It's okay to stay inside when it's cold outside; we won't judge. "But don't just hop on a treadmill, press a few buttons, and slog through a monotonous, boring routine," says Joe Dowdell, C.S.C.S., owner of peak performance in Manhattan. He has seen his share of wasted gym time. Instead, Dowdell advises you to use the following interval workout and expert tips to build your endurance and burn more fat on your favorite machine. (Plus, read up on the extreme science behind fat loss-you may be guilty of the wrong exercises!)
Warm up on any of the machines below for 5 minutes, and then use the speed control and built-in heart-rate monitor to do the following workout: start with 1 minute at 85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. (Multiply your age by 0.7 and subtract that number from 207 to estimate it.) Recover for 2 minutes at 55 to 65 percent of your max. That's 1 interval. Do 8, using the tips on this page to accelerate your gains. Too difficult? Do 6 intervals of 2 minutes at 70 to 80 percent of your max followed by 2 minutes of recovery.
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COMMON MISTAKE: You run on even ground.
Set the incline at 1 to 1.5 percent. That slight elevation will increase the intensity (and fat-burning potential) of your workout without overloading your leg muscles, says Dowdell. It also shortens your stride, which reduces your risk of injury from overstepping.
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COMMON MISTAKE: You set the resistance too low.
Most people let momentum do the work instead of using their legs to propel each step. Set the resistance high enough to feel like you're pushing the ramp down. "It's still a low-impact workout, but you'll burn far more calories," says Dowdell.
Myth Busting: Think you know what it really takes to burn fat? Check out these 5 Fat Loss Myths to find out the truth!
COMMON MISTAKE: You use your upper body to initiate your strokes.
The legs are the primary movers on the rowing machine, says Dowdell. Initiate the drive with your legs and then pull the handle to your sternum. On the recovery, keep your legs flat until the handle travels past your knees.
MORE: If you're short on time, try one of these 3 Lightning-Fast Workouts instead.
COMMON MISTAKE: You stay in your seat.
"During the intense portion of each interval, increase the resistance and stand up as if you were mountain biking uphill," says Dowdell. You'll engage your core and upper body, turning a leg-dominant cardio workout into a total-body sweat session.
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