work out at home than go to a gym. The only problem with this is that if you don’t read fitness magazines or visit online workout sites, without a fitness trainer to guide you, you may not be getting as much benefit as you could.
The difference between a super-effective and a mediocre workout often comes down to making a few minor changes to your routines. You’re putting in the time and effort, so it makes sense to get the most from your workouts!
In this article, we will look at some of the most common cardio mistakes people make when using a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, a stationary bike, a rowing machine, and a stair climber.
5 Cardio Mistakes and How to Stop Making Them
- TREADMILL MISTAKES
Try to keep your head level and your eyes looking straight ahead when using your treadmill. If you bounce up and down and move your head from side to side when running, you could strain your neck and shoulders. This excessive movement and jerky stride can occur if you lack flexibility. A simple exercise that addresses this is Leg Swings.
Leg Swings involve holding onto the treadmill’s handlebar while standing on one leg and swinging the other leg back and forth without moving your upper body. Don’t forget to work both legs.
Another common treadmill mistake is always exercising at the same pace and intensity. If you typically do long runs with the treadmill positioned flat, try mixing things up. Introduce some shorter more intense sessions, alternating your speed and the incline of the deck. Start with the deck inclined to 2 percent, gradually working your way up to 10 percent as you adapt and your fitness improves. If the incline becomes too steep, slow your pace.
- ELLIPTICAL TRAINER MISTAKES
One of the most common cardio mistakes people make when using an elliptical trainer is working with too little resistance. To get the most benefit from your sessions, you need to use your leg muscles to move the ramp, not rely on momentum to do much of the work for you.
Stand upright when using your elliptical. In doing so, you will strengthen your core. You will also burn more calories than you will if you lean on the armrests.
I love my elliptical trainer, but there’s no denying that repetitive exercise can become tedious. To prevent this and to optimize your workouts, do intervals. Try going all out for 30 seconds every two minutes before slowing to a regular pace. Gradually increase the time you are going hard and fast and reduce your recovery time. Don’t forget to work your arms!
- STATIONARY BIKE MISTAKES
A mistake people often make with stationary bikes is not adjusting the height of the seat. If it is positioned too low, your knees will be stressed, and your legs will tire faster. If the seat is too high, your hips will rock from side-to-side, resulting in inefficient workouts.
To determine the correct height, sit on the seat with your heels in the middle of the pedals. When your feet are at the lowest point of rotation, your legs should be fully extended. Positioned thus, you will be able to bend your knees without straining them.
As with treadmill workouts, it’s common for people to work at the one steady pace rather than change things up. Try varying the intensity by going at full speed for 30 to 60 seconds, then easing back for the same amount of time. Gradually increase the time you spend going hard to three minutes, repeating the sequence for 15 minutes.
Another thing you can do is to stand for short periods as you pedal. This will target different muscles and intensify your workout.
- ROWING MACHINE MISTAKES
When using a rowing machine, it’s common for people to let their hands bump against their knees. This makes for awkward movement. For a fluid motion, think of each stroke as being made up of three different parts, counting up and down as you go.
Push off with your legs on count 1; lean back, swinging your body upwards on count 2, and draw your arms down towards the bottom of your ribs and spin the wheel on count 3. Reverse this movement, extending your arms out on count 3; swing your body forward from the hips on count 2, then on count 1 bring your legs up once the handle has passed your knees.
Exercising at the same rate will also slow your progress, so try to mix things up.
Working with a medium level of resistance, depending on your fitness do between three and six 10-minute sets rowing at high intensity, slowing your pace right down for two to three minutes between each set. The semi-rest will enable your heart rate to slow slightly, allowing your body to prepare for the next set. Exercising in this manner will burn more calories, and you will reach your fitness goals faster.
- STAIR CLIMBER MISTAKES
When using a Stair Climber, people often lean fully forward onto the railing with their arms straight down and their elbows locked. This results in fewer calories being burned, and less effective muscle toning.
For correct form, hold yourself upright then lean slightly forward making sure that your hips are centered over your legs. Place your hands gently on the machine to balance yourself with your elbows either bent at 90 degrees or straight down by your sides, moving them back and forth as you climb.
Press your foot down firmly with each step, and contract your glutes to target them and your hamstring muscles. Don’t push the step all the way down though, or let it come all the way up. If you do, your pelvis will sway up and down, which can lead to sore muscles or even an injury.
Final Words on Cardio Mistakes
Working out takes time and effort, so it makes sense to get it right. By making some small changes to your workouts, you will be able to avoid the cardio mistakes above and get the most from your workouts.