Wondering which home fitness equipment burns the most calories?  It’s no surprise that this is the question we hear the most when people are shopping for home fitness equipment.  Burning calories in your home gym is an important piece of any effective plan to lose weight.  Used correctly, the right piece of exercise equipment will burn calories, and even specifically target fat loss, support a healthy metabolism, and improve cardiovascular function.  So how do you know which piece of exercise equipment will help you burn the most calories?

Calorie calculators are a good place to start, but they only tell one part of the story.  Calorie calculators provide a helpful reality check when it comes to planning your diet and total calorie consumption for weight loss.  Knowing the calories burned while running or cycling for an hour helps you consider how many calories you burn each day, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you which piece of exercise equipment will be the most effective for helping you to lose weight.  So how do you choose the best exercise equipment to burn fat and calories?

Calories are really just a way of measuring the amount of power generated by our bodies.  The best exercise machine for burning calories on your body is the one that allows you to use your body the most, rather than relying on the machine to create the movement. Sounds simple? Not surprisingly, your current physical health, available time for training, and tolerance for some types of exercise are important things to consider if you want to burn a lot of calories while using your home exercise equipment.  

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If you are in good physical health, without injury or physical limitations, and have plenty of time for training, the best exercise for burning calories is going to be running, hard, on a treadmill.  Hard running on a treadmill burns more than 700 calories per hour.  Additionally, running is a very honest exercise.  It doesn’t allow much cheating when it comes to supporting your body.  Unless you are gripping and leaning on the handrails (hard to do when running, but I have seen it), you are forced to hold your body upright, engage core strength, and move your legs forward.  All of these actions will make you burn more calories per minute.

So what happens if you’re not a runner?  Elliptical machines, indoor bikes, rowing machines, and even a steep incline on your treadmill all offer great ways to burn calories for those of us who need something that is lower impact.  These methods of exercise also provide varying levels of opportunity to cheat when it comes to working out.  If you want to burn calories, cheating is anything that makes the machine, rather than your body do the work.  Avoid supporting yourself by holding on to the machine as much as possible. Leaning on the elliptical machine means you aren’t holding yourself upright. Standing on a bike with bad form or using very low resistance means you aren’t engaging your leg muscles to pedal, which results in fewer calories burned.  This is where calorie calculators break down and the number of calories per hour becomes much more individual.

If you want to burn the most calories on your home fitness equipment, choose a piece of fitness equipment that you can use with good form and use good form while using that equipment.  If running hard on a treadmill for an hour is not something that you can physically (or psychologically) tolerate, it’s not going to be the piece of equipment that burns the most calories for you, even if it blasts calories in a laboratory setting.  Rowing is a calorie blaster that targets the upper body and provides a great low impact workout.  The calorie burn is also close to running.  Depending on the amount of time you plan to spend working out, rowing is a great way to make use of limited time by providing intense workouts that also build strength.

If you have more time for working out but want to avoid high levels of impact, consider an upright cycle or elliptical machine and learn how to use it well.  Avoid leaning on the handlebars and use sufficient resistance to make your muscles feel tired during your workout.  Simply leaning on a machine while you read or surf the web, might look good on a calorie calculator, but your heart rate monitor and your waistline will tell a different story. When used properly, both biking and the elliptical can burn calories that are in keeping with running on a treadmill, from 500-1000 calories per hour, with the advantage of being more forgiving when it comes to impact.

Remember when it comes to exercising to burn the most calories, it’s not so much the machine as the way you use it.  Use a heart rate monitor for objective feedback.  Calories are really a way of demonstrating the work performed.  The more of the work your body performs versus relying on the machine, the more calories you’re burning. Choosing the exercise machine that you can use well, without compromising your joints or core is the best way to burn fat through exercise.