Doing cardio workouts on a machine at the gym isn’t everyone’s favorite activity. I’ve heard it compared to everything from getting a root canal at the dentist to being only slightly more enjoyable than a full-body wax done by Atilla the Hun. True story.
While gyms might install televisions or fun interactive games on their equipment to make 45 minutes on the treadmill more appealing, it doesn’t really help those who dread cardio workouts. But here’s the rub, we need to include cardio in our weekly mix to reap the dozens of health benefits. Not to mention, cardio workouts will help you meet your goals. ACSM recommends an average participant should do between 20-30 minutes five times per week of moderate to vigorous activity, and they also suggest those looking to lose weight should step that up to 50-60 minutes five times per week.
So, what’s the solution?
Find ways of doing cardio that keep you mentally stimulated while at the same time providing a fun and challenging workout. We’ve featured fun indoor cycling, treadmill, and rowing sessions and for today’s Fitness Friday we’re going to show you how to combine all three for an absolute fat-melting masterpiece.
Stationary or Spin Bike
Minute 0-5: Warm up
- Begin at a flat road with enough gear on the bike that you feel pressure on the pedals. If you have a measurement of cadence or RPM’s, aim for around 90.
- Every minute, add 1% of difficulty (or about 1/4 turn on a spin bike).
- By minute 5 you should be on what feels like a slight incline and ready to work.
Minute 5-10: Seated hill intervals
- Each interval will be 45 seconds long with 15 seconds of recovery.
- On a stationary bike, you’ll want to at least DOUBLE your current load. For example, if you’re working at a level 5 on your recovery, your hill should be a minimum of level 10.
- On a spin bike, you’ll want to add a minimum of a FULL turn to each hill interval.
- All hills will be done seated, so be sure to engage your core and push your heels down to get the most out of your climb.
- This set involves 5 total intervals. Ready? Go!
Minute 10-15: Seated accelerations
- Each interval is 30 seconds long with 30 seconds of recovery.
- These accelerations should be about 80-85% of your max effort. Becuase they’re a bit longer, don’t go for an 100% sprint unless you are very very fit.
- For the interval, add gear and then increase your cadence to 100 RPM. Do NOT go above 110, if you need more add more gear not more rotations.
- On the recovery, remove the gear and bring RPM’s down to between 80-90. This should be an active recovery.
- 5 intervals total in this set
Minute 15-16: Transition from Bike to Rower
- It’s helpful to have your rower set up ahead of time to make this a quick transition.
- You’ll be coming off :30 seconds of recovery, so move quickly here to minimize your down-time.
- And breathe. A lot. Your heart rate should be up there.
Minutes 16-20: Rowing Technique
- Once you’re strapped in, we’ll take a few minutes to transition from cycling movement to rowing movement. Your legs should already be firing on all cylinders, so let’s use their power here.
- Spend 1-minute driving HARD back into the pull, and hold for a breath before releasing back out.
- Following that, row as you normally would keeping your stroke rate between 24-30 and focusing on perfect technique.
Minutes 20-25: Moderate Intervals with Recovery
- This section will consist of 5, :30-second intervals with :30 seconds of recovery.
- During the interval, bring your stroke rate between 30-35 while still maintaining perfect form.
- Recovery stroke rate 24-30.
Minutes 25-30: Sprint Intervals
- This set will consist of 5, :20-second sprint intervals with :40 seconds of recovery.
- These intervals are short and incredibly intense. The goal during each of these intervals is to pull your body weight in watts at least one time (it may take a stroke or two to build up to it).
- During recovery, keep your stroke rate at 24-30.
Minute 30-31: Transition to treadmill
- Just like in your first transition, you’ll be coming off of a recovery so move quickly from one machine to the next to keep your heart rate elevated.
- This is a great time to grab water.
- Once you’re on the treadmill, get the belt started, take your incline to 1% and your speed to 3.0 until the end of the minute transition.
Minute 31-40: Increasing hill run (or walk)
- This is it, just 9 minutes of hard effort left before the cool down so let’s make it count. You should already be on the treadmill with the belt moving at a speed of 3.0 and an incline of 1%.
- In minute 31, take the speed up to a challenging pace that you are confident that you can maintain for at least 10 minutes. For some athletes, this may be a brisk walk, for others a jog or run. Challenge yourself, but also give yourself room to work.
- Beginning at minute 32, add a 1% incline every minute through minute 40 (that’s a total of 8%). DON’T adjust your speed, unless it’s to kick it up a notch in the last minute or two.
- The last minute or two should be very very uncomfortable, but I promise, you can do it. Get over that hill.
Minute 40-45: Cool down
- Take your speed down to a brisk walk leaving your incline at 9%- this should be 3.0-3.5 for most people.
- Every 30 seconds remove 1% incline and .1 from your speed. For example, if you started at 3.5, you’ll go to 3.4, then 3.3 and so on.
- Continue removing elevation and speed until your heart rate has recovered, at least 5 minutes.
- Once you’re finished, find a place to stretch out and drink some water. AWESOME JOB killing this in-the-gym triathlon.
*Average calorie burn for 150-pound female: 451
*Average calorie burn for 200-pound male: 635
Three different modalities requires some mixed up music to keep it flowing. Here we’ve created one awesome 45-ish minute playlist with three different 15-ish minute segments to help you transition from one piece of equipment to the next.
It’s a battle of the sexes, but it’s all about the sweat!
Lose Yourself – Eminem
The Way You Move – Outkast
Sweat – Snoop Dogg & David Guetta
Don’t Waste My Time – Krept & Konan (naughty lyrics, so feel free to swap or find the clean version)
Wild (Show & Prove Remix) – Jessie J
All About that Bass – Megan Trainor
Run Run Run – Celeste Buckingham
Last Name – Carrie Underwood
Soldier – Destiny’s Child feat. T.I. and Lil Wayne
The Way I Are – Timbaland feat. Keri Hilson
Hips Don’t Lie – Shakira Feat. Wyclef Jean
Hey Mama – David Guetta Feat. Niki Minaj, Bebe Rexa and Afrojack
Does cardio at the gym bore you? Be sure to let us know if this workout kept you on your toes. And definitely share tips for pushing through a hard session in the comments!