Rethink Your Normal Routine
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If you exercise at a traditional gym, you probably know your way around the treadmill, elliptical, stair stepper, and stationary bike pretty well. (Ever wonder if the calorie counters on those machines at the gym are (in)accurate? We found out.) But what about some of the new cutting-edge machines that are popping up in gyms everywhere? These under-the-radar machines are great for incorporating into your HIIT workouts, so step out of your elliptical-comfort zone and get to know this new equipment.
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These machines are totally unplugged, so instead of electricity powering the belt you'll harness the power from your own muscles to start it up and keep it going. "On the Woodway Curve, a curved, super ergonomic, non-motorized treadmill, you do all the work yourself, so everything you do is automatically 30 percent harder and more efficient since you're burning more calories in a shorter amount of time," says Xavier Quimbo, co-founder and expert trainer at Speedplay in Los Angeles, which uses them during his HIIT classes. It's easy to let the belt get away from you if you're not paying attention, and the higher up on the belt you are, the faster you'll go, so the best way to control your speed is to stick to the center of the belt.
Try it: Switch it up between 30-second intervals of a walk-run-sprint, says Quimbo. Your walk pace should be about 2.5 mph, your run pace should be between 4.5mph and 7mph, and your sprint should be above 7mph. For extra booty work, try the treadmill skate: Stand on the side rail with one foot, and drive the belt back with the other foot, striking your heel high on the curve, extending your leg as much as you can on the back motion.
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The SkiErg might look like a machine that's main focus is your arms, but it actually involves a hinging motion that forces you to use your core, glutes, and hamstrings, says Noam Tamir, founder of TS Fitness in New York City. There is also a pull and push component, so you're working the muscles in both directions, with special attention on the triceps. This is a low-impact workout, but you can add impact and up your burn by jumping up when you extend during the movement. To master it, make sure most of the movement is coming from the hips (by hinging, not squatting), with a slight bend in the knees and a neutral back and neck. Keep the shoulders higher than the hips and hips higher than the knees and pull the handles down and back.
Try it: Choose a distance between 500m and 750m and do 5-8 rounds, resting for 1-2 minutes between each one. You can also do an EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout. Choose a set distance that's challenging to accomplish in one minute, and try to hit that distance in less time—if you finish early, you get the remaining time to recover. Continue for about 10 minutes.
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"The AirBike is not meant for you to ride casually," says Kenny Santucci, director at SOLACE New York, "It's meant to push you, and the harder you push, the harder it pushes back at you." The assault bike uses a fan with an open cage, so it traps more air the more you push, explains Santucci. Other spin bikes use external resistance mechanisms with set ranges and limitations. The AirBike has no limits, so it's great for sprinting.
Try it: For a quick but brutal workout, do a full-out sprint for 15-20 seconds. Rest 2.5 minutes and repeat that pattern 8 times.
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The VersaClimber utilizes both the upper and lower body, recruiting all major muscle groups to work together at once, says Jason Walsh, founder of LA-based Rise Nation. The machine also works on the cross crawl motion, a movement pattern that isn't typically used in most workouts, which allows you to target muscles you might otherwise miss. Once you get comfortable with the climbing motion, you can make it more difficult by changing the resistance on the machine or wearing a weighted vest. When you're first starting out, aim for slow and short strokes. You can progress to faster strokes and bring up your speed so you're doing long, fast movements, suggests Walsh.
Try it: This is a great finisher to your normal workout. Start with a few intervals, like 5 sets of 100ft, resting for 1-1.5 minutes between sprints. If you want a full workout, try Walsh's VersaClimber Cardio Workout That Burns Fat Faster.
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In order to do the full stroke properly on the rowing machine, 85 percent of your muscles must be activated. So it's fair to say that the rower is an extremely effective full-body cardio machine, says Annie Mulgrew, director of programming at CityRow in New York City. "The most common mistake that people make on the rower is overcompensating with their upper body, focusing too much on pulling the handle bar into their body as opposed to focusing on using the push of their legs to initiate power," says Mulgrew. The harder you push away from the foot pedals, the harder the muscles in your legs must work. Focus on keeping your shoulders down and bringing the handle bar to the bottom band of your sports bra.
Try it: Alternate intervals of rowing for 30 seconds at a recovery pace followed by 30 seconds at a harder pace, suggests Mulgrew. Keep your speed consistent, around 26 strokes per minute, and increase and decrease your split time. Do this for a few rounds until you can build up to 1 minute of hard work with a 30-second recovery for multiple rounds.