Innovative ways to use the treadmill

Put simply, the treadmill bores so many people in the gym that they just choose not to use it. That might seem like a mistake but the treadmill is definitely one of the despensible objects in your workout. That is, if you don’t use it effectively. Because typically, anything that could be done on a treadmill could be done just as easily on a real road. Well things have changed and people are starting to use the treadmill in innovative new ways in order to shake up their normal gym routine.

Even for the toughest skinned people it can sometimes be just too cold, wet or icy to get cardio done on the roads, particularly in Britain. So it is no surprise that so many of us use these winter months to really exploit our gym’s treadmill and get our cardio in. For some, the extent to which they use a treadmill is to warm up and that’s fine. But I want to talk about going that bit further and incorporating this machine into a bigger picture.

The number one mistake that people make is that they get on the treadmill, set a mid-level speed, put in their headphones and run for 30 minutes. Everything that we understand about cardio should be telling you that is the wrong way to do it. We need to be varying speed, incline and therefore intensity to maximise our results.

Obviously you want to start with a warm up and you should feel free to choose whichever one works for you. Then why not give something new a try? Think about what we do when we focus on HIIT. We look for intensity for a short period, followed by a rest period and then repetition, usually with increased intensity. So the best thing to do is replicate this on the treadmill.

The great thing about this is that it gives you the freedom to design brand new workouts over and over again, just as long as you follow that pattern. So try a 15-20 second burst at the fastest sprint you can manage and then go back down to a walk or slow jog for 30-60 seconds and then you have yourself HIIT.

One of the best things about a treadmill is that you can alter the incline at which you are running. So if you don’t fancy jumping straight into full sprints then try a medium-fast run for a minute at 1% incline and follow that with 60-90 seconds at a slower pace. Then slowly crank up the speed and incline for each repetition. Ultimately you will find out just how fast you can sprint up hill. So push yourself to achieve more, while obviously making sure you aren’t risking your safety.

A lot of treadmills will measure heart rate too so if you don’t want to change intensity based on speed then do it on heart rate. Use a higher heart rate as the intense part and set a target to come down to when resting. This way you will find that remaining constant over subsequent workouts but you will probably need to go faster to get up to the same number of beats per minute.

And it doesn’t just have to be running. More and more people are doing their walking lunges on treadmills now because they don’t need to clear a long, free space in the gym. You can do as many as you like for as long as you need. The same can be said of side shuffles or any other exercises that require a lot of room and repetitive movement in the gym. The chances are you can try to move it onto the treadmill in order to innovate and bring a fresh new aspect to your training.

Ollie Lawrence
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