By Kelly Turner, ACE Certified Personal Trainer - DietsInReview.com
As a personal trainer, it can be frustrating to see someone walk the treadmill for over an hour while at the gym. Equally frustrating can be seeing people on the treadmill with the incline raised all the way to 15 while holding on to the machine with a death grip. Either way, just because the display on the treadmill says you're burning a certain amount of calories doesn't mean that's your actual burn. If you are hanging on like cliffhanger Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2, you aren't working nearly as hard as the treadmill thinks you are. If that's the case, cut the calories burned total in half.
The treadmill seems simple enough, but like everything else in the gym, there's a right and wrong way to use it. Sure, you can just hop on and walk - or run, if you feel up for it. However, just racking up time on the treadmill isn't going to get the job done. You have to make every minute count. Why waste your time and effort when you can get more results in a fraction of both?
There are a lot of variables that can help you get the most out of your treadmill workout. Below I've outlined a few options, and I encourage you to pick a favorite, or a combination, burn more calories on the treadmill that you thought possible, while spending less time on it.
Increase the Incline. Walking up a hill is much harder than flat land, right? Your leg muscles work harder to propel your body upward, while walking vertically is more difficult on your heart because it changes the way the blood flows. So, the higher the incline, the harder your body is working. If you'll increase the incline you can get better definition in your legs, burn more calories, and strengthen your cardiovascular fitness. However! Be advised not to hold the handles or the front of the machine because this removes a lot of the resistance and negates the increased intensity. Swing your arms like normal or place them on your head or hips.
Speed Up. This is kind of obvious, but the faster you go, the harder your workout is. To identify the ideal speed for your fitness level, use the talk test. That is, find a speed that allows you to speak. You shouldn't be capable of to singing a song or chatting with a friend, but you also shouldn't be gasping for air. There is a happy, and safe, medium.
Try the Intervals. We should clarify that there isn't anything wrong with walking on the treadmill. I personally walk about 90 percent of my treadmill time due to bad knees and a general dislike for running. But if you want to seriously reduce the amount of time you're on the treadmill, and get a better burn, you have to embrace interval training. Intervals are just another way to say going faster and slower at pre-set times. Based on your fitness level, this could be switching between three minutes of running and one minute of sprinting, or switching between five minutes of walking at 3 mph and two minutes of walking at 4 mph. It's really about what is best for you (Remember the talk test?). If you want to get really fancy, try adding inclines to the mix, too.
Wear Your Weight. The heavier you are, the harder it is to move your body. The harder it is to move your body, the more calories you burn. Carrying weights while on the treadmill can be dangerous. That's why a weighted vest is a safe way to increase the weight you're carrying without throwing off your stride (or you off the treadmill).
Which ever technique you try, you still need a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise most days of the week. Also, you should be working at an intensity where you burn about 300 calories in those 30 minutes. If you want to go more intense and burn more calories, go for it, but if you are burning less than that in those 30 minutes, you simply aren't working hard enough, nor are you getting enough out of the workout.
Learn more about effective cardio workouts at DietsInReview.com:
One Month Beginner Cardio Program
Quick but Intense Cardio Session Best for Your Heart
Use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to Quickly Blast Fat
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