Almost every cardio machine has a menu of pre-set programs aside from just going at it on your own (manual). Lots of us don't venture there because we don't know what they mean and we don't want to take the time to figure it out.
So with that in mind, here is a general overview of what each program should do (keep in mind each machine may have different variations of these programs):
- Weight Loss: These programs usually consist of extended intervals of work and rest intensities.
- Fat-Burning: These programs usually consist of lower intensity, gradual increases over the duration of the program. Some Fat Burn programs are interactive as the program adjusts the intensity throughout the workout to maintain your heart rate at 65% of maximum heart rate.
- Cardio: These programs will usually consist of gradual increases in intensity until you hit a certain level, and then you will remain at that level over the duration of the program. The intensities will range from moderate to high in order to challenge the heart and lungs.
- Heart Rate: These programs will typically build the intensity until your desired heart rate is reached. Then the machine will automatically lower and increase intensity based on your heart rate reading to keep it at where you indicated, usually within 2 beats.
- Interval (Hills): These programs provide you with variety in your workout. Having the machine constantly changing intensities as intervals can keep the workout interesting and challenging as well as increase your total calories burned.
- Fit Test: Fit Test is a cardio fitness evaluation. The test can be used to periodically monitor your own improvement in aerobic capacity -- I do it at least once a month.
There are additional settings, so
Fit's Tip: Most pre-set programs have a cool down built in, if not, try and stay past the program until your heart rate decreases significantly (for example, on Fit's Calculator this would be at the Getting Warm Zone.)