Logging miles inside can be cumbersome and less exciting than exploring new paths of the great outdoors. But with the right regimen and strategy, the treadmill can actually do wonders for your body.
So before you start to dread the tread, it’s important to consider that it is one of the most effective tools for weight loss. In fact, you can burn more calories on the treadmill than you may have thought with the right techniques.
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“You will burn calories on a treadmill no matter what you are doing on it. But for fat loss, it’s more than calories in and calories out. Calories are simply a unit of measurement of energy, so you aren’t necessarily going to lose fat just because you burn more calories than you consume,” Williams says.
“If you eat just a tiny bit more calories than what you burn via your natural metabolism and workouts, this kind of cardio allows you to put on muscle, not put on fat.”
Try incorporating these habits into your routine to burn more calories on the treadmill.
Do interval training.
Intervals are the key to getting in a challenging workout that torches calories—in less time. When you’re hoping to burn off last night’s pizza binge (no shame!), it’s less about steady-state cardio and more about how much you can supercharge your heart rate.
You don’t have to be advanced or run quickly to give this tactic a try. McKay says if you can walk comfortably for 30 minutes at a speed level of 3.0, you’re physically ready.
Here’s how to do it: Break up the 30 minutes with six continuous five-minute walks at a speed of 3.0 for four minutes and 3.5 for one minute.
“Once that becomes too comfortable, you might then try six continuous walks of five minutes where you walk at 3.0 for three minutes followed by walking at 3.5 for two minutes, and so on,” she suggests. If you’re already at a higher pace, you can apply the same logic at a faster speed.
You may have heard about going backward on the stair climber, but the same multidirectional challenge can be applied to the treadmill, too. Stay with us here. Although it seems contradictory to the rules of proper machine use, switching directions can burn major fat.
According to physical therapist Lauren Lobert, P.T., D.P.T., O.M.P.T., C.S.C.S., walking backward or sideways strengthens your hips and forces you to work double time as you focus and move purposefully. To work up even more of a sweat, she suggests adding a resistance band.
Use the TV to your advantage.
From your neighborhood hang to the mini hotel space when you’re on vacation, most gyms have one thing in common: televisions. The TV may be distracting for some.
However, McKay says you can use your go-to sitcom or romcom to your advantage. A show is usually on for about eight minutes before two minutes of commercials.
So, you can use this time to strategize intervals and fervor. As a bonus, this routine prevents your mind from wandering aimlessly, which could keep you from truly exuding effort.
Here’s McKay’s suggested routine:
- Warm up for the first eight minutes. Then do a gentle hill for two minutes of commercials.
- Run at 75 percent of your race pace, and then aim for your race pace for two minutes.
- Run at 75 percent of your race pace again for eight minutes, and then either climb a hill or shoot for that race pace again.
She notes you can repeat this for six intervals for a one-hour show, or longer if you want to watch a full movie.
Vary the incline.
Consider the last time you jogged at an unfamiliar park, trail, or beachside path. Were you surprised by various, unexpected hills?
Pushing your body up and then down is a killer workout—and one that helps you lose weight. As Lobert explains,
“Both uphill and downhill walking or running create unique and important challenges to our muscles and cardiovascular system.” When you’re running on a treadmill, change your incline every five minutes to engage various muscle groups and keep you interested in your routine.
Get off and on the treadmill.
Just because you’re on a stationary machine doesn’t mean you have to stay stationary. McKay says one of the best ways to work up a sweat on the treadmill is to get off of it!
As she notes, distance is distance. It doesn’t have to be all at once to benefit your body. One way to try this method is with a “hurricane” workout, where you complete a certain distance on a treadmill as you increase speed, incline, or both and then head to the floor to complete a super-set body workout.
McKay says this may look like this:
- Run for one minute at an easy pace, increase the speed to moderate, and then complete a one-minute sprint.
- Carefully get off the treadmill, and complete ten walking lunges and ten back squats.
- Take a two-minute rest, and repeat, varying the strength moves with kettlebell swings, push-ups, etc.
- You can repeat this routine for an hour-long workout.
Practice HIIT on the machine.
If you’re not familiar with high-intensity interval training, it’s time to school yourself ASAP. This super-impactful workout teaches you to adjust to an almost-uncomfortable point of cardio, as you work to your maximum for short stints before rest – this gadget will help tremendously.
Fitness trainer Miriam Amselem says you can apply the practices of this workout style during your next treadmill visit.
“Get your playlist ready. Take off for 30 to 45 minutes of alternating between jogging and either power walking or walking on an incline. Alternate with 30 to 90 seconds of jogging and … 30 to 60 seconds of walking,” she suggests.
The key to calorie-burning treadmill workouts is to avoid a plateau by introducing new methods and regimens. “Always change things up on the treadmill,” Amselem notes “It will get you toned and also burn lots of calories.”
To avoid workout plateaus, view all the treadmill and HIIT workouts on the Aaptiv app today.