The Best Fat Burning Machine

What is the best fat burning machine out there? That is a trick question. The best fat burning machine is your own body. However, let’s talk real machines.

One of the most common questions I get from clients and gym goers is which piece of “cardio” equipment they should use.

(Without rehashing my views on doing long-slow cardio for fat burning…I am not a fan. Check out my article on HIIT for the best information on how to burn fat without doing hours of long-slow, cardio. )

Regardless of what type of “cardio” session you are going to do, I definitely have my favorites for maximum fat burn.

Elliptical machines are EASY

Yes, I said it…elliptical machines are easy. Why do you think every elliptical in your gym is always occupied? It is not because they are the most difficult machine in the gym and everyone is after the hardest workout! Elliptical machines are momentum-based machines. This means that as you go, momentum will start to kick in and do much of the work for you. In a sense, you are coasting for much of your training. Besides that fact, they really don’t challenge the major muscle groups too much. You are gliding the whole time with little knee or hip bend. I have watched un-trained people do the elliptical for 45 minutes to an hour after only a week of training.

Stationary Bikes are HARD

With that said, it should be clear to you that stationary bikes are one of my favorite machines for max fat burn. As with the elliptical, look around the gym the next time you go in. Chances are the bikes are empty. Why? They are difficult. There is no momentum produced on a stationary bike. There are no hills to coast down as you ride. Your muscle groups must produce each movement fully. The bike requires you to use the largest muscle groups in your body, thus giving you the most fat-burn in the end. If you goal is to burn fat, get on the bike. People are not used to riding a bike much, especially at large resistances. The more foreign the type of training, the more chaos your body will go through. This is a good thing for fat burn.

Treadmills are HARD and EASY

So which is it? Both really. If used the correct way, the treadmill can be a great fat burning machine. The problem is that people tend to not be very good runners and because of this fact, they go slower than is required over time. Many people are spooked about turning up the speed on the treadmill too. This is for good reason. If you are doing a HIIT session on the treadmill, you better be a very good runner and be paying attention. I have witnessed my share of people fly off the back of the treadmill when trying to run faster than they really could. Increasing the incline can be a good way to add to the resistance without increasing the speed as much. I like to put people who would not be considered good runners on the treadmill at maximum incline at a fast walk, after a very tough training session.

In review

Pick a machine that is going to challenge you the most. If the elliptical is all you have, you can still use it. Just make sure you crank the intensity way up when doing your training. Try to negate the momentum that is being produced.

Stationary bikes are my favorite fat burning machines. You get more bang for your buck with the use of large muscle groups.

If you are a good runner, treadmills can be just as good. Increase the incline and resistance and you will really turn on that fat burning furnace.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “The Best Fat Burning Machine

  1. Ok .. I’ve been hearing that ellipticals are not the best cardio choice and this is the first time I’ve seen it explained. Now I have to reconsider how much time I spend on one.

    I wear a Heart rate monitor and find it easier to get my HR into the 140 ‘s on the elliptical where on the bike I usually make it into the 130’s. So if I am considering my HR as my indicator of exertion would I still be getting a better fat loss workout on the bike?? I realize that I could peddle faster or increase the resistance to up the intensity on the bike, but I hate the numb butt syndrom I get after a good session.

  2. Kate: Are your arms moving when you’re on the elliptical? Your arms falsely bring up your HR when you’re doing cardio activities (more muscles being moved, more blood needed to be pumped so higher HR; but this addition of arm movement doesn’t improve your heart (VO2max).

  3. Elliptical machines arent so much for building muscle as they are for light muscle toning and fat burning. They do not stress the joints which is a great thing as lower back pain, knee joints, and foot problems do affect many americans. Not a good machine for a guy looking to bulkup but many world class bodbuilders now choose the Elliptical because it does not stress the already stressed out body parts. Basically, its an amazing machine for women (which is why you see women on it with swimsuit models and cheerleaders alike swearing by it as their only workout), it is an excellent machine for an average size man looking to shed pounds, an excellent machine for the top bodybuilders… but not the best machine for the between avg and super buff category unless used in combo with running days. Like any exercise in the gym…if its too easy you arent doing it right – or you are just a guy that is scared to look too girly struggling on an elliptical because you are going too fast or put too much resistance. A guy can be seen struggling and hustling on a treadmill but considering 6 out of 7 elliptical machines will likely have girls on them it wont look too cool if he puts as much effort on an elliptical.

    Cycling? Well there is a direct correlation between erectile dysfunction and cycling. This is especially true with the major professional cycling teams where 50% of many teams suffer from ED and at least 25% of anyone else that does heavy cycling suffering from it. This has to do with the weight placed on the perineum where the nerves and arteries to the penis pass. This pressure just kills it. There is a bike seat that does help prevent the damage caused to the artery triggering this but I havent seen this in a gym cycling seat before just outdoor bicycles.

    Treadmill of course amazing. Needs no description but it does take a pounding to the joint and lower back for many people. In a perfect world this is a nonissue but the amount of people in the US suffering from joint and back pain is staggering so this is a genuine concern to many people.

    In summary, elliptical amazing for girls but only amazing for guys if they are man enough to push on it so it isnt so “easy”. For that, might as well also pick up some 10 lb dumb bells and make the rest of your work outs easy and look smooth.

  4. okay, so if i do 5 mins on the bike and then 50 pushups and 50 sit ups, go back to the bike for 5 mins then pushup and situps again (for an hour), is that a good way to build my arms and chest as well as losing body fat?