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7 Tips for Using a Treadmill

As you know, one of the toughest processes you will ever put your body through is the process of losing weight. Although many of us will have approached the New Year with all the intentions in the world of losing weight and getting fit and healthy, as time goes by we often find our motivation levels beginning to decline. After a few weeks of diet and exercise, a lot of us find ourselves craving junk and dreading the thought of yet another workout.

When it comes to losing weight, cardio is of course your go-to training routine. Cardiovascular exercise is very effective for burning off the calories, but it can sure be testing. One common mistake that people make when using treadmills to perform their cardio workouts, is doing the same routine day in and day out. To ensure your workouts are exciting, physically demanding, and effective, here’s a look at 7 tips for using a treadmill for maximum results.

Always warm up first

Far too many people out there jump straight onto the treadmill to begin their cardio workout without first taking the time to stretch and to warm up. In reality there is no excuse for ever not warming up and stretching before a workout. It takes five minutes, ten minutes max, to stretch and warm up before you begin training yet it could be the difference between an awesome fat-blasting workout, or a torn hamstring.

It doesn’t matter whether you perform HIIT workouts, or steady state cardio, you should always stretch and warm up first. Once you’ve done some basic stretches, hop onto the treadmill, set it to a very leisurely pace, and simply walk for 3 – 5 minutes.

Don’t grab onto the handrail

When people perform cardio workouts, especially those on an incline, they often grab onto the handrail of the treadmill, or the console. While this will certainly not render your workout useless, it will result in you failing to get the most out of your training session. When you grab onto the handrail you will be hunched over and will be putting your body in an unnatural position.

Furthermore, by holding onto the handrails you are taking some of the resistance out of the exercise so you won’t burn off as many calories as you should be. The handrail is really only there to help you safely get on and off the treadmill. If you do need to hold onto it, you’ve probably got the incline set too steep. Speaking of an incline…

Use the incline setting

Virtually all treadmills nowadays have an incline setting. Too many people out there however, fail to utilize this feature, and then they wonder why they aren’t getting the results they were hoping for. To begin with, set the machine at an incline of just 1 – 2% and see how you feel. The idea here is that you simulate the effects of walking/running up a slight hill outdoors. As you progress and get fitter, you can increase the incline setting slightly.

Another great thing about using the incline setting on your treadmill is the fact that walking/running on an incline will also help you to target your leg muscles. Therefore you can tone your legs and help build muscle, while burning fat and getting fitter in the process.

Don’t set the incline too steep

We’ve just spoken about the positive effects of using an incline setting on the treadmill, but now we need to look at the dangers. You see, if you set the incline too steep, you could potentially injure your Achilles tendon, your calf, or even your hamstring. For many, a steep incline is anything above 7%, so just bear that in mind.

Keep your head up

Whether it’s through fear of losing their footing, or simply because it feels easier, a lot of treadmill users out there often find themselves running on the treadmill with their heads down. It is tempting to look down because you can feel as if you may lose your balance and/or footing, but when it comes to running safely and efficiently, your head should always remain firmly up and your gaze should be fixed straight ahead.

When you look down, whether you’re watching the console or staring at your feet, you will be hunched over which could lead to neck and back pains and posture issues. Not only that, but your running form will suffer so once again, you won’t be getting the most out of your workouts.

Maintain a proper stride

Another issue that people have when doing cardio on a treadmill is going with a wide stride. A large stride often means that you exert more force with each footfall. This can be bad for your feet, especially if you run flat-footed. Ideally, your stride should be short and speedy so as to minimize the amount of impact which your feet are forced to absorb with each footfall.

The last thing you want after a cardio workout is sore and painful feet so really work on maintaining a proper stride. Make sure you really lift those heels with each step that you take so that you ease the shock placed on your knees with each stride you take. Running flat footed with wide, over-exaggerated strides is a recipe for sore feet in the short-term, and painful knees in the long-term.

Consider the pre-set workouts

Again, virtually all treadmills available nowadays come complete with a number of pre-set workout programs installed onto them. Rather than just getting on the treadmill and running continuously at the same pace for who knows how long, instead consider utilizing one of the pre-set workout programs installed on the machine. You can perform workouts designed to build endurance and stamina, workouts to burn body fat, workouts to promote cardiovascular health and fitness, and a whole lot more besides. These workout programs are great because they help keep your workouts fun, fresh, and exciting.