30-Minute Cardio Medley Workout

Young man training in gym
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Using the same cardio machine workout day after day can get pretty boring. One way to keep things interesting—and to work your body in different ways—is to swap up the machines throughout your workout. In the example below, we include the treadmill, bike, and elliptical trainer for a 30-minute workout (plus 10 minutes for a warm-up and cool down).

The speeds and inclines listed are only suggestions, so adjust according to your fitness level. You may not be ready to go as hard as the workout recommends, or you may want to unleash your inner beast for a few minutes at a higher exertion level. Use the perceived exertion scale to determine how hard you're working. It goes from levels one to 10, with one being no exertion to 10 being the absolute hardest effort you can do.  

Cardio Medley Equipment

Also feel free to choose any cardio machine you prefer. The examples here are a treadmill, stationary bicycle, and elliptical trainer, as those are the most common ones found in typical gyms. But if you love the rowing machine, or you want to spend time on the ski machine, you can use those in this medley instead.

You should familiarize yourself with how to change the incline or resistance settings for any cardio machine you use. Depending on the specific machines you have available, you may be able to program some of them or use pre-set programs. With others, you'll have to adjust the settings at each interval. You can do this medley in any order you choose.

Treadmill

We begin with the treadmill. If you choose to start with another machine, be sure to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before moving on to more intensive exertion.

TIME Intensity/Speed Incline Perceived Exertion

5 min

Warm up: 3.0 mph

1%

Level 2–3

3 min

5.0+ mph

3%

4–5

1 min

4.5+ mph

6%

5

3 min

6.0+ mph

2–4%

6

1 min

4.5+ mph

5%

5

1 min

6.0+ mph

2–4%

6–7

1 min

3.0-4.0 mph

0%

3–4

Stationary Bike

Next, you'll ride the stationary bike for 10 minutes. For that time, alternate between the 1-minute intervals below—do a minute at the lower intensity, then a minute at the higher exertion level, and so on. Make sure your perceived exertion does not go above 7 or 8.

TIME Intensity/Speed Resistance/Level Perceived Exertion

1 min

70-80 RPM

5

4

1 min

100-110 RPM

6–8

6

Elliptical Trainer

We end with the elliptical trainer. Aim for a target speed of about 90 RPM, and vary intensity by adjusting the resistance.

If you swap around the order of the exercises, be sure to end with a minimum of 5 minutes of cool down on whichever machine you're using last.

TIME Resistance/Level Perceived Exertion

3 min

4

5

2 min

6

6

3 min

5

5–6

2 min

6

6

5 min

2

3–4 (cool down)

One of the benefits of the cardio medley is that you can get a longer workout at a gym where they limit your time on any one piece of equipment. This way you won't be an equipment hog, and you'll still be able to get in a longer workout.

However, you'll have the added complication of making sure each piece of equipment is free when you're ready to move to it. To facilitate access, consider exercising at a time of day when gym is less crowded and the equipment is most likely to be free. Additionally, as noted above, you can also reorder when you use each machine, as needed.

Progressing

Once you have the basic 30-minute workout down, you've achieved the minimum amount of cardio recommended each day for fitness and health. But why stop there? When you're able to comfortably enjoy this workout, consider increasing the intensity, or lengthening the workout by doing another round.

Start by repeating just one of the machines. That additional 10 minutes will burn more calories. After a week or so at that level, add in another set with one of the other pieces of equipment, followed by a second set on the third machine a week or two later.

Precautions

Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have an injury or a chronic condition or are on medication. Your doctor will be able to give you any needed precautions or modifications.

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