Intervals for Cardio


Elliptical Cross-Trainer Interval Training Tips

cross-trainerElliptical cross-trainers get their name from an ellipse which is a shape resembling a flattened oval.  When you ride an elliptical trainer your feet will travel in an oval or elliptical motion, hence the name elliptical trainer.
Ellipticals simulate the movement of walking or running except the movement is smooth and continuous throughout the range of motion with minimal impact to your joints.  Interval training on an elliptical cross-trainer provides a low-impact full body interval workout because both the arms and legs are utilized.  Many people who find walking or running painful because of joint problems or injuries opt to train on ellipticals.

The Work Intervals

There are three ways to increase intensity during work intervals on an elliptical trainer. You can increase resistance, stride faster, or do both.  However, newer elliptical trainers also have an incline feature, so raising the incline will also increase intensity.

The Rest Intervals

For short rest intervals you can either stop striding and stand on the foot pedals or stride slowly without decreasing resistance.

For longer rest intervals you can either stride slowly without decreasing resistance or reduce resistance and stride slowly.

Timing the Intervals

You can watch the timer on the console display of the elliptical trainer or use an interval timer to time the intervals.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have covered all the bases let me guide you through an elliptical trainer interval workout.  I like doing long endurance intervals on elliptical trainers so this example involves four sets of 90 second work intervals followed by 60 second rest intervals.

Interval Chart:

 Endurance Intervals  Sets  Time

 90s Work interval + 60s Rest interval

 4  10 min.

When performing the work intervals the goal is to stride rapidly.  You'll have to pace yourself more with endurance intervals but they're still challenging nonetheless.  Also, you'll notice that each work interval gets a little harder than the last one and completing the last one or two should be tough if you're pushing yourself hard enough.

I begin my interval training session with at least a 5 minute warm up.  Just moments before I complete my warm up I increase resistance and go straight into my first work interval by striding rapidly.  After my first work interval is complete I transition into my first rest interval by reducing resistance and striding slowly.  During the rest interval I decide if I want to make my next work interval harder than the last, if I do, I will increase the resistance to a higher level to push myself harder.  After the rest interval is complete I increase resistance and transition back into the next work interval by striding rapidly.  I repeat this process until I complete all four interval sets.  Then I follow up the intervals with a 5 minute cool down.