Sustainable weight loss usually requires a combination of dietary modifications and exercise. An overwhelming percentage -- 94, to be exact -- of the more than 10,000 members of the National Weight Control Registry, a group of people who have successfully lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for at least five years, report using physical activity to help reach their goals. If you join a gym to help you fit in this physical activity, the array of fitness machines can be overwhelming. The ones that are best for your weight-loss pursuits depend on your physical capabilities and personal preferences.
Machines that help you fit in cardiovascular training allow you to burn calories, which contributes to weight loss success. The American College of Sports Medicine says that participating in 150 to 250 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity provides only modest weight loss, while greater amounts equaling more than 250 minutes per week provide clinically significant weight loss. Moderate-intensity cardio involves movement that gets your heart beating faster and makes you breathe a little harder -- you should break into a light sweat. Machines that can help you fulfill this amount of movement include the treadmill, upright or recumbent stationary bicycle, rowing erg, elliptical trainer and stair climber. Most machines are easy to use. You step or sit on the machine, press the quick start button and start moving. Stationary bikes, ellipticals and stair climbers have resistance buttons, which help you control the difficulty or speed of the workout. Treadmills and ellipticals also feature incline buttons, which raise or lower the platform to increase intensity and change the emphasis on certain muscle groups. For rowing ergs, you determine the intensity by the pace of your rowing speed -- go for the speed that makes your heart beat faster and causes you to break a bit of a sweat.
To lose 1 pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you consume. Burning an extra 500 calories per day yields weight loss of about 1 pound per week. For a 160-pound person, one hour of rowing on a machine or light stationary cycling burns about 438 calories, one hour of jogging at 5 mph on a treadmill burns about 600 calories, one hour of walking at 3.5 mph on a treadmill burns 314 calories and one hour of climbing a stair machine burns about 657 calories. Choose the machines that you most enjoy using, not just the ones that seem to give the largest calorie-burn reading on the display. Burning a lot of calories in one workout will not have a lot of impact if you hate it so much that you never go back. Losing weight also requires focus on diet. Only 1 percent of the participants in the National Weight Control Registry were able to lose weight with exercise alone. Trimming portion sizes, reducing your intake of processed foods and added sugar and including more fruits and vegetables are strategies that can help.
Although steady-state training, where you go the same intensity for the duration of a workout, can help with weight loss, interval training may be more effective. The American Council on Exercise notes that interval training significantly increases cardiovascular fitness and reduces abdominal and subcutaneous fat. A study in the December 2006 of the вЂњJournal of Applied PhysiologyвЂќ found that women who performed interval training on a stationary cycle showed increases in the capacity to burn fat during exercise after just two weeks. You can perform intervals on any piece of gym cardio equipment. After a warmup, increase your intensity to a very high level -- one at which you are reaching about 80 to 95 percent of your maximal capacity -- for 30 seconds to five minutes. Recover at an easy pace for an equal to slightly longer period of time. Repeat five to 10 intervals per workout session. Intervals can make your workouts more interesting and help you get in and out of the gym in a shorter amount of time.
Strength-training machines can also help you in your weight-loss effort. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat, so when you gain muscle, you rev your metabolism. Muscle tissue also takes up less space than fat, making you look leaner and toned. Most gyms have a variety of selectorized strength-training machines that train all the major muscle groups of the body. These machines are usually attached to a stack of plates, and you adjust the amount of weight you lift by inserting a pin into the stack. When starting a weight-training program, machines help you learn proper form and keep you safe. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends you include at least two nonconsecutive days of strength training that includes at minimum one set of eight to 12 repetitions for each of the major body parts, such as the legs, back, chest, arms and abdominals, per week. Choose weights heavy enough to make the last few repetitions you perform challenging to do with proper form. Depending on the exercises you choose and your ability to perform the exercises, this might take anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour.
the Cleveland Clinic notes that if you are more than 50 pounds overweight, cycling may be the best choice because it still trains the heart and burns calories while reducing stress on the back, hips, knees and ankles. For the deconditioned or new exerciser, elliptical machines and stair climbers may be too intense and lead to frustration -- even when done at the lowest settings. Ellipticals and stair climbers also take some practice to learn how to use properly. If you are easily discouraged, walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary cycle may be the options easiest to master.