If you’re adding some sprint interval training (SIT) to your workouts, consider including an elliptical machine in the mix.
Elliptical machines hold several advantages over other activities when it comes to doing sprints:
1. They offer a low-impact alternative to outdoor running or treadmill sprint training. Low impact does not equal low intensity, though. You can get every bit of the intensity that you can with running, but without all the pounding on your joints.
2. Elliptical machines, like treadmills, but unlike bikes or swimming, provide a workout that is completely weight-bearing, meaning that you must support your full body weight. This increases calorie burning and can have positive effects on bone density, depending on your weight and the resistance you use.
3. You can instantly change intensity on an elliptical machine by simply changing your RPMs (how fast you move your legs). You do not have to press a button and wait for the belt speed or the incline to increase. This simplifies the workout and gives you more control over the intervals.Here are some general guidelines for sprint interval training on elliptical machines:
Use Resistance, Incline and/or RPMs to Increase Intensity
The simplest way to perform a SIT workout on an elliptical machine is to set your resistance at a level that is moderately challenging but not overwhelming, and then leave it there for the entire workout. For the sprint interval, increase your RPM to as fast as you can—between 65 and 100 for most individuals—for the selected sprint time; then cut the RPM to less than half of that for the rest intervals. Some machines use SPM, or strides per minute, which is twice that of RPM.
In that case, a sprint would be 130-200 SPM.As an alternative, you can increase the resistance and/or the incline for the sprint intervals to something more challenging and then decrease them for the rest intervals, keeping the RPM more steady or increasing it only slightly for the sprints. The key is that the sprint interval must be near your maximal effort. You can play with adjustments to the resistance, incline and RPM to add variety or to tailor the workout to your liking.
Keep Sprint Intervals Short and Recoveries Longer
Do 10- to 60-second sprints with 20-second to 4-minute recoveries between. The shorter the sprint time, the shorter the recovery time between sprints. Aim for at least four minutes total sprint time during a workout and no more than eight minutes. Keep moving during the recovery cycles but at a low intensity. As your fitness level increases, you can decrease the recovery time, but in order to achieve maximal work on the sprints, your recoveries must be at least as long as your sprints, and generally at least twice as long.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Warm up for at least five minutes before performing a sprint, and then do one or two high- but not maximum-intensity sprints before going all out and giving maximum effort. After your workout, cool down for another five minutes. Follow the workout with a few minutes of stretching.
Do Sprints Once or Twice a Week
One to two times per week of actual all-out effort sprints is enough to reap the benefits. Give yourself at least 48 hours between these workouts. On two or three other days of the week, you can do some moderate intensity steady-state cardio for longer durations or some HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Do no more than three days in a week of combined HIIT and SIT workouts.Here’s are two elliptical sprint interval workouts you can try: