As winter arrives, more and more people will be hitting the gyms or exercising at home as the cold, wet and even snowy weather becomes unfavourable to outdoor activities. The treadmill is the machine of choice for many, especially in home gyms, and it does have a great number of fitness benefits that make it an attractive piece of equipment to use.
However, some people take to the treadmill and slog it out for a few monotonous and uninspiring miles a couple of times a week before soon losing motivation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are some really simple things you can do to make sessions not only more enjoyable but also much more effective. Those fitness goals you previously only dreamt about are in reach, and these top tips will help you get the most out of your time on the treadmill.
1. Forget manual mode
Don’t just hit that easy manual button and set the speed to 7mph, but start using those workout programmes built into your machine. Fat burning, hill climbing (great for your bum!) or setting a distance or calorie target sounds much more like it – they’ve been designed to get you fit so use them!
2. Get interval training
Ramp up the speed and incline for short yet highly-effective bursts. The variation will keep things interesting and you’ll feel great knowing your time on the machine is more efficient than before, especially since interval training is great for burning calories.
3. Train your heart
Your treadmill most probably has a wireless heart rate receiver in which case get yourself a chest strap, check the HR zone for your age and work out within those limits. Some treadmills feature heart rate control programmes that automatically adjust your speed and incline to keep you in the zone for a seriously optimised experience.
4. Add some weight
Pick up a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells as you walk (don’t jog or run) and get your arms pumping forwards and doing bicep curls and shoulder presses to engage and work more muscles for a more total body workout.
5. Take a step back
Facing away from the console and walking backwards offers a huge range of benefits as well as posing a new challenge. Work your leg muscles differently, reduce heel striking and keep your brain engaged as you go. Just remember, start out at a slow speed to avoid tripping and injuring yourself.
6. Appealing apps
Whether it’s a fitness app to track your progress, the latest funny game or catching up on your favourite TV shows, get your smartphone or tablet out, crank up the intensity and treat yourself to something fun to get time flying by. Or go one further and work out to the rhythm of your TV show or game: up the intensity every time there is a scene change, an ad break or you complete a level! If you love music then try out Spotify Running which pairs your running tempo and your music so you run to the beat, great for getting you energised.
7. Trick yourself
You might not be a magician but a pack of cards could become your latest must-have. Write commands, speeds or incline levels on 30 cards, shuffle them and then pick one every minute and do what it says. “Run 1.5 faster.” “Reduce incline by 0.5” “Walk with dumbbells.” “Do 20 sit-ups” – the possibilities are endless so be creative and ensure no half-hour session is ever the same!
8. Total body workout
Want to take it to the next level? For the more experimental among you, why not try out some of these awesome exercises that we bet you’ve never considered before?
9. Dance yourself fit
If lunging, squatting and doing press-ups isn’t your cup of tea, how about a dynamic treadmill dancing session? Set your body and soul free, run wild and funk up your workouts like this!
Now for the boring but important bit. Remember, safe use of a treadmill is essential to avoid seriously injuring yourself. If attempting exercises such as in the above videos, please start off with simple ones on a very slow speed, and do not try anything you’re not comfortable with or that feels unsafe. Your safety is the priority and we always recommend following the manufacturer’s manual and advice and warming up properly before sessions. When starting a new exercise programme, consult a doctor and/or a personal trainer for expert medical advice, especially for older people and those who don’t exercise regularly.