So you’ve decided you want to lose weight at home and want to buy some home fitness equipment to help you reach your goal. But which home exercise machine is better for weight loss? Is a treadmill the best option? Or an exercise bike? What about a rowing machine and an elliptical trainer? You should definitely consider them all, but the answer to your question which exercise machine is the best for weight loss is not that simple. Read on to find out more.
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Understanding how weight loss happens
First of all, before looking at different types of home fitness machines and their pros and cons, we are going to clarify how weight loss actually happens.
If you think that you will lose weight just by using one of the home exercise machines, you are wrong. Weight loss is so much more than just exercising. You need to look at other aspects as well and the food you eat plays a big part in your weight loss success.
Basal Metabolic Rate
If you want to be successful on your weight loss journey you need to understand some basic scientific principles behind weight loss first. This starts with looking at your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, which determines how many calories your body needs to perform its functions for the day. This number tells you how many calories your body needs to simply survive and carry out the basic functions.
People who are more active require more calories so their BMR will be higher.
When you add the calories you burn during your daily activities plus BMR all together, you get Total Energy Expenditure or TEE.
A calorie deficit
The key to weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume, creating a calorie deficit. This is essential to weight loss as you are never going to lose weight if you eat more than you burn.
But how do you know how many calories you should consume to lose weight? Luckily, there are online calculators which help you figure this out. Just try this one, for example.
Once you understand how many calories you should aim for daily, you need to see how many you are currently consuming. You can use one of the calorie counting apps to help you figure this out. Next, you need to see how you can change your eating habits to reduce daily calories. You may have to adjust your portions, swap snacks or just stop drinking high-calorie drinks.
Alternatives to calorie counting
If the thought of calorie counting is not appealing to you, don’t worry, there are other ways. Try and keep a food diary for a week writing down everything that you eat and drink. At the end of the week, look at your diary and see what you can do better to improve the way you eat. Do you often eat high-sugary snacks? Can you replace them with something healthier? Do you often eat desserts after dinner? Maybe you could cut back? Do you add sugar to your hot drinks? Reduce your calories by using xylitol (a natural sweetener) instead and so on.
So this is what you need to do first before buying a home exercise machine that will accelerate your weight loss. There is no point in exercising and eating the way you normally do as then the exercise will have very little or no impact.
Home exercise machines options
So now, let’s look at what options you have when it comes to home exercise machines. There are quite a few but we will look at only the most popular ones and their pros and cons.
Many people believe that they should spend hours on a treadmill every week to lose weight and some people say it’s one of the most effective exercise machines for weight loss. But is that true and why do people think that?
That’s probably because running on a treadmill burns more calories than activities you do on some other fitness machines.
Let’s look at cycling on a stationary bike, for example. When you run, you are using your whole body to keep yourself straight and moving. You use more muscles than when you cycle too.
Just to give you an idea of how many calories you could potentiality burn during these two activities – a male of medium height, build, and athletic ability will burn around 800 calories during an hour of medium-intensity biking. That same person can expect to burn around 1000 calories with medium-intensity running on a treadmill.
If we compare the mentioned activities to rowing and working out on a cross-trainer, it’s not that simple.
While you could burn more calories on an elliptical cross trainer in the same amount of time as you would spend running on a treadmill, how many calories you burn really depends on the intensity of your exercise.
If you stick with a low intensity you will burn fewer calories so it’s not so much of a question which machine helps you burn more calories, it’s more about how fast you are, what level you are working out on, etc.
So, a treadmill is not a bad option to pick if you are looking for the best home exercise machine but this machine won’t be for everybody. Before buying it, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you enjoy running?– If you choose an activity that you enjoy you are more likely to stick to your exercise regime and lose weight.
- Do you have any issues with your knees?– treadmills can be hard on your knees, especially if you are just starting out. You need to start slowly with low intensity and then increase your time and intensity as you get more comfortable. You will also need good running shoes to reduce the impact on your knees.
- Do you have enough space for it?– treadmills are quite big and take a lot of space and if you don’t have enough space for it, there is no point buying it. Consider where you could put it first. Do you have a spare bedroom that you could use? Get the measurements online and see how it would fit in. You may also consider getting a folding treadmill which will save you a bit of space.
The next popular home fitness machine is an exercise bike. This is a low impact machine that is especially suitable for those with knee problems, elderly and those that struggle with mobility.
There are different types of exercise bikes available and which type is best for you depends on various factors, such as your weight, height, your fitness goals and current fitness levels.
Normally, the recumbent bike is great for elderly and heavier individuals as it’s easy to get on and off and also offers back support.
An upright exercise bike is great for average people but you may want to think about what features are important to you. Not all exercise bikes come with heart monitoring or display screen, for example. And if you are short on space you may want to consider a folding exercise bike.
The other type of exercise bike worth mentioning here is a spin bike. This is worth going for if you want to really push yourself when exercising. The spin bike allows you to train in different positions and offers much harder workouts than the typical exercise bike. That’s because spin bikes are designed to mimic real bikes and you can set up a much higher resistance level than on a normal stationary bike.
If you are a beginner, an upright exercise bike will be enough for you as it will allow you to slowly build your strength over time and improve your cardiovascular fitness level. It may take you some time before you are ready for a spin bike.
But if you already exercise regularly and you need something to challenge you, then the spin bike will be a better choice. With this type of bike, you will be able to use more of your muscles (due to the different positions you can try) and also, you will be able to burn more calories. For this reason, this machine is a better option if your aim is to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. At least it is the best option for weight loss when it comes to exercise bikes. But the treadmill still burns more calories and therefore it might be more effective for you when it comes to losing weight.
Whether you choose an exercise bike or a treadmill also depends on your preferences and goals. A spin bike is a right choice for you if you:
- Enjoy cycling
- Like challenges
- You’ve tried spinning before – some experience on a spin bike definitely helps
Unfortunately, most spin bikes don’t normally come with a display screen so you won’t be able to see stats such as time, calories burned and heart rate. However, there are some models that offer these options but this will be reflected in the price. If you are on a budget, you may be better off by choosing an upright stationary bike.
Whether an exercise bike is the best home exercise machine for weight loss is not a straight cut. It all depends on an individual. Yes, you will be burning calories when using it which is what’s needed for losing weight. But just keep in mind that spin bikes burn more calories than upright exercise bikes. If running is not your thing, this is definitely a good option for you to consider. However, there are a few other options left: an elliptical trainer and a rowing machine.
An elliptical cross trainer
An elliptical machine gives you a full-body workout since you exercise all your muscle groups, including your legs and arms. When you use more of your muscles, this also means you burn more calories. So if you compare an elliptical trainer to an exercise bike, the former will give you a better workout and if your intensity is high enough, you will be able to burn more calories than on an exercise bike.
If you compare an elliptical machine to running on a treadmill both cardio machines will help you burn lots of calories, as long as you keep going for long enough. If you struggle running for a long period of time, then an elliptical trainer will be a better choice for you. You can start on the lowest setting and then slowly progress over time, just remember to spend enough time on the machine to reap the benefits and don’t keep it on the lowest setting all the time – you need to challenge your body and increase the intensity and difficulty over time.
An elliptical cross trainer is a great choice if:
- You want to work on all your muscle groups
- You don’t like running too much or struggle to run for a longer period of time
- You have issues with your knees (it’s easier on the joints than a treadmill for example)
A rowing machine
Rowing is a form of cardio that really works on your upper body muscles. You will be using your legs as well but the main focus is on your arms, back and abs. This is a low impact sport that won’t put as much pressure on your knees as running, for example.
A rowing machine can help you burn lots of calories if you really push yourself but it won’t be for everybody. Many people have weak arm muscles, especially those who don’t work out at all. This means that if you are a beginner you won’t be able to use a rowing machine for a very long time in one go since your muscles will fatigue quickly. Of course, you can always start slowly and do 5 minutes at a time and then progress over time. But this will not help you burn that many calories and for this reason, this is not the best machine for weight loss if you are just starting to exercise.
Also to consider: Some people get bored really quickly when using a rowing machine so before you decide to buy it, see whether you enjoy using it first and whether you can use it for a longer period of time to burn more calories. The best is to give it a try in your local gym. You can then decide whether it’s for you or not.
Another thing to keep in mind is although you are not putting too much pressure on your knee joints, you are still bending your knees when rowing and exercising muscles around them. If you have some kind of knee issues, the best is to speak to your doctor or physiotherapist who can advise you whether this exercise is appropriate for your condition. So don’t rush into buying a rowing machine as it may not be the best cardio machine for you if you want to lose some weight.
A rowing machine is a good choice if:
- You enjoy rowing for a long period of time and don’t get bored quickly (the workout is repetitive with not much variation)
- You want to strengthen your upper body muscles
- You have no issues with your knees
The best home exercise machine for weight loss – Final thoughts
As you can see, there is no straight forward answer to the question “What’s the best home exercise machine for weight loss”. It really depends on your personal goals, fitness levels, preferences and condition of your joints.
The key is to pick a cardio machine that you can use for a longer period of time as this is what will help you burn more calories and as a result, help you lose weight. But you need to make sure you exercise on the right level and intensity to burn enough calories. It’s a good idea to start on the lowest setting when you are getting used to the machine but as your fitness levels improve, remember to make your workouts harder.
Also, keep in mind: you should combine cardio exercise with strength training if you really want to accelerate your weight loss.
Best home exercise machines – Some recommendations
If you have now made up your mind about the kind of exercise machine you want for your home, here are some of the most popular machines for you to consider: