Creative Cardio

By Ann-Kristin Allen  ::  Photography by Kelsey Grudle

Do you find yourself using primarily cardio equipment while at the Fitness Center because you are short on time yet still want to fit in a quick workout? You are in a great company, as everyone leads busy lives. Most likely you have already utilized the features of increasing and decreasing speed, resistance, elevation and stride length with the various cardio equipment. This article will introduce you to different concepts that offer more variety and additional benefits.

A variety of ways to use specific cardio equipment:

Upright and recumbent Bikes

This type of bike offers a great option to combine sitting and standing.  It’s important to note that while standing, the resistance needs to be greater than sitting to create a fluid motion.

For example:

1. Sit for 1 minute and stand for 15 seconds

2. Sit for 1 minute and stand for 30 seconds.

3. Sit for 30 seconds and stand for 30 seconds.

4. Sit for 1 minute and stand for 1 minute.

Both upright and recumbent bikes offer a great way to incorporate light dumbbells and elastic bands for even greater upper body benefits — front and side shoulder raises, overhead press, chest fly and chest press, bicep curls, triceps extensions, etc. Additionally, utilize the different resistance levels from lowest to highest, pedaling 5-10 seconds per level, until the highest level is reached and then return back to level 1 as an extra challenge.

Scifit Upper Body Bike

This bike is commonly used in a rehab setting or for people unable to operate a recumbent bike. It offers a forward pushing motion and a backward pulling motion, and is a great way to increase upper body strength while also working on stability and mobility of the shoulders.  It can be used either seated or standing, and while standing, squats, lunges and calf raises can be performed in addition to the pulling and pushing of the arms. This is to make it weight bearing.

I hope you enjoy these different ways of using the cardio equipment during your next visit to the Fitness Center. Please contact me for additional information or specialized programs.


The elliptical offers a fun variation of squats by moving forward while lowering your body as low as you comfortably can while also addressing the importance of good posture by utilizing your abs. This motion is a great way to increase core strength, which is most often referred to as the combination of strength in your abs, glutes and lower back. An extra challenge can include performing this while heels are elevated.


The treadmill is unique in that the user can move in all directions — forward, backward and sideways. The user can also have the option, without turning it on, to rely on their own strength to move the belt. A more advanced interval training combination of walking or running with squats, push-ups, skipping, etc., can be created on a personal basis. The treadmill can also offer a great opportunity to train for a sport such as tennis where the player moves in all directions at various speeds.

Two concepts of training that can be used on any cardio equipment:

Interval Training 

Create your own interval program by switching speed, resistance, stride length and elevation. Begin with your current setting for 4 minutes and increase to a more difficult setting for an additional minute, continuing this concept throughout your workout. As you get comfortable, increase to a more challenging setting for a longer period of time.

Tabata Protocol Training

This is a 4-minute concept where each set contains 20 seconds of high intensity followed by a 10-second rest period for a total of 8 rounds.

I hope you enjoy these different ways of using the cardio equipment during your next visit to the Fitness Center. Please contact me for additional information or specialized programs.

Ann-Kristin Allen is a TPI Certified Fitness Professional Level 3 and a Certified Yoga for Golfers Level 2. She can be reached at or 210.367.5942.

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