A Cardio Challenge Three Years in the Making

Three years ago this month my Bowflex Max Trainer M5 showed up at my door. I’ve blogged about many times, and it really is a remarkable, challenging machine. It’s kinda like if an elliptical and stepmill had a baby… that was much better than both of its parents.

The Max Trainer is the cornerstone of my at-home workouts, and I’ve used it every week since I got it. So, in honor of the anniversary, I’ve come up with a challenge designed to see how far I’ve come on this machine, and then push me further.

The Max Trainer has a variety of programs that I usually alternate between, but the signature one is the Max Interval program. It’s only 14 minutes long, and you alternate between 25 seconds of hard work and 80 seconds of recovery. Repeat that pairing eight times, and you’re done!

The Max Trainer has 16 levels of resistance, and I’ve never even tried many of the levels on the upper end. But this challenge will make me.

Here’s how it works:

Every time I use my Max Trainer, I’m going to complete a Max Interval workout. I’m going to start at resistance level 5, and will up the resistance level by one before every workout.

I have two goals:

1) Go all the way to level 16. (I’m skipping levels 1-4 because level 5 is the baseline for my workouts; I haven’t used levels 1-4 in years.)

2) Determine which level results in the largest calorie burn. I’m curious if the upper levels will be so hard that I’m barely moving, which could result in a lower calorie burn than some of the middle-range levels. If that’s the case, I want to find which level is the optimum level for me.

Some other things to note:

These challenge workouts will happen roughly twice a week. I will rotate them with other workouts (training for my upcoming races, running or hiking outdoors, workouts at my gym, etc.). But when I do decide to use my Max Trainer, I must advance this challenge along.

The challenge workouts won’t be the only element of my workout for that day. I will pair them with weightlifting (using my Bowflex Selecttech dumbbells), or other moderate cardio.

Guess what? I’ve already started! I have the first three workouts under my belt. And I have post-workout pictures to share!

Level 5: 202 calories burned. (Yes, that’s “The Golden Girls” on in the background, I love some good comedy when I’m exercising!)

Level 6: 200 calories burned. (I’m surprised the calories weren’t higher, but they’re still pretty close.)

Level 7: 232 calories burned.

I know that, historically speaking, I’ve burned upwards of 260-270 calories doing the Max Interval program, so I’m not even at the point of breaking my own personal best. What I’m curious about, though, is seeing how much further I can go!

I will continue to take post-workout photos. Stay tuned for another post when I reach my goal!

Keep it up, David!

One last thing: Think about about how you can challenge yourself with your workouts. I’ve devised a few workouts challenges before, like the Double-D Workout Challenge, and my Cardio to Vegas challenge. Challenges give you goals to work towards, and experiences to feel proud about. And they don’t need to be extraordinary feats of strength or endurance. Can you challenge yourself to walk five more minutes than last week? Or try a higher level on the treadmill or stationary bike, only if it’s for a few minutes? Push yourself a little bit more… and fall in love with how good it makes you feel!



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10 Responses to A Cardio Challenge Three Years in the Making

  1. Jeff Dinkin says:

    This is a really cool challenge! Just save 11 and up for after PS. 🙂

  2. Sugar Lee says:

    Been having back issues and have fallen off the wagon. Seeing your email this morning was just what I needed! Keep it up, David!

  3. Pat says:

    I smell a….

  4. Ashish Dhar says:

    I don’t know how you do it…I use 14 min HIIT and at level 12 I was able to do 210 cals….Not sure how you got 300+ at that level!

  5. Forrest Bivens says:

    I have a question. How are you setting the burn rate at a specific number. It fluctuates on its own, so what am I missing?

    • David says:

      You can’t set the actual Burn Rate, because that’s dependent on how you move, but on my machine (the M5), you can adjust the Burn Rate goal range on the main display.

      • Forresy says:

        Yes I have the same model. So if I understand you correctly, you are setting the sprint burn rate at, for example 7, 8, 9, etc?

      • David says:

        The burn rate goal range is shown as a series of 5 red dots that can move around the perimeter of the circular main display. The burn rate buttons manually manipulate where those 5 red dots are. So when you use the burn rate buttons you are setting a goal range, how many calories you are burning each minute, that you then have to achieve though your exercise.

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