Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The treadmill stole the show!

In 1996, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that compared energy expenditure and perceived exertion for six different indoor workout machines. Guess what? The treadmill stole the show. The study findings showed that a treadmill induces higher rates of energy expenditure (that means they help you burn more calories, more efficiently) than all the other machines included in the study.* Granted, the study is a bit older, but powerful nonetheless.

Treadmills reign supreme when it comes to workouts that actually work.

Often times, when people think of a treadmill, they think of two things: walk... and run. That's unfortunate, because with a treadmill, the options are endless; whether you are 9 or 90 years old, fit or unfit, a walker or a runner--treadmills have a variety of options that can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

I've worked on treadmills for over 15 years, and I can't remember ever doing a boring "walk" workout. Treadmills are flexible, durable, efficient machines... a healthy investment for every home.

Here are my favorite treadmill workouts:

(Note! These workouts don't name a specific speed or incline because you should find the pace that works for you, your goals, and your fitness level. We are all different. If the recommendation is "fast walk" that feels "challenging, but comfortable" then simply find a speed/incline setting that feels like a "fast walk" to you. Listen to your body and check with your doctor if you have specific workout questions or limitations.

Favorite #1: The Shake-up:
1) Slow/moderate walking pace for 3 - 10 minutes to get warmed up. 2) Fast walk/run for 1 minute. The speed should feel challenging... like you could only maintain it for a few minutes at a time. 3) Climb for 1 minute. Drop your speed to a moderate walking pace and hike up the incline as high as you feel comfortable. 4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the remainder of the workout (10 times for 20-minutes of intense cardio, and so on) 5) Cool down for 2 - 5 minutes by walking at a moderate to slow pace with a little or no incline.

Favorite #2: The Pyramid Climb
1) Slow/moderate walking pace for 3 - 10 minutes to get warmed up.
2) Find a comfortable workout walking pace (somewhere between 2 - 5 mph, depending on your fitness level)
3) Increase the incline by 1% each minute of your workout. So start with 1% for one minute, then 2%, and so on. Doing this on a treadmill with inclines of 0-10% will take 20 minutes to do a complete pyramid climb from lowest to highest, then backing down, from highest to lowest. If your treadmill has higher incline capabilities, try skipping up by 2's or 5's.
4) Cool down for 2 - 5 minutes by walking at a moderate to slow pace with a little or no incline.

Favorite #3: The Accelerator
*This workout helps people who "hate to run" or who claim they "can't run" actually learn to run... and like it! If your knees are over running, no worries; this workout also helps push average walking paces to help you burn as many calories as possible.

1) Slow/moderate walking pace for 3 - 10 minutes to get warmed up.
2) Find your comfortable walking pace--a pace that feels like your heart is really pumping, that makes you feel like you are breathing deeply, and that you could maintain for 20-30 minutes.
3) Now find your "challenge pace" -- this is about speed! Try increasing your speed by 1 - 2 (maybe more) mph--to a pace that you feel like you could maintain no more than 60 seconds.
4) Now that you have a "comfortable pace" and a "challenge pace", try doing 2 minutes at your comfortable pace and 30-60 seconds at a your challenge pace. You can pyramid your challenge pace and play around with different speeds.
5) Cool down for 2 - 5 minutes by walking at a moderate to slow pace with a little or no incline.

Here's what works for me:
- 3-10 minute warm-up at 3 mph.
- 2 minutes at 4mph and 5% incline (my "comfortable" pace)
- 45 seconds at 8 mph and 0% incline (my "challenge" pace)
- I like jump anywhere around the 8mph range, some segments are at 7 mph, some 7.5 mph, some 8.5... just to keep my body guessing and challenged throughout the entire workout.
- 5 minute cool down at 3 mph.

Favorite #4: The Built-in Personal Trainer
This one is easy. Try using the pre-loaded workouts that are located right on the treadmill console and easily started by the push of a button! The NordicTrack Incline trainer has 9 "calorie goal" workout programs that were designed by a certified personal trainer. These programs are designed to help you burn a specific number of calories and automatically change the speed and incline of your treadmill to ensure your workout is efficient and results-oriented. It doesn't get any easier than that! (Well, let's not get carried away; you do have to do all physical work... but at least you won't be wasting time second-guessing yourself; rather, you'll feel confident and secure that you're doing what works.)
~Melanie Douglass (Studio 5 Health Contributor)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. I don't have a treadmill at home, but I have access to them at the gym. I prefer walking and jogging outdoors, but that's not always an option. I generally feel self-conscious on the machines, but you've convinced me to give it a try again.