Creative Cardio Workout: The Machine Mixer


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  67 comments   :  69,313 Views

We all have our own cardio personalities. Some swear by sweating in the great outdoors. Others prefer the air conditioning. You might prefer exercising solo, while your best friend lives for the contagious energy in a Spinning class.

Whether you're a diehard gym-goer, or (like me) only set foot in the gym when the weather hits unbearable extremes, we all have a few things in common:
We want our workouts to be more fun than boring. We want to get the best possible results for our efforts. And we want to feel like the time is speeding by—not dragging.
Well, good news! This simple workout technique will help you reach all three goals above, whether you love cardio machines or only use them as a last resort.
I call it the Machine Mixer! And it's really quite simple (and even fun!). Here's how to do it:
  1. Decide on your total exercise time. This works best with longer cardio sessions lasting at least 20-30 total minutes or more.
  2. Pick 2, 3, 4 or more cardio machines at the gym. The more, the better. Think: treadmill, elliptical, stepper, rower, stationary bike, etc.
  3. Split up your total cardio time equally among all machines. So if you choose 4 and work out for 20 minutes, you spend 5 minutes on each.  If you're really feeling crazy, you can spread your time among machines unequally, such as 10 minutes on the treadmill, 6 minutes on the bike and 4 minutes on the rower.
  4. Exercise on each machine for that individual duration.  As soon as you hit that small goal, hop on over to the next machine.
For best results, alternate among slow/easy, moderate and high intensity each time you switch machines, aiming to work out in each of those zones at least once. Try to vary it up at random. For example, go easy on the treadmill at a slow pace and comfortable incline. Punch up the intensity on the bike trying a high-intensity sprint. Then go moderately (somewhere in between) when you jump on the elliptical to finish it up.

Next time you're at the gym, change up all of the variables again--at random.
According to research conducted by exercise physiologist Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, this "Multi-Mode Cardio Play," which is varied at random, uses a variety of times/distances, and involves a mix of modes (machines), is one of the highest calorie-burning cardio workouts a person can do.
In my experience, it also prevents boredom, helps the time fly by and works your body in new ways every time you work out, which helps you get fitter and prevent plateaus. When I do cardio at the gym, this is my go-to workout for all of the reasons above. And unlike those three or four programs available on your trusty treadmill, this mode never gets boring or monotonous. It's different every time!
Have you tried a Machine Mixer at the gym? If not, will you try it now? Create a Machine Mixer workout you want to try and share it with us below!

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  • 17
    Oh, yes, I have certainly done this for YEARS, since I am a Libra and I get very bored doing something for 30 minutes straight, so I do the Tmill, then the bike, etc. so I change it around. MUCH more fun for me. - 8/24/2012   12:31:19 PM
  • 16
    I do this all the time and it is great for beating boredom! - 8/24/2012   12:29:24 PM
  • 15
    Not quite in the same way, but I've mixed it up in the past when I'm getting used to a new machine that's a challenge (like the stairmaster). I can't do my full cardio time on it, so I warm up on something else, do as long as I can, then finish on something else and cool down. - 8/24/2012   12:07:37 PM
  • 14
    Years ago I did the machine mixer. I haven't been to a gym in several years, however, I have been thinking of joining a gym again and doing the circuit. I never thought of dividing the amount of time I plan to spend training by the number of machines I will use. I think this is a good idea and will try this in the future. I always assigned time to each machine according to how important I felt each was to my exercise. - 8/24/2012   11:42:35 AM
  • 13
    used to do something like this until I started running.. - 8/24/2012   11:35:49 AM
    I really like this idea! I have been greatly enjoying the bike at the gym, but despite my intense workout, I am not getting the results I think I should be getting. Hopefully this will kick things up a notch, or two. - 8/24/2012   11:13:41 AM
  • 11
    Great idea! - 8/24/2012   10:49:32 AM
  • 10
    I always do this. It was what was suggested to me by the trainers at the gym, and I follow it to this day. - 8/24/2012   10:28:14 AM
  • 9
    Since adding the elliptical machine to my cardio workout, I started losing two pounds a week instead of one. Before I would only do the treadmill but I couldn't get my heart rate up fast enough. I do the elliptical first, which gives me a great workout. - 8/24/2012   10:01:30 AM
  • 8
    I workout on the Treadmill 1/2 hour, then Rowing Machine 25 min, then Recumbent bike 20 min. I used to use the treadmill only, But I felt this was a better workout and I noticed better results in body shape. - 8/24/2012   9:53:15 AM
  • 7
    I can't STAND machines... I started out walking on the treadmill all the time, but now I prefer the vigor of an intense group boot camp.

    However, sometimes, I can't quite make it. This sounds like a GREAT way to challenge myself and keep from getting bored on the treadmill grind! Maybe I'll even tackle that stair stepper... No one's EVER on that one. ;) - 8/24/2012   9:50:53 AM
  • 6
    That's what I do! It started because my feet got numb from doing the same thing over and over, but also I got a bit bored of the same machine for too long. Like some one suggested, it is also a good tactic when the gym is crowded, as there is usually a machine of some type available. I really like using the rowing machine, but it gets little love from the other gym goers. Oh well, good for me. I can usually grab that for part of my workout without contention. - 8/24/2012   9:46:46 AM
  • 5
    Sounds fun on those days that are slower at the gym. Might have to try it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon! - 8/24/2012   9:30:24 AM
  • 4
    WellBeing - I work out like this every time & what I do is grab whatever machine is open. So, I do 10 minutes on one open machine, then switch to whatever is open next. It actually helps when the gym is more crowded because the decision on the next machine is made for me & it keeps me guessing where I'll be next! - 8/24/2012   9:15:43 AM
    Thanks, will try this next time! - 8/24/2012   8:47:52 AM
  • 2
    Sounds like a great plan, except for those times when the gym is packed and there's a waiting list for the machines.... - 8/24/2012   7:13:01 AM

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