While it’s true the one of my “High Fives” is Play Outside, and that our February Challenge was to get outside and Make Tracks (full report next week), it’s also reality that for most of us, the majority or at least a good portion of our winter cardiovascular exercise probable happens in the cozy confines of a gym. Nothing wrong with this, other than indoor cardio tends to get tedious or feel monotonous in a hurry, especially if long duration is a focus of your training. So if you’re feeling a little bored on the indoor machines after a long winter, here’s a workout to change it up.

  • 4 minutes of work:1 minute of rest, on 3 different machines. Total of 15 minutes. Repeat as necessary.

I actually just finished this workout. I did 3 rounds of the above, for a total of 45 minutes. For my three machines I used a spin bike, a treadmill, and a rowing machine. On the very last round I substituted a stairmill for the row machine. Here’s how it looked as far as my heart rate percentage:

hr zones

I show this to illustrate a few pointers:

  • I was able to progressively raise my HR over the course of the entire session, and sustain a moderately high intensity throughout. This is one advantage of an interval style workout. I like the 4:1 ratio, because you can push a little bit into your anaerobic metabolism without blowing up.
  • A 3:2 ratio (3 minutes work:2 minutes rest) could also be used. This adjustment could make the workout easier because of the extra rest, or harder, if you push harder for the shorter work interval. That’s another great thing about interval work—you can tweak and adjust to fit your individual fitness level and training goals.
  • I didn’t get bored doing this workout—it seemed to roll by much faster than had I just stayed on one piece of equipment for the whole 45 minutes. Maybe it’s adult ADD, but if I stay on an indoor machine for much longer than 30 minutes, I start to develop a twitch.
  • The varying of equipment within the session challenges your body in different ways, and taxes different muscle groups. For a multi-disciplined athlete like a triathlete, this will complement your training plan.
  • Because of a foot injury, my treadmill was a brisk walk at a steep angle. If you’re not a runner, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the treadmill to get your heart rate up, strengthen your legs, and get some low impact (good for bone density and connective tissue). If you’re healthy enough to walk, my vote is an uphill treadmill walk over an elliptical machine.
  • I only did one round of the Stairmill (this is the machine where you literally walk up real stairs), and it was the end of the workout, but this was my highest work output as far as heart rate. One of my colleagues says that the Stairmill is one of the best pieces or indoor cardio, and also one of the least used. Why? Because it’s hard. Try it: it burns a lot of calories and works your glutes, that should be enough of an argument.
  • Your rest break will be spent walking to the next machine, and drinking water. Extra time? Just strut around the gym like you own the place (This is easier with headphones on).

When you can’t get outside, enjoy your time in the gym by staying creative and changing it up!


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