You’ve probably never thought of these innovative routines before, and believe me, these routines will take some of the boredom out of exercise, and at the same time, spike up results!
Elliptical machine squats
Most elliptical machine devotees do the same steady-state routine, seemingly going through mere motions while eyes are glued to the TV or a magazine. It’s time to do something cool with this machine.
Find a machine without the arm bars. You start pedaling backwards at a low pedal angle, with back straight, shoulders square. Encourage yourself to let go of the rails. At the most, only the fingertips lightly touch the rails; no hand-wrapping around them. Remind yourself that lots of sweaty, grimy hands have gripped the rails. You may never want to touch them again after realizing this. Once you are warmed up, you then sink into a three-fourths squat while continuing to pedal. Back stays straight. Leaning forward just a tiny bit is fine. The thighs will start burning. You hold this partial squat for 30-60 seconds, then pedal normally for 1-2 minutes. Repeat the squat intervals several times.
Do additional squat intervals at a high pedal angle. This will really scorch the thighs. Use a medium to high pedal resistance as well. You don’t need to sustain the squat-pedaling for that long in order to get a training effect.
Here’s a good one. If you normally don’t hold onto the elliptical side rails, why not put those free hands to work? Hold onto some dumbbells. This includes small weight plates. Holding onto weights while on the elliptical is not the same as simply increasing the pedal resistance. Include backwards pedaling while holding onto the weights. Gee, if you’re up to it, do military presses while pedaling.
Smith machine squat-leg extension combos
Load the Smith barbell with the weight that you can do 20 reps with. Place feet close together, no more than a few inches apart, toes pointed straight ahead. With correct squatting form, back as vertical as possible, a slight arch at its lower part, eyes straight ahead, you then proceed into a squat.
When you reach the squat position, legs bent 90 degrees (no more), feet flat on floor, you then lift one foot off the floor, and extend leg out in front (knee extension) as done on a leg extension machine. However, you keep thigh of this leg as parallel as possible with the thigh of the support leg. In other words, imagine someone is placing a tray of beverages on your lap. If thigh of the extended leg is not aligned with thigh of support leg, the tray will tilt and the beverages will spill.
Maintain extension for a 2-count, then return foot to floor. Repeat with same leg 10 times, then do other leg. Or, you can alternate legs for 20 total reps. If it’s impossible to conduct these moves, rest and try it again with lighter weights.
Variation. Instead of Smith machine, use stability ball against a wall as the squatting device, back against the ball. Keep back vertical and contoured against ball, shoulders square, during the squats.
If you like the stationary bike, or if you’re getting bored with it, try something you’ve probably never done before. Vary the distance between the seat and the pedals. Recumbent bikes have a seat that adjusts horizontally, and the seat on upright bikes adjusts vertically. Use different adjustments. The closer the seat is to the pedals, the hotter the burn will be in your thighs. But make sure the seat isn’t too far from the pedals; this can cause knee hyperextension.