If you're doing steady state cardio for every workout, try these 3 HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio workouts on the elliptical trainer a few times a week. They take less time, burn more calories, and make the time fly by!
I like the ol' elliptical machine. If you're not familiar with it, it's a minimal-impact machine (meaning your feet never leave the pedals, and there's no repeated or jarring contact between your body and the surface of the machine). In other words, it's easy on your joints. The circular motion of the pedals mimics running, and there are moving poles in the front so your arms can get in on the act, too. There's no motor; it's you that powers the machine, so you never have to feel nervous that you might fall or get flung off and end up on YouTube in a "Hysterical Gym FAILS" video. Also, because you're holding on, there's no need for balance. You can just close your eyes, holler at some 2Pac, and totally let go.
If you spend a lot of time on any cardio machine, you're familiar with how long it can take to rack up a decent amount of calories burned. But by using HIIT on a machine, you can really crank out some quick work and rev up that metabolism. Studies have proven that interval training workouts can burn as much (and often more) calories in a shorter amount of time than steady state cardio workouts. HIIT also improves cardiovascular health and even increases your endurance. Try these high intensity workouts 2-3 times a week and watch your strength and stamina grow!
If you don't like the elliptical you can easily use these workouts for any cardio machines or activity. If you don't like the gym, these HIIT workouts would work beautifully with running.
These are super short intervals that are repeated before a longer rest time. For the Work Intervals, try to go nuts and get completely breathless. For the Rest Intervals, you want to continue to pedal, but at a lower, steady state. You're basically just giving yourself a chance to catch your breath. Try this option if you like to be fully engaged in the timing process.
(Repeat 3 times more)
Repeat the entire Tabata for 20-30 minutes.
2. High Intensity Intervals
These are longer intervals, but still timed. This is a simple way to organize an interval workout by just watching the clock. Try this option if you find the above too fussy, but still want a structured workout. Remember to go completely bonkers during the Work Intervals and earn that rest! As above, continue to pedal at a steady state during the Rest Intervals.
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Repeat for 20-30 minutes.
3. BPM (Beats Per Minute)
This is a fun way to have a great interval workout without ever having to glance at a clock. All you have to do is pedal to the beat, so you can lose yourself in the music, and your cardio will be over before you know it! You'll need to organize a playlist before you hit the gym so you don't waste time searching for the perfect song. Arrange the songs so that they alternate fast BPM to steady state BPM. It can be hard to guess what will work if you've never tried it, so see below one of my own HIIT playlists (if you have Spotify, you can grab it here). Hope you like my sweet tunes!
"Under The Pressure" The War On Drugs
"Crown On The Ground" Sleigh Bells
"Domino" Jessie J
"Fall In Love" Phantogram
"How Do You Want It" 2Pac
"D.A.N.C.E.-MSTRKRFT (Remix)" Justice
"Money Trees" Kendrick Lamar
"If" Janet Jackson
"Five Seconds" Twin Shadow
"Hold On, We're Going Home" Drake
Rock it 20-40 minutes.
Find Sarah at thisfitmom.com
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Image: Sarah Olive Bergeson