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Q | Should I use the preprogrammed workouts on my exercise machine or not?

A | If you want to build variety into your cardio regimen but don’t know how, these programs offer an at-your-fingertips solution.

“Preprogrammed workouts add variety and provide extra motivation to change speed, elevation, or both, allowing you to focus on the workout rather than deciding what to do next,” says Ted Vickey, certified personal trainer and the American College on Exercise’s senior consultant on fitness technology.

These programs are available on most treadmills, stationary bikes, and step machines, and automatically manipulate variables like time, incline, resistance, and speed.

They are ideal for people who prefer to “set it and forget it,” Vickey says. “I’m a huge fan of the interval setting, as you can score a productive cardio workout in a short amount of time,” he adds.

The preprogrammed routines can also inspire new ways to use your favorite machines and provide more bang for your workout efforts. If your go-to treadmill workout is a 60-minute jog with no incline, try “rolling hill” intervals at a walking pace. If you’re aiming to cut your 5K time, try a workout that incorporates speed work.

For more ways to use cardio machines in innovative ways, see “The Cardio-Plus Workout“.

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