The time you spend running on the treadmill is important. If the goal is to burn a lot of calories, there are two ways to go about it. One way is to chain yourself to the treadmill for hours on end. The other is to be as efficient as possible and use the right type of training. Doing high-intensity hill intervals on the treadmill will burn a lot of calories in a very short amount of time.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Intervals are periods of intense training interspersed by periods of rest. Intervals manipulate four different variables: time, intensity, rest and repetitions. High-intensity interval training is a specific type of interval training that Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, says are repeated bouts of short, high-intensity exercise intervals paired with lower intensity recovery intervals. He goes on to say that HIIT calls for challenging cardiovascular exercises, such as sprints. To qualify as a high-intensity interval, the exercise intensity should be a 7 or higher on a 10-point scale of perceived exertion.
HIIT training provides a major stimulus for calorie burn. Dr. Chris Mohr, a registered dietician, estimates that in a 20-minute sprint session you may burn up to 600 calories. And if you want to intensify the calorie burn, add an incline to the treadmill. Strength and conditioning coach Charles Staley says that hill sprints are a great way to add an extra calorie burn to an exercise that already burns a ton of calories. If you want to see the benefits of sprinting, he says to look at sprinters at a track meet: They have some of the best-looking bodies on the planet.
To do a calorie-scorching treadmill interval workout, start with a thorough warm-up. McCall recommends doing a five- to 10-minute warm-up that gradually increases intensity. Once you're ready to begin, choose a ratio of one minute of work for every two minutes of active recovery. Start the treadmill at a speed that will be challenging for you to complete your one minute of work. When the minute is up, slow the treadmill down and walk for the next two minutes. Start with five or six of these intervals and increase as your fitness improves. To intensify the workout, add an incline during your work periods.
Before beginning an interval workout, check with your doctor. Drink water before and during the workout to prevent dehydration, and if you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop and take a break. Complete your full warm-up before beginning, and when you're finished with your workout, cool down with some walking on the treadmill. After walking, stretch your legs, especially your hamstrings.
Carl Galloway is a strength-and-conditioning coach at a high school in Southern California. He is certified as an Olympic lifting coach through USA Weightlifting and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Galloway holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration.