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Just because a cardio machine includes a seat doesn’t mean that its workouts automatically must be low-intensity. Of course, being seated does facilitate lighter exercise regimens, if preferred, because you aren’t upright in a weight-bearing position. But you certainly can go all out on seated machines with HIIT programs. Just think about Spinning, which is hardly considered leisurely.

While traditional upright and recumbent bikes can deliver effective cardio routines, if you’re seeking even more challenge while seated, choose a total-body modality, such as a fan bike, recumbent elliptical or rower. This way, you engage your entire body – not just your legs – for powerful seated but serious workouts.

Seated but Serious Workouts

Here are some ways to crank up the intensity when using a fan bike or recumbent elliptical.

Fan Bike

Fan bikes like Octane Fitness’ AirdyneX are popular because they are intuitive to use and offer virtually unlimited intensity. Your efforts drive the amount of resistance, so if you pedal, push and pull fast, the machine delivers more intensity; and when you slow down, intensity is reduced. That makes it simple to vary your resistance at any time during sweat sessions.

Plus, the 26-blade performance fan and responsive, single-stage belt drive enable you to generate more watt power for greater productivity. And the addictive tachometer on the console motivates you to push yourself to keep the needle from dropping. For variety, you also can vary workouts by isolating the upper body periodically by using the stationary foot pegs for the legs.

Take on these seated but serious workouts:

  1. HIIT – With the 20/10 Tabata format, go all-out for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat, for a total of 8 cycles, which is 4 minutes. Then repeat these 4-minute cycles for the duration of your workout. The same applies for the 30/90 program, except you’re working – and resting – for longer intervals. Or opt for the Custom Interval program where you make up your own interval sessions.
  2. Goal routines – Try the time target, calorie target and miles target workouts, which keep you focused, provide instant feedback and motivate you to continue to progress to beat your previous performance.

Recumbent Elliptical

The recumbent elliptical, or Octane’s xRide, is another valuable seated option. Don’t mistake it for a seated stepper or a recumbent bike. It’s a total-body machine where you move your legs in a longer, elliptical shape while pushing and pulling with the arms.

What differentiates the xRide from other seated equipment is PowerStroke technology, which facilitates a longer elliptical motion, forward and backward, to engage more muscles and help burn more calories. With 20-30 resistance levels, the machine enables you to work hard, whether you’re a beginner or an athlete.

For seated but serious workouts on the xRide, try:

  1. Workout Boosters — Unique to Octane Fitness, these add interval training to any routine, with one-minute cross-training commands in X-Mode, and targeted muscular endurance training in Chest Press and Leg Press.
  2. 30:30 Interval – This rigorous regimen consists of five sets of 30-second sprint and recovery intervals, where the program monitors heart rate and calculates heart rate recovery, a relative indicator of fitness level.
  3. MMA – Simulating mixed martial arts bouts, the machine delivers fight-inspired prompts such as “punch and move” and “throw it,” and then “fights back” with responsive resistance to help improve your stamina and strength.
  4. Random/Hill/Interval – Here, the xRide varies resistance at random intervals, designated hills or predetermined intervals to keep you at target heart rates.
  5. Goal routines – Choose either a distance or calorie goal, and strive to improve your time to meet it during each successive workout.