What are the the most effective exercise machines in the gym?

exercise machineThe first-time gym-goer might be overwhelmed by the various exercise machines and gadgets available at the gym. There are free weights, rowing machines, muscle isolating machines, smith machines, cable machines, and cardio machines…just to name a few. The most common question for a gym-newbie is: what machine is the most effective?

The “most effective” exercise machine is really dependent on the individual’s goals. However, most people will probably agree that the “most effective” is defined by how efficient a machine is at burning the most calories in the shortest amount of time, while exercising as many muscle groups as possible. The answer to ‘What is exercise machine is the most effective?” using this definition are the cardiovascular machines.

Cardiovascular machines effectively challenge your heart, if you push yourself hard enough, while working various muscle groups of your body. Take a look at the following cardio machines most likely available at your local gym, how many calories per hour you might burn using these machines, and some tips on how to use these machines most effectively.


This machine burns very little calories per hour – 400 to 500 – while working primarily your calf muscles and only a little bit of your upper thighs and butt. A similar machine that looks like a stationary staircase is a far more effective machine when it comes to both burning calories and exercising more muscle groups.

Stationary Bike

Although the stationary bike primarily targets your leg muscles, it also challenges your core and upper body muscles, albeit to a lesser degree. If you spend one hour on a stationary bike, you will burn approximately 500 to 1,000 calories, depending on the settings you input into the bike. To get the most out of your stationary bike workout, pick a resistance that challenges your breathing when you go 90 revolutions per minute (RPM). Make sure to adjust the bike according to your body to avoid injuries. Ask your friendly gym staff if you are unsure if you are using the correct bike settings.


One hour on a treadmill can burn as little as 150 calories per hour to 1,200 calories per hour. Obviously, the slower the pace, the less calories per hour, and the higher the incline the more calories per hour that you will burn. Interval training will also effectively exercise your heart, while raising your metabolic rate. Make sure to use good posture and avoid holding onto the handrails.


You can expect to burn anywhere from 600 calories to 900 calories on the elliptical machine. If you’re not using your arms to propel yourself in the exercise, you will not burn as many calories. Resistance and other machine settings are also factors in the amount of calories you burn. For the best results, aim to challenge your breathing by adjusting your resistance at a stride of 130. Although you can’t burn as many calories on an elliptical machine as you can on a treadmill, the elliptical is a great alternative for those with joint pain or issues due to the low-impact nature of the machine.

Rowing Machine

Using the rowing machine for one hour can burn more than 1,000 calories. Although it is not the most popular machine at the gym (I’ve never seen a line for the rowing machine), it better incorporates both upper and lower body muscle groups in the exercise. For the best rowing machine workout, use intervals of hard rowing mixed with periods of easy rowing and make sure to use both your upper and lower body when you row.

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