The Stairmaster. The bike. The rower. They are the three dusty gym machines that lose out to the treadmill, elliptical and cardio exercise classes. Why? What happened from the glory days of the 80s when everyone wanted to stairclimb? What changed from the 1970s stationary bike phase? And who has ever used the rower besides the crew team in college that you used to see at the gym?

If you want to see more results and mix up your cardio, give these 3 machines a try. This article will outline how to use each machine, the benefits of it and then give 2 different workouts to try.

First is the Stairmaster or stair climber.

There are 2 versions of this machine, one where you are upright and mimic stairs and other machines with a revolving belt of actual stairs. Believe it or not, stair climbing is a low impact way to get your cardio in. With proper form, stair climbing has less impact than running or jumping by a mile (although not as little as a bike or elliptical). It also has the ability to condition and tone your whole body while providing an excellent cardiovascular workout. One of the biggest gripes about stair climbing is the boredom, so come prepared- a good playlist, finding a machine with a TV or a TV within viewing range, or finding a machine with a view will be important. You could also consider climbing actual stairs in your home or office building; just make sure to get your building’s approval, especially if you make it a regular routine. Remember that going down stairs has more impact than going up; if you have knee or other joint issues, going down stairs could exacerbate your problem and you should be cautious.

Try these two routines to see if stair-climbing could be added into your cardio repertoire:

  1. Steady State:

    • For minutes 1-5, work as a progressive pace, starting slowly and warming up (perhaps 1 level or 1 speed per minute).
    • Spend 20 minutes at a steady pace where you can still talk in short sentences.
    • Cool down for 5 minutes at a progressively slower pace.
  2. HIIT It:

  • For minutes 1-5, work as a progressive pace, starting slowly and warming up (perhaps 1 level or 1 speed per minute).
  • Alternate 30-45 second sprints with 1 minute of recovery pace for 20 minutes.
  • Cool down for 5 minutes at a progressively slower pace.

Next, let’s talk about the under-loved bike.

Not the fancy Spinning bike. The old upright exercise bike. The bike is a low impact fat burner; good for those with knee and ankle problems, the bike, when used correctly, can burn calories and be a great asset in weight loss and interval training. A fun option with the bike is to create really high-energy playlists and to theme your ride with your music. Another idea for getting over the boredom of the bike, aside from the following routines, is to alternate bike sprints with core work. Set up a mat nearby and alternate hard bike intervals with planks and core exercises; you can also bring a dumbbell or medicine ball onto the bike to work your arms during your recovery period between sprints. Before you know it, the bike will be your new fat-burning friend at the gym!

Try these two routines to see if biking could be added into your cardio repertoire:

  1. ### Steady State:
  • For minutes 1-5, work at a progressive resistance, starting with an easy pace and warming up (perhaps 1 level per minute).
  • Spend 20 minutes at a steady pace with resistance, adding in hills, or using a program from the bike’s repertoire.
  • Cool down for 5 minutes at a progressively slower pace.
  1. ### HIIT It:
  • For minutes 1-5, work as a progressive pace, starting slowly and warming up (perhaps 1 level or 1 speed per minute).
  • Alternate 30-45 second sprints with 1 minute of recovery pace for 20 minutes. Play with the resistance to prevent any injuries on the knees; the bike needs to have some resistance on sprints to avoid stress on the joints.
  • Cool down for 5 minutes at a progressively slower pace.

Finally, the rower or rowing machine is another piece that can collect dust in a gym.

It is a favorite of Crossfitters, so it has been getting more attention lately for its low impact way of burning as many calories as running without the damage on one’s joints. The rower is also an excellent full-body toner with great core work and the ability to slim you down from head to toe with quick, intense 20 minute workouts, just like running sprints does.

Try these two routines to see if rowing could be added into your cardio repertoire:

  1. ### Steady State:
  • For minutes 1-5, warm up on the rower by focusing on your form. Is your core pulled in? Are your legs and arms working in harmony? Get that sorted out before speeding up at all. Otherwise, spend 20 minutes on the rower at a simple pace, focusing on form.
  • Once your form is set, aim to row about 150-200 meters per minute for 20 minutes straight.
  • Cool down for 5 minutes by walking around the gym or on a treadmill.
  1. ### HIIT It:
  • Warm up at a comfortable pace for 3-5 minutes.
  • Try a ladder: 30 seconds sprint; 30 seconds rest or recovery pace 40 seconds sprint; 40 seconds rest or recovery pace 50 seconds sprint; 50 seconds rest or recovery pace 60 seconds sprint; 60 seconds rest or recovery pace 120 seconds sprint; 120 seconds rest or recovery pace 60 seconds sprint; 60 seconds rest or recovery pace 50 seconds sprint; 50 seconds rest or recovery pace 40 seconds sprint; 40 seconds rest or recovery pace 30 seconds sprint; 30 seconds rest or recovery pace

Now go try one of these fat-blasting machines to get ready for the spring fashions!

Christy Lyons

Christy Lyons, M.A., PHR, is a former corporate wellness company owner & freelance Yoga, Pilates, and barre/toning instructor. As an E-RYT, she has been teaching yoga since 2007 and has also run 2 teacher training programs. She is an NASM-CPT and specialized in working with clients with autoimmune diseases, spinal injuries, and other unique cases. After selling her business in 2013, Christy... Read More

Get the FitBodyHQ Newsletter (it's filled with good stuff!)
Every week we'll send you more stuff we think you'll love.
Loading more awesome...
Load More