Elliptical machines are often the only option for people with bad knees. But if your knees are healthy, think twice before using them – for two reasons.

Reason #1. Men’s Health magazine warns, “Never trust elliptical machines.” And they quote a study which found that elliptical machines overestimated the number of calories burned in a workout by 31 percent.

Ouch.

So if your “elliptical cardio workout” burned 400 calories, the truth is you really burned closer to 300.

Reason #2. Men’s Health magazine interviewed “Biggest Loser” contestant Ed Brantley, who lost 73 pounds while on the show. Ed had this to say: “I hated the elliptical. It was too easy. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. But that’s EXACTLY why elliptical machines are so popular. They are inferior for fat loss because they fail my “human nature” test.

Put it this way…

Take 100 people and put them in a gym with 100 treadmills and 100 elliptical machines. Tell them they have to exercise for 30 minutes at a hard pace, and they can use either the treadmill or the elliptical. Guess where 90 percent of those folks will be headed?

To the elliptical!

Why? Because it is human nature to take the easy way out. That is why elliptical machines are so busy at the gym. You rarely see anyone doing intervals on a treadmill or bodyweight circuits in the corner.

So if you are stuck at a fat-loss plateau and you’ve been counting on the elliptical machine to help you, forget it. You can’t say you “worked out” if you don’t get any real work done. Stick to the bike, the treadmill, or bodyweight exercises.

[Ed. Note: If you think long, slow cardio – on an elliptical machine, no less! – is the best way to get fit, you’ve fallen victim to one of the most common myths around. Discover 5 more myths about exercise – and how to combat them – right here.]

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com