When performing cardio on a machine with guardrails or support bars (e.g., treadmill, stair machine), avoid the temptation to support yourself on them.
On cardio machines like this, your body weight determines the amount of work you’re actually doing–that is, the number of calories you’re burning. Supporting yourself on the rails relieves some of the weight, lowering your exertion level. This means that your actual total calorie burn may be 30 to 50 percent less than the machine’s display would suggest.
It’s okay to stabilize yourself on the rails from time to time to keep your balance. But if you find yourself needing to cling to the support bars to keep up with the pace of the machine, it’s time to adjust. Lower the speed or the incline to a rate that you can manage without holding on for dear life. You’ll have a better workout in spite of the reduced belt speed.
No Leaning Backward, Either
If you’re walking at incline on a treadmill, avoid holding on to the top of the machine and leaning backward. That position essentially cancels out the incline. Instead, drop your pace if you need to and lean forward. Referred to as “incline marching,” this position will help you take advantage of the incline, and you’ll get a better workout for your glutes and hamstrings.
Keep your hands off the rails and go for it!