It’s time for a workout, and you want to get the most out of it. This should always be the case (otherwise, why bother?), but many people get so accustomed to routines that they can be doing more harm than good. Variety is one of the keys to any workout, and running is no different.
You may think of the treadmill as tedious and tiring, but there are ways that it can be just as much fun as the most exciting marathon or run on the beach. Most people look at the time they spend on the treadmill as a boring necessity that they have to put their heads down and power through, but it can be exciting and fun if done the right way. This is especially the case when you know that you are getting the absolute most out of your treadmill time.
Many of us would prefer to do our running outside, but the old hamster wheel can have added advantages and benefits when you know what you’re doing. By the same token, it can be self-defeating if you hit a rut or make many common mistakes.
That’s why we put together this list. There are a few easy steps you can take (no pun intended) to turn that boring old task into an exciting, calorie burning blast, and we want to help you do that. We also want to help you avoid many of the common– and sometimes silly– mistakes that can waste precious workout time and energy. Some of these mistakes can even be harmful if not cleaned up and corrected.
So first, let’s start with the good stuff. Follow these five simple treadmill hacks to make sure your next time out is more productive than ever!
1. Mix Things Up
This is the easiest way to turn what is usually the boring drudge of the treadmill into a more exciting way of spending your gym time. Variety is also one of the most important weapons in your fat burning arsenal. Mixing things up will provide your body the challenge it needs to shed unwanted pounds in a hurry.
The simplest way to start doing this is to up your intensity and/or duration. However, this can present some problems in itself. If you work too close to your maximum heart rate, you can easily tire yourself out too quickly. On the other hand, we want to burn calories now and slower, steadier workouts can take longer to show results.
The right variety will help you find that perfect soft spot right in the middle. For some days, just do your usual routine of 20 or 30 minutes a little faster than normal. For other days, go slower and longer for around an hour. We know, nobody wants slow or long; but trust us, just keep reading.
2. Use Intervals of Speed
This is all about pushing your body just far enough to burn the most calories without needing to be carried out the gym. You will want to sprinkle in short bursts of sprinting throughout your workout. Remember that thing we said about keep reading? Well, here is a tip that will help you cut time and pounds in one simple step.
Research shows that running hard for two minutes then slowing down for three will burn more calories than just the boring slow and steady routine. That same research also says doing that will help you drop up to four percent more body fat in a few weeks if done regularly.The best way to do this is with 1:2 intervals. For example, using this technique you would increase your speed for around 30 to 60 seconds then drop it back to normal for 60 to 120 seconds. Make sense?
It could take some time to find that perfect sweet spot of speed intervals since it will be different for each individual. You want a speed that takes effort to hold for two to five minutes but don’t overdo it. The goal is to find the speed that makes you feel invigorated as opposed to one that makes you fall off the treadmill with exhaustion. You can eventually build up to higher speeds, but it will all depend on your experience.
3. Incline Properly
Increasing the incline of the treadmill will increase the amount of calories you burn during your run. This common way of thinking is correct, but can be used incorrectly. You don’t want to just up it as far as possible and hold on for dear life. That’s not only dangerous, but counterproductive.
4. Keep Your Head Down and Power Through
This may not seem like the most inspired advice you’ve ever heard, but sometimes it makes all the difference in the world. We all know how it feels some days when you feel like you’ve run for ten miles, then you look down and see that you’ve actually only done two. There is probably some kind of science to explain this phenomenon of misery, but it doesn’t matter. However it occurs, it happens to us all. Many days, all you can do is stay determined and remind yourself of your goals.
It may sound like a broken record, but the one technique that can be used to combat this is variety. If you are changing things up throughout your workout, it will not be as boring or seem to be such a struggle to get through.
Another thing to remember is that just running for longer will burn more calories. It sounds simple, but occasionally increasing your treadmill time by a few extra minutes can increase the calories burned by up to fifty percent. This technique is much easier to employ if you are able to make things more interesting by mixing it up.
5. Mix Things Up Outside of the Hamster Wheel
Mixing things up is important in every area of the gym, not just on the treadmill. The idea is to find the perfect mix of exercises to get in the best shape. Research shows that the best way to lose weight is not by finding your routine and getting stuck in it. You need the right mix of endurance, resistance training, intervals, stretching and other workouts to ensure you get the most out of every workout.
Now that we have the things that you want to do covered, here are a few things you do not want to do. These mistakes are pretty common and easily remedied, so we’ll run through them then you can run on the treadmill the right way.
1. Don’t Wear Shoes that Aren’t for Running
Although we all want to look good at the gym, now is not the time for vanity. Wearing the wrong shoes can cause you to injure yourself, or at best, not burn as many calories as more appropriate ones would allow. You want shoes with extra padding in the soles to protect your heels. They are easy to find because they are in the aisle marked “running shoes.”
2. Don’t Look at Your Feet
Now that you’ve found the perfect pair of running shoes, stop looking at them. This can be particularly hard when you are exhausted, but staring at your feet on the treadmill can strain your back, hips and knees. It could also have even more disastrous effects by causing you to lose your balance.
3. Don’t Hold Onto the Bars
We know that they are there for a reason, but you don’t want to hold the bars through the entirety of your workout. Much of the calorie-burning done on the treadmill is through the entire motion created naturally when you run. If you need to hold onto the bars because of the incline, the incline is too high.
4. Don’t Swing Your Arms Too Much
With that being said about the full body motion, that does not mean to swing your arms like a crazy person on the treadmill. Winging your arms out to the sides or criss-crossing them in front of you is inefficient and will tire you out unnecessarily quickly.
5. Don’t Overdo It
We know that you are all pumped up to use your new treadmill skills, but don’t overdo it out there. Elevated resting heart rate, excessive muscle soreness and aches in your joints are all signs that you need to slow down. Once you’ve perfected your speed and your running technique, you will be able to treadmill like a boss!