Optimal Workout Equipment Settings for Your Fitness Goals

Young fit woman rowing indoor on a rowing machine

With the range of equipment on the market these days it’s important you’re not just choosing the right workout piece, but engaging in the right settings to achieve your goals too. Whether you want to push for weight loss with summer around the corner or need to build muscle tone and strength, sometimes the ‘right’ equipment can be very wrong for you when you’re not using it properly.

Regardless of it you love training at the gym or you’ve purchased a few key workout pieces to set up in your home gym, finding the optimal settings can help kick those fitness goals more effectively. Get more out of what you’re using with these tips:

1. Exercise Bikes

Getting fit for summer on an exercise bike is a popular option because of the level of comfort it provides. Great for those that prefer to sit down whilst exercising, this piece will help to burn calories and boost cardio exercise. For those that want an extra level of support on the exercise bike, recumbent bikes are designed to have a reclined body seat and pedals in front of the bike instead of under the body like a regular bike. This offers the use more comfort and a better leg workout.

To get the most out of your workout, you’ll want the speed level to sit between 80-100 RPM. It’s crucial you don’t pedal at the same speed for the full workout though – especially if you’re wanting to burn calories. Instead, mix it up by riding at lower speed (50-70 RPM) and then crank to 120-140 RPM. The lower speeds will help to build leg muscle, whilst the switch to more intense speeds will assist in shredding weight and boost endurance.

You’ll also want to consider the resistance and heart rate monitor settings. By alternating between low and medium resistance settings, fat-burning will happen quicker. For the most effective workout, keep your heart rate between 50-85%.

2. Treadmills

If you’re looking to build muscles in your calves, quads and glutes your treadmill should be set to 9% incline. This is the ideal setting for marathon training, boosting endurance and slashing kilos too and will give you that burning sensation in your legs after a workout. If you’re just looking to boost those running skills though, a simple 1.5% incline will mimic outdoor running. For extreme marathon or steep hike training change the incline closer to 15%.

Both the speed and incline of the treadmill should never be too high where you find yourself walking, sprinting or running without moving your hands. Like with the exercise bike, you want to switch your speed and incline settings to mix the workout up. This will save your body getting too comfortable in a certain setting – as soon as you’re ‘comfortable’ your body is burning less calories! To build endurance, use high-intensity workouts and switch between a 4-5% to a 0% incline during various running intervals. Walkers and slow joggers will only need to a speed of 10-12km/h whilst serious joggers and runners should go for 16-20km/h.

3. Elliptical Machines

A steady 20 minute workout on an elliptical machine can shred that extra weight and get your heart rate up, boosting endurance and strength training.  But to get the full effect, the right settings are important. As far as cardio equipment goes elliptical machines, also known as cross trainers, are the powerhouse of cardio equipment; having the potential to burn 270-400 calories in less than 30 minutes.

Interval workouts are the best on these machines to boost metabolism and burn more calories. Because it gets your whole body moving, it’s ideal for strength training too. To boost strength and improve weight loss, the resistance of the machine needs to be increased – the more you turn that dial up, the more strength you’ll be building.

For a medium workout on the cross trainer, aim for a RPM of 90. Keep increasing the resistance and incline though to ensure your heart rate is high. For a full-intensity hard work out to get everything burning (including calories!) you can still go for a 90 RPM but aim for a maximum heart rate between 90-100%, as opposed to a medium work out of 85-90%. Resistance is key to achieving fitness goals on a cross trainer; once this level is bumped up, your arms and legs have to work harder to keep the machine moving. This offers a full body workout to build endurance and strength. For a more intense interval, adjust the incline to a higher level too.

4. Rowing Machine

These machines have a reputation for offering a low-impact workout that increases stamina, builds on muscle strength and drops those calories. The biggest problem with this machine is users tend to forget the damper setting – a crucial lever on the side of the rower’s wheel that can give you a solid cardio workout.

Before using this setting, make sure your rowing form is in top notch. Like gears on a bicycle, the damper setting will offer a heavier feel on the body the higher the gear. Start it on between 3-5 which will mimic the feeling of rowing in the water, and build it up to power your legs and upper body. You should feel it working your legs, butt, arms and back muscles.
Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.