Hey Angels and Alphas,
If you’re on a weight loss journey, you might already be familiar with what a useful tool the treadmill is. But there’s more to walking on a treadmill than just, you know, walking.
If you want to stay safe, get the most out of your workout, and achieve the weight loss results you’re actually looking for, there are a few things you should know that pretty much no one tells you about treadmills… But I will.
#1 First of all, you need a treadmill warmup.
Just like any other activity, walking and running both require a short warmup phase to make sure you’re going to avoid injury and get your body ready for the increasing amount of intensity you’re going to put it through.
You might be naturally warming up whenever you’re going on a long road or trail, but chances are, you’re going to be ramping up intensity on the treadmill more than you would walking on a normal road.
Always start your treadmill sessions with a 5-10-minute warmup that builds up your speed and loosens your muscles correctly.
#2 Don’t keep your eyes on the monitor at all times.
Treadmills are awesome because they actually show us various metrics like our speed, incline, distance, calories burned, and more… all on a big monitor right in front of our face. But just like you wouldn’t want to keep staring at your fitness tracker, those metrics are there for you to keep in mind – not constantly monitor. You will want to avoid walking with your head facing down staring at the treadmill.
Doing this worsens your posture and makes it more likely that you’ll hold on to the nifty handrails (more on that later.) And since the arm swing is a very important part of the walking/running motion, it’s always a good idea to keep your head up and your eyes looking forward.
#3 Don’t change your stride.
It’s a common mistake and bad habit to change your stride on the treadmill. This can either lead you to walk too close to the front end of the treadmill and shrink your stride or overstriding with those excessive heel strikes in an attempt to walk faster.
Instead of falling for this, just concentrate on perfecting your movement and walking form. Your forward foot should first strike with the heel close to your body… while your back foot should stay on the ground longer so you can get that strong push off when you’re rolling onto the other parts of your foot.
#4 Don’t hang on to the handrails while you’re walking.
This is a big one. Supporting yourself on the handrails will surely make you feel safer and could even help you up your pace a little bit. But you should know that using your arms to balance your stride and walking/running motion amounts for a high percentage of the calories you burn.
If you hold onto the handrails, you’ll create a bad habit that diminishes your results over time. Resist the temptation to hold on and rely on your body to balance you while your core does all the work.
#5 Don’t ignore the incline function.
There are actually a few reasons why it might not be recommended to keep your treadmill incline at zero. If you want to mimic the same intensity and effort that you would get when walking on flat ground, your treadmill incline should actually be at around 1-2. This will allow you to make up for the lack of changes in terrain and the wind resistance you would experience when walking outdoors.
Not to mention, walking at a 0 percent incline will lead you to change your form, and it might even cause you to lean back slightly when you’re running down a small decline.
To keep your stride natural and to make it easier for yourself to maintain proper posture, keep your treadmill at the 1-2 incline. If you want to simulate hills and get the extra challenge that comes with them (as well as the extra calorie burn,) play with the incline. If you do this, you’re going to be working a few extra muscle groups and build strength in your calves, glutes, and hamstrings.
And there’s an extra benefit – walking at an incline will put less stress on your knees. If you have joint problems, this can save you a ton of pain and stress. Just make sure you’re not overdoing it and build your incline up gradually.
#6 Start utilizing the treadmill to your specific goal.
For some people, walking on a treadmill just won’t be their thing. But even so, there are some benefits you can utilize when you’re forced to train indoors.
You can choose one of the pre-programmed workouts that include interval sessions, inclined walking, backwards walking, and more – these functions will allow you to mix up your routine and target muscle groups that you otherwise couldn’t if you were to just take a walk or jog in your neighborhood. Use the treadmill strategically.