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Creative Ways to Reenergize Your Treadmill Workout

Create a Solo "Class"

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Channel the adrenaline of a group running class with a well-thought-out playlist, says Harley Rodriguez, a trainer at Barry's Bootcamp, which alternates treadmill segments with strength sets. Use music to time your intervals, choosing songs with up-tempo choruses that get you pumped to pick up your pace with each refrain. "In your head, say: I'm doing a 30-second sprint in four, three, two, one—then give it your all," Rodriguez says. If you're spurred by the competitive spirit of a group class, hop on a treadmill next to someone who looks like a strong runner. You can race them by setting your pace to something higher than theirs—they'll never need to know! (Try this running interval playlist for starters.)

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Use All the Buttons

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Take advantage of the machine's speed and incline range, and you'll boost your burn, strength, and interest. First, alternate sprinting (from 10 to 90 seconds each set) with jogging (sets can be equal to or shorter than your pushes) for 15 minutes. Then set the incline to 10 percent and find a slightly uncomfortable pace. Drop the incline by 1 percent every 30 seconds until you're on a flat road. Go again but faster. Pushing your pace melts more fat and increases your cardio capacity, while climbs build your power—a mix that makes you leaner, faster, and stronger, says Rebecca Skudder, founder of MyStryde treadmill running studio in Boston. (Here: more tips to max out your treadmill workout for the most benefits.)

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Do a Treadmill Tone-Up

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The treadmill belt can supply resistance, and the machine itself can be used to target muscles differently, Skudder says. Alternate between four-minute sets of a fast run with four minutes of strength moves. Try this: Run, then stop the belt. Get into a plank with palms on the tread and feet on the floor. Do incline push-ups for 30 seconds (or level up by placing palms on the floor and feet on the belt for decline push-ups). Next, step onto the treadmill for 30 seconds of triceps dips: Facing away from the dash, grasp handles and straighten arms to lift body (bend legs behind you) to start; bend elbows 90 degrees behind you to lower body [shown below], then press up to start. The height allows for greater range of motion, and because you're dipping your entire weight, you have more resistance than when you're doing dips on the floor or a bench. (Newbies, start with dips off the back of the tread.) Then get into plank, palms on the floor and feet on the belt, and hike the hips to pull the feet toward you (the belt will move with you) until your body forms an upside-down V. Do pikes for 30 seconds. Finally, set the treadmill at 0.5 to 1.0 mph and do 30 seconds of walking lunges. Do the whole sequence three times. (BTW you can do an interval running and strength workout outside too.)

Photo: Chris Fanning

Go In with a Strategy

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"Always step on a treadmill with a plan," says David Siik, the creator of Precision Running at Equinox and the author of The Ultimate Treadmill Workout. That plan can be as simple as saying you'll go 0.2 mph faster each minute you run, or you can get really inventive with intervals, inclines, tempos, and even on-the-treadmill strength moves (find ideas for all these as you read on). When you have to concentrate on what's next, your brain gets as much of a workout as your body does. "Executing your plan requires you to be alert and to make decisions," Siik says. In other words, focusing on your workout's moving parts busts the monotony of a steady slog. (For more ideas, try this 30-day treadmill workout challenge that's actually fun.)

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Move In Every Direction

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"There is so much you can do on the treadmill besides running," says Anna Kaiser, the creator of AKTread, a variety-packed treadmill workout that's available in her New York City studios and on her AKT On Demand app ($35 per month, ondemand.studio-akt.com). Try one of Kaiser's go-tos: Have a set of three- to eight-pound dumbbells handy, and warm up by walking at 3.5 mph on a 4.5 per- cent incline for at least two minutes. Then, without changing your pace or incline, grab a dumbbell in each hand and start to sculpt your upper body with hammer curls (hold the weights so that they're vertical and your palms face each other) and over- head presses for another two minutes each. Next, lower the pace to 2 mph and put your incline to 0, then alternate between 30 seconds each of skipping, side shuffling, galloping, and jogging backward, switching sides every 15 seconds as necessary. Use the treadmill's handles for balance or support if you need it. When you feel more comfortable, start increasing your speed and the length of your intervals, Kaiser says. Unlike running forward, these moves work your body on multiple planes of motion, engaging more muscles, she explains. (Try this full anti-running treadmill workout straight from Kaiser for a taste.)

Photo: Chris Fanning

Focus on Distance

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The best way to distract yourself from how much time you have left on the treadmill is to stop looking at the clock, says Ellen Latham, the cofounder of Orangetheory Fitness. Instead, set an alarm on your phone or watch for your predetermined workout time, then cover the timer on the treadmill with a towel or a magazine so you're less tempted to look at it. Start by alternating your base pace (this is usually a jog or an easy run at 4 to 5.5 mph, Latham says) with your push pace (this should be 1 to 2 mph faster than your base and slightly uncomfortable for you). Do 0.5 mile at your push pace, then slow to your base pace for 0.2 mile. Bring it back up for 0.4 mile at your push pace, and return to your base pace for 0.2 mile. Repeat, decreasing your push-pace segment by 0.1 mile each round. Do the whole circuit again, increasing your base pace and push pace for a challenge. As soon as your end-of-workout timer sounds, go right into your cooldown. (Did you know there's a cutting edge pace-matching treadmill that could make this whole process even easier?)

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Spice Up Your Cool Down

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Instead of walking it out or just hopping off the treadmill as soon as your workout is over, use the machine for dynamic stretches like the kind track stars do, says Jake Schmitt, a co-founder of Thoroughbred Treadmill Studio in Mill Valley, California. With the treadmill set to 0.2 mph and a 1.0 percent incline, do one minute each of walking toe touches (bring left leg straight out in front of you at hip height, foot flexed; grab your left toes with your left hand and pull them toward you; repeat on other side), walking knee hugs, and walking quad stretches (alternately bringing your heels toward your glutes, briefly grasping your ankle as you go). Bonus: These stretches mimic the way your body moves during a run, so they can help you develop better movement patterns and become a more efficient runner, Schmitt says. (Make sure you aren't guilty of these five post-run habits that could be hurting your health.)

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