What is the best form of cardiovascular exercise for my personal training clients? The answer to that question differs depending on the physical goals of the individual client. A general answer to the question is that the ideal form of cardiovascular training is a form which has the most rewards while minimizing the risks.
The treadmill is probably the most popular form of cardio being done at gyms and fitness centers today. If one walks on the treadmill on a flat grade the risk to injury is minimal but in most cases the rewards are minimal. Under these conditions few calories are burned and it is too high impact for the extremely deconditioned or obese. Walking slow on the flat treadmill with no grade has minimal risks for everyone but also few rewards as it does not burn enough calories to signifigantly reduce bodyfat. There are two ways to increase the efficacy of working on a treadmill, one is by increasing the rate of speed of which the exercise is done at; you can start jogging or running at will. Jogging and running are very potent exercises when it comes to calorie burning but both of them put a great deal stress on the knees and lower back . The unconditioned, injured and seniors should not take up running because it is too hard on the joint, bones and connective tissue. Secondly, treadmill work can be increased in intensity by increasing the degree of grade that is walked at, this becomes the equivalent of walking hills or mountains outside. Incline treadmill walking is an effective calorie and fat burner but it can be problematic for trainees with lower back, knee or foot issues. As you can see the treadmill has its positives and negatives. Using this an your main type of cardio will depend on any limiting factors due to injuries and how much endurance you have.
Stationary cycling is another very common form of cardio being done at gyms today. Stationary cycling has the same pros and cons as riding the bike outside. I believe cycling is most definitely superior to jogging and running because you can burn a lot of calories without the extreme pounding to the knees and back that the body receives from jogging and running. To a lesser degree however a lot of stress to the knees and back can be generated by intense cycling also.
I favor the elliptical machine due it's non-impact nature and large range of motion. you can vary the ramp, resistance and speed to target the largest lower body muscles without straining the spine or joints. It is possible to really turn up the intensity level of your training with minimal risk of injury. In short there is a superior form of cardio and that form is elliptical training.