"Dreadmill" no more—fitness experts share their best treadmill tips for a cardio workout that will help you burn calories in way less time
It's too hot and humid to log miles outside in August—we get it. So instead, you're hitting the treadmill at the gym. But what if you could slash your run time in half, and still achieve the same (if not better!) results?
"Efficiency in the treadmill world means more work completed in the same time, shorter runs, or even the ability to endure longer runs and burn more calories too," says Andia Winslow, run coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City. We had her spill five tips to help you burn double the calories on the treadmill today (Then try one of these 4 Fat-Burning Plans to Beat Treadmill Boredom.)
1. Take it up a notch. Not only does being on an incline simulate outdoor running, but it's also easier on the knees. "Incline intervals are a great way to bump up the calorie burn whether you're walking or running," says Michelle Lovitt, celebrity trainer and fitness expert. Start by running or walking for a minute at a one percent incline at a desired speed. Increase the incline every minute after a one-minute recovery at .5 percent until you reach a 15 percent incline. "Depending on the length of your workout, you can go back down every minute until you reach that one percent incline again," she says. You'll feel more winded and exert a lot more energy this way than you would at a continuous speed for an hour. "Plus, it also takes boredom out of the treadmill work because you're constantly changing inclines and speeds," says Lovitt.
2. Increase your knee drive. Yes, the treadmill does help move you, but that doesn't mean you should be lazy and let it do all the work. It's important to activate your legs during each stride (that's one of The Best Running Tips of All Time). "Because the treadmill simply carries runners forward, it's important that you focus not just on turnover speed—shuffling quickly, as I see most often—but also on increasing the amplitude or height of their stride," says Winslow. "They'll find this requires much more effort and that they'll cover more ground faster by doing so."
3. Add some resistance. Grab a set of resistance bands and make your recoveries active. "During the time you're recovering, perform a strength exercise like a chest press, reverse fly, or tricep extension with bands," suggests Lovitt. "Adding resistance bands into your interval work on a treadmill keeps your heart rate elevated and results in a considerably higher calorie burn." (And off the 'mill, you can do these 8 Resistance Band Exercises to Tone Up Anywhere.)
4. Pump your arms. While you technically run with your legs, your arms dictate a lot of what the legs do. "Most treadmill runners fall into what they think are efficient patterns of motion and end up running rather stiffly on the mill," says Winslow. She suggests getting the arms moving and maintaining the 90-degree angular momentum between bicep and forearm on both right and left arm. "The faster one wants to run, the faster the arms should be moving, using the elbows as anchors to pick up speed," says Winslow. You'll notice your mileage adding up quicker and quicker. (Check out 10 More Ways to Improve Your Running Technique.)
5. Do more than just run. Remember that the treadmill surface and belt itself can be used in other ways besides simply running. Just because you're used to jogging on it, doesn't mean that's all it's capable of being used for. "After or before a typical workout, try slowing the speed down to a crawl, and performing walking lunges, rotational lunges, and a squat-to-alternating-lunge series," suggests Winslow. "In doing so, you'll tax the prime movers in your lower body and build a better foundation for stronger running." Because, as you know, the treadmill moves, it can actually help carry you forward and keep you in a smooth rhythm.