This post will cover a number of different treadmill workouts, each with their own benefits. Should you be wanting to use a treadmill to lose weight, build endurance or just to keep your heart healthy, there will be something here for you. These are perfect for the gym or if you are thinking about buying a treadmill to use at home. Either way a treadmill can be used for a wide range of exercise.
Types of treadmill workout
People will usually run regularly or not at all, rarely is there a middle ground. For those that run, working out on a treadmill is a good option as it is so convenient.
Treadmills have an inbuilt range of running workout programs designed to meet different needs. Including specific programs to help train speed, stamina or heart rate. Distance, time and pace will vary depending on specific training goals.
Walking is the most basic way to work out on a treadmill. It’s as simple as setting an even, moderate pace, jumping on, and walking for an extended period of time.
The most common reason for walking on a treadmill is calorie burning leading to aid weight loss. Walking is not as demanding or high impact as running, but still allows you to burn a high number of calories when walking regularly and for reasonable lengths of time. An hour, 5 days a week is a very realistic target even for those that need to work on their fitness.
An overweight person walking at a moderate 3 mph will burn +300 calories an hour. That’s ,1500 a week if walking on 5 days.
High intensity Interval training (HIIT) has become increasing popular in recent years due to it’s many fitness benefits. It involves varying intensity between high and low pace or resistance, pushing you hard and then allow a recovery period. On a treadmill this involves pushing yourself by increasing speed, incline, or both. After this period of higher intensity the treadmill drops to slower speed or lower incline, before increasing them again.
This type of workout is great for developing many components of fitness, speed, strength, endurance, stamina and body composition. However it is also the most demanding type of treadmill exercise so must not be carried out too often. Two or three times a week should be the maximum.
Hill climbing workouts are perfect for building strength and muscle endurance in the lower body. The incline on a treadmill will typically reach 15 degrees but some specifically designed ones will go higher. This is more than enough to provide increased resistance. With just a small incline of 2 degrees you will feel a difference.
Those training for specific goals, such as an upcoming trek, train this way. But many people do just for strength and endurance building. There are pre-set programs with varying incline, or you can just set a certain gradient and keep walking/running for an extended period.
Calorie burning potential increases with incline, walking uphill burns over 50% more calories than walking at the same pace on the flat.
Treadmill workout goals
Any form of exercise burns calories, and burning calories helps you lose weight. You need to ensure that you create a calorie deficit. Burn more calories than you consume, and over time you will lose weight naturally.
Exercising at a steady pace for an extended period of time – steady state cardio – burns a lot of calories. The amount of calories relates to the length of time you exercise, the pace at which you move, and your size and weight. Adding an incline makes exercising tougher and burns more calories. An average sized person (155 lbs, 11 stone, 70 kilos) burns 267 calories an hour walking at average speed (3.5 mph). Jogging at 5 mph would burn 563 calories in an hour, and up the pace slightly to 7 mph and 809 calories are burned. A person 50 lbs heavier would burn calories at a 32% higher rate.
The video below explains how to exercise at a steady pace in order to burn fat:
High intensity interval training (HIIT), as mentioned earlier, is a great way to lose weight. Interval training burns more calories than steady state cardio over the same time period. However you need fewer days rest in between steady state training sessions. You also benefit from an “afterburn” effect where calorie burning increases for hours after the workout has finished.
This video demonstrates a method of treadmill HIIT to burn fat:
Health experts recommend five 30 minute periods of exercise a week to reduce risks of heart disease and other long term health issues. These five periods of exercise can be as simple as just walking at moderate pace. A treadmill is ideal for this.
Training for speed is like training for anything else, you need to push your body to run as fast as possible, increasing the level in increments. Treadmills are suitable for training speed endurance rather than out and out sprinting pace. Speed endurance is how long you can maintain certain speed for, for example the pace required to run a 5 minute mile.
Take a look at this guide to training for speed on a treadmill at happyfitmama.com.
There are programs built into treadmills that can train you this way, or you can do it manually. A manual exercise program would involve gradually increasing the pace that you can run a certain distance for. One you reach the desired pace you start to increase the distance over which you can maintain that pace. This is a good way to train for long distance events that you aim to complete in a set time.
Build strength and endurance
You can build the strength in your legs by using a treadmill, especially by setting it to a high degree of incline. The incline means you are lifting your body weight at the same time as propelling yourself forwards.
Two components of strength are improved. Overall maximum strength and strength endurance, of the two, it’s strength endurance that treadmills are better suited to work. The maximum strength represents the total force the leg muscles can produce. While strength endurance is how long the leg muscles are able to carry on working under increased strain.
Stamina is closely linked to the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. Training on a treadmill is a fantastic way to work on your heart and lungs to improve your cardiovascular capacity.
The key is to train in a way that makes your heart beat faster and breathing rate increase. This pushes the heart and lungs to adapt to handle this new stimuli. Over time the heart will become stronger and able to push more blood around the body with one beat. The lungs will increase in capacity, taking in more oxygen in one breath. This means more oxygen gets to your muscles and they can work harder for longer.
The following link to asweatlife.com provides the details of a great treadmill workout designed to improve stamina.
Also check out the video below for a routine that gets the heart and lungs working hard, building your levels of stamina.
If you are training for a specific goal related to running then a treadmill is an ideal piece of equipment. For example if you are training to run a long distance event such as a marathon you can do so on a treadmill. It’s a safe convenient way to do so. The info-graphic below demonstrates a schedule for marathon training, and there is no reason why this could not be carried out on a treadmill!
Training for other endurance events such as hiking or climbing can also be carried out on a treadmill. You can increase the incline replicate climbing a hill. Put on your hiking boots and a pack on your back and you can replicate what you are aiming for. Do it at home and avoid the embarrassing looks you’ll get at the gym!
Common treadmill mistakes to avoid
However you train on a treadmill there are a number of common mistakes to avoid.
Going full out straight away
It is important to warm up before getting stuck into your training routine. Failing to do so increases risk of injury and makes recovery tougher. It’s also very important to cool down after exercise for the same reasons.
Climbing off a moving treadmill
This can be dangerous. You run the risk of slipping, and falling onto a moving treadmill will hurt much more than a stationary one. Always stop the belt from moving before you step off.
Holding the handrails
Holding the handrails will make working out on a treadmill easier. Therefore you see less benefits from exercising this way. It is also an unnatural way to move, meaning posture and gait are incorrect. This leads to an increased risk of injury, and posture problems. The only time to hold the handrails is when reading your heart rate.
Unnatural stride length
Your stride should feel natural if you walking or running. If it feels unnatural you are moving either too fast or too slow. You will end up either squashed up at the front of the running belt or too far back towards the end.
Moving with unnatural stride for too long will lead to increased risk of injury or accident.
You will often see people with their head leaning forward to read a book or look at their phone. This encourages “hunching” over and is bad for your posture. As we said earlier, poor posture can lead to increased risk of injury.
Treadmill workouts – wrapping things up
Hopefully this guide has helped whatever your goals are for working out on a treadmill. They are such an accessible exercise machine there is no reason not to get started, and build treadmill workouts into your fitness regime.
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