5 Ways to Beat the Boredom of Indoor Cardio

It's a fact: Indoor cardio sessions can be painfully boring. That's why Get-Fit Guy has created 5 boredom-busting workouts you can do at home on your treadmill, elliptical trainer, or bicycle to make your exercise time fly by.

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #161

Indoor Cardio Workout #2: The Big Game

I’m a sports fan. Particularly, I tend to watch football and basketball, and often find myself doing indoor cardio sessions while I’m watching the big game. Hence my invention of “The Big Game” workout – which I first introduced in the episode How to Get Fit While Watching TV.

This workout is based on the fact that team sporting events usually include changes of ball possession are quite conducive to cardiovascular exercise. For example, let’s say that Team A is competing against Team B.

Any time Team A has the ball, the puck, or any other kind of offense possession,, you do an intense interval, such as pedaling faster, increasing the resistance, increasing the incline, etc.

In contrast, whenever Team B has possession, you get to decrease to an easy, aerobic, recovery pace.

And for those of you who haven’t yet discovered TIVO or DVR, I'm sure you're wondering "Well, what about the commercials?" I've got you covered. When the commercials appear, you do a tempo effort, which is a moderate pace at a medium intensity. Alternatively, you could do intervals during the commercials, so that every time a commercial break begins, you increase the resistance or cadence or incline for the first commercial, decrease for the second commercial, increase for the third, and so on.

Indoor Cardio Workout #3: The Pyramid

This workout is based on my overall life strategy of starting with the hard stuff and moving to the easy stuff. For example, it’s very hard for me to do management projects in which I need to produce tasks or delegate to a team, and it’s also hard for me to respond to detailed emails. So I do those things earlier in the day.

The same concept applies to this workout: you start with the longest, toughest parts of the workout that require the greatest amount of mental and physical focus. You can do it on a bicycle, elliptical trainer, treadmill, rowing machine, or anything else. It goes like this:

  • 5-10 minute warm up
  • 10 minutes hard, tempo effort
  • 2 minutes easy
  • 9 minutes hard, tempo effort
  • 2 minutes easy
  • 8 minutes hard, tempo effort

You get the idea!

The nice part about this workout is that since the hard efforts get shorter as you go, you get more and more motivated to go harder as the workout progresses!

Indoor Cardio Workout #4: The Treadmill Hurricane

Similar to #1, the Elliptical Soup, this killer treadmill routine gives you a full body workout that includes strength training and has you getting on and off the treadmill so you're never bored.

You’re going to do 10 sets of 30 seconds of hard treadmill hill climbs at as steep an incline as you can – while running (or walking) as fast as you can. But in between each 30-second effort, you get off the treadmill and do back-to-back exercises, such as:

  • 10 push-ups followed by 10 mountain climbers
  • 10 squats followed by 10 lunges for each leg
  • 30 seconds of front plank followed by 30 seconds of side plank for each side

Try to choose exercises that involve minimal equipment (preferably body weight only) which you can do without straying too far from the treadmill (which could actually be frowned upon if you’re exercising at a gym).

Indoor Cardio Workout #5: 4-On-1-Off Movie Workout

This next workout is one that I’ll often use when a new movie has come out that I want to see and I have a long triathlon training bicycle workout to do, but I want to avoid the trap of simply spinning at one steady (often too easy) pace during the entire film.

So I put in the movie on the computer in front of my indoor bike trainer, or on my phone, put on my headphones and warm up for 4 minutes. Then I do 60 seconds hard – at the maximum sustainable pace I can hold for one full minute. Then I keep watching the movie for another 4 minutes at an easy recovery pace (but attempt to keep pedaling RPM high – preferably above 90). Then I do the 60 seconds hard again. Often, I’ll alternate the 60 second hard periods between aero position, seated and standing.

For some reason, the workout goes by incredibly fast when I do it this way. So I’m still able to pay attention to what’s happening in the movie while at the same time squeezing in a good workout. Ahh…the best of both worlds! While this workout doesn’t exactly work on a treadmill due to all the bouncing up and down, it works just fine on a bike or elliptical trainer.

Oh yeah, one more thing: during the closing credits I go absolutely nuts and pedal as hard as I can until the credits end!


If you enjoyed these 5 indoor cardio trainer workouts, you can get 6 more workouts in my article Done-For-You Exercise Resources to Get a Killer Workout Without the Mental Strain. For any Glee fans out there, I also have an official Glee Indoor Cycling workout, complete with video.

If you have more questions about how to beat the boredom while you’re doing indoor cardio workouts, or you have your own workouts to add, then leave your comments, thoughts and questions over at http://www.Facebook.com/GetFitGuy!

Bored woman, man on elliptical, and other images courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.