Turn your treadmill workouts from boring to soaring with slight changes in the terrain. Use intervals and hills to change your indoor walking and running exercise program into a session that will help you overcome plateaus, burn calories and enhance your endurance. Move off that flat road, jam your favorite tunes and bring new life to your treadmill fitness routine by simply changing a setting.
Interval training uses predetermined amounts of time that alternate between a work segment and a recovery segment. When you use a treadmill, the intervals are segments of speed followed by a slower-paced walk. For example, you will set your normal walking pace -- typically between 3 and 3.5 mph. When you select the interval setting, you'll also input your maximum pace. If you are a fast walker or slow jogger, select near 5 mph. If you are a fast jogger or runner, set your maximum jogging pace upwards of 7 mph. The treadmill will cycle through your slow pace and fast pace on intervals from 30 seconds to three minutes, depending on your time selection.
Selecting the hill program on a treadmill also changes the intensity of your workout, but with this selection, your challenge is increased by an incline. Hills are gradual, so the treadmill begins on a small incline and gradually increases as you ascend. Your pace may slow as you climb, but your heart rate remains elevated. You'll select the maximum incline and pace when you program the treadmill for a hill workout. According to the American Council on Exercise, hill climbs are a great leg-toning workout.
Your hills may be more like speed bumps, and you can turn these into a hill interval workout session. Instead of making your climbs gradual, make them quick and steep. For example, set the incline to the highest setting and then climb for one minute. Quickly return to a flat road and recover for one to two minutes. Continue this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes, and you're guaranteed to break a sweat.
Regardless if you select the interval or hill programs, your workout begins with a flat road warm-up. Use this time to focus on your posture. Stand tall with your back straight and chest out. Tighten your stomach by pulling your belly button toward your back. Look straight ahead and hold on only if needed for balance. Your workout will finish with a five-minute cool-down to return your heart and breathing rates to near-normal levels. Use this time to settle your breathing and then spend a few minutes with flexibility exercises when you exit the treadmill.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.