Even if you’re someone who prefers to walk or run outside, you know that treadmills can serve a valuable purpose. Sometimes it’s just easier to hop on the treadmill if the weather is questionable or if you need a simple and easy workout. Whether you own one yourself or use one at the gym, you want to know that you’re getting the most out of the time you put in on this machine.
We’ve rounded up some of our best tips for enhancing your treadmill workout for weight loss. With these four ideas, you can get maximum value out of your treadmill exercise.
1. Turn up the tunes.
If you’re someone who likes to run or walk with music, then it might be nearly impossible to do it without your tunes. The truth is, there are a lot of benefits to working out with music. One study, published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, found that people exercising with fast tempo music had a higher heart rate and increased their respiratory rate. This is because they were moving more.1 Running or walking just a little bit faster on the treadmill means equates to more calories burned!
Another study, published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, indicates that music makes exercise more enjoyable which could help you work out longer.2 Make sure to choose music that you love and maybe even create a playlist that fits your routine. A little bit of planning ahead could mean that you truly maximize your time working out.
2. Use incline training for your treadmill workouts.
All it takes is a few pushes of a button to tilt your treadmill upward and you’ll get a much better workout! A variety of different research points towards the benefits of incline training. According to MercyOne Iowa Heart Vein Center, walking at an incline helps to increase muscle, boost stamina and burn fat.3 They explain that adding some incline to your treadmill workout is a great way to make your workout a little more intense without using up extra time in your busy day.
There’s no question that treadmill incline training can give you a better workout, but it’s easier on your body, too. Research, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, explains that the risk of injury increases with walking speed. In their study, they found that “walking at a relatively slow speed up a moderate incline is a potential exercise strategy that may reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury/pathological disease while providing proper cardiovascular stimulus in obese adults.”4
If you’re new to working out, Plant Fitness suggests limiting the time you run on an incline to no more than five minutes at a time. They explain that your incline height should correlate with the amount of time that you do it: The steeper it is, the shorter the time.5
3. Try interval training.
There’s a lot of research that points to the benefits of interval training. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), “high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is ideal for fat loss while also preserving precious muscle tissue.” It boosts the amount of calories you burn and is said to increase your metabolism. Interval training is all about varying the intensity throughout your treadmill workout. There are a variety of ways to do interval training, but you should begin with a five-minute walk or jog for a warm-up, says ACE. They also suggest getting a heart-rate monitor to reference throughout your exercise. You can do interval training by varying speed or incline.6
4. Don’t forget the warm-up and cool-down.
It’s so easy to jump right into a workout routine and skip over the warm up or cool down period. However, these are both important when it comes to getting the most out of your workout.
ACE recommends starting your exercise with a “dynamic warm-up” to prep your body for your workout. “Dynamic stretching, which involves active range of motion movements that tend to resemble sport or movement-specific actions, lengthens the fascia (the connective tissue around the muscles), increases core body temperature and functionally prepares the body for the activity to come,” says ACE.7 As we mentioned earlier, ACE also suggests beginning with a five-minute walk or jog to warm-up before you increase intensity.6
Stretching is critical when it comes to keeping up with your routine. According to ACE, stretching decreases the risk of injury, promotes good posture and circulation, preps your body for exercise and may help relieve post-exercise soreness.8 However, static stretching before your workout—holding the stretch without moving—has been shown to harm physical performance, says ACE. Static stretching should be reserved for your post-exercise cool down once the muscles are already warm and “more pliable.”7
*Always speak with your doctor before starting an exercise routine to ensure it’s safe for you.
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