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4 Must-Try Cardio Workouts

By Karen Asp
WebMD Feature

You're at the gym, ready to do your cardio. Today, don't do the exact same thing you always do. It's time for a change.

Each of the following four workouts uses a different piece of equipment and tells you exactly what to do. Check with your doctor first before starting a new routine, especially if you have any medical problems, take any medicines, or are pregnant.

“By having an arsenal of workouts like these at your fingertips, you always have something you can do, even if all the treadmills are taken at the gym, and options for shorter or longer workouts, depending on your time,” says certified personal trainer Nicole Nichols, who created the following workouts.

Pick your machine and start moving!

Workout 1: Elliptical

Time: 20 minutes

What it does: Features high-intensity interval training (HIIT), meaning you alternate periods of hard work with recoveries of lighter-intensity work. The payoff? A bigger calorie burn and huge time savings. “You’re basically doing an hour’s worth of cardio in just 20 minutes,” Nichols says.

The workout:

Warm up for 3 minutes.

Then start this series of intervals, which get longer and then shorter.

Push yourself during the intervals, working at an 8-9 on a 10-point scale, with 10 being your maximum ability and 1 being sitting still.

During the recovery, cut your pace to a 5-7 on that same 10-point scale.

  • 15-second interval, followed by 15-second recovery. Repeat once.
  • 30-second interval, followed by 30 seconds of recovery. Repeat once.
  • 45-second interval, followed by 45-second recovery. Do not repeat.
  • 1-minute interval, followed by 1-minute recovery. Repeat 3 more times.
  • 45-second interval, followed by 45-second recovery. Do not repeat.
  • 30-second interval, followed by 30-second recovery. Repeat once.
  • 15-second interval, followed by 15-second recovery. Repeat once.

Cool down for 3 minutes.

Workout 2: Treadmill

Time: 30 minutes

What it does: Challenges you with intervals, so you get constant changes in intensity, incline, and speed. They help you get fitter, letting you work harder in less time. It's up to you whether to run or walk.

The workout:

Minutes 0-5: Leave the incline at 0% (flat). Walk at a pace so that you're working at a 4 on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being sitting still and 10 being your max.

Minutes 5-7: Set the incline at 5% and adjust your pace so your level of effort is a 7 out of 10.

Minutes 7-8: Keep the incline at 5% and back down your pace slightly, so your level of effort is a 6 out of 10.

Minutes 8-14: Bump up the incline to 6% and rev up your pace, so your level of effort is 8 out of 10.

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