Okay, you’re at the gym, you’ve secured your favorite treadmill at your favorite spot and you’re ready to get your cardio in… or are you? Before you get started, before you even press the “start” button, let’s go over a few tips to get you the best workout possible!
Whether your goals are to burn some serious calories, if you’re just getting started and are new to using a treadmill, or if you want to know how to “amp” up your current cardio workout, please keep reading!
Always approach the treadmill by stepping on the board runners. This is an awesome rule of thumb on all treadmills, just in cast the treadmill is still on (believe me, I’ve seen people step on and fall off moving treadmills!) and to press the side “STOP” button.
Setting Your Preferences
I always teach and encourage my clients and gym members to try the various programs versus the basic “start”, “stop”, ‘incline”, “decline” programs. This is due to the fact that in your real “treadmill” world, whether you walk, jog or run in your neighborhood, park, beach or local trails, your path is not a series of flat surfaces. There will always be hills from a slight incline of 1% to 15% plus, and by pushing your workouts you will tackle these hills, increase your cardiovascular capabilities while increasing and improving your results.
On most treadmills your settings include hills like Alpine and Mystery (these are my favorites). Just set your speed, maximum incline level, time and weight then press “start” and voila! Step on the let the magic happen! Choose 5k, 10k (great if you’re gearing up for a 5k or 10k), fit test and a variety of other options. Never limit your workouts or yourself, at some point give them all a try!
Helpful Do’s and Don’ts
After training and observing people, males and females, older and younger, walkers, joggers and runners, beginners to advance, here are a few tips that can help keep you safe and improve your fitness goal results.
- Directions – All treadmills are not all created equal. Please read the directions and/or ask for advice and suggestions from your certified personal training staff, floor trainers or staff members for assistance.
- Speed – Never go faster than you can comfortably handle!
- Handrails – Don’t hold on (if possible). If you’re going so fast or up a hill and feel the need to hold on, decrease your speed and/or your incline level until you’re able to maintain control and proper form. Remember, when you’re walking up a hill in the “real world” you never lean back. Your body will always lean forward. By not using the handrails you’ll also really target your glutes and hamstrings!
Always keep your body in proper alignment to prevent low back, ankle or knee injuries. Allow your arms to swing at your sides, shoulder and ears in alignment and most importantly keep your eyes looking forward (not up at the TV).
When you’re walking on the treadmill, please don’t turn your body towards your friends or someone else that may be speaking with you, if they’re on the treadmill next to you or standing behind you. It so easy to overstep and hit the boards causing you to potentially fall and greatly injure yourself. Remember to walk, jog or run as you would outside.
Please don’t use weights, either hand, wrist or ankle weights while on the treadmill or even outside. Although you may feel you’re getting in a greater burn and therefore burning more calories, you’re better off using weights before or after your workout. If you’re doing a circuit that includes using the treadmill during your workout, use you’re weights after you’ve gotten off the treadmill, and once finished, get back on to resume your circuit. Weights can increase your risk of injury by falling, losing your balance or even hitting the rails of the treadmill with enough impact to cause wrist or hand injuries.
If you’re new to working out, start off at a comfortable pace until you get use to the movement of the treadmill, then start increasing your speed or add an incline to help increase your heart rate.
To get in a strong, effective and calorie burning workout try to walk, jog or run at a pace that increases your heart rate. Most treadmills have a front heart rate monitor sensor for you to use to track your progress, but a good rule of thumb is to shoot for 60% to 90% of your Target Heart Rate (THR). If you don’t know your THR ask one of the Certified Personal Trainers to assist you or use this simple formula:
- 220-age x .60% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .60% = 114 bpm)
- 220-age x .70% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .70% = 133 bpm)
- 220-age x .80% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .80% = 152 bpm)
- 220-age x .90% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .70% = 171 bpm)
So using the formula above, you would want to keep your Target Heart Rate between 133 to 171 bpm (.70% to .90%)
If that’s too complicated for you and you just want to get started then utilize the “Talk Test”. This is when you can carry on a conversation, but slightly breathless. If you’re not in this zone, its time to pump up the intensity. If you’re breathless and breathing very hard, it may be time to decrease your intensity level for a few minutes.
The wonderful thing about treadmills is after you’ve set your time and you’re finished, the treadmill will start a countdown and take you into a cool-down mode for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on the machine), allowing your heart rate to return to its normal state. Afterwards, please remember to wipe down the treadmill (gym courtesy), and stretch your entire body, paying special attention to your back and thighs (quads, calves and hamstrings).
Remember there will be days that you don’t feel like getting on the treadmill, but please give yourself at least 5 minutes and if you’re still not in the mood, jump on another piece of cardio equipment, or join one of your gym’s aerobic, aqua, Zumba or spinning classes, or just take a brisk walk outside. Trust me, your body will thank you for it!