Many people prefer the convenience of their own exercise machine, in the privacy and comfort of their home, to joining a gym or exercise class. But which exercise machine is best for you?
There are 4 main types of home exercise machines that people are most familiar with:
- Exercise bikes
- Rowing machines
- Elliptical cross trainer
Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. The best one for you will depend on your personal circumstances, but we hope our guide below will help…
Treadmills are the most popular type of exercise machine. If you can walk, you can use a treadmill.
They come in many different models – from basic treadmills aimed at people who just want to do some gentle walking, to high tech machines with computerised programs that adjust the speed and incline automatically. You can event get programs that replicate populate running courses around the world! How about doing the London or New York marathon without leaving your lounge room?
Benefits of a treadmill
- You can run even when the weather is too cold, or too hot, to go out on the street.
- They’re good if you don’t feel safe running in your neighborhood at night, and don’t have time to run during the day.
- The machine controls your pace. Unlike bikes, rowers and cross trainers, you have to run at the speed dictated by the treadmill. This can be a great way to force you to work hard.
Disadvantages of treadmills
- They are only good for running or walking, so they don’t provide any upper body exercise.
- Running can place a lot of strain on the joints, especially the knees, hips and ankles (although treadmills provide a lower impact option compared to roads or footpaths).
- The machine controls your pace (yes, we know we had this as a benefit as well…). Unlike bikes, rowers and cross trainers, you have to run at the speed dictated by the treadmill. This can be difficult to do if you are just starting a fitness program and you may end up reducing the speed of the machine, resulting in less fitness benefits.
Treadmills are an excellent choice for beginners and seasoned runners but they are higher impact than the other machines and don’t work the upper body.
Exercise bikes are incredibly easy to use. You don’t even need to know how to ride a bike to use one – you just sit and peddle.
Benefits of exercise bikes
- Great for starting out – you don’t need to be fit to start using one.
- They are safe – no risk of tripping or falling.
- You control of the intensity – speed up or slow down depending on how you feel.
- They are low impact, making them good for people with knee, ankle or hips issues.
Disadvantages of exercise bikes
- Exercise bikes don’t work the upper body.
Rowers provide an intensive workout that is low impact and work both the upper and lower body.
A good rowing machine can be programmed to set a workout with varying resistance but unlike a treadmill, adjusting your speed means that you can control the pace of the workout.
Benefits of rowing machines
- Modern rowers provide an excellent workout which works both the upper and lower body.
- You can complete either long endurance sessions or fast and intensive sessions.
- Being in full control of the speed and movement, and also being seated, means that there is minimal risk of injury.
Disadvantages of rowing machines
- Poor technique could result in lower back problems, however, once you learn the proper rowing technique this should not be an issue.
Elliptical cross trainers
You should always try out an elliptical cross trainer before buying one for your home. The motion and size of the machines vary and you need one that is the right size and fit for you. Get professional advice.
Benefits of cross trainers
- Cross trainers work the upper body and lower body.
- They are low impact – better for the knees and ankles.
- You control the intensity of the workout.
- You can both push and pull the handles on a cross trainer to work your muscles in both directions (unlike a rowing machine where you only pull).
- Injuries are rare due to the low impact and ‘feet on the ground’ action of the cross trainer.
- You can control the speed and resistance and therefore the intensity of the workout.
Disadvantages of cross trainers
- Some people have trouble getting used to the action. If you don’t enjoy your exercise you won’t stay motivated.
- They can be more expensive and more costly to maintain due to the large moving parts. Check the warranty and repair arrangements – do they come to you or will you have to ship it to a repairer at your own expense?
The best exercise machine for you is the one that you enjoy using the most.
Treadmills have the highest impact and therefore the highest risk of injury, but walking and running are great cardio and fat-burning exercises.
Bikes, rowers and cross trainers provide a great alternative. Bikes are the simplest, easiest and cheapest! However, rowers and cross trainers provide both upper and lower body workouts in the same piece of equipment.
We hope this helps you choose your first home fitness machine.
Consider all the options available. Get some expert advice, go into the shop – take your running shoes – and try out the different machines.
At Mr Treadmill we’re sure there is a machine just right for everyone!
Mr Treadmill – Where quality and service matters.