Cardio Machine Boredom Busters

Hi friends! Thank you all so much for your kind comments about my 4 year anniversary with Chris!

I just have to share with you some pics that I captured of Zoey yesterday when she was attacking the pillows on my bed. I was cracking up :).

Pounce into the pillows #1 –

Pounce into the pillows #2 –

And coming out on the other side –


Such a silly little kitten :).


So as much as I enjoy lifting, running, and interval workouts, some days just I want to do steady state cardio on a machine- elliptical, cross trainer, stepmill, or bike. That being said, I also have a tendency to get bored easily so I have found ways to keep myself working hard and focused that tricks me into thinking the time to goes by much quicker! Plus, these keep me from zoning out and thus I am always able to feel like I am using my gym time effectively. I thought I’d share some of my “boredom busters” with you that I do on several machine :).


On the elliptical, I like to change the direction of motion of my legs and the incline. A 30 minute workout will look something like this, with my resistance set at 9:

  • Minutes 0-10: incline of 6; first 5 minutes pedaling forward; second 5 minutes pedaling backward
  • Minutes 10-20: incline of 8; 5 minutes pedaling forward; 5 minutes pedaling backward
  • Minutes 20-30: incline of 10; 5 minutes going forward; 5 minutes going backward

My reason for using those 3 inclines are because according the machine the incline of 6 works all of the leg muscles, the incline of 8 works the upper half of the legs, and the incline of 10 mainly works the quads and butt. It’s nice because I can actually feel the difference in what is being “worked” at each of those inclines. Going backward and forward for equal amounts of time means that I’m hitting all areas as well. And finally, changing things up every 5 minutes keeps me from getting bored.


With the cross-trainer you can’t change the incline so I like to change the resistance around a lot. I usually like to start with an easier resistance and then go higher and alternate back and forth. A 20 minute workout will look something like this:

  • Minutes 0-1:30 – resistance 8
  • Minutes 1:30-3 – resistance 9
  • Minutes 3-4 – resistance 10
  • Minutes 4-5 – resistance 12
  • Repeat 3 more times

Again, I like the “5 minute” increments. You build up the resistance for 5 minutes and then start over at the easier one again. Since you are changing the resistance every minute or minute and a half the time seems to fly by because you’re not focusing on the overall time, just the time for that increment (if that makes sense).


Oh the stepmill…a machine I love to hate ;). This thing can give you a great workout, but I definitely always need a way to make the time seem like it’s going by a little faster. Not only will I alternate my step rate, but I’ll alternate how I do the steps. A 15-min workout often looks like this:

  • Minutes 0-1: 85 steps/min, stepping normally
  • Minutes 1-3: 85 steps/min, walk up sideways for 1 min on each side (if you’re facing the left, step up with your right foot and then cross your left foot in front of your right to step to the next stair, and repeat)
  • Minutes 3-4: 78 steps/min, stepping normally
  • Minutes 4-5: 78 steps/min, taking 2 steps at a time
  • Repeat 2 more times

I do several different things in a matter of 5 minutes and then repeat that twice. Trust me- those 15 minutes go by pretty quickly! Also, I try to never put my hand on the rails. If I must in order to keep my balance, then I’ll barely touch them so that I’m not putting my weight onto them.

Upright Bike

I usually don’t ever use the bike for that long, but sometimes it’s great for 10-15 minutes. On this machine, in order to keep myself from getting bored I try to change my rpm and the resistance during the workout. A 10 minute workout can look something like this:

  • Minutes 0-2: rpm 90-100, resistance 8
  • Minutes 2-2:30: pedal as fast as I can, resistance 12
  • Minute 2:30-4: rpm ~85, resistance 9
  • Minute 4-5: rpm ~75, resistance 10
  • Repeat 1 more time

The combo of changing my rpm, pushing myself really hard for a short period, and adjusting the resistance makes 10 minutes seem like several.

So, there are some of the ways that I keep myself focused on my workouts when doing more steady state cardio. Granted, it’s not completely steady state because I’m not just getting on the machine, selecting a setting, and then forgetting about it for 40 minutes. I think if I did that I would zone out and probably wouldn’t be pushing myself very hard.

Hope you all have an awesome day!



Do you like doing longer, steady state endurance workouts on cardio machines?

How do you keep yourself from zoning out and getting bored?


About In Sweetness and In Health

I'm Lindsay! I'm a 23 year-old graduate student in occupational therapy. I love all things health and fitness related and this blog will document my life as I learn to really love myself, try to stop worrying so much about my body, and truly take advantage of all the sweet things that life offers us.

Posted on October 5, 2011, in About Me, Pets, Workouts. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Zoey is so cute!

    I like to do backward and forward on the elliptical, I do 5 minutes each , switch back and forth ; )

    Ipod with good music helps me get through!

    Happy day to you!

  2. Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance

    The stair climber is ALWAYS the death of me! No doubt about it haha 😦 I actually hate stairs in real life and whenever I have to climb them to go somewhere I moan like I’m in pain. (Note: my apartment is on the 2nd floor haha)

    Will is always like “HOW can you run a marathon but NOT be able to climb stairs?”


  3. Awesome post! I love to do intervals on the treadmill and cross trainer because it makes the time go by so much faster! And I also feel like I get a better workout in when I do intervals rather then just zoning out and listening to music

  4. I can’t stand doing steady state cardio on a machine. If I run outside, that’s different – the scenery is always changing and I enjoy it. But a machine = absolute boredom for me UNLESS I do intervals – I love the change of pace and keeps me interested and focused. My favorite thing to do is sprints on the treadmill!

    Love your kitten pictures! So cute!

  5. I cannot stand the elliptical without some kind of interval workout… I get so flippen bored, even when I do have a book or magazine with me! I also get restless and feel like I am never working hard enough

    The times I go on the treadmill, hill or sprint workouts are a must as well to keep my from going nuts

    Great post Lindsay πŸ˜€

  6. I love your pillowcases! And your kitty is so cute. Nice boredom busters. I absolutely hate steady state cardio except running, which I never do on the treadmill. Ever. My solution is to not do it! If I’m not running outside, I’m not doing cardio and I’m perfectly happy with that.

  7. I love this! I get bored easily too so I always change it up on the cardio machines.

  8. Aww little Zoey is adorable.

    I, too, get bored on cardio machines sometimes. I usually mix it up by varying the speeds and incline. It makes time fly by much faster!

  9. Intervals are practically the only way I stay really “engaged” on the treadmill!

    Also – happy four years!!!

  10. Julia @ The Coffee Crazed Teacher

    Intervals – For sure! I can never run 3 miles straight with become extremely bored and watching every second tick. Doing intervals makes the time go by, fast and I feel like I get a great workout!

  11. hehe, thats the cutest tail. I am so glad you are enjoying her Linds. GOod fit! thanks for the cardio tips. Great workouts with variety!

  12. I have to do intervals…changing up my intervals and resistance..otherwise I get bored!

  13. I like to do intervals to keep myself from getting bored. I own an elliptical and a stationary bike, so sometimes I’ll do intervals using both, like 5 min on the elliptical followed my 5 min on the bike. It makes time fly by!

  14. Ah man, cardio machines are so boring. To keep me at least a LITTLE interested I am all about the intervals. It makes the time go buy so much faster!

    Also, if I am on anything other than the treadmill I am usually reading a magazine or something. That helps. And MUSIC! Always music!

    Your kitty is so cute πŸ™‚

  15. i love the stair mill. It’s such a great workout – for me, i like to use workouts as a time to just zone out and not really think about anything but i definitely mix up my play lists a lot πŸ™‚

  16. I HATE running on the elliptical, so I’m sad it’s starting to get too cold to run outside in the mornings. This year I think I might look into some cardio oriented group exercise classes instead of always resorting to the machines… we’ll see!

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