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Cardio Tip: Leave the Handrails Alone

If you use machines as your main source of cardio, resist the urge to use the handles. They are there in case you need a little help with balance, but they should not be used as armrests, with you leaning your body weight into them. This inadvertently takes weight out of your lower body, making your workout easier on your legs. Plus, holding on to the handrails creates improper body mechanics, since most folks lean forward when holding on, and this bad posture can lead to injury.

If you find you can't use the treadmill, elliptical, or stair climber without using the handles for balance, then maybe you're going too fast. If you rest on the handles just because it's what you've always done, then there's no time like the present to break a bad habit. Instead of leaning on the handles, use those arms to burn more calories. Swing them from side to side or do bicep curls in the air. That way you'll be using your upper body too.

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Join The Conversation
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
I will use the upper rails on the elliptical. they are high enough that I am not supporting any weight with them, but they keep me balanced when I am peddling away. There is a girl that works out at the same time as I do.. she is on the treadmill at like elevation 10, 11, I mean she is up there, but she is hanging onto the top, like someone else mentioned. I want to tell her that she's not getting the most out of her workout, but she's toothpick thin, so I'll let her figure it out :)
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
I see people holding on for dear life on ALL of the machines !! It makes me laugh. There should be signs up around the gym to tell people not to do this but I guess people figure why are the handrails there if they aren't supposed to be used ?
sloane220 sloane220 8 years
thankyou! it drives me crazy when i see people holding on to the railings or even worse reading when they're on the treadmill or elliptical. it's like, whats the point?
livetolove livetolove 8 years
people at the gym always look at me like I'm crazy since I don't hold the rails on the elliptical... I wish I could show them the light
caryatid caryatid 8 years
i use the handles on the cross trainer kinda machines... is that wrong? i definitely am not leaning on them, just using them as a way to move my arms.
juliefischer juliefischer 8 years
Modus, I second that. I see people holding on for dear life every day at my gym. I wish I could tell them to stop! The ONLY time I ever touch the railings is when i'm on the stairmaster, like darkoblivion, and even then I barely have a finger touching. Just in case I lose my balance, i'm so clumsy sometimes!
Peggasus Peggasus 8 years
I see women on the treadmills at the gym all the time, cranking the incline up to 8 or so, but then hanging on for dear life with their arms, and not even on the rails, but on the TOP of the machine. Yeah, way to work the legs, honey! You're right, Modus, it is a waste of time to do it like that. When I crank the incline up like that, I slow the pace down to about 3.1 mph, and it's HARD. I can only do it for 3-4 minutes. It reminds me of hiking in Coroado, without the thin air!
darkoblivion darkoblivion 8 years
The only machine I ever mess with the rails on is the stepmill and that's only when I get too ahead of myself and trip over the next step. haha! That is the one machine where I see people lean the most on the railing. I understand holding on lightly ever so often for balance but I literally saw a girl lay her whole upper body on it this morning. That's a really good tip about the weights. I'm going to try that!
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
That is a good idea about the weights! I hate seeing people leaning hard on the bars. I want to just tell them, you're doing it wrong! You're wasting your time! But of course I don't.
NdHebert NdHebert 8 years
Anytime I use the stairmaster I use 5 pound weights in each hand. It prevents me from grabbing the handles or leaning forward and using the screen as an arm rest.
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