Keep Your Hands to Yourself
The best way to exercise on a cardio machine is to move in the same way you would if you were off the machine and in the park. So when I’m at the gym and see someone leaning over with their body weight over the handles of an elliptical or a treadmill, I want to run over and give their hands a smack. Don’t worry, I will control this impulse (if I can do it on the L train, I can do it anywhere), plus, I think it would get my gym membership revoked.
While gently holding on is a good idea for first timers who need help with balance, bending over and holding up your weight with your arms is a big no-no. I see this all the time because working out this way makes the exercise easier. But it also decreases the intensity of the exercise, which lessens your calorie burn. Further, you are robbing your body of the chance to develop functional core strength, which comes with improved posture. You are also putting yourself at greater risk of injury. Exercise should mimic the way we move in real life. So hey–if you want to move with the assistance of a waIker one day, then keep holding on. Otherwise, get the most out of your cardio and go hands free. If you can’t handle the Stairmaster without utilizing a death grip, slow down or decrease the resistance.