10 Tips to Spice up Your Treadmill Workouts

By Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Treadmills undoubtedly make a fulfilling and satisfying workout, but it gets boring pretty fast if you keep doing the same moves, over and over again. But who says your treadmill workouts have to be lackluster and dull! There are plenty of ways to make the most out of your treadmill exercise and plenty of ways you can introduce much-needed “spice” and |”vibes” to your treadmill routine without compromising performance output. Don’t just walk and run, try these 10 strategies for fun and productive workout sessions:

1. Go Solo in a “Class”

A group class is fun and all that, but have you ever tried listening to your favorite playlist while using the treadmill! Combine this with the class’s enthusiastic and energetic spirit and you will be bursting those calories and toning those muscles like nobody’s business. Leverage the power of music to time your intervals. Select songs with upbeat choruses that accelerate your pace with each beat.

Sing along to the chorus (if need be) and go all out. If you have a competitive streak, single out a strong runner in your group and run next to them. Dare to outpace them by running at a higher pace than theirs (and they would never guess, except, of course, you tell them). Caution: don’t make completion a habit though. So the next time you are in class, plug in your headset and vibe to the beat, ALONE!

2. Pull out all the Moves

NEWSFLASH – the treadmill isn’t exclusively reserved for walking and running! There are so many moves you can try on a treadmill without breaking safety or ethical rules. You can explore the sideways shuffle or move backward instead of forward. The sideway shuffle is a fancy name for side-stepping on a treadmill. Performing side-steps, as opposed to running, helps work the hips, inner and outer thighs, abs, calves, and oblique. As an added benefit, it strengthens your balance, mind, and body − thanks to its difficulty level.

Plus, it is quite easy to perform; first, place your right hand on the rail directly facing you, and your left hand on the alternate railing. Place your hands such that the left rail faces your body. Then start shuffling from foot to foot as you would on flat ground. Step to the left, and then turn sideways. Repeat the step for the right section of your body. However, there’s a learning curve attached to this, so you might want to take it “slow and easy” until you get the hang of it.

3. Mix it Up While on a Treadmill

Play around with the trainer’s offerings including incline and speed – to improve calorie burn and muscle conditioning. Start by alternating sprinting with jogging. Sprint for about 10 to 90 seconds then follows it up with your routine jogs for about 15 minutes. Next, set the incline to 10 percent for the near-ultimate burn, and then gradually drop the incline by 1 percent every 30 seconds until you arrive at a flat path.

Repeat the process but at a faster pace. Mixing speed and incline does a world of good to your body; increasing your pace results in greater calorie burn and improves cardio endurance while doing climbs helps build strength. Ultimately, this is the secret to a leaner and stronger body!

4. Have fun While Cooling Down

Try not to hop off the treadmill as soon as you are done! Instead, take a cue from track stars and perform one or two dynamic stretches. Once you’ve completed your workout session, set the treadmill’s speed to 0.2 mph and the incline to 1.0 percent. Next, do walking toe touches for a minute each; extend your left leg in front of you until it is at hip height, and then flex your foot by grabbing your left toes with your left hand and pulling towards your body. Repeat the process for the other foot.

You should also try walking knee hugs and walking quad stretches; here, you pull one heel towards your glute and momentarily grab your ankles as you go. Repeat for the other heel for maximum effect. And here is what you don’t know − performing these stretches instead of hopping off the treadmill can improve your running skills as they replicate the motions used during a run.

5. Include Treadmill Tone-ups in Your Routine

Treadmill tone-ups take advantage of the trainer’s resistance-supplying belt to work various muscles in the body. Here’s how to do a tone-up; begin by running and then stop the belt mid-run. Next, assume a plank position with your palms on the tread and feet on the floor. Perform incline or decline push-ups to level-up. Proceed to do 30 seconds of triceps dips on the treadmill; back the trainer’s dash and grip the handles with your arms (straight) to lift your body ( remember to bend your legs behind you).

To lower your body, bend your elbows to 90 degrees then press up. Assuming this height extends your range of motion and supplies greater resistance than when doing dips on a floor. For your next move, get into another plank position, with palms on the floor and feet on the belt (this time), then hoist your hips to pull your feet toward you until your body assumes an upside-down V shape. Follow this up with pikes (for 30 seconds). Lastly, perform 30 seconds of walking lunges at 0.5 to 1.0 mph. Repeat this whole cycle three times for good measure.

6. Pretend You are Hiking

One way to get in a treadmill workout mood is to imagine you are hiking at a premium destination of choice. You will have to rely on your imaginative power for the most part, but other than that, the treadmill can lend you a hand by simulating a hiking motion. Consider yourself lucky if you own or use a treadmill with pre-set hiking trails, as these automatically bring your imaginative scenery to life (in a virtual sense though), so you don’t have to think or pretend.

But if you don’t have access to one of these top-of-the-range treadmill models, then you can do this manually; walk at 3.5 miles per hour on a flat belt and gradually increase the incline (every minute) until it reaches 5 percent. Maintain this stance for three minutes. Next, lower and lift the belt every two minutes until you’ve exercised for 25 minutes. Finally, cool down by lowering the belt gradually and decreasing your speed for about five minutes.

7. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

No matter how pumped you are to start a treadmill workout, learn to take it one step at a time. Being too eager and overly enthusiastic takes the fun out of the workout, and will sooner lead to burnout than produce good results.

If you start at an extremely high speed or incline, you will feel the burn, but you won’t last long, which affects performance outcome to a degree. Instead, increase speed and incline gradually and alternate with lower levels. Remember, time takes precedence over intensity, so don’t be in a rush.

8. Have a Workout Plan

Sometimes it is good to ignore the trainer’s pre-set workout programs and work with your plans instead. Map out a workout routine that syncs with your goals; you may want to melt fat or calories, strengthen muscle or target specific areas of your body. When you have a workout strategy, you’d be more willing to dedicate attention and effort to the treadmill.

You are also less likely to get bored as opposed to doing the same workout programs without a definitive goal. To maintain maximum focus, steer clear of distractions like the TV, as it can reduce workout value. Instead, adopt workout apps that offer programs that complement your targeted exercise.

9. Ditch the Clock and Focus on Distance

As harmless as it appears, your clock or watch can detract from your workout. Stealing glances or focusing at your clock to track how much time you have left is a recipe for distraction and anxiety (which is no fun). You can keep track of time using an alarm on your phone or watch.

Keep your phone or watch at a safe distance and cover the machine’s timer with a towel or the like. This way, you will be less tempted to steal a look at the time. Rather than focus on time, divert your attention to distance as this is more critical to your performance output.

10. Avoid Unhealthy Competition

While it is good to compete against your fellow runners once in a while, it shouldn’t be an obsession. If you constantly try to outrun or beat runners in a non-existent competition, you will delay your accomplishment and drain your workout of much-needed “spice”.

Instead of winning against your co-runners and recording milestones, you’d be dealing with anxiety and the unnecessary urge to prove your skills. Best believe, the lady or guy next to you does not care about your progress, so you don’t need to prove a point. The only thing you should compete against is your progress. Try to beat your previous record and not your co-runner’s progress!