When it comes to cardio machines, such as the treadmill, stair climber, elliptical, or rowing machine, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm. Finding your groove is an important part of enjoying your workout but can also lead to simply logging miles, which can become ineffective and a bit boring after awhile. If your goal is weight loss or you simply want to intensify your time on cardio machines, intervals and circuit training are you new best friends. Maximize your time and burn more calories on cardio machines with this guide to taking it up a notch on the treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine, and stair climber.
Then check out the cardio classes on Aaptiv. We’ve got multiple categories across all levels.
Reaching Peak Weight Loss
For everyday fitness enthusiasts, weight loss is a popular goal. To reach this goal, while maintaining muscle, you’ll need to mix exercise and diet, according to a 2017 Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise study. In this study, three groups of people underwent a weight loss program. One group decreased calories by 20 percent, another group did just endurance exercise, and the last group dieted and exercised. All groups lost about seven percent of their body weight. However, the exercise and diet group didn’t lose any muscle mass or aerobic capacity, while the diet only (no exercise) group lost both muscle and cardiovascular capacity.
In terms of how to structure cardio workouts, an intermittent or spaced out approach may be better than one long bout. A 2013 International Journal of Preventive Medicine study found that 40 minutes of moderate endurance exercise divided into three sessions per day, for five days a week resulted in more weight loss when compared to one 40-minute workout per day, for five days per week. This 12-week study proved that for overweight women shorter cardio workouts can be more effective for weight loss than steady state sessions.
Endurance Training for Everyone
Since most people cite lack of time as their reason for skipping a workout, the following workouts take just 30 minutes or less to complete. You can use one cardio machine throughout your workout, or a combination of cardio machines and resistance training exercises to maximize calorie burn.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) means working for a prescribed period of time then resting for equal, less, or more time. Interspersing work and rest in this way results in more calories burned in less time.
Circuit training combines strength training and aerobic training within the same workout. Read on to find out how to use these tried and true techniques with cardio machines to burn fat while preserving muscle. Remember, we’re assuming you only have 30 minutes to work out.
Interval training calls for a work to rest ratio of 1:1, meaning that you work for the same amount of time that you rest. High-intensity interval training requires more work than rest, so a 2:1 or 3:1 work to rest ratio. Here’s a sample treadmill interval workout and a sample treadmill HIIT workout.
Head to Aaptiv to check out more HIIT running classes.
Treadmill Interval Workout
- 0:00-5:00: Run at 75 percent of maximum heart rate with a two percent incline.
- 5:01-10:00: Walk at 60 percent maximum heart rate with a four percent incline.
- 10:01-14:00: Run at 80 percent maximum heart rate with a two percent incline.
- 14:01-17:00: Walk at 65 percent maximum heart rate with a four percent incline
- 17:01-20:00: Run at 85 percent maximum heart rate with a two percent incline.
- 20:01-23:00: Walk at 65 percent maximum heart rate with a four percent incline.
Treadmill HIIT Workout
Do eight rounds of two minutes running at 90 percent maximum heart rate at one percent incline, interspersed with one-minute rest (during this time, stop the treadmill or step off to sides, if you’ve practiced this).
To maintain muscle and lose weight, combine functional strength training exercises with treadmill running.
Treadmill Circuit Workout
- Run 0.25 miles
- 15 push-ups
- Run 0.25 miles
- 20 bodyweight squats
- Run 0.25 miles
- 20 sit-ups
Total Mileage: 1.5 miles
To get the most bang for your buck, the rowing machine is best used for circuit training. While the machine can be used for longer low-impact cardio sessions, it’s placement during full body workouts makes workouts both fun and challenging. When using a rower, do work based on meters or calories rowed.
Rowing Circuit Workout
- Row 500 meters
- Ten dumbbell squat to presses
- Row 400 meters
- 20 dumbbell curls
- Row 300 meters
- 20 kettlebell swings
- Row 200 meters
- Ten burpees
- Row 200 meters
- 60-second plank
The elliptical machine is another low-impact cardio option that’s super easy to use. If you’re pressed for time, the elliptical becomes more than a “coast and read” machine. It can be a serious workout machine. Increase the incline, speed, and even direction of the pedals for a real challenge.
Plus, at Aaptiv, the trainers match the music with the workouts so you focus more on having fun and less on “getting through” your workout.
Elliptical Interval Workout
- 0:00-5:00: incline: 4, resistance: 4
- 5:01-10:00: incline: 6, resistance 4
- 10:01-15:00: incline 8, resistance 6
- 15:01-20:00: incline 10, resistance 8
- 20:01-23:00: incline 15, resistance 10
- 23:01-25:00: incline 10, resistance 8
- 25:01-27:00: incline 8, resistance 6
- 27:01-30:00: incline 6: resistance 4
The stair climber is a favorite among endurance athletes and fitness competitors, due to its ability to both burn fat and improve sports performance. The most common use is a steady state workout, where you stay at a specific speed for 20-30 minutes. To switch things up, use the stair climber as part of a circuit training workout.
And check out the stair climbing classes on Aaptiv.
Or, if you dare, wear a weighted vest for five to ten minutes while on the stair climber to increase both leg strength and endurance. Here’s how to use the stair climber during a full-body workout.
Stair Climber Circuit Workout
- Five minutes stair climber: Level 5
- Ten pull-ups (modification would be inverted rows)
- Four minutes stair climber: Level 6
- Ten push-ups
- 20 mountain climbers
- 30-second wall sit
- Three minutes stair climber: Level 7
- Ten dumbbell rows (each arm)
- Ten dumbbell overhead presses
- 20 triceps dips
- Three minutes stair climber: Level 8
- 30 seconds of high knees
- 30 seconds of squat jumps
Total stair climber time: 15 minutes
Try these workouts next time you’re at the gym to burn more calories on cardio machines. Then, check out the Aaptiv app for more circuit training and interval-based cardio machine workouts.