There's not just one but many ways to shape your butt on the treadmill, which is fantastic news if it's your favorite gym machine or you've splurged on a treadmill for your home. Working your legs, thighs and glutes, the treadmill provides a healthy dose of cardio while building lean muscle mass in your lower body. But don't forget resistance training -- you need at least two days a week of strength exercises on top of your cardio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The experts have spoken. In 1999, the American Council on Exercise polled 36,000 certified fitness professionals, asking their opinion on the best moves to tone the buttocks. Walking uphill made the top five, slipping in just behind squats and lunges. To get this benefit on your treadmill, adjust the incline level as steep as you can handle it. If it's too tough to maintain a high grade, alternate your hill trekking with breaks at zero incline.
Humans might never have developed large buttocks muscles without the need to run for survival. Indeed, a study published in "The Journal of Experimental Biology" in 2006 demonstrated that people engage gluteal muscles far more heavily during running than walking. Because the treadmill does some of the work for you, it can't provide quite the same glute lift as an outdoor run. Still, it will shape your butt to some degree. Alternate sprinting intervals with short jogs or walks; the high speed offers maximum toning.
Mix up your treadmill routine with shuffles for serious glute building. Turn your body 90 degrees from forward position, set the treadmill to a low speed such as 1.5 mph and walk sideways. Dial up the speed as fast as you feel safe and comfortable. After five minutes, turn around to face the opposite side. This exercise will feel awkward at first, but your glutes and thighs will thank you.
If you're lucky enough to have a home treadmill, place it far from walls to prevent injury, and keep cords clear of walkways. On any treadmill, it's important to wear shoes made for running or walking. Don't get on or off the treadmill at speeds above 0.5 mph. As you exercise, keep your shoulders back and your head up, looking ahead of you instead of down toward your feet. Speak with your doctor before using the treadmill if you have any medical conditions or have recently experienced chest pains.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?
- American Council on Exercise: American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Professionals Say Do More Squats, Lunges
- The Journal of Experimental Biology: The Human Gluteus Maximus and Its Role in Running
- ShapeFit.com: Aerobic Training For Your Butt -- Will Cardio Help Get a Firm & Toned Butt?
- ShapeFit.com: Tight Butt in 30 Days -- Booty Exercises For Firm Tight Glutes
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using a Home Treadmill
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.