April 10, 2013

Bored on the Elliptical?


Note: this photo is courtesy of HerCampus, which has even more tips for avoiding elliptical boredom.

(And how come I just realized after writing the word boredom that I think I pronounce it as though it were spelled "boredRum" when it seems there is only one R in the word?  Crap. I've been doing that for about 50 years now, wonder if anyone noticed?) 

Anyway...

Does Anyone Else "Play" on the Elliptical Machine?

If you are a person who uses an elliptical machine, you may have discovered that you need to experiment to keep it from getting excruciatingly tedious.  The HerCampus article above has more of a "distraction" approach, whereas immature Crabby prefers a more ridiculous approach...



Dance to da Music!

Music helps, especially if you don't mind looking like an dork and dancing along to it.  I am a firm believer in hands-free ellipticalling; way more fun and freeing and I figure there are plenty of other ways to work my arms that don't spoil my cardio. Certain songs just call out for fist pumps, jazz hands, twisty hips, and pogobounding, a term I just made up, and these are all constrained by the use of arm thingies. Note: I am not a role model for proper elliptical form.

Competitive Much?


You people know who you are. :)

Variety!

You can also experiment with different tempos, inclines, resistances and directions. (And yes, at least on some machines you can go sideways as well as forwards and backwards.  Warning: you may feel somewhat self-conscious, especially if the machines are close together and this has you peering right at the annoyed person inches away from you.  But it works some of those sideways leg and core muscles).

Insanity!

Closing your eyes is for increasing periods of time highly recommended! This will enable you to (a) improve your balance (b) block out the sight of your ugly basement or the line of sweaty asses in front of you if the ellipticals are in the back row of cardio machines at the gym and (c) learn the location of your local hospital emergency room when you make an unplanned high speed exit!

Intervals?

Yes, while awkward, it may be possible for you to do interval training on an elliptical.  You crank up the resistance and the speed, and flail away until your legs are on fire. You then proceed to make those horrid gasping noises that inspire anyone within half a mile of you to pump up the volume of their music and squint at you with that WTF-is-your-problem-look.

But don't miss the BEST part of your intervals...

What few people seem to add to this routine is the payoff part during recovery.  You have to experiment with the right incline and resistance to find the perfect setting, but basically you bring them both down to the point where the elliptical is moving your legs for you while you catch your breath and wait for the next round of torture.

It's like magic!  You are rocking out to your music and the elliptical is dancing you along with no effort on your part!  I believe it's all in your mind, just based on a kinesthetic illusion, but that only adds to the fun because YOU get the credit.

Note: works for longer interval protocols, not recommended for Tabatas unless perhaps you are crazy fast with the controls. 

A similar but more sedate phenomenon occurs when you step off a treadmill after running really hard on it and find the world whirs by you at a weirdly accelerated rate, as though you have acquired super-powered turbo-charged legs. If you are a "cool down" person you may miss this, but it can be worth checking out as it pairs well with post-exercise endorphins and smugness.

Anyone else play on the elliptical or other exercise machines? Or discover that you've been mispronouncing a word for decades and decades? 


61 comments:

  1. Being an ex-swimmer (and swim coach) I've had to find fun in otherwise boring workouts (swimming lap after lap is the most boring activity when you think of it, no? Unless you put some variety in it!)
    On the elliptical (that I use for cross-training) I like to do "pyramids", i.e. warm up, then intervals of decreasing time but increasing speed:
    2 minutes medium x 2
    1 minute fast x 4
    45 secs very fast x 6
    20 sec sprint x 8

    with slower 2 minute pauses in between

    Then go back up again, then cool down

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    1. Wow HSH, that's a great workout and WAY more intervals than I ever do, you Rockstar!

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    2. Ooops, that be Crabby. Sometimes this spacey J Graham person forgets to sign out. :)

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    3. Haha! To be more specific I only do the 8 sprints once, NOT twice, and I don't always do a full 2-minutes at recovery pace in between the intervals. The rule is to recover enough to bring your heart rate down before the next interval. Otherwise I would be on the elliptical for hours! But with that kind of workout the time goes by fast. :-)

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  2. I met boredom face on when I used an exercise bike. I'd let my mind wander, but I always made it promise to come back.

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    1. LOL. I need to work on that with my mind.

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    2. Wandering minds are definitely a resource! Mine just seems to want to do it at all the wrong times and is NOT very good at keeping promises to return.

      In fact I think my mind left town for a pack of cigarettes in 1973 and hasn't been seen since..

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  3. Can you believe I have never even been on a treadmill? Considering where I live you would think I would be better versed in workout machines, but nope.

    Sadly mispronouncing is something I struggle with. It was worse when I was a kid.

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    1. Hey QD, it's a testament to your hardy nature that you still get out and about despite rain, cold etc. Guess Nim helps?

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  4. Back when I was working out with the small groups, my trainers always mixed it up for us, and I never appreciated that more than when I rode an exercise bike on my own and nearly fell off when I about died of boredom. So now I either try to watch something really good on Netflix, or randomly speed things up for a few minutes. Anything to not want to commit hari kari, you know?

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    1. Netflix is an excellent idea Shelley! Fortunately our kitchen knives aren't sharp enough for hari kari, 'cause I know what you mean!

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  5. The elliptical is never boring for me. I am terrible at it. I can only last 10 minutes on it at the lowest settings before I am gasping desperately for air. I can swim and bike more hours but making this Fat Chick lift her knees up high with no assistance is hellish. Why is it so different from riding a bike for me? I blame the machine!

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    1. Sorry Cindy, you must have a particularly evil elliptical species you're dealing with.

      I feel that way about those backwards-escalator type stair steppers. Torture!!!!

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  6. I often do similar dance-y type moves on the treadmill. I used to watch TV quite often as well, but haven't done that in a while.

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    1. Oh good, glad I'm not the only one who dances on exercise equipment, it does NOT seem to be a popular activity at our gym.

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  7. I have something on my elliptical called Sprint 8 - it only lasts 20 minutes, but I'm dying at the end of it. It's 2.5 min WU, 30 second sprint, 1.5 min recovery, repeat sprint and recovery 8 times, CD 3 minutes. Never feels like 20 min, but sure gets me sweating.

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    1. That's a great interval design donnamacd! Well, except for all those 30 second sprints. :)

      It is amazing how great intervals feel AFTER they're done. Plus the post exercise buzz can last hours after the actual torture is over.

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    2. Oh, yeah - I'm endorphining all over the place for hours...

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  8. The elliptical can definitely be boring, but I usually have some good music or a good show to watch on tv while exercising. I really like your ideas, the dancing one especially. I mispronounce espresso (I say "expresso") all the time. :)

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    1. You are not alone with expresso, I hear that a lot!

      And actually, come to think of it, super-caffeination is an excellent boredom beating tip for the elliptical, as manic psychosis makes the time go much faster.

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  9. I use Itrain. They have 30-40 audio programs for the elliptical. It has music, gives you different inclines and speeds, some intervals. I love the programs. I have no association with the company other than profound gratitude for taking the longest hour of my life each day and making them kinda fun. I need the variety as if I have to plod through it every day I won't do it.

    I am also mixing up my machines. I bought a spin bike that I am sure I will use eventually. Or sell. It was one of those thought it was a good idea at the time until I realized the fun in a spin class was the class part. My new gym has this delicious torture device called a Jacobs Ladder that I am currently having fun with. It looks so innocent sitting there in the corner and does not feel too bad until about minute 5 when your quads go numb. Unfortunately they never stay numb.

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    1. Great ideas Tina!

      Gonna have to check out the Itrain, and see if has an express route through Crankytown. Sounds promising!

      Good for you for mixing it up!

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  10. This may be a surprise - I HATE the elliptical. I only use it when I have a stress fracture or am largely pregnant. I don't know why I detest it so much. However, the next time I have to use it, I'm definitely trying some of these tricks - probably the dancing and eyes closed (maybe at the same time!!).

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    1. Kim, I'm actually NOT surprised as it's probably too easy for your hardcore kickass fitness approach!

      But yeah, maybe if we blindfold you, give you a 100lb sack of rocks to hold and have you go backwards while hopping on one foot it might agree with you a bit more. :)

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    2. The funny thing is, I think the elliptical is hard - I'm usually sweating and breathing hard after 5 minutes. Just something about it that I don't like (maybe because I've only done it when I can't run so it has a negative feel for me??). And, my toes get numb!!!

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  11. I must be entertained on any indoor apparatus. My gym has TVs on each machine, so I usually check the broadcast schedule before I go for what's on HGTV. :) (I'm always amazed at the number of people who watch the food network while working out. :) Not that I've ever done that, this is other people we're talking about.) If I'm watching a program, I ramp up the speed during the commercial breaks and slow down for the program. It's not exactly science-y, but it's something. LOL

    "Facade" was my mispronounced word of note. I heard it and knew what it meant, but for some reason, I read it and said it in my mind as "fack-ade". I still do sometimes. :)

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    1. Death Ride GrandmaApril 10, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Yes, I am always amazed by how many people at my gym seem to take pleasure in watching chefs produce all sorts of heavy, strong tasting stuff while they direct their vascular systems to work far from their digestive organs. Doesn't do it for me.

      Rushing through the commercials makes perfect sense. The way we seem to be going, pretty soon you'll be spending the majority of your time ramping up the speed.

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    2. Love the sprinting through commercials, and I too wonder about the cooking shows! And good point, DRG, why does the stuff ineveitably seem heavy and rich?

      Though it beats Fox news on the tv, which for some reason is the station my gym has near the ellipticals, even though we live in the gayest, lefty-ist neighborhood in town. Sigh.

      Fackade, I actually like that better. Sounds closer to Fake and makes total sense Cammy!

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    3. Funny - I watch Chopped a lot while I'm on the treadmill. I guess it is kind-of weird!

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  12. I listen to podcasts on the elliptical (or the stationary bike at home), only partly to entertain my mind while my body works out, but mainly to drown out the gym music, which tries to seduce my legs into changing their speed to match the beat (which is ever changing.) When I first started using the elliptical, back at the Y, I was just waiting for yoga class to start, which didn't take long, and I watched the people lifting on the other side of the room. Most of them were a pleasant sight; then I got jealous, and decided I wanted some of that muscle myself.
    This dancing and closing the eyes thing? Handsfree??? I have enough trouble not falling off as it is!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. True Mary Anne, I've never been to a gym that didn't have musical distraction, which then leads to self-defensive and nearly universal use of personal audio by gymgoers, which I think decreases overall friendliness. I used to like to take off my tunes when not aerobicizing, though now they've got the tv blarinng in the locker room too so I'm kinda giving up on trying to be more approachable/interactive.

      So cool that your jealously led you to strength training, that's awesome!

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  13. Anything that keeps exercise from being drudgery is welcome to me!

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  14. Death Ride GrandmaApril 10, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Onn either the treadmill or the elliptical, I play with rhythms. I love tap dance - take classes regularly - so I work on setting one pace with my feet, and drum on the front of the machine with an entirely different pace/rythm. Gets me some odd looks, but it makes the time pass. It is especially nice when I actually have music to work with - keeping time to it with my hands and deliberately disassociating the feet from it. It makes some interesting patterns sometimes. Other times, it just makes some jarring ones, but they're a distraction. None of this works during intervals - at least if they are high intensity ones - they suck up any brain power I might have left.

    Mispronunciations? Oh, yeah. I loved reading more than anything when I was little, so I learned a lot of words from context. Of course, I was never patient enough to look them up. I have been surprised lots & lots of times by what I have heard. Just the other day, I made something with phyllo dough (a bit late - when it was so popular in the 70s & 80s, I never had a clue what it was). Anyhow, I said something about it to a friend who once lived where it comes from, and learned it is not file-oh; it is feel-oh. But I have never, ever been tempted to say nuke-yu-lur.

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    1. Wow, DRG, must be amazing to watch you doing the tap dance/drum combo, and how cool that you are so rhythmic! I believe bdaiss, who sometimes stops by here, is also a tap dancer. Perhaps one of you can write a guest post sometime! Love wathcing/listening but have never tried it.

      Feelo dough sounds like a very reasonable guess to me! And I had the same thing, big reader as a kid, no auditory context. Wonder how many other things I've been saying wrong for years?

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    2. *waves* You betcha! Or feel free to nab my youtube videos (user bedaiss). Adult tappers are rock stars! But no way could I pull off the separate foot/hand tempos. That is muy impressive. I'd fall over and kill myself. (Me? If I'm working out on the road to nowhere, then I'm rocking Netflix all the way.)

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    3. Death Ride GrandmaApril 11, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      Looks like fun! So, are you one of the dancers? A teacher?

      I love dancing but do not love performing, so there is nothing (I hope) that shows me on youtube. But there is a lot of very cool stuff with my teacher in it - if you do a search for Sam Weber tap you will see why I am fairly desperate to figure out complex rhythms.

      And you could do it - all I really do is get my feet going at a steady pace and then ignore them. Treadmills & ellipticals are kinda boring, so it's easy to let the activity recede & focus my attention somehwere else - like my hands drumming. You're really doing more or less the same thing every time you let your feet move at a different pace than your music.

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  15. You gotta like it to keep it up, this applies to any exercise especially in the gym.

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  16. I go to the gym 3 times a week and get bored very easily now. I like to have a week off from all machines every 3 weeks and stick to using what god gave me to lose those pounds.

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    1. That's a great plan Kat, just getting the heck away from the machines every so often!

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  17. Totally agree, I hate those bloody things. x

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  18. MAGAZINES!!!!
    trashy trashy magazines :-)

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  19. I never do the elliptical! I've done the stairmaster or stepper for a long time and never find it boring. If I am at the gym I may talk to my neighbor, if at home, I usually watch a movie on the computer. I set a time goal and just do it.

    The stairmaster has fallen out of fashion it seems, along with fitness for many folks. I'm old school in both :-)

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    1. But you have a way of making Old School New School Dr. J!

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  20. I am not on the Ellip too long. I do more time on the treadmill & StepMill BUT I always have music AND the gym has TVs so.... all is good - just want to get the cardio over & on to the weights! :)

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    1. So funny Jody because I'm SO the opposite! Would rather spend ever workout doing cardio but dang, the weights really pay off so I suck it up. Wish I could borrow your motivation for strength training!

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  21. I do my workout 3x a week, because I don't want to get bored with my routine. I wanted to take a break, relax and just have fun. What I usually do, in order to prevent boredom is I usually listen to pop music or party music which would increase my energy while I'm actually having the workout. And I must say, this is really effective, though. :))

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    1. Music is the best for motivation, totally agree Carey! And really smart to take breaks and not get burned out doing the same thing every day.

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  22. The elliptical can definitely be boring if you are just 'going through the motions'. I like to spice it up by having a specific goal that challenges me in new ways every time. I also listen to motivational music to really pump me up :)

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    1. Great Maxine, the goal thing can really help, even if for me it's sometimes just to keep from falling off!

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  23. I think the elliptical and treadmill are so boring that I only do them if the weather is really bad. Like, really, really bad. I am an outside person. But I did used to do intervals on the machines back in the day when I was still running. Def improves time.
    Gaye

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    1. Bet there are a lot of folks like you Gaye who've been stuck with a lot more machine time with this year's crappy weather. Hope spring comes for REAL to everyone some time soon!

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  24. I don't mind working out on machines, but prefer to run outside if I had the choice. Living here in Michigan though makes that tough for about 6 months per year. My treadmill routine is made more enjoyable by speedplay and interval training. I find that the time I have allotted goes by much faster if I break it up and train in different zones. A good playlist helps too!

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  25. I don't usually do cardio long enough to get bored with it, (she said sheepishly.) But I always have loud music playing in my headphones, my fellow gym-goers are often entertaining to watch, and if all else fails I write blog posts in my head. Unfortunately I usually forget all my brilliant insights and most hilarious jokes before I get home to my computer to write them down.

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    1. Well your blog posts are awesome malevolent andrea, so something's working.

      I often come up with post ideas that seem brilliant on the elliptical and utter crap when I get home. So many dead blog posts on that damn machine.

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  26. Machines are rubbish for burning calories anyway. They never give a true representation of the hard work you do on them. Stick to the road and you won't go wrong. x

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  27. Road running was always more my cup of tea than the treadmill, but even that used to get boring - it just takes so long!

    I only do strength training now, with the odd circuit training workout thrown in now and again.

    Since this swtich I have less body fat, a better looking physique and spend a fraction of the time in the gym (or pounding the streets).

    No boredom for me! :)

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    1. Wow, I'm always amazed that people can skip the cardio altogether and get great results with just strength training. Doesn't work for me but glad it works for you peter!

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  28. Machines are actually great for burning calories but it is not the only means of burning calories!

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