4 Tips for a better treadmill workout

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4 Tips for a better treadmill workout

One of the most popular home exercise equipment is a treadmill.  Easy to use and readily available to fit your schedule, a treadmill workout is an effective exercise regimen when used properly. Yet, too many of us buy one, use it for a while and then over time, it sits unused in a corner of a room gathering dust.

If you’ve been skipping working out on a treadmill because you see it as boring or ineffective for seeing results, think again.  Working out on a treadmill may seem tedious and repetitive but they can offer a good alternative depending on how you use them.  Besides pushing the “start” button and proceeding to walk, there is so much more they offer.

Advantages of a treadmill workout

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, treadmills are the most popular gym equipment in the United States.    They can be a great way to get and stay fit whether they are used through a gym membership or in the home.

Treadmills may seem like an uninteresting and monotonous piece of equipment but when used right, they can be one of the best methods to use meeting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise we need each week.  Plus, there are many advantages one can benefit from making exercising on a treadmill a smart move:

·      Treadmills can target key muscle groups to help strengthen and improve balance and endurance such as quadriceps, calves, glutes, and hamstrings.

·      Treadmills can help people recover from an injury or surgery allowing one to control the speed and intensity and they come with handrails for added support when needed.

·      Treadmills offer a safe environment free from unpredictable footing and adverse weather conditions. 

·      Treadmills can be programmed for individual workouts by varying the speed and incline to focus on specific goals.  They also can be programmed to include a warm up and cool down period.

·      Treadmills almost always come with hand sensors that measure heart rate and some come with step counters.

·      Treadmills are a relatively easy piece of exercise equipment to use

·      Running on a treadmill generally burns calories faster than most other forms of in-home exercise such as a stationary bike.

·      A user of a treadmill can do other things while on the treadmill, such as watch TV or read, which for many can help keep the exercise interesting and motivating.

Ways to boost your treadmill workout

Even though using a treadmill does provide many benefits, using one day in and day out can eventually bring diminishing returns on your workout.  Here are some ways to boost your calorie and fitness burn while still using a treadmill:

1.  Mix up the workout

If we want our body and muscles to burn more calorie, we need to put in some surprises into our workouts.  Walking or running on a treadmill set to 0% incline every single time is better than not exercising at all but to really ramp up the workout, mix it up.  In other words, change your workout by adjusting factors such as the speed, incline, and length of time you are using the treadmill.

Just increasing the incline will make your body work harder, just like walking uphill. Since a person is not fighting wind or air resistance when using a treadmill, to simulate the great outdoors, elevate the incline by a notch or two to get more of a burn activating muscle groups that need attention.

Whether you are going to walk or run at an incline, just by doing so, activates 9% more muscle per stride compared with running at the same relative exertion on a flat terrain.  The areas of the body that will get worked the most during ascents will be the buttocks and the back of the thighs.  Cardiovascular fitness will also benefit as working out on an incline demands more oxygen.  Simulating walking uphill on a treadmill incline also actually takes pressure off the knees.   For people with injuries or arthritis, increasing the incline is actually safer than increasing the speed.

Take the speed up a notch to directly affect the calories burned by your body and when you lengthen the time spent on the treadmill, this helps keep your muscles guessing and inhibits muscle memory.

2.  Do interval training on a treadmill

To get and see serious results try interval training using a treadmill. Interval training is where a person alternates between moderate- and high-intensity paces.  It’s not so much how fast or how long a person can run on a treadmill it’s more of the switching back and forth between the paces. 

Researchers have found that switching between one-minute sprints and one-minute moderate-intensity recovery periods for 20 minutes, 3 times a week, was equivalent to several hours of working out at a single moderate pace.  If that is too intense, a more modified version is to walk or jog at a comfortable pace.  Then every 4 minutes, go all out for 30 seconds.  That could mean uphill climbing, sprinting or speed walking, just whatever would be a person’s maximum effort.  Thirty minutes of this kind of training provides the same cardiovascular benefits as 90 minutes of steady, moderate exercise.

3.  Don’t hold on for dear life

We’ve all seen this person at a gym – the one who cranks up the incline or speed and then hangs on clutching the treadmill handgrips for dear life.  It may look like a hardcore workout, but holding on cancels out all the benefits.  Just by clinging to the handrails can result in a 50% reduction in the amount of calories burned.  If a person must absolutely hold on for balance or support, then rest hands lightly on the handles. 

4.  Exercise at least 5 days a week

Healthy adults need to exercise at least 5 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Granted, you don’t need to always use a treadmill to get in this amount of exercise but to see results that last, sticking to an regular, consistent exercise routine is what will make it happen. All of us need to find an exercise routine that works and then stick with it. If a treadmill is part of that routine, then use it to help you reach your fitness goals.