Any type of cardio training will burn calories, which helps in your campaign against fat -- jogging, cycling and even those sprints you do when running to get your hands on the last pair of designer shoes in the sale. If you'd rather exercise in the comfort and familiarity of a gym, it's useful to know which cardiovascular machines are the best for fat loss, so you can make the best use of your gym time.
Treadmills can be highly effective for fat loss, but it depends entirely on how you use them. Half an hour of running can burn anywhere from 240 to 733 calories, depending on your body weight and how fast you run; the heavier you are and the faster you go, the more calories you burn. The bonus of treadmills is that you can do a number of different types of training on them. For fat loss, you can't beat hill sprints. Running on an incline and performing intervals is great for your fitness and fat loss, according to trainer Joe Dowdell of Peak Performance Gym, NYC. After a thorough warm-up, start with a 3 to 5 percent incline and run as fast as you can for 20 to 30 seconds, then reduce your speed to a fast walk for 60 to 90 seconds and repeat six to 10 times, aiming to increase the gradient, speed or number of intervals each workout.
Rowers, Bikes and Ellipticals
Rowers, bikes and ellipticals all offer a lower-impact alternative to running on the treadmill. Like running, the number of calories you burn and ultimately how much fat you lose using these depends on your intensity and weight. In 30 minutes you'll burn between 270 and 400 calories on an elliptical, between 210 and 466 on a stationary bike and 210 to 377 on a rowing machine.
If you fancy a change from the general run-of-the-mill cardio machines, there are plenty of other not-so-common machines that help in your fight against flab. The "Shape" magazine website recommends the krankcycle, which is like a stationary bike powered by your arms; the rope trainer, which replicates rope climbing without having to leave the ground; and Woodway treadmills that don't have a motor, so you have to make the belt move completely by yourself. Jacob's ladder is another good bet -- this is a self-powered ladder machine that works in a similar way to a stair machine. All of these work multiple muscle groups, resulting in a high calorie burn. Plus you may not have used them before, so they add an interesting element and a new challenge to your cardio workouts.
No one cardio machine can really be considered the best in terms of fat loss. You'll burn more calories and ultimately more fat on machines that work multiple muscle groups, but the true effectiveness of your cardio workouts comes down to how hard you work, notes Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercise. In theory, a machine like Jacob's ladder will burn more calories and fat than a stationary bike, but you'd actually get better results going as hard as you can on the bike than just completing a steady workout on the ladder. Losing fat is a two-pronged approach, with diet being as important as your training. To lose fat, you must create a calorie deficit by exercising more and eating fewer calories.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.