Category Archives: Elliptical Workouts

Make the Gym and Burning Calories a Priority

Your day should look like this:  work/school, burning calories, family time, sleep, everything else.  Of course, you don’t really need to burn extra calories outside of work if you’re a construction worker, roofer, or have some other labor intensive job, but you probably have a comfy office chair to greet you every morning.

More than likely, if you’re anything like I was at 344 pounds, you burn minimal calories at work, then go home, snack, watch a little television, hang out with family, go out to dinner with friends once or twice a week, head to the movies, etc.

Even as you start your weight loss journey or try to keep it going, you’ll find it hard to “squeeze” the gym into your schedule.  That’s the wrong way to look at it.  What you need to do is squeeze everything else around the gym.

Up above, when I listed daily tasks in order of priority, I put burning calories in front of family time.  That’s not saying I would skip my daughter’s soccer game or a friend’s birthday party to go do an elliptical workout at the gym, but what it means is that I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning, while my wife and daughter are still asleep, and go to the gym.  And that’s what I do, every day, Monday through Friday.

I get back to the house just as as they’re waking up for the day.

Everyone has time to burn calories.   You may not have the means or the time to go to the gym to bur calories, but you have the money (free!) and the time (5 minutes) to find a place in your house to do as many jumping jacks as you can.  You have the time and the ability to stand up in your living room during commercials of American Idol and dance with your kids.  I dance with my daughter all the time.

She’s a terrible dancer though, but she’s two, so I cut her slack.

Make burning calories something you day every day without fail before anything else outside of work and/or school is done.  Even if you have to leave your family and friends for 30 minutes a day to go to the gym, it’s worth it, especially if you were as overweight as I was.  By going to the gym and missing out on a little bit of family time (when I went to the gym at night), I added countless years to my life.  I’m going to see my daughter get married, something that wasn’t likely just two years ago.

I guess if you think of it that way, I actually made my family the priority instead.

Burning Calories with the Family

I love the gym, but sometimes you just need a break.

park 225x300 Burning Calories with the FamilyI normally try to make it to the gym over the weekend (Sunday afternoons) for at least a 30-minute session of cardio, but there wasn’t really much of a need this weekend.  I also had other things to do.

On Saturday, the wife and I took our daughter to the park for about two hours.  My daughter, being almost two, loves going down the slide over and over again.  I love going with her.  To get back on the slide, though, you have to run all the way to the other end of the platform (the size of a large house). I burned a lot of calories and tuckered my daughter out well before I was.  It’s easy to tell when she’s tired and ready to leave because she just starts walking toward the car.

When she did, we followed her and went out to lunch.

On Sunday, the father/brother-in law and I went to watch USC (South Carolina, not Southern California) play baseball.  It was about 85 degrees and breezy.  We had to walk about a mile to get to the park from our car, so again, it was another great way to burn calories without having to step onto the elliptical like I normally do on Sundays.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my elliptical workouts, but walking to go watch baseball when it’s 85-degrees outside is pretty fun too.

Lack of Sleep and Quality of Workouts

The more sleep I get, the better my workouts are in the morning.

Specifically, the more sleep I get, the more I’m able to lift with good form and the more intense my elliptical workouts are following my weight lifting. This is a trend I’ve been closely been watching over the last several months and I’ve concluded:

5 hours of sleep = a walking zombie
6 hours of sleep = a decent workout
7 hours of sleep = a great workout

It’s no surprise that less sleep equals less focus and drive at the gym. However, I was and am surprised that sleeping eight hours (or more) really doesn’t do much more for me at the gym than sleeping six and a half or even seven. I don’t get too many nights I can sleep eight hours though, so granted that sampling pool is a little small.

The last thing I noticed was how quickly I could “make up” for sleep. If on one night for example I slept for five hours and had a horrible workout the morning afterward, then on that night managed to get seven hours of sleep, I’d have a great workout that following morning. That’s why I stay up a little bit later to get things done on Tuesday nights, just because Wednesday is cardio day and a lack of sleep affects me less at the gym.

I’ve got stuff to do, after all. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Gym Cardio Workout Routine

My current cardio workout routine consists of running.  And some climbing on the StairMaster.  Occasionally, I go for a nice bike ride for a few miles.  When feeling nostalgic, I work a nice 20-minute elliptical workout into the mix.

I still love the elliptical.

Sometimes I step onto a few pieces of cardio equipment every day, while some days I only step onto one.  Not always, but sometimes, the length of my gym visit depends on how “well” (few calories) I ate during the day.  If I ate well, I might stay at the gym only 20 minutes.  On the other hand, if I made poor choices throughout the day my cardio workout might last nearly an hour.

It’s safe to say my workout routine varies.

While I don’t have a routine per se, I do have a couple of guidelines.  The guidelines that I’ve set forth for my gym workout routines are as follows:

  • 4 days a week
  • At least 20 minutes

That’s it.  That doesn’t mean I go 4 days a week for 20 minutes like some might perceive, that simply means that on some rainy random Tuesday when I have a migraine, miss my daughter, and simply want to to call it a night I can put in my 20 minutes and leave.  If I want to go out that Friday night with friends, I can skip the gym and meet my 4-day a week requirement.

Some random facts my current cardio workout routine:

  • Half the time I stick with just one machine, the treadmill
  • Half the time I stick with two machines, other being the bike
  • Lazy days I might just walk briskly (4 mph) for 20 minutes
  • StairMaster workouts are reserved for days when I’m pumped
  • I do lift weights, but they don’t take time away from cardio

Variety — it’s the spice of life.  I’m not a patient person (ask my wife) and I get bored easily, so it’s important to me not to go to the gym every night with a list and set of instructions.  While I know a lot of (not all) people have been asking for my gym cardio workout routine lately so they can copy it and make it their own, I simply don’t have one you can print out and take with you.

If there is any advice I can give you about cardio, it’d be this:

Sweat.

What does your current cardio workout “routine” look like?

3 Hours of Treadmill & Elliptical Workouts

I went through with the most recent workout pledge on Friday night.

Due to recent media attention this was the biggest workout pledge by far.  I was forced to stay on both the treadmill and elliptical for 93 minutes (plus two for cool down) — putting me in the gym for 3 hours and 10 minutes Friday night.

This was the first workout pledge I tweeted while I worked out.  It was a new experience, a positive experience I’d do again;  the support I received kept me going for the last hour when my legs started failing.

A few Twitter followers that provided support Friday night:

30Days2ANewLife
JackedDragon
JeffSarris
lsuaimzgurl
willwalters
theantijared
emilytate512

Recap of Friday night’s workouts

I started out on the treadmill machine a little after 7 PM Friday.  I maintained a speed varying from 3.4 (when I took pictures) to 4.0.  Incline levels varied as well, ranging from 1.1 to 5.1.  It was a brisk walk with some hills thrown in.

The 95 minutes on the treadmill were easy compared to the 95 that were soon to follow on the elliptical.  While I was on the treadmill daydreaming, fighting boredom, I realized I needed to make a bigger workout playlist for pledges.  Other than realizing I need to bring a book for “next time” and needing to urinate for the last 30 minutes, I had a smooth workout.

treadmill calories1 3 Hours of Treadmill & Elliptical Workouts

I burned nearly 1,000 calories and walked over 5.5 miles in 95 minutes on the treadmill.  Other than stiffness in the legs, I finished the workout unscathed.

It wasn’t until I stopped stretching and went to the rest room did the scary reality sink in:  I’m about to start the hard part.  I had only done 95 minutes on the elliptical before once (when I did 99), but that wasn’t following 95 minutes on the treadmill.  I was sore, tired, and wanted to go home.

The only place I was going, though, was on the elliptical.

I started my workout on the elliptical machine after a short break used to go to the restroom and fill up my water bottle.  After typing in level 20 (out of 20) into the machine it turned on and I immediately knew I was in trouble.  I got onto twitter for some support and found Lethal Weapon 2 on television (the one with Joe Pesci), settling in for a long, painful workout.

Looking back, I have no idea how I managed to keep going.

Around the halfway mark on the elliptical, about two and a half hours after my current cardio session started, my legs began to buckle.  I had to lean against the machine’s console so I wouldn’t fall down.  This was the moment I wanted most to quit and say “no thanks” to the remaining 45 minutes, but I didn’t.

I got back on twitter and looked for support — I found it and kept going.

With about 20 minutes left my water ran out and my cell phone battery was dying, which meaned no more twitter updates.  I turned off the music application on my phone (G1) to conserve the battery and simply ignored my water problem — I wasn’t about to quit now. Luckily, the battery in my phone lasted long enough to snap a final picture and I was able to wipe the machine down, stretch, guzzle down 20 ounces of water, and walk out of the gym alive.

It was easy to fall asleep once I got home.  My legs were sore and stiff, but I could walk.  I was a little sore Saturday and only did some light cleaning, but hit the gym Sunday hard and did 30 minutes on both the treadmill and elliptical.

I’ll be back at the gym tonight fully charged.

Hopefully, in a couple of days, I’ll be reminded why I do these workout pledges and why I felt the need to workout for 190 minutes Friday night.

I want the 230s.

Gym vs. Home Gym

My wife and I are considering setting up a home gym.

We’re contemplating it for a couple of reasons.  First, my membership at Better Body Fitness is up for renewal in a couple of days ($99 for 3 months).  I always like to know I’m getting the best value for my money.  Secondly, my wife decided to start an elliptical workout program to lose some baby weight.

So, we’re trying to decide:  home gym or gym memberships?

Cost Comparison

A gym membership for both of us at Better Body Fitness would be $198 every 3 months or $792 $460.80 for 12 months.  It has all the elliptical machines, treadmill machines, dumbbells, etc we could ever need.

While a home gym would cost more money upfront, I shouldn’t have to spend any more money for at least a few years assuming nothing breaks.  We already have a cheap elliptical machine (by ProForm) in the house that we purchased a few years ago for about $350, but to be frank — it’s crap.  I don’t think it’s ProForm (I’ve only heard good things), I just believe buying an elliptical (or any cardio) machine is a “you get what you pay for” kind of deal.

With that being said, if we did buy a new elliptical machine for a home gym we’d choose a more expensive elliptical model in the $750 range.  It’s worth it.

Convenience

If convenience was the only deciding factor, we’d pull out the Visa with 0% for 12 months and hit Dick’s Sporting Goods tonight!  My gym lacks any sort of childcare services, so that means either my wife or myself has to stay home and watch our daughter while the other goes to the gym.

That’s not very practical.

Space

A home gym, even a single elliptical machine, would take up a lot of room.  We live in your typical 4-bedroom suburban house consisting of an office, baby’s room, guest room, and masters.  While we could cram a small gym into our house, we certainly don’t have what you would call an abundance of space.

Privacy

My wife dislikes the lack of privacy in the gym.  In other words, she dislikes the perverts.  By talking to other females in my family, apparently my wife is not alone in this sentiment.  While I don’t think this is a problem in my gym (we’re a bunch of good ole’ country folks), I honestly wouldn’t notice if it was.

Personally, I don’t need privacy.  I’m a man.  I could show up at the gym wearing nothing but my underwear, unshaven for weeks, and jump on the treadmill and start running.  Men have no emotion or feelings.

Overall

Ultimately, I think my wife and I are going to workout separately.  We’ll end up buying an elliptical machine to go into a small home gym and I’ll stick with Better Body Fitness. While my wife wants to concentrate on cardio, I know I’ll begin focusing more and more on building muscle — requiring a smorgasbord of free weights and machines.  That’s how you get buff, afterall.

Where do you get buff every day?

Gym, Uninterrupted

Today marks the 28th consecutive day of going to the gym.

I never used to go to the gym every day of the week until about a month ago.  It wasn’t a conscious decision to keep going over the weekend — it just gradually happened.  Instead of taking Saturday and Sunday off like I did for the first 5 months, the gym naturally merged itself  into my every day routine.

Like waking up and breathing.

I almost feel “empty” until I step into the gym at night and go to work.  I’m absolutely in love with going to the gym and being pushed to my physical limits.  It’s an addiction.  I know that the more I workout, the more calories I burn, and the more I have to show for it on the scale next Wednesday.

The accountability drives me.  This blog drives me.

While the updates on my treadmill and elliptical workouts may be interesting to read on your coffee break and the workout pledges maybe a fun gimmick, every single one of you that has followed, commented, or sent me an e-mail through this blog over the past 6 months has had a little part in saving my life.

I’ll live another 20 years because of you.  You saved my life.

And you drive me.

Treadmill Machine Workout

Using the numerous running tips and suggestions I received on Tuesday as a guide, I went to the drawing board and made a treadmill workout routine.   My workouts on the treadmill have improved considerably because of it.

Here’s how my treadmill workout has been for the last couple of days:

Duration: 30 minutes
Machine Mode: Fat Burner
Speeds: 3.6 (walking) and 6.0 (running)
Incline: 3.0 to 6.0, varies

The actual treadmill workout routine consists of walking (3.6) for 4 minutes, then running (6.0) for 1 minute.  So, I start walking from 30:00-26:00, then run until 25:00, and so on.  It’s extremely tough, but I have discovered I am physically capable of running for 1 minute — more than that, not so much.

Then again, level 5 on the elliptical used to be hard, too.

This treadmill routine, consisting of walking for 4 minutes and running for 1, allows me to cover about 2 miles of “ground” in 30 minutes.

Also, while I now know calorie counters on workout machines are less than accurate, 30 minutes on the treadmill burns about 420 calories (!).  This is relevant because on Monday night, with a workout of the same duration, I burned 100 less calories.  This shows I’m already getting acclimated.

So, where do we go from here?  Much like my elliptical workout that changed every week, I plan on changing up my treadmill workout as well.  Every week, I’m going to increase my running by 10 seconds.  Meaning, instead of walking 4 minutes and running 1, next week I’ll try to walk 3:50 and run 1:10.

If I can keep that pace up, I’ll be walking 2 minutes and running 3 minutes in 3 months.  That seems obtainable and realistic.  Of course, I can change this plan down the road if necessary — but it seems like a solid plan for the time being.

What say you, oh mighty runners?

Elliptical Workouts

I figure I’ve had at least 100+ workout sessions on the elliptical since I started going to the gym 4 months ago.  Those countless elliptical workouts have helped me lose a lot of weight, as you might have noticed.

[Getting started with elliptical workouts?  Get free shipping on every single elliptical machine (starting at $89) for a limited time only at Wayfair!]

Today will be the first day I won’t step onto the elliptical at the gym. I’m trying to increase the intensity of my gym cardio program — something that can’t be accomplished by sticking solely to the elliptical machine.  I’ve become much too comfortable with the elliptical and it only gets easier by the day.

That’s why, starting today, my new cardio machine is the treadmill.

With today being the end of an era so to speak, I wanted to take a look at the elliptical workout program (and its progression) that has been the foundation of my physical activity program and has helped me lose 82 pounds in 19 weeks.

The Beginning

At the beginning of my gym career I wasn’t able or even willing to attempt the elliptical.  I was on the stationary bike for the first week or so, afraid to step foot onto the elliptical machine because of it’s “bad reputation.”

Early Elliptical Workouts

After a week of going to the gym, I finally tried the elliptical because an old lady was on my stationary bike.  After a couple of days of pain I was able to do 30 minutes on the elliptical at level 1 and burned 320 calories.

I was hooked — my career on the stationary bike was over.  It didn’t take long until I was going strong (it’s rhyme time, baby) and in just under 3 weeks on the elliptical I was at level 7 doing 40 minutes every workout.

Increasing Resistance & Intensity

After working out on the elliptical for a month I was able to build a steadily progressing routine.  Each week I moved into a new level with a jump of two levels every other week.  I think it’s incredibly important to keep up a level of resistance and intensity with every workout, elliptical or not.

By skipping levels and by performing endurance “marathons” (workout pledges), I was able to stay one step ahead of my body’s “comfort zone.”

Getting Cocky, Lazy, or Both

While my intensity on the elliptical machine and with elliptical workouts had been progressing and increasing for months, the time I would spend on the elliptical each session would decrease.  45 minute workouts turned into 20 minute workout some days, with an occasional but rare 30 minute workout thrown in.

As I started to lose weight, I found it easy to justify working out less — either because I thought I deserved to workout less because I had lost so much already or I simply thought I could keep losing weight without working as hard.

I believe this is fairly common, so be careful on your workout program.

Coming to an End

On April 17th, I went through with my second workout pledge and also went from level 18 to level 20 on the elliptical.  This is where I would stay for the next 6 weeks, leading up to this past Friday.

When I first started at level 18 I was still in the “dip” that I talked about above, only working out for 20 minutes or so on the elliptical a day.  But, once we got into the second week of May, I realized that I was getting too comfortable and increased my elliptical workouts back up to 30 minutes.

Will I get on the elliptical machine again and start doing more intense elliptical workouts?  Absolutely.  Will it be apart of my regular cardio program, Monday through Friday?  No, it won’t.  While it’s sad, considering the literally days I’ve spent on it over the past 4 months, it’s time for something new in the name of progress:  the treadmill.

Starting today, I’ll begin to let it earn its place in this journey of mine.  If you have any treadmill workout tips or anything I should know, leave a comment.

Workout Pledge: The Trilogy

This is the last workout pledge I’ll do on the elliptical.

I’ve done two pledges so far — one a few months ago at level 14 (91 minutes) and another at level 18 last month for less than an hour.  This time, I want to reach the absolute limits of the elliptical machine.  I’ll be on level 20 (out of 20) and I want to stay there 99 minutes, the most the machine will allow.

Here’s how you can make me stay there that long:

1. Post a comment = 20 seconds. Each comment made to this post will add 20 seconds to my elliptical workout.  It doesn’t get much easier than this, folks.

2. Follow me on twitter = 30 seconds. I need friends.  I also need to lose weight.  Follow me on twitter and we’ll be able to solve two problems at once.

3.  Subscribe to RSS feed = 1 minute. If you haven’t already, subscribe via RSS or e-mail to my blog.  By doing so, you’ll get my posts delivered to your RSS reader or inbox. Oh, and you’ll make me workout for another minute.

4. Link to 344Pounds.com = 2 minutes. You can post a link on your website, blog, MySpace, etc and add 2 minutes to my elliptical workout.  I don’t care if you’ve already linked to me before, linking again will add another 2 minutes.

I’ll go through with the actual pledge this Friday night — I’ll post a video of the event when I get back home.  The cutoff for adding minutes is Friday at 12:01 AM (Eastern), so do your dirty work before then.

Pushing the limits of the machine: 99 minutes at level 20 out of 20…

Can you guys make it happen?

UPDATE:  Closed.  61 minutes, coming right up.