Machines You Move

The list of home gym essentials marches on…  Along with the blender, floor space, brain, body, something to hang from, and something to lift, now we have:


And not just any machines, we’re talking about machines that you move by your own power in order to elicit a cardiovascular response.

The first and most important cardio machine is–of course–your own body.  Running is the king of all cardio.  It’s primal, it’s natural, it’s functional, and it feels great.  Of course, it would be great if we could all just fly, but,

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

And if you’ve done all the crawling, walking, and running that you can handle, but you still can’t fly, then maybe it’s time to invest in a cardio machine for your home gym.

Here’s what I have:

An ancient Concept 2 rowing machine.  Still does the same thing the new ones do.  Rows. 
An equally ancient Schwinn Airdyne.  Does the same thing as an Assault AirBike, but breaks down less frequently (in my experience).
Old, basic bicycles.  Because I have too many hobbies to put much money into any of them.  One ancient road-bike and one ragged mountain-bike get the job done. 

I also have a jump rope (speed rope) and a rowboat (dinghy), which I guess are technically also machines that I use my body to move for exercise.  The lawnmower, however, DOESN’T count.

So, when do you need to buy a cardio machine?

  • When you’re sport requires it
  • When it’s something you really love to do
  • When you absolutely can’t motivate yourself to do any other type of cardio

If you are an athlete or participant in a sport that uses a certain piece of equipment (like a bike for triathletes), then yeah, you absolutely gotta have one at home to practice with.  When you really love bicycling and it brings you great joy to do the activity, you also ought to own a bike.  When there is not one form of cardio that you could ever bring yourself to do (because you HATE running and you are BORED with ellipticals and you NEVER learned to swim!) except for the bike. Then, those are all good reasons to own a bike.  If, on the other hand, you don’t take part in any sports, and you do not enjoy riding bicycles, and you are perfectly happy hiking or walking the dogs for your cardio, then you DO NOT need to buy a bicycle, no matter how badly someone wants to sell it to you.

Now that you’ve done the “do I need it?” test, it’s time to talk about what you do with once you have it.

Unless you are an athlete who needs to develop top-end power or glycolytic endurance for their sport, then you do NOT need to:

  • Practice super-fast, pukey sprints
  • Do high-intensity interval training
  • Train “like the pros” from some YouTube video you found online

On the other hand, what we all need to do (even the pros), is spend a lot of time base-building with super-easy, long-distance aerobic work.  In other words, carve out a big chunk of time (like 1-2 hours if you can, or 30-45 minutes if you can’t), begin at an easy pace, and keep it at that pace the entire time.  Work on your ability to sustain and endure and tame your monkey-brain (that A.D.D. child deep inside).

This is the proper way to use your cardio machine, as an extension of your body, a body that you are training to be more reliable and enduring in all your day-to-day, aerobically-fueled activities.

Do it because you can.  Do it because it’s good for you.  And most of all, do it because it’s fun!

Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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