Cardio machines at the gym don’t seem to be as popular these days as was once the case. Boot camps and burpees have become all the rage and certainly have an important place in workout routines. Fitness coaches, however, are committed to cardio workouts that are designed around individual goals and still believe that good old cardio machines can meet these goals.
For example, cardio machines are excellent for burning fat because they reliably keep us moving at a challenging pace. On the other hand, when we’re outdoors working on our own, there is always the temptation to slow down when we’re tired.
If you’re using cardio equipment at a slowish pace and not seeing the results you want or don’t feel as engaged in the workout as you’d like, use a treadmill to avoid boredom, burn more calories, increase your heart rate and get slimmer.
If we’re trying to lose belly fat, experts often recommend that we speed up that process with proper diet and interval training. Not only is interval training one of the best ways to lose fat, it has the added advantage of building overall fitness.
And the treadmill is the perfect tool for this! Here are some ways to use the treadmill and certain other cardio machines to accomplish our goal of losing belly fat.
Building stamina, burning calories and increasing heart rate are the goals of aerobic intervals. You should work in the aerobic heart rate zone, which is between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate* for your whole session. Higher intensity spurts will get your heart rate into the higher end of the range, and rest periods will drop you down to the lower end. Doing this on the treadmill will help you transition from walking to running and will also build physical stamina.
DO THIS: First, a 5-10 minute warm-up at an easy pace. Next, speed up for 1-3 minutes to get between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. If the greater speed is hard on your joints (that would be me!!), increase the incline to raise your heart rate but keep your pace at the easier level. Then, for 1-3 minutes, slow down or lower the incline to get your heart rate back to 50-60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Finally, repeat these intervals until you’ve finished at least a 30-minute workout.
*NOTE: How To Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate
This could get very esoteric if I let it, but the easiest way to calculate your maximum heart rate (heart beats per minute) is to subtract your age from 220. So, if you are 45, subtract that from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. Multiply that 175 by the various target percentages mentioned in these paragraphs, and make a note of them somewhere handy to refer to while you’re working out. Or if you’re younger than my 73 and still have memory cells in your brains, just memorize them!!
HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT)
HIIT works the same way as aerobic intervals but with more intensity. With HIIT, you want the harder intervals to get your heart rate up to 90-95 percent of your maximum heart rate. You will work shorter intervals of this nature because of the greater intensity, and you may also need to change the ratio of work to rest intervals a bit. It is recommended that you take longer rest intervals in order to recover enough to be able to perform the high-intensity intervals at your maximum effort.
HIIT has the benefit of inducing body mechanisms to greater fat burning. It can also be effective in building your physical fitness.
DO THIS: 5-10 minute warm-up on the treadmill. During this period, increase your intensity gradually from a light walk to a moderate jog. Next, increase your speed – or use the combo of lower speed and incline for challenged joints – to get your heart rate to about 90 percent of maximum. Stay for 30-90 seconds at this pace. Then go back to an easy jog or walk for 1-2 minutes. Repeat 5-10 times for your complete workout.
OTHER METHODS WITH CARDIO MACHINES
The elliptical will work well to burn belly fat because it allows you to increase your intensity level while protecting your joints. You must be sure, though, to get your heart rate up to 70-80 percent of your maximum during your intervals. To do that, you must increase the resistance, and a 4-times weekly workout of 20 minutes each is recommended.
The recumbent bike is great for targeting core, thighs, calves, and lower abdomen in addition to burning belly fat. It is also good for those of us who have lower back pain. Also, interval training is perceived to be the most effective way to burn belly fat using the recumbent bike. Workouts of about 23 minutes should give you the appropriate number and intensity of intervals on the recumbent bike.
The rowing machine will get your whole body involved in a cardio workout, from legs and back to core and arms. It’s also easier on knees and hips than, for example, running is, and is therefore recommended by some trainers for people recovering from running injuries.
Some trainers also recommend including strength exercises, such as plank pikes and mountain climbers, for more midsection toning, even though you can’t spot reduce. Core exercises, however, will increase your strength and efficiency both as a rower and an athlete – if either is a goal for you.
The stair master can be used to improve strength, speed and endurance with the goal of keeping your heart rate in the fat burning zone. It is recommended that you keep your abs in and your chest upright while using the stair master. Otherwise, you will disengage your core.
The levels of a 32-minute workout would be alternated from a lower to a higher amount using many different levels and amounts of intensity between levels, e.g., 5-7-5-9-8-11-6-12, etc., for 32 minutes.
These cardio machine tips should give us all some good places to start in our battles to reduce belly fat, considered to be one of the worst, unhealthiest kinds of fat we carry in our bodies. They can also be used by those of you wanting to try alternatives to strategies you’ve already been using but may be tiring of or bored with.
It is always my fond hope that you will find the information helpful, and I welcome and look forward to your comments, questions and feedback!
I cannot end without thanking Kiera Carter with livestrong.com and Andrea Cespedes with sportsrec.com for their wonderful information.
And remember — Fitness with Attitude, everyone!