SparkPeople Blogs  •  fitness  •  cardio

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!

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SPINECCO 7/15/2021
Thanks Report
AZMOMXTWO 5/28/2021
thank you Report
CECTARR 5/28/2021
Thanks Report
CD26750174 5/28/2021
Like this idea Report
Sounds like a simple and fun way to get your cardio in. Report
LEANJEAN6 5/28/2021
It sounds like fun! Report
FERRETLOVER1 5/28/2021
Thanks. Report
Thanks Report
MAREE1953 5/28/2021
Love workouts with lots of variety! Have you heard, "it's the spice of life!" Hahahaha! Report
JANIEWWJD 5/28/2021
Awesome article!!! Report
LIS193 5/28/2021
Fun! Report
CKEYES1 5/2/2021
Good idea Report
JANIEWWJD 4/5/2021
Thanks for sharing!!! Report
MARTHA324 3/12/2021
This approach was what we used when I did cardiac rehab and I stuck to it. Harder now with so many machines out of commission but will get back to it. Report
CECELW 1/14/2021
im sure i've read this more than once Report
QUEENFROG 10/29/2020
I love doing this when I'm able to go to the gym! Hopefully I will eventually have enough equipment at home to do it there. Also, remember to clean the machines as you change! Report
Thanks. Report
Good information Report
thanks Report
Good idea, but only works if you don't have to queue up for the cardio machines. In many gyms where I live the cardio machines are too few, so you put your name on the list and are called when it is your turn. I then usually book 15-20min on the treadmill and 10min on the bike. Or something like that. Then do weights in between Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks! Report
This is what I do every time I am in the gym Report
Great distraction from the boredom that comes from pounding out the miles on a treadmill, elliptical, etc. Report
I do this every time I go to the gym. I do fifteen minutes on the elliptical, bike and treadmill. It gives me a great workout. Report
Thanks Report
By golly - gonna do that today. it sounds like fun Report
Great idea....will do it on Monday!! Report
Great ideas for beating the tedium that is cardio! Report
This is such a great idea! I'm trying to motivate myself back into working out and for physical reasons, the stationary bike is my primary method of cardio right now, but it's SO boring! This sounds like a great way to get my body back in the groove! Report
I used to do this every Saturday. I called it my mini triathlon - running, biking, and elliptical (instead of swimming). It was my favorite activity of the week. Report
This sounds like it could help me get more cardio in and shake things up. I'm trying to increase intensity for walking. I was always concerned with not getting in enough by doing that so I put in no less than 10 mins on any machine. However, starting tomorrow I will try this.. Report
this is what I am doing now.... and it really helps keep me focused! Report
That's what I do! :) Report
Thank you for this wonderful post, I am also doing workout on weekends and I am not really organize in-terms of time in every workout. Thank you again I will try this on weekend and put it on my list. Report
Ive been doing this and it does help break up the monotony of using one machine for a long period, Row machine to warm up, eliptical then get on the bike , not much of one to use a treadmill. Report
I love this concept! it breaks up the monotony and keeps it fun. Report
I didn't realize what I was doing had a name. I do 60 minutes of cardio, and I would get bored even with music doing it all on the elliptical. Then I decided to machine hop. Now I do 5 minutes walking warm up, 5 minutes stairmaster (very hard for me), 10 minutes on a bike (can be hard on my knees if done longer), 15 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes on the elliptical, and 5 minutes walking cool down. Makes an hour exercise session go by so much faster than all on one machine. Report
I do this and throw in was wgt machine reps. I have worked with a trainer that uses this method. One of my favorite types of work out. Report
Now why didn't I think of this? Great idea. I get bored quickly, even while walking tv, on any single machine. This is sure to make the workout go quicker. Report
I do this. It does break up the monotony of 1 cardio machine. And I seldom do the machines in the same order or time lengths. Report
Thanks for the info. I can't wait to try this. What a great way to help on days when motivation is low. Report
Wow, it would be great if all that equipment was available to jump on and off whenever I was ready! Maybe I'll try this during off-hours. Report
I've done this! I got tired of grinding away for 30 minutes on the elliptical, so one day I did 10 on the elliptical, 10 on the treadmill, and 10 on the bike. It was a great workout! Report
Good information. Thanx Report
I've been doing this for 20 years. Who knew it would have to be spelled out for people? 18 minutes on the bike, 12 minutes on the stair master, 30 minutes on the treadmill, 12 more minutes on the stair master, and 18 more on the bike to finish. The times are weird because back then, the Life Cycle machines had programs built in at these increments. Report
One of the very few times I ever mixed it up with cardio machines (back in the days when I used to be a member of a women's only gym for a few years), I was engaged in conversation with another member who was speaking to me and led me around - a couple minutes on exercise bikes next to each other, a couple minutes on stair machines next to each other, a couple minutes doing I forget what. No machine readouts consulted, no goals, no timekeeping, no boredom.

I was not a class-attendee type of person in those days ... Report
I want to try this. Need suggestions, though. Protocol at our school's cardio room is that you wipe down the machine when you step away. I'm thinking of bringing a pack of Clorox wipes that I can carry with me from machine to machine. It would fit in one of the water bottle holders. Any other ideas? Report
And here I thought I was just strange, liking to jump from sta. bike to TotalGym to jump rope to walking. Report