Here’s what you need to know…
- A little intelligently-planned cardio or metcon is good. How most people go about doing it isn’t.
- The elliptical machine is too easy. However, it’s great for mental zombies who enjoy pretending to exercise.
- “Slogging” – slow jogging – is one of the most popular forms of exercise in America. And America is fat and injured. Coincidence?
- The stair mill is actually a pretty good machine. Problem is, people crank it up too high, hang on to the rails, and wreck their posture.
- Biking is fine, but modern spin classes have devolved into spine crunching, shoulder-pinching train wrecks.
The Bad Boys of Cardio
When programmed intelligently, certain forms of cardio can fit into any type of performance or aesthetics-based workout program. Problem is, four of the most popular choices, well, suck.
As a doctor of physical therapy, rehab specialist, and soft tissue therapist, I see what these types of cardio can do to the body. And it’s not good. What’s more, some of these activities are wastes of time if your goal is to lose fat and keep it off.
Here are the top four dumbest forms of cardio along with a few smarter, more effective alternatives.
Fourth Dumbest: The Elliptical
Since its inception in the mid 90s, the elliptical has become one of the most popular cardio machines known to man.
Today, you’d be hard pressed to walk into any type of training facility without seeing at least a handful of these self-proclaimed revolutionary machines. A better description for them? Time-wasting plastic prisons.
Primary Problem: It’s Monotonous and Unchallenging
Finally, workout addicts from all walks of life, from cardio queens to beach bros, could justify their three-hour workouts consisting of monotonous, mind-numbing exercise because a few university studies concluded the elliptical to be “more joint friendly” than its vilified counterpart, the treadmill.
Like many novelties, we as a fitness society are capable of transforming a once noble idea of reducing joint stress into pathological insanity. In today’s dysfunctional fitness culture, the idea of hopping on the elliptical a few hours a week while catching up on reality TV has become the single-minded symbol of what fitness actually is.
Why do people continue to flock to the elliptical at alarming rates? The answer is simple: The elliptical is inherently easy and unchallenging, both physically and mentally, for the person who’s content to only pretend to exercise.
When used as a singular method of fitness, the elliptical provides self-justification for people who are not mentally or emotionally capable of training with passion, purpose, or focus.
Hitting autopilot and hanging on for the ride does not deliver life-changing health and fitness results. It’s just not that simple.
The Alternative: Total Body HIIT 1-2 Times Per Week
Total Body HIIT Circuit
(no rest between exercises):
- Bodyweight Squat x 10
- Strict Push-Up x 10
- Alternating Reverse Lunge x 8 per leg
- Medium Grip Pull-Up x 6
- Single Leg Romanian Deadlift x 12 per leg
- RKC Plank, 15 seconds
Repeat 3-4 times through, 45 seconds between circuits.
Rage against the machine and retake your fitness! By diversifying your training routine, you’ll not only be able to break through your fat loss plateau, but become more functional in the process.
And if you’re worried about separation anxiety or missing primetime Bravo programming, remember, the elliptical isn’t going anywhere for at least another two decades. Fitness fads, no matter how damaging, are hard to kill.