Elliptical Training and HIIT
I exercise during my lunch hour 4-5 days a week. Since I've wanted to lift weights 3 of those days, that only left 2 days a week for the elliptical, which just isn't enough -- 4 days of cardio training on the elliptical was my goal.
The only solution was to do both the elliptical and lift weights during my one hour lunch break and somehow squeeze them both in without getting fired for taking a 2 hour lunch!
The solution: finally give HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) a try.
The plan: elliptical HIIT workout for 13 minutes followed by an abbreviated weight training session of 3 exercises for around 15 minutes. I would do the combined routine on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and on Wednesday and Friday do a full 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by abs -- gotta make time for abs and core training!
I was highly skeptical that such abbreviated sessions with both the elliptical and weights would work.
The concept of HIIT is to perform short bursts of higher intensity anaerobic effort followed by short rests periods that are aerobic in nature. The net effect is more calories burned during a shorter period than during a longer, lower intensity workout.
It's important to note that HIIT is an advanced exercise technique and you should not embark on a HIIT routine until you have attained a reasonable level of fitness. The risk of injury is just too great. If you belong to a health club, have a trainer evaluate your fitness level and let him/her know that you're thinking about trying HIIT.
A Sample Elliptical HIIT Routine:
- 1.5 minute warm up at 60 RPM
- 1 minute high intensity interval at 80 RPM
- 1 minute rest interval at 63 RPM
- (repeat combined intervals 6 times)
I found that getting up to 80 RPM requires me to hunch down a bit on the elliptical to really get my feet moving. Proper form on an elliptical is to stand up straight, but in this position it's too easy to slip when getting up a head of steam. Just think about the difference in position between sprinters and distance racers. Just be sure to stand up straight during the "resting" interval.
A good, abbreviated weight traing routine should consist of compound movements that work the large muscles groups of the body. Exercises such as the bench press barbell curl, chins or seated rows, and squats or deadlifts are good compound exercises. You can mix up the exercises across workouts. Instead of chins for seated rows for your back and substitute dead lifts for squalts for your legs.
My goal when I started was to lose 8 lbs and shed some body fat while retaining most of the muscle I had built up. To date, I've shed 5 lbs, but haven't lost nearly as much body fat as I'd like. I attribute this to not being strict enough with my diet and also not getting the intensity high enough on the elliptical.
HIIT training is tough and takes a lot of concentration. It also requires discipline to not only get to the gym, but also to resist the urge to take the easy route and just "glide" along on the elliptical. But discipline and dedication will pay off in the long run with a leaner body and improved cardiovascular conditioning.
If you're at an advanced level of fitness you may want to give HIIT on the elliptical a try.