A treadmill does more than boost your cardiovascular health. It builds muscle mass in the muscles you use -- like your legs, thighs and buttocks -- but it also helps tone these parts of your body. Since a treadmill works your core, your stomach and abdominal muscles, as much as it does other parts of your body, you can also tone your stomach while using a treadmill.
How To Tone
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To tone, you need to lose body fat and build lean muscle mass, which you can do with regular cardio exercise, a healthy diet and some form of strength training. Walking on a treadmill that has no incline can fulfill the regular cardio requirement, but using a treadmill on an incline adds resistance to your workout. This resistance adds strength training to your cardio workout, since you’re working even harder against gravity. Lean muscle mass are those non-fat parts of your body, like your muscles and bones. Strength training helps build lean muscle mass, which will help burn fat and help tone your body.
No Spot Reduction
Clear benefits of using a treadmill include increasing your cardiovascular health and heart rate, burning fat and strengthening your leg muscles, but using a treadmill at least three times a week for between 30 and 45 minutes each time also works your core. And the stronger your core, the easier working out will be. You strengthen your core standing straight, maintaining a steady rate of breath and can work your oblique muscles -- or those muscles along your sides -- by swinging your arms. But no exercise will target specific spots of your body. You need to lose fat and build lean muscle mass in order to tone. Reaching your target heart rate zone, says the American Heart Association, will help you do this. Any cardio workout will get your heart rate up, but using a treadmill gets your heart rate up while working different parts of your body. Your heart rate should be around 65 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for burning calories.
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A treadmill can help you lose weight and tone all areas of your body, as long as you spend enough time on it. Depending on how rigorous your workout is, plan to spend between one and a half and three hours a week walking, jogging, or running. The harder you work, the less time you need to maximize results, and the more often you work, the more quickly you’ll see results. Interval training on a treadmill, or alternating between sprinting and jogging for short periods of time, will keep your heart rate up, boost your metabolism and help you achieve results faster. A benefit to interval training is you can achieve the same results you would from walking for a half hour in about half the time.
Keep In Mind
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If you only add regular cardio to your schedule, you may lose weight, but you may not see the toned results you want. To lose weight and tone your body, you need to burn more calories than you consume. One pound is the equivalent of about 3,500 calories. If you burn 250 calories during a workout, but eat an extra 250 calories than you would normally, you have a net loss of zero. By following a healthy diet and sticking to a schedule on the treadmill, even when you don’t feel like it, you can get the results you want -- if you work hard and long enough.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.