There is some confusion when it comes to which piece of cardio equipment to buy for a home gym, but the big two contenders are the elliptical and the treadmill. Both of these machines have pros and cons, but both can get you into good shape if you actually use them.
The elliptical has become one of the most popular units of cardio equipment. At big commercial gyms they can even outnumber the time-tested treadmills. That would have been unthinkable a few years ago. As a trainer, I've found that the elliptical machines tend to force people to a higher level of output, mostly by virtue of the unfamiliar movement combined with hand movement. That's of course great for total calories burned, and that's what it takes for real fat loss to occur. The motion on the elliptical is somewhat similar to running. Although on the elliptical, there is no jarring impact like that experienced with jogging. The elliptical makes it easy for individuals with sensitive or "bad" knee and joints to get a fat-burning cardio workout.
As mentioned earlier, most ellipticals have moving arms. This really helps force the heart rate up. Pulse rate goes up because, as more working muscles join in, the cardiovascular system has to work harder. If you've never seen one in use before, the arm motion creates something like a cross-country-skiing motion.
Since the elliptical tend to be quite intense cardio, many personal trainers recommend it. It may be a good step up from jogging on the treadmill, especially for individuals interested in fat loss. This is very true if they're not experienced runners. But for people who enjoys running, the treadmill can actually be superior.
A treadmill exercise machine is sometimes the basis for indoor cardio. Nearly every gym has enough for an array of exercisers. It accommodates many fitness levels, from an easy walk to a full-on sprint.
If you're considering a treadmill for a home gym, think about the following: Be sure that you purchase a treadmill that has a jogging area of 3 feet wide by 50 inches long or greater. If you're 6 feet tall, you'll definitely need a surface that long, or longer. Be sure to try any possible treadmill purchase out before you buy. And, make sure it gives adequate shock absorbing. Also, look for a treadmill with a 1.5 horsepower engine or greater. This is what's found in commercial gyms.
Regardless of what you choose, aerobic training has many benefits. Many individuals feel more "energy" than aerobic or cardio workouts. This is true partly because cardio helps to increase aerobic capacity. (This capacity is associated with a quicker metabolism too.)
How can you tell if your treadmill or elliptical workout has put you in the so-called cardio zone without a heart rate monitor? In general, you need to at least break a sweat, but you should not go so hard that you could not carry on a conversion using short sentences. You should stay within your target heart rate for at least twenty minutes.
Both the treadmill and the elliptical have pros and cons. The one you finally decide on is a very individual choice. Whether you end up with a treadmill or an elliptical, you'll get benefits as long as you use it regularly.