The Single Best Cardio Machine Ever

If you're doing only one thing, you're better off with an erg.

If you ever walked into your gym and scanned the rows of exercise machines and wondered, "Which one of these bad boys is the best bang for my buck?," we've got some news for you: there's an answer. The rowing machine is the single most effective cardio machine in any gym. Scientists at the University of Dublin found that men burn up to 50 percent more fat on rowers than on stationary bikes. "It's simple math," says Paul Robbins, a former metabolic specialist at Athlete's Performance, in Arizona, and director of elite performance at STATS LLC, a sports data company. "Rowers work the entire body, and the more muscles you use, the more calories you burn."

But that doesn't mean you should use rowers exclusively. A better plan is to divide your time among multiple machines.

Next time you're in the gym, spend 10 minutes each on the treadmill, the Airdyne cycle (the one with handles that pump back and forth), the stair climber, and the rower. "You'll work more muscles from more angles and send your metabolism into overdrive," says Robbins. "You'll also be less likely to crap out after 20 minutes." Researchers at the University of Florida agree. In their study of 61 men and women, they found that people who mixed up their routines enjoyed exercising 15 percent more than those who did not. The former group was also 20 percent more likely to exercise regularly. Remember: great cardio is a crucial part of dropping 10 pounds before the Fourth of July. 

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