Cardio is cardio if done right, no matter what machine. Mostly depends on preference. Just because you're on the bike for an hour doesn't mean you're getting a good workout. This question also depends greatly on your age and condition. Also, is cardio all you care about, or are you looking to shed a few lbs? The two are NOT synonymous. Here's what I reccomend if you do not have any joint pain(knees mainly):
****Eliptical without any moving handles (Horay for marketing, but don't need them)
-Set the resistance to a level that you can feel, but is managable for about 45 min. (prob about lvl 6 to 10)
-Pick either manual mode OR interval (the one with hills and valleys at eq. dist apart)
-Enter in all necessary data ie. age, wt, . . . (not too important)
-Begin at a pace that feels like walking. Not TURTLE slow, but def not running. Maintain this pace for 10 min. Adjust the resistance if needed. (don't worry about the incline for now).
-If you are getting tired, slow down for the next 5 min and lower the resistance. If not, SPEED UP!
-If you slow for 5 min. speed up after 5 min is up back to where you were. Repeat this for 45 min. 10 min moderate pace, 5 min slow, 10 min moderate pace etc.....DON'T slow down if you don't NEED to!!! I can't emphasize the word "NEED" enough.
-If you dont slow after 10 min, speed up for the next 10 min. (dont go crazy though). If you don't need a break again, speed up again for the next ten min. Looking for your breaking point, get it? Once you find it, take 5 min interval breaks (slow pace) as needed.
-KEEP YOUR FEET FLAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do not raise your heals as the mach. turns. This is to help with stability and increase the load on your quads and glutes.
-DO NOT BOUNCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1)The momentum takes away form your workout 2) it looks stupid
-Try to keep your abs tight. Imagine you are getting ready for someone to punch you in the gut (dont hunch over though).
-Keep your head back aligned with your shoulders. Use the bars to REGAIN balance, but do not support yourself on them throughout the workout. Either lock your fingers together in front of your chest as if you were praying or move your arms to the pace of your legs like you would if you were walking on the ground.
Hope this helps!
GO GET EM!
Senior Fitness Advisor, ATAP Personal Training
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The only thing I would add is after doing this a couple of weeks change that moderate to high intensity at 5 minute intervals to strengthen the heart and boost fat burning when at rest. As a matter of fact shorter workouts of 20 minutes with intense intervals have been shown to be very effective.