I really like Mike Geary – his Truth About Abs ebook is fantastic and highly recommended by many people, including me.
But I was reading an article he wrote called: 5 Reasons that I Think Treadmill and Elliptical Machine Workouts are a Waste of Time
I won’t reprint the entire article (you can click the link to read it on his site), but I will post his 5 reasons – and why I think he’s only half right…here are the reasons (and my comments below each one in italics):
1) Treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes are mind-blowingly BOOOORING! Personally, I can think of a million things I’d rather be doing than pedaling my way to nowhere!
While many people would agree about the boredom part, and because of that boredom would say they suck, I don’t think they are a “waste of time”. To me, I feel if you are a typically sedentary person, and you really don’t want to join a gym, etc. this is WAY better than doing nothing. A few years back, walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes per day, 4 days per week, as well as watching what I ate, helped me lose 25 pounds.
2) Mindless steady state cardio exercise while watching TV or reading creates a mind / body disconnect resulting in poor results from your exercise routine. Instead of reading a gossip magazine or watching a cheesy reality TV show on the TV screen in front of the cardio machine, a REAL workout consists of actually having your mind engaged strongly in what your body is doing!
Mike is right here. But keep in mind that Mike already HAS a much different mindset about working out than the average person. Remember – he is a certified personal trainer who has been working out for many years. My guess is that most of the people who read this are NOT fitness guru’s, but rather regular men and women looking for answers.
And while I do agree with Mike’s observation, I also think that if watching TV or reading is what it takes for you to get started – do it. Gossip magazines are your thing? Read one while on a stationary bike without guilt. Whatever it takes to get you from sedentary to active. When I started, I did the same things. But I credit these things for “pushing me along” when I didn’t really want to. And now, I AM much more focused on my runs, workouts, etc. I became this way over TIME. Hardly anyone goes from sedentary and lazy to the perfect workout. It can be a long curve for some… but as I stated above – something is better than nothing.
3) I’ve seen studies that indicated that treadmill running may be less effective than outdoor running for various reasons such as stride abnormalities on treadmills vs natural running, slightly less caloric burn compared to outdoor running, etc.
…although I never recommend just “jogging” anyway (or as Ron Burgundy would say, “yogging”) … Instead, variable intensity walks / runs or sprints are so much more effective, training your heart rate in a much wider range instead of just the same pace during the entire workout. I choose to do a lot of hiking up mountains and also wind sprints, but never steady state jogging.
I have not read any studies on this subject, so I can not speak definitively, but I would agree. To be honest, I MUCH prefer running outside. When I am stuck running on a treadmill, I tire out much faster. For example, when I run a quick 3 miler outside, my typical pace is about 9:13. On a treadmill, when I actually finish 3 miles, my pace is closer to 9:35 or so.
Walking and sprinting are great for a lot of reasons – fat burning, improving stamina and speed, etc. Most marathon runners use sprinting during their training more than distance training (see my other post showing my half-marathon training schedule here). So my only “disagreement” with Mike would simply be if your choice is treadmill or elliptical because you can’t find the time, or the weather is bad outdoors – use the damn things.
4) Treadmills and ellipticals are ridiculously expensive and a waste of money for people that workout at home… there’s so many better options for home workouts you could have spent your money on rather than wasting it on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical.
The perfect home gym setup is MUCH cheaper… there’s no reason you need anything other than a jump rope, bodyweight exercises, a few dumbbells, stability ball, maybe a few kettlebells (if you want to get fancy), and perhaps high tension bands for some more variety. And of course… the great outdoors has some of the best workout options of all… hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, sports, and more!
Variety is the spice of life. For me, the more options I have to work out, the more I work out. Kettlebells and tension bands are also a part of my home gym. But sometimes, when winter sets in, I still like a good run (or walk or bike ride).
Yup. Treadmills sure CAN be expensive. So how do we get around that if you really want one? Ever heard of Ebay? How about Craigslist? And like the “olden days”, what about the good old fashioned newspaper classified ads? No one says you need to spend $1200 for a brand new “state of the art” treadmill or elliptical with all the bells and whistles. Buy a used one. “Expensive” is simply another word for “excuse”. Frankly, if you can’t afford about $300 to $400 for a decent used machine, I hate to break it to you – you won’t be able to afford a set of kettlebells (set of 3 on average runs about $150), stability ball, dumbells, etc. All together they could run about the same.
And he blew his “expensive” argument – mountain bikes? Kayaks? Skiing? Those aren’t expensive?
Choose what YOU want…
5) Treadmills and elliptical machines are just a very ineffective way to workout compared to other options. The metabolic response is much lower compared to the types of workouts ideas that I describe below. Why should you do treadmill or elliptical workouts when you can get better results by doing more interesting forms of training that actually stimulate a fat-burning hormonal response and stimulate your metabolism to a greater extent…
This last one is basically a repeat. Again – the average person doesn’t start out a fitness guru. I would venture a guess that MOST don’t even LIKE to work out, but have to, or feel they need to. So if working out at home is the option for you, and a treadmill or whatever is what you feel you want – GET ONE. Again – doing something is better than popcorn and movies every night. Even if it is “ineffective”.
In fact, I would argue “ineffective”. There are many other fitness guru’s who would too. LESS effective than OTHER workouts? Perhaps. But certainly more effective than nothing.
As I stated at the start of this article – I like Mike Geary’s stuff a heck of a lot. But frankly, I felt I should speak my opinions about his 5 reasons because MY guess is that this article will most likely cause more people to NOT start exercising than putting them on the “right path”, etc. I think at times, some of these fitness guys forget what it was like at the beginning. Some of us didn’t even start working out until we got in to our 40’s – like me. If I had read this before I started, I can pretty much tell you I would have been swayed to not do anything else. For me, running, walking and biking were all things I knew how to do. Some other types of exercising I was totally clueless back then. Trying to START there would have been a big mistake for me.
So, do what you feel is best for you. And remember- ALWAYS consult your doctor before you start any exercise program.