4 Tips in Turning Treadmills into Multi-Trick Ponies

Treadmills are the one-trick ponies of the exercise equipment industry – or are they? When you come to think about it, you can actually perform many tricks during your treadmill exercise and get more effective results! Here are four tips that you can easily apply during your treadmill workout in gyms like the Orange Theory Fitness.

#1 Be Conscious of Proper Form

Getting the best results from your treadmill exercise starts with adopting proper form from the moment you step on it until you get off it. In doing so, you will enjoy several benefits including decreased risk of injury, especially on your legs and lower back, as well as increased efficiency and energy expenditure.  You can run on a treadmill first, assess your running form, and make changes according to the following tips on proper form.

  • Your shoulders should be stacked over your hips with your body slightly pitched forward while still being comfortable.
  • Your chest should have an open position, which allows for better breathing room for your lungs and diaphragm as well as better control over your breathing.
  • Your shoulders should also be relaxed so the risk of spasms, knots and fatigue in this area can be reduced.
  • Your neck should be in a neutral and comfortable position (i.e., neither tucked into your chest nor stretched too high).
  • Your eyes should be focused on the horizon so you don’t look at your feet and at the console, unless you have to change the settings.

Once on the treadmill, you may want to start on the easiest setting first so that you can perfect your form first. You can also practice your running form until you get the hang of it. You should avoid striking the belt in a forceful manner and stay light on your feet instead. You may also benefit from imagining that as your foot hits the belt, you’re pushing on it backwards.

#2 Be More Creative with Warm-up Routines

Your pre-treadmill warm-up routine consisting of five minutes of dynamic stretching followed by a brisk walk before launching into a full run is sufficient. But you can become bored with it sooner than later, perhaps even just skip it resulting in increased risk of injury.

You can change your warm-up routine so that it not only becomes more exciting but it also contributes to a more effective cardio workout.  Examples include walking backwards, running at an incline, and changing the pace in midstride, which are easy to adopt even for beginners on the treadmill.

An example of an effective and efficient warm-up routine:

  • Perform stretching exercises off the treadmill first for five minutes.
  • Set the treadmill’s incline to 3% before stepping on it.
  • Start by walking forward at a brisk 1.5 mph speed for 60 seconds.
  • Follow it by walking backwards at the same rate, incline and duration.
  • Walk sideways (i.e., lateral) for 45 seconds or less depending on your capacity.
  • Switch to the other side.
  • Repeat from step #3 for three or four times more.

Your body will be ready for more intense treadmill routines, especially for high-intensity interval training.

#3 Add More Movements

Don’t just run on the treadmill! You can add more movements on your upper and lower body so that you’re adding difficulty to an otherwise ho-hum workout. You have to keep in mind that the effectiveness of your running workout will largely depend on the speed and the amplitude of your running form.

For the amplitude, you can add two elements of movement that will increase your total calorie burn.

  • Increase the height of your stride by driving your knees upward as far up as possible without losing your balance. As your foot pushes against the treadmill, you will use more force in performing the forward motion. Your lower limbs are getting more exercise and your body burns more calories.
  • Pump your arms while running. You will also feel your feet following the movements of your arms aside from making your workout more efficient and warding off premature fatigue. Your physical energy will also return because you feel a renewed sense of purpose while pumping your arms. You should relax your shoulders and maintain a 90-degree angle between your forearms and biceps during the added movement.

#4 Go for High-intensity Interval Training

Hit HIIT! Your personal trainer can formulate a treadmill-specific HIIT program that will improve your cardio endurance and weight loss progress. You’re basically keeping your body on its toes so that it becomes more effective and efficient in fat loss.

An example of a treadmill-based HIIT workout:

  • Do your warm-up routine, as mentioned above.
  • Run for 30 seconds on high speed.
  • Run for 30 seconds on an 8% incline.
  • Jog at a moderate pace for 60 seconds on a 1% incline until recovery.

You can increase the duration from 30 seconds to 45 seconds and then 60 seconds as your cardio endurance improves.

The next time you see a treadmill in a gym, you should give it another chance and change your routine while on it! Your mind and body will thank you for it because there’s something so relaxing about running.

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