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 (I 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 are 5 reasons:
1) Treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes are mind-blowingly BOOOORING! Personally, I can think of a million things I'd rather be doing than pedaling my way to nowhere!
2) Mindless steady state cardio exercise while watching TV or reading creates a mind / body disconnect resulting in poor results from your exercise routine. Instead of reading a gossip magazine or watching a cheesy reality TV show on the TV screen in front of the cardio machine, a REAL workout consists of actually having your mind engaged strongly in what your body is doing!
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 (or as Ron Burgundy would say, "yogging") … Instead, 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. I choose to do a lot of hiking up mountains and also wind sprints, but never steady state jogging.
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. The metabolic response is much lower compared to the types of workouts ideas that I describe below. 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, exercise bikes, and elliptical trainers? Here are TEN of my favorite types of alternative workouts:
- jumping rope – great mind-body connection – try speed jumping, crossovers, and double jumps once you get skilled at it. An amazing metabolic exercise with one of the cheapest pieces of equipment available. There's a reason that every world class boxer uses this exercise!
- 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). Personally, I think one of the most intense body changing exercises ever invented are double kettlebell snatches (snatching both kettlebells at the same time overhead from the floor).
Well, I hope this article 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.
If you want maximum results, it's all about your intensity levels and also your mind-body connection… and that all important mind-body connection is usually missing when it comes to elliptical and treadmill workouts, that most people do while watching TV or reading.
Remember to try out these awesome 101 killer bodyweight exercises from world class trainer Craig Ballantyne!