Try These Cardio Workouts at the Gym When You're Sick of Your Usual Routine

person doing a cardio treadmill workout at the gym
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Burn calories with the best cardio workouts on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike—or using no equipment at all.

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The Best Cardio Workouts for the Gym

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If you hit the cardio machines at the gym often, things can go stale real fast. But the classic pieces of equipment you'll find in every gym–the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, and stair climber–don't have to be boring as long as you make an effort to switch things up. If you're fresh out of ideas, take a look at this compilation of the best cardio workouts for the gym. Whether you're in the mood for a quick and intense workout or a longer, lower-intensity option, you'll find the cardio workout for you.

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Cardio Countdown

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Total time: 35 minutes

Warm up for five minutes. Do the speed bursts here at the fastest pace you can safely maintain (power walking, running, cycling, using the elliptical or stairclimber) for the given duration. Cool down for four minutes.

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Quickie Cardio Workout at the Gym

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Total time: 16 (advanced) to 29 (beginner) minutes

It's easy: Speed up for the number of seconds listed for your level, then go at an easy pace for a minute or two to recover. Repeat eight times for a complete cardio session. (

As a warm-up, spend 3 minutes on a light walk or jog followed by 30 seconds at 50 percent effort, 30 seconds light walk or jog, 30 seconds at 75 percent of maximum effort, and 30 seconds light walk or jog.

Choose your level at left and repeat the circuit eight times to complete your session.

Trainer's tip: If you're using a treadmill, there's a lag of 5 to 10 seconds that it takes the belt to reach your target speed. So the sprint time starts when the belt actually hits your selected MPH, and the recovery starts once the belt returns to walking speed.

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60-Minute Cycling Hill Workout

person doing a cardio workout on an exercise bike at the gym
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Don't just coast—make your next ride a fitness experience with this strength- and stamina-building workout designed by Lance Leener, a cycling and triathlon coach at TriLife in New York City. (

A. Find a resistance that feels like you're on a moderate hill. Warm-up for 15 minutes, moderate effort (RPE 5).

B. Hill climb 1: Stay seated, use moderate resistance (RPE 6). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).

C. Hill climb 2: Stay seated, increase resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).

D. Hill climb 3: Sit halfway up the hill, then stand, using moderate resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).

E. Hill climb 4: Sit halfway up the hill, then stand using hard resistance (RPE 8). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).

F. Hill climb 5: Stand the entire way using moderate resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).

G. Hill climb 6: Stand the entire way using hard resistance (RPE 9). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).

H. Ride at a moderate effort for about a half-hour (RPE 5), then cool down for 5 minutes at easy effort (RPE 3).

Calories burned: 635

Beginner option: Do four repeats: one seated, one half-seated, one standing (moderate resistance), one standing (hard resistance).

Trainer's tip: When climbing a hill, push all the way back on the seat to gain extra leverage.

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35-Minute Cycling Speed Workout

person doing a cardio workout on a bike at the gym

Build up your cycling speed with this workout designed by Lance Leener, a cycling and triathlon coach at TriLife in New York City. (

A. Warm up for 15 minutes, moderate effort (RPE 5). Pedal hard for 10 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8). Recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).

B. Pedal hard for 20 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8). Recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).

C. Pedal hard for 30 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8). Recover for 2 minutes (RPE 3).

Pedal hard for 10 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).

D. Pedal hard for 15 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).

E. Pedal hard for 20 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 2 minutes (RPE 3).

F. Ride 5 minutes at RPE 5, then cool down for 5 minutes at RPE 3.

Calories burned: 370

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The 20-Minute, 300-Calorie Treadmill Challenge

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To get your best body in less time, try this 20-minute run-walk from Aundrea Hasselbach, founder of tread20.com. You'll blast fat and calories and tone your lower body. Note: Calories-burned is an average estimate. How many calories you burn, specifically, will depend on multiple factors such as body composition, genetics, and more.

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The Multi-Machine Cardio Workout at the Gym

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Your workout will fly by if you switch up the machines you use, says Diana Maitland, training manager for Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City. To get the best results, pay attention to your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how hard you're working on a scale of 1 to 10.

Again, remember that the total number of calories burned will be different for everyone, but this should give you a sense of the level of effort involved in this cardio workout at the gym.

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Burn 500 Calories On the Bike

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Spin away calories with this cardio workout at the gym you can do on a stationary bike from Orest Ludwig, a personal trainer at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Trainer tip: RPM is the number of times you turn (rotate) the pedals per minute. Check by holding your hand above your knee and counting the number of times your knee strikes your hand in one minute.

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Burn 500 Calories On the Stair Climber

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If you consider yourself the queen of the stair climber machine, try this boredom-busting calorie burner from Keli Roberts, the group fitness manager at Equinox Fitness Club in Pasadena, California.

To avoid cheating on the calorie burn, remember to stand upright with your abs firm, and don't lean into the side rails. To get an even better workout, go hands-free and pump your arms, as if you were running. (

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Burn 500 Calories with Treadmill Intervals

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Try this running workout from Robert Pennino, a certified USA triathlon coach. Be sure to keep the incline of your treadmill at 1 percent throughout the workout. If the pace seems too fast, modify to suit your fitness level. (

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Weekly Cardio Workout Plan for the Gym

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Not sure how much cardio to do in a week? Try this 7-day plan from Jenny Hadfield, author of Running for Mortals. (

Monday

Power walk: 30 minutes

Strength-train: 20 minutes

Total: 50 minutes

Tuesday

Warm-up: Walk easily, then briskly: 3 minutes

Power walk: 2 minutes

Run fast (but don't sprint): 2 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2 10 times

Cool-down: Walk easily: 2 minutes

Total: 45 minutes

Wednesday

Walk easily: 5 minutes

Do your favorite strength-training move: 12 reps

Power walk at 4% to 6% incline: 3 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2 six times

Walk easily: 5 minutes

Total: 40 minutes

Thursday

Warm-up: Walk easily, then briskly: 3 minutes

Power walk: 2 minutes

Run fast (but don't sprint): 2 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2 6 times

Cool-down: Walk easily: 3 minutes

Total: 30 minutes

Friday

Repeat Monday's routine

Saturday

Warm-up: Walk easily, then briskly: 5 minutes

Power walk: 2 minutes

Run fast (but don't sprint): 4 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2 6 times

Cool-down: Walk easily: 4 minutes

Total: 45 minutes

Sunday

Rest

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25-Minute Cardio Routine

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Burn fat walking, running, or on the elliptical with this cardio routine.

A. 5 minutes: Warm up at an easy pace you could sing at (on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is lounging and 10 is sprinting, this is a Rate of Perceived Exertion of 3 or 4), working up to a moderate I-can-talk pace (RPE 5).

B. 2 minutes: Take it up a notch (RPE 6).

C. 1 minute: RPE 5

D. 2 minutes: Take it up to RPE 7, where speech gets choppy.

E. 1 minute: RPE 5

F. 3 minutes: Go at a fast pace (RPE 8).

G. Reverse order, returning to RPE 5 for 1 minute and so on.

Calories burned: 107 (walk) to 278 (run), based on a 140-pound woman.

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Interval Cardio Workout for the Gym

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Do this routine on the treadmill or elliptical, or walk or run outside. Try 35 minutes of longer bursts.

A. 5 minutes: Warm up at an easy RPE 4 pace.

B. 2 minutes: Go at a moderate RPE 5 pace.

C. 3 minutes: Pick it up to a brisk RPE 7 pace.

D. 2 minutes: Back to RPE 5.

E. 4 minutes: Speed up to RPE 7.

F. 2 minutes: RPE 5

G. 5 minutes: RPE 7

H. 2 minutes: RPE 5

I. 6 minutes: RPE 7

J. 4 minutes: Cool down at an easy RPE 4.

Calories burned: 153 (walk) to 373 (run)

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40-Minute Cardio Workout at the Gym

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Walk, run, or hop on the elliptical for this fat-burning workout.

A. 5 minutes: Warm up at an easy pace, reaching RPE 5.

B. 30 minutes: Complete eight 1-minute faster-paced sprints (RPE 8 or 9) over 30 minutes, returning to RPE 6 between the bursts.

C. 5 minutes: RPE 3

Calories burned: 177 (walk) to 441 (run)

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The Ultimate Lunch-Hour Cardio Workout

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Hit the treadmill for a 10-minute interval pyramid to kick-start the fat burning and keep it humming. You'll alternate 1 minute at a steady pace with varying 1-minute bursts. (The cardio workout at the gym also works for the elliptical or stair climber.) Do the highest level you can.

Calories burned: 103

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20-Minute Home or Gym Cardio Circuit

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This series of 1-minute PE classics packs almost the calorie burn of indoor cycling—ideal for living-room exercisers. (

A. March in place for 3 minutes (360 steps)

B. 60 Jumping Jacks

C. March 1 minute (120 steps)

D. 60 Jumping Jacks

E. March 1 minute

F. 30 Squat Thrusts*

G. March 1 minute

H. 30 Squat Thrusts

I. March 1 minute

J. 30 Squat Thrusts

K. March 1 minute

L. 30 Squat Thrusts

M. March 1 minute

N. 60 Jumping Jacks

O. March 1 minute

P. 60 Jumping Jacks

Q. March in place 2 minutes to cool down

Calories burned: 145, based on a 140-pound woman.

*From standing, crouch down, place palms on floor, jump legs back into full push-up position, then jump legs back to crouch pose and stand up. Repeat.

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30-Minute Run/Walk Workout

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It's simple: Walk or jog, then hit the gas for a minute. Hate to clock it? Sing six choruses of "99 Bottles of Beer," then return to your walk or jog.

A. Walk 3 minutes (warm-up)

B. Jog 1 minute

C. Walk 2 minutes

D. Jog 1 minute

E. Walk 1 minute

F. Jog 1 minute

G. Walk 1 minute

H. Run 1 minute, alternating run/walk or run/jog (depending on your level) intervals for 12 minutes — that's six sprints total.

I. Jog 1 minute

J. Walk 1 minute

K. Jog 1 minute

L. Walk 1 minute

M. Jog 1 minute

N. Walk 3 minutes

Calories burned: 188 (walk/run), 215 (jog/run)

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30-Minute Cardio Workout at the Gym

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Put this cheat sheet on the dashboard of the stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, or stairclimber and steal peeks at the timer as you go. Read the intensity on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is reclining and 10 is racing at top speed.

Calories burned: 209 (elliptical), 249 (treadmill), 269 (stationary bike), 282 (stairclimber)

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Cross-Train Cardio Challenge

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Switching between different cardio machines during your workout can burn extra calories and challenge your muscles more than trudging along on the same piece of equipment the whole time. Try this cross-training routine from Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, California.

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Cardio-Sculpting Workout

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These treadmill workouts are designed to blast 300 to 500+ calories in about 40 to 50 minutes. Choose from one of three levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and pick either a high-impact run or a low-impact speed walk on an incline.

Don't have access to a treadmill? Do the same program outside on flat or hilly terrain. Follow your cardio workout with 5 to 10 minutes of stretching for your shoulders, chest, hips, glutes, and legs.

Level 1

A. 0:00-5:00: Warm up, 3.5 MPH, 0%.

B. 5:00-7:00: Speed-walk, 4.0 MPH, 0%.

C. 7:00-9:00: Run, jog (5.2-6.0 MPH, 0%) or speed-walk (3.8 MPH, 6%).

D. 9:00-33:00: Repeat minutes 5:00-9:00 six more times, alternating 2 minutes of walking with 2 minutes of running or walking on an incline.

E. 33:00-38:00: Cool down, 3.5 MPH, 0%.

Level 2

A. 0-5:00: Warm-up, 3.5 MPH, 0%.

B. 5:00-7:00: Speed-walk, 4.0 MPH, 0%.

C. 7:00-22:00: Run, jog (5.2-6.0 MPH, 0%) or speed-walk (3.8 MPH, 6%).

D. 9:00-39:00: Repeat minutes 5:00-22:00, alternating 2 minutes of walking with 15 minutes of running or walking on an incline.

E. 39:00-45:00: Cool-down, 3.5 MPH, 0%.

Level 3

A. 0-5:00: Warm-up, 3.5 MPH, 0%.

B. 5:00-10:00: Run, jog (5.2-6.0 MPH, 0%) or speed-walk (3.8 MPH, 6%).

C. 10:00-12:00: Sprint (6.0-7.0 MPH, 0%) or speed-walk (3.8 MPH, 10%).

D. 12:00-47:00: Repeat minutes, 5:00-12:00 5 more times, alternating 5 minutes of running or walking on an incline.

E. 47:00-52:00: Cool down, 3.5 MPH, 0%.

Adapted from The Hollywood Trainer Weight-Loss Plan by Jeanette Jenkins with permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of the Penguin Group USA. Copyright 2007 by Jeanette Jenkins.

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Quick Calorie-Blaster: Elliptical or Stair Climber Intervals

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This low-impact interval routine for the elliptical or stair climber from veteran instructor Jill Aucoin in Arvada, Colorado, can burn up to 277 calories.

Calories burned: 212 (elliptical); 273 (stair)

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Quick Calorie-Blaster: Cycling Intervals

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This low-impact interval routine for the bike (outdoor or stationary) from veteran instructor Jill Aucoin in Arvada, Colorado, can burn up to 277 calories. Try this cardio workout at the gym the next time you need to add something new to your typical routine.

Calories burned: 277

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Quick Calorie-Blaster: Power-Walking/Jogging Workout

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A low-impact walking and jogging interval routine from veteran instructor Jill Aucoin in Arvada, Colorado. (

Calories burned: 161 (walking); 191 (jogging)

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