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The 30-Minute Cardio Workout

Tri This
A few years back, the term cross-training became the buzzword within the fitness community. By alternating among several different sports such as cycling, running, and swimming, fitness enthusiasts found it much easier to avoid overuse injuries and boredom. Better yet, they were still able to get a great workout. Many athletes whose bodies had been subjected to countless hours of the same repetitive movement also found the benefits of cross-training were less time spent on the disabled list.

Indoor or Out
In 1997, Jonathan wanted to devise a challenging workout for some of the time-starved but ambitious cops at his fitness center. Many of them are excellent athletes who have a limited time to devote to working out. He also wanted to accommodate members who weren't in great shape yet. Jonathan figured a good way to put them to the test was to have a 30-minute "indoor triathlon" – a perfect example of cross-training at work. He laid out the following format:

Concept II rower 10 minutes
Stationary bike 10 minutes
Treadmill 10 minutes

The race consisted of 10 minutes on each machine with an oh-so-short one-minute transition between each.

The beginners were able to handle the relatively user-friendly 30-minute format while the fitter, hard-charging athletes were wrecked after the surprisingly tough event. Combining the three modes used a variety of muscles and provided a more challenging workout than simply sitting on one piece of equipment for half an hour. More important, it also proved a point to the skeptics who thought it wasn't worth lacing on their sneakers for less than an hour.

Think Vertical
Each fall the local chapter of the American Lung Association holds a particularly cruel triathlon called the Vertical Challenge in Wilmington, Delaware, that can be duplicated in your gym. The race is a 5K (3.1-mile) run, 10K ride (6.2-mile), and then a quad-busting 22-story stair climb. Jonathan trained for this event almost exclusively in the gym, usually in 30-minute segments (or less).

Here's what our vertically challenged friend did:

Run 10 minutes
Ride 15 minutes
StairMaster 5 minutes

While we particularly like these two triathlon formats, there are countless other combinations you can use. Want a good low-impact workout? Try combining the recumbent bike, elliptical trainer, and Stairclimber. Need a little extra challenge for your upper body? How about the Concept II rower, NordicTrack cross-country skier, and the elliptical trainer? The point isn't so much what machines you cross-train on, but that you break the half-hour workout into manageable pieces that keep you stimulated and eager to push on. Another great thing about this format is that rotating among multiple machines not only helps reduce boredom, but you don't have to worry about your gym-mates looking over your shoulder because you're hogging one piece of equipment.

Remember that since you're in the gym to train, not to race, you don't need to go all out on these "triathlons." Aim to keep your heart rate in the 70 percent to 85 percent range.

The ideas we've presented in this chapter represent just a small fraction of the countless workouts that you can do in 30 minutes. Whether you use these specific workouts or not, the important thing to keep in mind is to stress quality over quantity. By incorporating intervals and ensuring that your heart rate remains within your training zone, you're sure to get the most out of your half-hour. Remember that a purposeful half-hour beats an unfocused hour or two of dilly-dallying any day.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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