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Cardio for Women

HIIT The Gym

This winter, you may find yourself looking at more indoor cardio. Try these four time-to-sweat workouts.

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You may think of cardio machines as a big yawn, but we have four fat-blasting high-intensity interval training programs that will get you in and out of the gym in 30 minutes or less. Tack these onto the end of a strength workout, or do them solo, followed by some foam rolling or deep stretching. Now lace up those sneaks and get to work!

See AlsoThe Ultimate Guide to Cardio

Stationary Bike

Let’s face it: Bikes can be boring. But this ladder workout gets progressively harder, peaking midworkout, giving your mind and your body something to focus on for the duration.

Duration (sprint/recovery) Reps Resistance
5 minutes N/A Gradually increase difficulty
10 seconds/10 seconds 10 Light
15 seconds/15 seconds 5 Moderate
30 seconds/30 seconds 6 Moderately difficult
60 seconds/60 seconds 3 Difficult
30 seconds/30 seconds 3 Moderately difficult
15 seconds/15 seconds 4 Moderate
130 seconds/10 seconds 5 Light
3 minutes _ Very light

Beginning athlete? Double your recovery time for each interval. if needed.

Rowing Machine

This rower is a metabolic total-body firecracker to add to your weekly routine, and this HIIT program pulls out all the stops. Added bonus: Rowing helps increase the dynamic range of motion and flexibility through your hips, lower back and shoulders.

Duration (sprint/recovery) SPM
3 minutes 22-24
30 seconds/30 seconds 26
30 seconds/30 seconds 28
30 seconds/30 seconds 30
30 seconds/30 seconds 32-34
3 minutes 15

Beginning Athlete? Decrease your striders per minute (SPM) so you’re still working around an 8 to 9 rating of perceived exertion (RPE) for sprints and 6 to 7 RPE for recovery.

Treadmill

This program can be done indoors or out, and it includes incline work as well as interval training to boost intensity and work more of your posterior chain (read: the booty!)

  1. Warm up for five minutes on a level-2 incline, at first walking quickly, then moving into a jog.
  2. Increase your speed to a run. Alternate 30 seconds of running with 30 seconds of jogging for three cycles.*
  3. Increase your speed to a sprint. Alternate 30 seconds of sprinting with 30 seconds of jogging/walking for three cycles.*
  4. Increase your incline to level 5. Alternate 30 seconds of sprinting with 30 seconds of jogging/walking for three cycles.*
  5. Decrease your incline to level 2. Alternate 45 seconds of sprinting with 45 seconds of jogging/walking for two cycles.*
  6. Alternate sprinting for 20 seconds with jogging/walking for 20 seconds for eight cycles.*
  7. Cool down by walking two to three minutes on the flat.

Beginning athlete? Increase your recovery time to one minute for all intervals except No. 6. For No. 6, keep your time the same but reduce your cycles to four.

*As a more efficient option, try hopping onto the rails of the treadmill instead of decreasing the belt speed for each recovery interval. So instead of jogging or walking, just stand on the rails until the recovery time is up. Then make sure to hold on for several strides when you hop back on, until you match the pace of the belt.

Elliptical Trainer

A lot of people think the elliptical trainer is a cinch; think again. Notch up your intensity by increasing the resistance and/or the strides per minute for each interval. The strides per minute should be 150 to 160 during the intervals and 120 to 130 during recovery.

Duration (sprint/recovery) Incline Resistance Reps
2 minutes 3 5 N/A
15 seconds/15 seconds 9 12 5
30 seconds/30 seconds 9 12 5
30 seconds/30 seconds 6 14 4
45 seconds/45 seconds 6 14 4
45 seconds/45 seconds 12 10 3
60 seconds/60 seconds 12 10 3
2 minutes 3 5 N/A

Beginning athlete? Decrease one of these variables; incline, resistance or reps. You also can increase your recover time, if needed.