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What can you do with your treadmill?

Summer or winter, your motivation to exercise can plummet. Indoor workouts may be comfortable, yet the cost or monotony of the gym fails to inspire you. Treadmill workouts can be some of the most efficient, challenging, calorie-burning routines available and they offer the added convenience of in-home access. It is a fantastic alternative to outdoor workouts and offers a safe, secure and controlled environment in which to achieve those 30 minutes of daily exercise. But we know that treadmill workouts can become monotonous. As exercise is a vital part of staying healthy we have pulled together some fun ideas, routines and tips to help improve the experience of your treadmill at home.

SOME GREAT IDEAS

Use a running app

There is a huge number of free and low cost apps that  you can download and use to invigorate your treadmill session.

You can look at recommended fitness apps such as those promoted by DigitalTrends and MakeUseOf.

Combine a fitness session with a game through an app like Zombies Run! (on iTunes or Google Play). LifeHack has some other game-fitness apps you can investigate too.

Apps like Upbeat Workouts sync music to your pace, matching songs to your tempo. Other music-focused fitness apps can be found through reviews like PCMag’s ‘Best Apps for Running’.

Workout with a friend

There are many benefits and reasons to work out with a loved one or a friend. These include;

  • Sticking to your plan: working out with a friend can increase enjoyment and boosts the likelihood of you continuing.
  • Motivation: Sharing the experience can increase satisfaction, create a safe space to share ideas, and can inspire you to work harder.
  • Safe and fun: Having a second person around can increase the safety of your exercise and make the experience more fun. It’s also a way to build relationships.

Watch a TV show or a movie

Netflix launched a ‘Watch It While You Work It’ guide that shows how many calories you could burn while watching one of the shows they air.

Watching TV or a movie can help reduce boredom and provide distraction from the monotony of an exercise session. You don’t even need a TV, just download to a tablet or your phone. Audio and visual stimuli can also increase the positive emotion of an exercise session and is better than just music alone.

Not sure what to watch? Head over to IMBD for their ‘Best Of’ list for treadmill watching.

Create or download a workout playlist

Listening to music while you exercise can give you an advantage, making it easier to ‘tolerate’ the activity. Creating a playlist before you start can help reduce the chance of getting bored with the same music being repeated. It is recommended that you consider songs that mirror your heart rate during the exercise. Aim for a cohesion though, matching the tempo of the music to teh chages in you planned routine. Music should also be energising, uplifting and inspirational.

Do an interval workout

Interval workouts can be tough but they are also pretty quick and they can be used to break up the monotony of a run. They don’t even need any equipment. There are a plethora of activities you can choose from including the X-Jump to X-Plank, the Figure 8 Lunge, and the ZigZag. You can even download apps to help structure your interval workouts.

Listen to a podcast

Podcasts; news and current affairs, informative media, or audiobooks, are a way of reducing the boredom of running. You can get treadmill specific podcasts, recommended for treadmill listening lists or just choose your own adventure. Making yourself wait for the next chapter in the book until your next treadmill session can motivate you to keep coming back to your exercise routine or getting to the end of the podcast can extend your session for that extra bit of fitness.

SOME ROUTINES YOU CAN USE

No Excuses: This first routine was designed by fitness manager Cindy Wasilewski. It is called the “no excuses workout” because it delivers maximum results for the amount of time invested.

  • Start with a five minute warm up at a 1% incline.
  • After you’re sufficiently warm, increase the incline and speed to 6% and 4.5kmph respectively. Maintain this speed for 1 minute then reduce to a 4% incline and slow to a walk for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this pattern twice more – running at 6% incline for 1 minute, then recovering for 2.
  • Finally, after 10 minutes of this routine slow yourself to a walk as you warm down.
  • To break up this treadmill routine, try incorporating a few floor exercises in between 10 minute intervals. This will help keep boredom at bay, keep the heart pumping and increase your calorie burn.

Heart Rate Runner: Before your workout, calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) by subtracting your age from 220.

  • In order to maximize your calorie burn and fat loss during exercise, you must hit at least 70% of your MHR for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, slow the treadmill to an easy jogging pace, and warm down for a few minutes.
  • Once you’ve mastered 30 minutes at 70%, you might want to try for 85% of your MHR.

Nightly News: This is a fun way to achieve your 30 minutes treadmill exercise after work.

  • Choose a 30-minute TV program and program your treadmill for a fast but comfortable walking pace.
  • Increase your speed so that you’re running at 80% of your MHR during the commercials, then slow back to a fast walk when the program resumes. By watching your favourite program while you run, you’ll take your mind off the monotony and those 30 minutes will be over before you know it.

Take a Hike: Try raising your treadmill incline to mimic hiking up a hill.

  • Start by walking at 3.5mph on a flat belt.
  • Increase the incline every minute until it reaches 5%, and stay at that incline for 3 minutes.
  • Next, lower and raise the belt every 2 minutes until you’ve been exercising for 25 minutes.
  • Gradually lower the belt and decrease your speed over 5 minutes for a well-earned cool down.

FITNESS FUN

None of these involve running on your treadmill! They can be completed either before, during or after your regular workout.

Walking Lunges: You would usually need lots of floor space to do walking lunges, making at home not the ideal place for this activity. A treadmill however, provides a way to do lunges at home, maximising lunge ability and helping you to get the most out of every leg-burning action.

  • Turn the treadmill’s speed up to 3 kph (tweak this to suit) and stand with your feet hip-width apart. If you want to focus on your glutes and hamstrings, set the treadmill to an incline of five percent.
  • Keep your hands clasped together at chest level and step forward with your right leg and lower your body until your right knee is bent at least 90 degrees. Then, rise up and bring your left foot forward with the same action and keep alternating legs with each step.

Side Shuffles: Side shuffles are great for work on both your inner and outer thighs and can also also tone your calves and double as a cardio exercise.

  • Turn the treadmill’s speed up to between 3 kph and 5.5 kph and stand sideways on the treadmill with your knees slightly bent. 
  • Making sure you land softly on the balls of your feet take quick, rapid sideway steps.
  • Alternate between sides.

Low (Squat) Side ShufflesThis one is great for working on your butt, exercising that hard to get gluteus medius.

  • Turn the treadmill’s speed up to between 1 kph and 2 kph and stand sideways on the treadmill in a quater-squat position. Keep your chest up and core braced.
  • Staying in that position step toward the front of the treadmill with the closest leg and follow with the other leg.
  • Alternate between sides.

Walking Plank: This variation of the tradition plank will work your shoulders and force your stabilisers to work extra hard.

  • Turn the treadmill’s speed up to between 1 kph and 2 kph.
  • Get into a plank position behind the treadmill placing your hands on the sides of the treadmill base.
  • Keep your body in a straight line and place your hands on the treadmill band and walk your hands forward.

Reverse Mountain Climbers: This variation to the traditional mountain climber will work your entire body with an emphasis on kicking your legs back, as opposed to driving your knees in. Great for sculpting your backside.

  • Turn the treadmill’s speed up to between 1 kph and 2 kph.
  • Get into a plank position behind the treadmill facing away from the machine and placing your feet on the sides of the treadmill base and your hands on the floor.
  • Put your feet onto the treadmill letting the track drive one knee gently into your chest as you extend the other leg back. Keep switching legs.

TOTAL BODY WORKOUT

Resistance bands are a fun way of adding some strength routines to your cardio workout and can benefit anyone at any fitness level. They add a challenge without putting the pressure on your joints like dumbbells and kettlebells. They are great for the home workout and come in a range of sizes, lengths and resistance levels so pick one suited to you. For most exercises try aiming for 2–3 sets of 8–25 reps.

Bow and ArrowKMcDonald on the WonderHowTo website describes the steps for the Bow and Arrow;

  • Step 1: Hold the resistance band with one arm extended. Grab opposite end of the band with other hand.
  • Step 2: Inhale. Pull the band towards your shoulder. Keep your other arm still. Exhale.
  • Step 3: Return to the starting position and repeat.

Rear Delt FlyThe GetHealthyU website describes these easy steps for the Read Delt Fly;

  • Step 1: Hold the handles of the resistance band and step your right foot onto centre of the band on the floor.
  • Step 2: Keeping your left arm long, pull the handle of your left arm up over your left shoulder. Slowly lower your arm back.
  • Step 3: Return to the starting position and repeat. Switch sides.

Bent-Over Row: Easy steps for the Bent-over Row can be found on the WorkoutLabs website; 

  • Step 1: Begin this movement by stepping on to the resistance band with your feet at shoulder-width and toes pointed slightly out.
  • Step 2: Bend slightly at your knees and bend forward at the hips. Make sure you maintain a braced core and flat back throughout.
  • Step 3: Lead with your elbows and pull the handles of the resistance band back, bringing your shoulder blades closer together. Hold this contraction.
  • Step 4: Slowly release to the starting position and repeat.

Overhead Press: These Steps for this shoulder targeting routine are found on the MensHealth website;

  • Step 1: With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand with a resistance band looped under each foot. Hold the resistance band just outside your shoulders with your arms bent and palms facing forward.
  • Step 2: Press the band directly over your shoulders until your arms are straight. Lower your hands to the starting position and repeat.

Biceps Curl: The Biceps Curl is explained by Amy Marturana on the Self website;

  • Step 1: Stand with both of your feet on a resistance band. Hold one end of the resistance band in each handwith your arms extended and palms facing forward.
  • Step 2: Squeezing your biceps, slowly curl your hands up toward your shoulders, keeping your elbows tight to the sides of your body.
  • Step 3: Slowly lower your hands back to the starting position and repeat.

Overhead Triceps ExtensionThe GetHealthyU website also has these steps for the Overhead Triceps routine;

  • Step 1: Stand balanced with one foot slightly in front of the other and place the centre of the band under the back foot.
  • Step 2: Bring the handles of a resistance band together straight up above the top of your head.
  • Step 3: Slowly lower the handles behind the back of your head until your elbows are bent 90 degrees keeping elbows close to the side of your head.
  • Step 4: Press your hands back upwards and overhead slowly.

TIPS

Warm Up and Cool Down: Use an easy pace to start and finish for 5-10 minutes. A warm up helps prepare your body for exercise and a cool down helps restore your heart rate and blood pressure to normal after exercise.

Avoid a Steep Incline: Use an incline of 1-2 percent. Too steep can lead to an injury and cause ankle pain.

Avoid Holding onto the Handrails: If you are having to hang on the treadmill track is too steep or too fast. The rails are just for safely getting on and off the treadmill.

Stay Upright and Look Up: Leaning forward could lead to neck or back pain and affects your balance on the treadmill. Looking down orientates your body into a forward lean.

Focus on Your Stride: A shortened stride will reduce the impact on your knees and back if using an incline, however a longer stride is more natural for a flat surface. If you feel you are overextending you are putting yourself at risk of injury.

Hydrate: Sweating during exercise is a loss of fluids and too much can lead to dehydration and its side effects. The best fluid for hydration is water and spread drinking out over the session.

Wear Good Shoes: Making sure you invest in good shoes helps prevent foot and ankle injury and can make your workout a more pleasant and comfortable experience.

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