19th December 2016. Walk into practically any gym for the first time, and what is it that immediately strikes you? For most people, it's the sheer variety of exercise machines lining the walls and crowding the floor. If you show up at a peak time, it's quite a sight to see so many people working out intensely. Aside from some of the more obvious machines, though, like the treadmill, it's not always easy to tell how to use each machine efficiently. When you are trying to structure your workout appropriately, knowing how to use exercise machines correctly can be a huge benefit. The first step is asking yourself what you want to get from using the equipment. If your answer is "a solid cardio workout," then you're in luck! There are plenty of machines that can help you with cardio. While it might seem like many machines are just for strength trainers, that's not actually true. When you want to develop cardiovascular endurance and increase your overall stamina, heading to the gym is a smart move. For this article, we're going to consider a few different machines you can use to build your cardio workout at the gym. Let's start with some of the more basic equipment and then work our way through the rest.


Why the treadmill can be your best friend


Yes, it's basic. Yes, it can even be a little bit boring. However, regarding efficiency and consistency, the treadmill is simply one of the best ways to elevate your heart rate when you work out. It's an excellent choice for beginners, too. Not every exercise machine is easy to climb on and start using right away. For most people, though, the treadmill isn't too much of a challenge. First and foremost, the treadmill offers an easy way to get your heartbeat up to the level where you're burning more calories. Running is as natural an exercise as any other. So, not only does it function well as exercise, but it's less strenuous on your body, too. Running on the flat surface of a treadmill helps to lower damaging shocks to your joints, and this, in turn, can contribute to reducing fitness injuries. The treadmill has one other significant benefit, too. It's easily available in practically every gym you could visit. Sometimes, the more advanced equipment will constantly be in use, but when you just want to run, it's never too hard to find an open treadmill.


Row your way to whole-body fitness with rowing machines


If you don't like the idea of running, why not try out rowing? Though this machine is a little less common, it's a real powerhouse regarding what it brings to the table for cardio lovers. You can work up to such an intense level with a rowing machine that you burn, on average, up to almost a thousand calories an hour. Of course, spending an hour on the machine isn't likely. You'll see more and better gains if you use it as a part of high-intensity interval training. That's only where the benefits of rowing begin, though. Running is great, but its impact on muscle groups can be limited. In contrast, a rowing machine uses nearly every major muscle group in your body. No wonder it gets your heart pumping so hard! Once you get the hang of the proper form for rowing, this could quickly become a favourite. Find your rhythm, power through metre after metre, and reap the benefits.


Spin machines and fan bikes are incredibly intense


Let's not leave out the humble stationary spin machine and its cousin, the fan bike. For those who like the idea of cycling but don't love the idea of riding a bike, these are the ideal options. Once again, their ease of use is a credit to their ability to enable simpler cardio. Just because it's "easy" to get your heart going on these machines doesn't mean they'll go easy on your body! Consider the fan bike, which generates increasing amounts of air resistance as you pedal faster. The harder you work, the harder the exercise becomes. For rapid and intense cardio workouts, the fan bike is a monster asset in the gym. The spin machine won't punish you quite so badly ? but it's still excellent for your endurance. Go for the long distance workout on these machines. When you want to improve your stamina, a solid spin machine regime can get you there over time. Like treadmills, these are relatively easy to locate at most gyms.


Step up to the benefits of stair machines


Let's say that you have a pretty good workout routine going already, but you're still searching for that ideal way to build endurance through interval training. You've tried some other machines, but they weren't right for you. What about the step or stair climbing machine? This deceptively simple option is an incredible challenge but also incredibly useful for boosting your aerobic capacity. In other words, with the right intervals on the step machine, you can do a lot for your fitness. Have you ever had to climb several flights of stairs in a tall building? Even if you start off feeling fine, most people are quite out of breath by the end! Expect the stair climber to start elevating your heart rate within minutes of beginning. This exercise also helps to increase the strength of your bones. There's one other benefit besides its effectiveness in the cardio department ? you can expect this to add some excellent tone to your thighs and glutes.


Look to climbing machines for a challenge


Also, known by the brand name Jacobs Ladder, climbing machines are quite different from step machines. Instead of simulating stairs, this allows you to "climb" an infinite set of ladder rungs on an incline. One drawback worth mentioning right away is that this type of equipment is not always easy to find. However, if your gym does have one of these ladder machines, it's worth trying. Once you figure out the form, what you'll experience is both vigorous cardiovascular exercise and a full-body workout. For those who aren't into rowing but do want to work on their muscles and heart together, this is an excellent choice. As you climb at an angle of about 40 degrees, you challenge your body more than on a step machine. Think of how many muscle groups a ladder requires, too. You'll develop your arms, back, core, and legs, as you keep on climbing. See if you can find one at your gym!


Try machines that let you exercise against an incline


Finally, let's look at incline trainers. Technically, these are just treadmills; however, because they aren't designed for running, we think they're worth considering separately. These treadmills feature a huge incline of up to 40 percent. Naturally, walking on these rather than running is a perfectly acceptable option. While it might sound like walking is the opposite of what you should do for cardio, think again. The steep slope is almost like walking up a mountain. It will challenge your heart and your muscles in no time at all. You can even mix things up, varying walking, jogging, and running. If you aren't yet comfortable on regular treadmills, walking on an incline trainer can yield similar benefits. However, it's also worth combining the two. There's a big difference regarding difficulty between running on a flat surface and hiking over rough terrain. When you compare the treadmill and incline trainer, that's the real difference.


Experiment to find the right combination for your body!


Though there are many other more specific types of cardio machines, we've focused on many of the most popular, common types here. Whether you choose to pound out the miles on a treadmill or push your body to the limits on a stepper machine, there's no shortage of options. It's important to gauge the needs of your body before jumping in, though. Consider the pros and cons of each machine. Try different equipment to see what suits you best. Remember, don't focus exclusively on just one machine. That's a recipe for creating a fitness imbalance. Those can be difficult to correct. Instead, try to balance your fitness routine, focusing on the core areas you wish to develop. Once you get the hang of your gym's cardio equipment, improving your endurance is all just a matter of time, practice, and willpower!