28 Feb Treadmills – Not just an Expensive Hamster Wheel
Running is without a doubt one of the best forms of exercise you can do! It’s great for calorie burning, developing fitness, improving body composition, and maintaining bone health.
But when it’s Winter, the weather isn’t great, and it’s cold – you really don’t want to be outside! So it’s time to get your running fix by moving indoors and jumping on a treadmill.
Simulate outdoor running
If you’re used to running outdoors, treadmill work can seem easy at first. You’ll find that you are setting personal best after personal best!
This is because treadmills are designed for running comfortably and you are indoors (more predictable than the outdoors!). This means you don’t have to work against the wind or an uneven running surface.
You can counteract this by adding a slight incline to the treadmill. This helps to simulate the difficulty of running outdoors.
I would recommend an incline of around 1-2% to get proper benefit.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been popular for several years now, and it doesn’t seem to be losing much interest! It’s time efficient, it has a ton of benefits, and you can easily vary it to keep from getting bored.
The idea is to work at such a high intensity, that you create an oxygen debt and your body continues working hard even after you’ve stopped exercising. This is known as excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This means that your body will burn more calories in the hours after your training session!
During HIIT, you perform short bursts of high intensity activity followed by periods of recovery. The structure of HIIT training is largely down to you. But if you’re just starting out, I would recommend 20-30 seconds of high intensity followed by 60 seconds of low intensity. In theory, you can do it with almost any activity, but treadmills make it a lot easier to control the interval changes.
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) is lesser known than HIIT, but the benefits can’t be ignored. Instead of all out bursts of activity, like in HIIT, you will be working at a lower intensity continuously for a longer duration of time.
The theory is based on energy systems. Basically, at different intensities your body will show a preference towards burning fats or carbohydrates as fuel. During lower intensity exercise, you tend to use more fat and less carbohydrate.
To get the most bang for your buck, I’d suggest hitting a fast paced walk. The exact speed will depend on your fitness, height, experience, and preference. So just have a go and see how you feel!
LISS may even be more enjoyable than HIIT. A study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that HIIT was significantly less enjoyable than steady state exercise. So although HIIT might be quicker, is it really worth it if you’re not going to have any fun?
Because you’ll be going for a long time, some people prefer to get something to entertain themselves. If you’re on a treadmill, this becomes much easier. You can easily watch from your tablet and make your training much more exciting by catching up on some Netflix, losing yourself in a Spotify playlist, or tracking your progress with Kinomap!
Fartlek is a Swedish training technique which has led to several world records. The word literally means “speed play” – which perfectly describes the idea of it.
You can design every session to be different, mixing in sprints, jogs, and middle-distance while frequently changing the pace. If you’re a beginner, you might want to design a basic structure of the session before you start. If you’re a more seasoned trainer, you can just get going and adjust pace and distance depending on how you feel.
It’s really important to embrace the “play” aspect. Have fun with your Fartlek training. If you want to sprint – sprint. If you want to jog – jog. Adjust it to you own needs!
Hill sprints are amazing for improving power, speed, muscular development, and increasing fat burning. But what if you don’t live near a hill? What if it’s raining and you don’t really want to get soaked? What if it’s icy and there’s a high risk of face planting the floor (clearly it never happened to me…)
It’s actually much easier to do your hill sprints on a treadmill. You need one with a nice incline setting so you can simulate the hill. 8% is a pretty good incline for a hill sprint. But you can ramp it up to make it even harder if you like!
I’d suggest going for sprints of 15-30 seconds and resting for around a minute. As you start to improve, you can increase the intensity by lengthening the sprint time, shortening the rest time, increasing the speed, or increasing the incline.
Philip has several years experience as a strength and conditioning coach for competitive athletes, and as an exercise referral specialist focusing on exercise in clinical populations. Over his years as a coach he has trained clients to manage and reduce risk for various conditions and diseases, and to compete in several disciplines at various levels. As a Master (MSc) of Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine, Philip is also passionate about health and exercise research and has presented his work at various events. He is now a Content Executive with Powerhouse Fitness and hopes to share the knowledge he has gained with as many people as possible.