How to Stop Treadmill Dread and Love Your Workout

How to quit avoiding the 'dreadmill' and start enjoying it.

Let’s not beat around the bush. A few (read: large number) of us cannot find it in us to look forward to running on the treadmill. The dreadmill, Satan’s conveyer belt—we’ve heard it all. Be it because we’re new to the activity and a bit anxious or because we’re avid treadmill runners burnt out with boredom, treadmill workouts have come to feel like a chore. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Really. Whether you need a change of mind or change in routine, read on to see our tips on banishing treadmill dread permanently.

Let’s face it, the treadmill isn’t for everyone. That’s why Aaptiv has hundreds of different workouts in categories like strength, elliptical, indoor cycling, and yoga. You’ll find what’s right for you! 

For treadmill beginners

Intimidated, nervous, anxious, you believe that actually enjoying a sprint on a treadmill is a luxury afforded only to seasoned runners. You also hate doing things you’re bad at—the treadmill included—often because you tried it once and epically failed, or you haven’t tried at all. Take a deep breath, fellow beginners, because there’s actually no reason to be afraid.

Let’s consider the benefits of indoor running for a moment. You can log a workout regardless of the weather, there are many gyms that stay open 24-hours so you can work out when it’s convenient for you, and you have access to quality equipment you’d never buy for yourself

Face Your Fear

With that in mind, let’s tackle the biggest fear beginners face: the fear that running on a treadmill is too difficult. You don’t have to start running workouts at maximum speed! In fact, you don’t have to go at maximum speed at all, ever! Remember what happened in The Tortoise and the Hare? The hare ate a big breakfast, got overheated in the sun, and tried sprinting to the finish, only to lose. While the tortoise, being the beginning runner he was, went at a comfortable pace, ended up winning. The same philosophy applies to the treadmill.

Aaptiv has a slew of beginner routines that cater to this specific case. The important thing to remember is to at least try.

Harboring a negative mindset—especially without putting in a solid attempt to get better—only breeds more negativity. You can try an endurance run for beginners, but, you may also want to try an interval run—maybe you’re more of a sprinter! If it turns out that walking, jogging, and running just aren’t your thing, that’s okay! Switch to the elliptical or stairclimber and keep working on your goals.

For the bored

For you, the treadmill has become mind-numbingly boring. You go to the gym to feel great and focus on yourself, but the same old thing has gotten stale. Walk. Jog. Run. Sprint. Jog. Sprint. Jog. Walk. Repeat until you’re done. It’s not that intervals or running routines are bad, you just need to shake it up.

Before jumping into another treadmill activity, consider doing a couple other things that might up your motivation and change your mindset. For starters, be sure to keep up with your other workouts, such as strength training or yoga. This will banish boredom and keep you balanced as well as help your overall strength and muscle tone. If you’ve got that covered, try signing up for a race or marathon. Sometimes having a goal to work toward can have a huge affect on your treadmill experience.

If you’ve been there, done that, then it’s time to implement non-running treadmill exercises. That’s right: Lunges, butt-kickers, side skips, they can all be done on the belt. We’ve covered this topic in greater detail, so if this is more your speed (pun fully intended), go check that out.

For cyclists, elliptical devotees, and stair-climbing addicts

There are a bevy of reasons you might want to stick to your usual gym machine. Maybe you jumped on the cycling craze and haven’t looked back. Or, perhaps you’re a bit intimidated by switching over to the treadmill from your trusted elliptical or stair climber. It’s also possible that you’ve been warned against using a treadmill, because of joint issues, certain muscle strains, or other physical blocks. If you relate to any one of these, you may find it especially hard to make the initial change to the treadmill, but rest assured it’s 100 percent doable and more than worth it!

First thing’s first: If, for one reason or another, you find working out on a bike or elliptical to be easier than jogging, it’s not just in your head. It’s much more difficult to “cheat” while on the treadmill, because there aren’t pedals or moving handlebars to give you that extra bit of forward momentum. Just you, your sneaks, and the belt. But, the flip side of that coin is that if you’ve plateaued on a certain machine, a treadmill can give you the challenge you crave.

Chances are you’ve already built up your stamina from cycling or elliptical workouts, so test the treadmill waters with interval routines. This guarantees you won’t start at an intimidating, full-on sprint, but will still get an insanely good workout. More interested in maintaining the burn in your legs? Opt for a workout with an incline.

For people who prefer full-body workouts

If you prefer a workout that simultaneously works your upper body and lower, don’t count the treadmill out. Even simply walking uses more muscles than you might. Leg muscles including your quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes are at work. You’re using your hips (they lift your knee off the belt with every step) and core (which holds you upright and transfers upper body strength to the lower body). Even your chest and biceps get in on the action if you pump your arms as you go. On top of all that, you’re making improvements to your stability and posture!

Looking for more? Try picking up some arm weights to push your upper body further, or choose a routine that involves hopping off the belt to perform some HIIT circuits before jumping back on. By getting a little creative with your walk or run you can easily achieve an all-encompassing sweat session.

For people who are injured

Even if you have joint issues and think your body can’t handle a walk, jog, or run, there are adjustments that can be made to work with you and fulfill your needs. Above all else, listen to your doctor, but if she or he gives you the go-ahead, take advantage of it! Advice you may not get often in this case is to (cautiously) just play around a little! Start off with a nice walking pace to get yourself going. Listen to your body and take note of any discomfort or pain. Then, if you’re feeling good, steadily up your incline or speed until you know your body’s own boundaries. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. This is also a great opportunity to try out some non-running treadmill exercises if you want to stay at a slower pace.

Looking forward to your next walk or run? Check out Aaptiv and try out one of our workouts!



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