If the weather is less than perfect outside, a treadmill provides an indoor workout that burns the same number of calories and works the same muscles as walking or running outdoors. Because you can adjust the incline and pace to meet your fitness needs, a treadmill actually offers a more customizable workout than running outside.
According to “Self,” an interval workout is the best way to avoid a boring treadmill session. It combines high-speed sprints with easy jogging periods to keep your mind and body challenged. Additionally, intervals torch calories. A 130-pound person burns more than 400 calories in 45 minutes with this workout. Begin with a five-minute warm-up at 5 mph, then up the pace to 6 mph for five minutes. For the next 30 minutes, switch between running at 7 to 8 mph for two minutes and jogging at 6 mph for three minutes. End with a five-minute cool-down at 5 mph.
A treadmill torches calories but it also can help you tone your muscles. To target your buttocks, thighs and calves, add some incline to your workout. According to Michele Olson, exercise physiologist at Auburn University, walking at an incline of 5 to 7 percent provides a solid butt workout. For a complete workout, start walking at 3.5 mph and increase the incline by 1 percent every minute until you reach 7 percent. Walk there for three minutes. Next, every two minutes switch between lowering the incline by 4 percent and raising the incline by 2 percent for a total of 24 minutes. Cool down by lowering the incline and reducing your speed for an easy five-minute walk.
By adding a pair of 2- to 5-pound dumbbells to your treadmill routine, you get both a strength-training and cardiovascular session in one workout. "Women’s Health" magazine suggests performing biceps curls and shoulder presses while you walk. Following your warm-up, set the pace to 4 mph and the incline to 1 percent. Simultaneously raise and lower your arms with each step for your biceps curls. Do 10 repetitions. For your shoulder presses, hold the dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing forward. Press your arms straight overhead and then return them to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions. Aim for three sets total.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
The Mayo Clinic recommends a brief warm-up and quick cool-down session every time you get on the treadmill. A warm-up helps prepare your body for aerobic activity by gradually increasing blood flow to your muscles. This can prevent muscle strains. Cooling down gradually reduces the temperature of your muscles, which may reduce injury, soreness and stiffness. To properly warm up and cool down, walk briskly for five to 10 minutes.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.