When you are exercising on an elliptical or stationary bike, it’s easy to go on auto-pilot and stay at the same easy to intermediate level that your body is used to. Next time you find yourself of one of these machines, try adding in some interval training! Intervals will make the heart rate jump, then allow for periods of recovery where the heart rate will fall, thus providing better conditioning for the cardiovascular system and burning more calories than the slower, steady-state cardio.
With both bikes and ellipticals, there are 2 ways to increase the intensity at which you are working. You can ramp up the resistance, making your legs work harder to push each time, and raising the heart rate that way. Or, you can increase the speed at which you are pedaling, giving an immediate boost to the heart rate. Play around with both separately, always allowing for recovery time after each round of high intensity. Then, when you feel ready, try building up both the resistance and the speed for a real challenge!
When you first begin intervals, there should be more minutes of rest than minutes of hard work. Slowly build up to an even ratio of rest to work, then after a few weeks of interval training, try to have most of the minutes be comprised of higher intensity work with smaller rest periods interspersed.
Try this sample 20 minute interval workout for the bike or elliptical. Use an intensity scale of levels 1-5, with 1 being very light, and 5 being very challenging.
3:00-3:30: Increase speed to level 2
4:00-4:30: Increase speed to level 3
5:00-5:30: Increase speed to level 4
6:00-6:30: Increase resistance to level 2
7:00-7:30: Increase resistance to level 3
8:00-8:30: Increase resistance to level 4
10:00-10:30: Increase speed to level 5
12:00-12:30: Increase resistance to level 5
14:00-14:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 4
16:00-16:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 4
18:00-18:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 5
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