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Mix It Up: How to Use Indoor Cardio Machines


Machines to Try


Thanks to the climb, your butt works harder than when you simply stride on level ground. "Press through the balls of your feet, and for an added challenge, try to keep your hands off the rails," says Caitlin Drap, a personal trainer at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut. Skipping a step can further boost your butt firming, but don't sacrifice good form.

Calories burned: 576 per hour

Elliptical Trainer

Incorporating the arm levers into your workout targets your chest, back, arms, and obliques. "Keep a tall posture and always maintain a bend in your knees and elbows to prevent injury," says Annette Comerchero, the founder of ElliptiFit studio in Los Angeles. To increase your burn, crank up the resistance.

Calories burned: 512 per hour


Each stroke tones your back, biceps, and abs big time while your legs get a workout. "Think push, not pull," says Josh Crosby, a cocreator of the indoor-rowing class ShockWave for Equinox gyms. "More than half of your power comes from pushing off with your legs." Try this on a rower: Alternate 200-meter sprints at 30 strokes per minute with 200-meter recoveries at 24 spm.

Calories burned: 448 per hour

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Sample one of the high-intensity sessions that have made Annette Comerchero's group elliptical classes a hot ticket in Hollywood.

Minutes Ramp Resistance Activity
0 to 2 3 3 Warm up, pedaling moderately, using arm levers.
2 to 10 10 10 to 20 Sprint for 90 seconds, engaging arm levers with resistance set at high; lower resistance and recover for 30 seconds. Repeat.
10 to 11 3 3 Recover at an easy pace.
11 to 15 1 10 Alternate pushing right lever for 1 minute with pushing left lever for 1 minute. Focus on making your arms do most of the work, rather than your legs.
15 to 17 1 10 Push arm levers using both hands.
17 to 19 1 10 Pull right lever for 1 minute, then left lever for 1 minute.
19 to 20 3 3 Recover at an easy pace.
20 to 23 7 7 Sprint for 45 seconds with hands on hips, keeping good form if possible (use arm levers to make it easier); recover for 15 seconds. Repeat.
23 to 24 3 3 Recover at an easy pace.
24 to 28 17 to 20 10 to 20 Do hill sprints: Stride as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then recover for 30 seconds, starting with ramp at 17; each minute, increase ramp and resistance until you hit 20.
28 to 30 1 1 Cool down.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2014.