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Creative Cardio Workout: The Machine Mixer

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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!