You can do cardio intervals just about anywhere, as we’re discovering during this month’s fitness challenge: your living room is a classic, or you can hop on a bike or lace up your running shoes. But sometimes the simplest choice is to visit the gym and take your pick of the cardio equipment there.
Which should you choose, and what should you do on it? One nice thing about these machines is that many of them have built-in programs, so you can just ask the friendly little computer on the bike or treadmill to surprise you for 20 minutes. Otherwise, just pick your favourite on/off scheme. (As we’ve mentioned, one minute hard, one minute rest is easy to remember and tends to make for a good workout.)
Pick this if: You’re wearing running shoes, and you like running or want to get better at it. Forget it if you want something lower impact, or if you’re not used to running and can’t figure out how to make it feel good.
Pick this if: You want to zone out and not think too much about what you’re doing. This one is popular for a reason: it feels easy even when you’re working fairly hard.
Pick this if: You want to push really hard. Stationary cycling is great for sprints, and if it’s a spinning style bike, you can turn the knob to adjust resistance quickly, without waiting for the machine to ramp up.
The stair climber
Pick this if: You want a serious quad workout. It’s easy for this to be more of a strength than a cardio workout if you set the resistance to a too-difficult level. If you want to get through each interval without your legs feeling like they’re on fire, be conservative in the settings and don’t rely on leaning on the arm rails.
The rowing machine
Pick this if: you know how to use it. That’s the first requirement. (We can help you in that department.) The major perk of this one is that it works your whole body, including arms and core, rather than just being for your lower body.
The best option, in my opinion, is all of the above. I’ll get bored after a few minutes on a given machine, but in a gym with multiple options, why choose? You can do a 5-minute round of intervals on the treadmill, then switch to the elliptical for the next round, and a bike after that. As long as your gym isn’t too busy, why not?
Let us know: how do you like to do your gym intervals, and do you have a favourite specific workout you do on your machine of choice?