If you're trying to burn calories and lose weight using cardio machines, I have a challenge for you: Put down the magazine, turn off the television, take the towel off your display and stop looking at your watch. Okay, you can keep the iPod or MP3 player, but everything else has to go. Why the drastic measures? If you aren't paying attention, you may not be working as hard as you think.
Cardio Workouts to Burn More Calories
There's nothing wrong with zoning out from time to time when you workout, but if you do that all the time, it's easy to slack off on your intensity.
The following workouts will help you pay attention to what you're doing, change the settings on your machine and burn more calories. Modify each workout according to your fitness level and feel free to increase or decrease speed, incline and/or workout time to fit your needs.
For each workout, warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio and keep track of your Perceived Exertion or monitor your heart rate. Use this calorie calculator to determine how many calories you're burning. End with a cool down and stretch.
- Start with incline at zero and speed at a pace just out of your comfort zone (walking or jogging). Perceived Exertion (PE)=Level 5 (see Perceived Exertion Scale).
- 1 Minute: Raise incline two percent every 15 seconds. PE=5-6
- 1 Minute: Reduce the incline one percent every fifteen seconds. PE=6-7
- 3 Minutes: Walk or jog at a steady pace. PE=5
- Repeat entire cycle for 30 or more minutes
- Approximate calories burned: 320 (based on 140-lb person)
- Using the manual program, enter workout time as 30 minutes and choose a level of resistance that takes you just out of your comfort zone (PE=5)
- 6 Minutes: Increase ramps/resistance so that you're working harder. PE=6
- 2 Minutes: Set ramps at highest level and increase resistance every 30 seconds. PE=7-8
- If you don't have ramps, set your resistance at the highest level you can manage for 30 seconds
- 2 Minutes: Lower ramps and resistance to comfortable level. PE=5
- If you don't have ramps, lower your resistance until you're at a comfortable level.
- 6 minutes: Set ramps/resistance to medium and go backwards. PE=5-6
- Repeat entire cycle for remaining time to complete 30 minutes
- Calories Burned: 250-300 (based on 140-lb person)
- Using the manual program, enter your workout time as 30 minutes and choose a resistance that's just out of your comfort zone
- 5 Minutes: Cycle at a moderate pace. PE=5.
- 2 Minutes: Raise your resistance 2-3 increments every 30 seconds. PE=6-8
- 2 Minutes: Lower your resistance 2-3 increments every 30 seconds. PE=6-8.
- 1 Minute: Set resistance at a high level and cycle as fast as you can. PE=8-9
- Repeat the entire cycle for 30 or more minutes
- Calories Burned: 245 (based on 140 lb person)
Hit the Road
Instead of spending 40 minutes inside a sweaty gym, head outside for a walk/run.
- Warm up with a brisk walk/slow jog for 5-10 minutes.
- Jog/walk briskly for 3 minutes
- Sprint or speed walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds or to something in the distance (a mailbox, a tree, etc.)
- Repeat this cycle for 20-30 minutes, keeping PE between 5-9.
Changing your settings not only makes your workouts more interesting, it forces you to pay attention to what you're doing, how hard you're workout and how long each interval is. This not only keeps you from getting bored, it also helps burn more calories and increases your endurance very quickly. Use this technique with any cardio activity to keep things interesting.
Try More interval workouts.