A Comparison of Three Exercise Machines

There are a wide variety of exercise machines available to help you get the cardio workout that you’re looking for. Some of the most popular ones used today are the treadmill, the elliptical trainer, and the rowing machine. Though all of these machines share the common goal of helping you to burn calories, they can differ significantly in their effectiveness. Thus, it is important to look closely at each of them in order to select the machine best for you.

exercise machines


Perhaps the most common of these is the treadmill, which have been staples of both home and commercial gyms alike for decades. Treadmills only work out your lower body, particularly your hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves. Further, it is a high-impact and weight-bearing exercise machine, which can lead to overly stressing your joints, especially when used over an extended period or with an improper running technique. For this reason, it is often not recommended for those with weak joints or those suffering with arthritis to rely on treadmills as their primary workout machine.


Elliptical machines were all the rage a few years ago and for good reason! Research has shown that they provide the same cardiovascular workout as treadmills, but since they are a low-impact machine, they are much less stressful on your joints. Additionally, ellipticals provide more of a full body workout, working out not just your lower body, but also your deltoids and triceps. Despite the fact that they look like terrifying machines, they are also relatively simple to use and it does not take long to develop the appropriate technique to work them. However, of these three machines, they are the least effective at burning calories, with a burn rate of approximately 12 calories per minute.

Rowing Machines

Though they’ve been around in various forms for centuries, rowing machines have become one of the latest trends in cardiovascular fitness. They are low-impact and non-weight-bearing, so your joints will thank you for using them, especially if you plan to include an intensive cardio workout in your fitness routine. Rowing machines also provide a total body workout, far more than any other cardio machine. Not only do they give a strong workout to your upper and lower body, they also work out your core, strengthening your erector spine and abs. One of the common fears that people have when considering adding a rowing machine to their routine is the notion that proper form is very difficult to develop and maintain; while they are more difficult to use than the other machines considered, it is not the monster that many people believe it to be, as a simple workout video (or perhaps a session with a professional trainer if someone is particularly concerned) is easily enough to learn proper technique. Because of the simplicity of their design, they are relatively cheap, with a high quality rowing machine usually going for much more. In terms of calories burned, they lay squarely in the middle of treadmills and elliptical machines, burning about 14 calories per minute.

Which One is Best?

Given all of this information, the natural question to consider is which of these exercise machines would be most beneficial in your fitness routine. Treadmills, because they provide a weight-bearing exercise and so you’re constantly working against gravity, burn the most calories of any of these three options. However, their disadvantages are numerous, as they can severely stress your joints, are quite expensive for a home gym, and only work out your lower body. Thus, treadmills are only recommended for those with an already developed cardio system who are looking to provide more variety to their workout and have the technique necessary to avoid stress problem. Further, they are definitively not recommended if you already have joint issues or have recently suffered an injury. Elliptical’s avoid many of these issues, as they cost significantly less, don’t stress out your joints, and work out both your upper and lower body, but they hardly burn any calories. Therefore, they are recommended for those looking for a lighter routine where burning calories is less important than simply developing their cardio system. Rowing machines, however, really offer the best of both worlds. They are cheap, work out your entire body, aren’t stressful, and still burn quite a few calories. Thus, they can be recommended to everyone, regardless as to what your ultimate fitness goal is; in particular, anyone interested in working out their entire body is definitely encouraged to look into rowing machines.

Here’s how to use a monitor to measure calories burned during your workout: