6 Tricks to Get the Most Out of Cardio Machines

(Photos: Travis McCoy)

Whether the elliptical or the treadmill, we love our cardio exercise machines. But strength training is vitally important, and everyone should incorporate it into their exercise routine, regardless of age or fitness level. Yes, ladies, that means you too. We all need regular strength training sessions – including everything from resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, weight plates and medicine balls to your own body weight. In fact, we’ve put together a fun workout of strength-training exercises that uses everyone’s favorite cardio machines to enable you to really get the most out of your at-home treadmill, rowing machine or elliptical.

Push-ups are awesome for increasing upper-body strength. HOW TO DO THEM: Keep the treadmill at a slow pace. Walk around to the side of treadmill and get into a push-up position with your body perpendicular to the machine. Start with your hands on the side rail of the treadmill until you feel stable then carefully place your hands on the moving belt of the treadmill and complete a push-up, moving swiftly. As the belt moves, laterally walk with the hands crossing the arms over the other until your hands are wide enough to complete another push up and repeat.

These jumps will add a plyometric move to this strength training exercise that also includes squats – another great lower-body exercise. Broad jumps can also help to improve your running speed and will definitely get your heart rate up. 

HOW TO DO THEM: Make sure the treadmill is set to a slow pace – the slower the better until you set a cadence. Start by standing as far back on the treadmill as you can while still holding the rails. With feet shoulder-width apart, jump to the front of the treadmill and squat down. As the conveyor belt continues moving, stand and move back until the same starting point is reached and repeat.

This exercise, often performed using a fitness ball, targets core strength, shoulder strength and stability. HOW TO DO THEM: Start by standing about a foot away from the back of the rowing machine and facing away from it. The machine’s seat should be situated close to the middle of the rail. Get into a plank position and place the balls of both feet on the seat. Using your core muscles and keeping your legs perfectly straight, pull the seat toward the back of the machine, moving your thighs toward your chest to create an inverted “V”. 

Return the seat back to the starting plank position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. A simpler variation of this exercise can also be performed on the forearms and by bending the knees to bring them to the chest.

Many people use a small wheel with handles to do ab roll-outs, but you can actually use your rowing machine for this core strengthener. HOW TO DO THEM: Start by kneeling on the floor at the rear of the rowing machine and facing toward the front of the machine. With legs together and both feet off the floor, hold the sides of the seat. Keeping your arms straight, slide the seat forward until your body is almost parallel to the floor then pull the seat back to the starting position using core strength to complete the movement and repeat.

This move is a great way to turn an elliptical cardio workout into a cardio-sculpting workout. You will definitely feel the burn in the glutes and the quads! HOW TO DO THEM: Start the elliptical machine on the level of resistance of your choice. Begin with both arms straight ahead of you, holding the stationary handles in the middle of the machine. While moving your feet, sit back into a squat position and continuously move your feet with the set resistance for the desired length of time. Squat for a count of 10 followed by a 5-10 second rest for 10-15 reps.

First, slow down the machine to the pace of an easy walk in order to perform walking lunges. Lunges are great lower-body exercises, and the intensity can be increased by putting the treadmill on an incline. The core strength will be challenged because balance is important with this move as well (unless you’re holding on to the rails for dear life). HOW TO DO THEM: Start as far back on the treadmill as possible while gently holding the side rails and standing with both feet together. When the treadmill starts to move, step one foot in front of the other into a front-lunge position. Alternate feet and continue forward lunges for the desired number of repetitions.

The original article “9 Ways to Get the Most out of Cardio Exercise Machines“ appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM.

By Florann Elkins

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