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With your super busy schedule, the last thing that gets checked off of your to-do list is probably that cardio workout you meant to sneak in. We get it — cardio isn’t exactly fun to tackle when it’s easier to go roll out a mat at home and do a quick yoga sequence. That’s why you need to work smarter, so you can get the most out of your cardio in the least amount of time. The perfect tool for that is the elliptical.

We talked to Pamela Carey, CPT-ACE, a certified trainer in New York City, to create an elliptical workout that requires less than half an hour, but offers a serious burst of cardio by using intervals to burn more calorie.

Why the Elliptical?

You’re thinking, “Isn’t all cardio the same?” Well, no. According to Carey, this particular machine is right for those looking for a low-impact workout, like those with knee pain or a lower body injury. “I recommend the elliptical machine most often to people who are looking for a lower intensity, but still excellent workout,” Carey told POPSUGAR.

The elliptical is also a great alternative for those who get bored of running on the treadmill, or find the StairMaster intimidating. And before you tell us those two popular machines burn more calories than the elliptical, think again. “The method of cardio that burns the most calories is the kind that you actually do. It’s better to do the elliptical two to three times a week consistently than to run once and quit because you hate it.”

How Do I Correctly Use the Elliptical?

It’s very easy to glide effortlessly and obliviously when you’re doing cardio on the elliptical, particularly if you see cardio as a chore. If you want to get the most out of your cardio workout, you need to first watch your form — stand upright and engage your core. “Try not to stay on the balls of your feet, and instead stride through the full foot as you move,” Carey says. Try to make the movement natural; there’s no need to overreach or overstride.

The Under 30-Minute Interval Plan

This is Carey’s favorite elliptical interval plan. It takes a total of 24 minutes and you’re only sprinting for about half of the time. “This plan helps you burn calories during and after your workout efficiently,” she says. “To maximize results, make sure you are challenging yourself with speed and resistance.”

  • Two-minute warmup at moderate intensity: It should feel like a light jog (level 3 on most ellipticals).
  • One minute at high intensity: It should feel like a sprint (level 9 on most ellipticals).
  • One minute at moderate intensity: It should feel like a light jog (level 3 on most ellipticals).
  • Alternate those two levels for 18 more minutes.
  • Two-minute cooldown at a low to moderate intensity: It should feel like fast walking (level 2 on most ellipticals).

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