How To Spice Up Your Treadmill Workouts

Leading up too the San Diego Global Fitness Expo, here are some tips from one of our expert coach, Matt Thomson from DIY Fitness, NY.

10/06/17: referens section (see below) corrected and updated. -M

Treadmills are fantastic machines that make running safe and convenient. In the winter when the roads are slippery, you can just hop onto the platform instead of taking your chances with the icy surface. In the summer when the heat can be unbearable, you can still get your workout in at any time of the day. Even Olympians and competitive athletes use these machines to avoid injuries and boost their performance. Regular people can utilize treadmills to accelerate weight loss while minimizing joint impact. The key is to run consistently and provide enough stimuli to keep things interesting.

Here are some tips on how you can spice up your treadmill workouts:

1. Listen to music.

It’s simply more fun to exercise to the tune of your favorite music.

You can vary the songs to suit your mood and your planned workout. For example, if it is going to be an easy recovery run then slower beats are ideal. On the other hand, intense cardio requires high octane beats to get your heart and legs pumping. Studies have shown that music increases performance and you are less likely to notice the time passing by. Get a good set of earphones for your music player that won’t fall off easily or hurt your ears during long runs.

Some people prefer listening to audio books or podcasts instead which are excellent ideas, as well.

2. Pick up the speed.

Countless runners make the mistake of plodding at a single pace day after day.

While this makes them highly efficient at that pace, they quickly reach a plateau and unfortunately stay there due to the lack of stimuli. They are able to sustain longer efforts but they never develop speed. As the saying goes, “In order to run fast, you have to run fast.” Train your body to get used to a faster leg turnover by bumping up the treadmill settings every once in a while.

Have a speed session one day a week and you will notice big improvements in your records after a few months.

3. Fire up the incline.

Most treadmills have platforms which can be tilted upwards for a more challenging workout.

The incline is measured as rise over run expressed in percentage. For example, a 1% grade means that the treadmill is simulating a hill that rises 1 meter over a length of 100 meters. The maximum setting is typically 15% grade which is enough to make even seasoned runners sweat. Have a weekly hill session on your treadmill to strengthen your leg muscles. Just remember to do things gradually.

When we give our bodies need time to adapt, we can come back stronger and fitter.

4. Practice proper recovery.

Be mindful of your post-run routine.

Recovering properly will help you to bounce back quicker from hard workouts. This means you won’t have to skip sessions due to fatigue and soreness. You will feel good enough to continue every day so you will be able to reach your goals sooner. The trick is to consume a good amount of carbohydrates and proteins within 30 minutes after your run, ideally in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio. A chocolate milk drink or a protein shake will do well. Within two hours, try to consume a heavier meal and drink more fluids. Be sure to get enough sleep every night to wake up refreshed the next morning.

Contrary to what some might think, running on treadmills can be a fun way to burn calories especially when the weather is less than optimal for outdoor excursions.

These machines also benefit people whose joints may not be so tolerant of hard pavement.