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Get the most out of each drop of sweat with these simple pointers from gym guru Mary Ann Browning, owner of Brownings Fitness in New York City.
Stationary bike: Set the seat so that it is at hip height when you're standing next to the bike and cycle with a tall posture "as if you're balancing a book on your head," Browning says. Aim to maintain a minimum speed of 85 revolutions per minute for a solid workout, and don't point your toes when pedaling. "It works more of the quads instead of the butt and hamstrings."
Elliptical trainer: "Pretend you're running," Browning says, using mostly leg power and grasping the handles occasionally. Warm up to a pace that feels brisk (a 5 or 6 on an intensity scale of 1 to 10), and add resistance when you're cruising along.
Stairclimber: To really work your lower body, only lightly touch or let go of the handles and press through your heels. "Stretch your quads and calves afterward," Browning says.
Treadmill: Run in the middle of the tread. "Being too close to the dashboard doesn't allow you to run in your normal gait," Browning says. Set the incline to 1 percent to replicate the feel of running outdoors.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2011.Get interval workouts for every machine here