These days, when burpees and boot camps reign supreme, cardio machines don’t get a lot of love. But they’re in every gym for a reason. We spoke to fitness coaches from around the country that swear by cardio workouts tailored to individual goals. Below, their thoughts on why cardio machines should be celebrated.
“Cardio machines are a great tool for fat burning because you can rely on the equipment to keep you at a challenging pace,” says Lindsey Clayton, running coach and co-founder of the Brave Body Project. “If you’re on your own outdoors, you might slow down when you get tired.”
Using cardio equipment at low-medium pace throughout the duration of your workout? You might not be seeing the results you want nor being as engaged with your workout as you'd hope.
No need to get discouraged. The same dreadmill that you, well, dread can be used to burn calories, boost your heart rate and help you slim down without boring you to tears. And if your goal is to lose belly fat, interval training can help speed up that process (with proper diet as priority No. 1, of course). Here are seven workouts that will get you closer to your belly fat-losing goals.
“Sprints are king when it comes to fat loss and burning calories,” Clayton says. “But endurance training will help build your base level of speed, so you’ll feel comfortable hitting those higher numbers when you sprint.”
That’s why Clayton broke this treadmill workout into two sections: one with speed intervals and one that emphasizes endurance. “Just do one if you’re short on time, or put them together with one-minute of recovery in between for a full workout,” she says.
Treadmill: Burn Belly Fat
“We’ll move in 360 degrees of motion for our warmup, then hit two hills, followed by some sprints,” Clayton says.
Treadmill: Build Endurance
“This run focuses on endurance runs with sprint intervals mixed in,” Clayton says. “The goal is to increase your base speed each time the runs get shorter.” Stay on a 1 percent incline to better simulate an outdoor run.
Elliptical: Blast Belly Fat With Intensity
The elliptical is a great way to burn belly fat because you can increase your intensity without increasing the impact on your joints. “Just make sure you get your heart rate up to 70 to 80 percent of your max during your intervals,” says Liz Callham, fitness manager of CRUNCH 83rd Street in New York. (Here’s how to calculate your max heart rate.)
“To do that, you’re going to need to increase the resistance.” Do Callham’s workout on “QuickStart Mode” four times a week to boost your heart rate and burn belly fat.
Recumbent Bike: Target the Core and Thighs
“Riding a recumbent bike targets your thighs, calves and lower abdomen while burning belly fat,” says Kam Johnson, certified personal trainer at Life Time in Chanhassen, Minnesota. “It’s also a great option for anyone with low-back pain.”
Like other cardio-machine workouts, interval training is the most effective way to burn fat on a recumbent bike, Johnson says. Master the intervals below to burn belly fat at the gym.
Rowing Machine: Engage Your Body and Tone Your Core
“The rowing machine engages your legs, back, core and arms, delivering a full-body cardio workout,” says Lisa Niren, a trainer at CityRow in New York. “Plus, it doesn’t put as much stress on your knees and hips as running does, making it great for anyone recovering from a running injury.”
Niren suggests adding strength exercises in between intervals for the best results. “Pairing rowing with strength training scorches more calories and burns more fat than just cardio alone,” she says.
In this rowing workout, Niren added core exercises for some extra midsection toning. Remember: You can’t spot reduce (meaning you can’t plank away your belly fat), but core exercises will make you a stronger, more efficient rower and overall athlete.
Air Bike: Blast Belly-Fat Blasting With a Circuit Workout
Geoffrey McBride, head trainer of EverybodyFights in New York, loves using an air bike to condition his fighters. For maximum midsection toning, he suggests combining bike intervals with high-intensity floor exercises to tone your core and blast calories like crazy.
“Each round of this workout includes a calorie-burning interval on the bike, followed by a body-weight exercise that focuses on the belly area,” he says.
Stairmaster: Improve Strength and Speed
Megan Beck, tier 3+ personal trainer at Equinox Sports Club in Boston, broke this Stairmaster workout into three segments: “The first segment works strength, the second segment works speed and the third works both strength and speed for total-body endurance,” Beck says. “The purpose of this workout is to never allow your heart rate to remain constant, so you stay in a fat-burning zone.”
For the best results, try not to rest in between each segment and keep your abs drawn in and chest upright. “Hunching over will disengage your core,” she says.