For most of us, running on the treadmill is boring. It is like working out in a hamster wheel -- you just keep going and going and going without ever getting there. But treadmills can be a powerful exercise tool. Treadmills provide an instant cardio workout that requires very little thought on your end. You just jump on and you go but this simplicity may also mean that you aren't getting all you can from this machine.
Mentally checking out on a treadmill run is understandable but it also means you aren't pushing your body as hard as you could. With a few simple hacks, you can take this workout from ineffective and boring to one that challenges you and helps you burn fat!
1. Mix it up
Exercise seems like the easiest part of weight loss. To lose weight, you have to burn calories. Simple, right? In order to do that, Janet Hamilton, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist at Running Strong in Atlanta, GA, suggests changing the intensity and/or duration of your run. You just have to be smart about it. If you work too close to your maximum heart rate, you will likely tire very quickly. If you only work at a slow and steady pace, it will take you FOREVER
to see results. Hamilton says that the middle ground is found with variety. A few days a week, push yourself to go a little faster for your usual 20-30 minutes. On the other days, stay on for an hour but go at a slower, steadier pace.
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2. Master your speed
Make intervals your best friend. Add short bursts of sprinting to your workout and you can not only reduce the amount of time you need to spend on the treadmill but you can lose a few pounds! One study, in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that women who ran hard for two minutes (then slowed down for three minutes), burned more calories the day AFTER their workout than those who just went at a slow pace. That's not even the best part! These women also dropped 4% of their body fat over the course of the study. The women who did the low-intensity, steady-state workout didn't lose any body fat.
Hamilton says you should start with 2:1 or 1:1 ratios. This means increasing your speed for 30-60 seconds then decreasing it for the same amount of time or double it. You don't want to feel exhausted. Choose a speed you can maintain for 2-5 minutes and then build your way up to higher intensities. How hard you need to work will depend on your experience level.
3. Do hills the smart way
If you increase your incline, you will increase your calorie burn. But hiking at a steep incline for long periods can be hard on your body. “Most people instinctively know that, but when we get on the treadmill, we lose that common sense, crank up the incline, and hold on for dear life,” says Hamilton. Don't just increase your incline and then forget about it, try to pretend like you are running outside. Learn how to go up a hill with the same effort you run on a flat. This may mean you have to decrease your speed a little but Hamilton says, “this is an opportunity to build strength in your hips and legs, working them a little harder.” You might also want to try doing inclines in intervals. Increase your incline to 2-4% percent for a minute or two, let your speed fall to 0.1 or 0.2, lower the incline back to zero and run for the same amount of time, then repeat. Once you've mastered keeping a steady effort on hills, you can work on maintaining your speed.
4. Some days, just keep going
Sometimes, your treadmill run feels easy. The time flies and you feel like you could just keep right on running. So, do it! “Just doing a longer workout will burn about 50 percent more calories,” says Hamilton. Instead of doing 30 minutes, tough it out for 45. It isn't advisable to take this approach every day as it will lead to boredom AND plateaus. But adding a longer run now and then is a great way to increase your calorie burn and your weight loss potential.
5. Don't ditch other workouts
There is plenty of research out there showing that the "secret" to losing weight is mixing up your routine. Doing the same workout, over and over, will not work. Over time, your body becomes really good at the movements you are making and burns fewer calories. Experiment a little and find the right workout for you. Just make sure it includes weight training, intervals, endurance, and stretching. If you'd like a hand with this, SweatFlix℠ can help
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How do you keep your treadmill workouts exciting?
Source: Women's Health