ARRIVE WITH A PLAN
Set a target time and goal for each workout before you get started. During your workouts, stick to your plan — on an interval day, give it all you’ve got, and on a recovery day, hold back so you will be stronger during your next workout.
FOCUS ON BUILDING STRENGTH
The more muscle you have, the more efficient you’ll be at metabolizing (burning calories), and the more power you’ll have to excel during any type of workout. Incorporate strength training into your workout plan two to three days a week. Even short 20-minute strength workouts can make a difference in your performance over time; just make sure to perform these abbreviated workouts before your cardio workout and after a 5-10 minute warm-up. If you’re new to strength training, select a strength modality that you’ll look forward to incorporating into your workouts. Free weights, tubing, body weight, suspension training, and selectorized machines are all great options.
If you’re getting bored on your favorite cardio machine or if you’ve stopped seeing results, try these easy suggestions to reinvigorate your favorite equipment.
Avoid off-loading your body weight on to the equipment. Many times, exercisers will make things easier on themselves by holding onto the rails of a treadmill as the incline increases, or leaning forward on an elliptical machine’s handlebars during a high-resistance phase of a workout. Although it may feel like you’re working hard because your step count, resistance or angle are high, you’re cheating yourself out of the best workout possible by reducing your overall power output and the challenge on your core and stabilizer muscles.
PROGRAM YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS
Use the workouts built into your cardio equipment — these are named in line with their training intent. If you want a longer workout, stick to a fat-burning routine, which burns the highest amount of calories. Or if you want a short and sweet workout, focus on a high-intensity workout, but be sure to avoid over-training.
LET THE MUSIC MOVE YOU
Build a workout playlist that alternates high-tempo and low-tempo songs. Try to match your steps or revolutions with the beat. For high-tempo songs, reduce resistance or flatten your incline and work faster. For low-tempo songs, increase resistance or incline.
Here are a few tips for mixing it up on the most popular types of cardio equipment at the gym:
- Elliptical and Variable Stride Trainers — Keep your muscles guessing by adjusting your body position and training direction. Squatting, mixing intervals and training in a reverse direction are all great ways to encourage muscle confusion and develop strength. Reverse direction training also typically burns more calories, since our bodies are less familiar with this type of movement.
- Treadmill — Develop strength by increasing the incline, and build speed by adding short decline intervals. For HIIT training, increase the incline on your treadmill, select pause, and perform short sprints using only your own power. This kind of workout is challenging, so you’ll probably be ready for a break after about 10 seconds of work.
- Bike — Keep an eye on your power output, usually displayed as watts, and alternate workouts that maintain constant power with workouts that base intervals on power output. This will be an effective way to push intensity, whether you’re spinning faster at a light resistance or pulling slower at a high resistance.
Cardio equipment is always a great option for getting a great cardiovascular workout, but try these alternative exercise methods to get even more out of your training:
FUN WITH FRIENDS
Taking a group exercise class is a great way to try out a new activity with friends and challenge yourself — research shows exercisers push themselves harder when working out in a group.
Circuit training using strength equipment or body weight exercises (traveling through a strength circuit with little rest between stations) is a great way to elevate the heart rate, develop muscular endurance and strength, and create new experiences in the gym.