If you’re looking for a quick, fat-burning session to beat the boredom of a straight hour slugging away on the treadmill, look no further. I’m not a huge fan of treadmill running, especially when I have nothing to break up the monotony of step, step, step, step, step. But if I have a goal and a plan that involves something to break up the monotony, I’m in to give it a go.
Next time you hop onto the treadmill to burn some quick calories, try these strategies to double down on your results.
Nothing says fat burn like some high-intensity intervals. Studies show that prolonged, increased fat burn post-workout is increased after interval sets, but not so much after a regular, steady-state cardio session. What that means: make intervals part of your weekly routine and increase your calorie-torching benefits even while at rest.
Luckily, there are a number of ways you can attack intervals. If you’re just starting out, start with a sprint to active rest ratio of 1:2 or 1:3. Sprint for 15 seconds and walk for 45, or sprint for 20 seconds and walk for 40 seconds. What you can and should start off doing depends on your experience and fitness level.
As you get stronger and those intervals get easier, decrease the amount of rest you take and increase the amount of time you’re sprinting. One of my favorite interval workouts when I’m pressed for time is Tabata protocol – your intense sprints will last longer than your rests.
What’s especially great about using Tabata to beat boredom is that, at this intensity, you’ve got a wide array of exercises that you can perform to get the benefits. You can hop on a bike or treadmill, use a Stairmaster or row machine or you can really get wild and jump tope, do burpees or box jumps, kettlebell swings or lunge jumps. Tabata workouts will help you torch calories for hours after your workout.
It’s more work to run up a hill than it is to run on a flat surface. More work = more energy expended. More energy expended = more calories torched. Manipulate the incline on the treadmill to mimic a hilly run outdoors.
Some treadmills have a hill option preset. You can use that but doing it yourself ensures that you are paying attention and focusing on the run instead of catching up on Real Housewives. To start, simply increase and decrease your incline at specified intervals:
Another alternative is to do Hill Repeats:
Once you’ve mastered playing with inclines, start to increase and decrease your speed to add a bit more complication.
Sometimes, the workout in your hand isn’t enough. On the tough days, it takes a little more support, a little motivation, a little more help to get going. That’s what my private Facebook group, The Transformation Club, is for. You, me, and some like-minded ladies in it to win it, together. Join us today!
For folks who want to burn fat but love lifting weights (ahem, me), this strategy is for you. Instead of sitting on the bench thumbing through Instagram during your rest periods between working sets, hop on the treadmill and sprint for 30-60 seconds. If you’re looking to push your limits, this is where you do it.
The University of California performed an 11 week study that should a 991% (that’s not a typo), greater loss in fat mass in those who did cardio acceleration than those who did cardio-only or strength training-only workouts. Furthermore, that same group had 82% better improvement in muscle gain and a 53% greater improvement in lower body flexibility!
Don’t treat the treadmill session like a rest period. For this strategy to give you the results it promises, you have to work hard. That means 60-80% of full effort. Then hit the weights again:
Mix Up Your Goals
We all have days when our running target just seems too boring to attempt (my dad doesn’t, but he’s a running enigma). Maybe you always run a 5k. Maybe you only ever do a single loop around the neighborhood. Switch up your goal. Run for mileage, run for time, run for total steps.
Say your goal is to run 3 times a week. On each of those running days, set a different mini-goal. On Monday, run for mileage (don’t stop till you run 4 miles). On Wednesday, run for 30 minutes (however far that takes you). On Friday, plan to take 6,000 steps (roughly 3 miles) before you call it quits.
Shut the Treadmill Off
Instead of traditional running, leave the machine off and drive the belt with your own power. You’ll move slower. You’ll sweat more. This might be one of the toughest cardio sessions you’ve ever done.
There are a couple of ways to push the belt and which you choose depends on your viewpoint, literally. The first method involves holding onto the dashboard and driving the belt with your feet. Basically, a slow, resistance run. Drive through your heels to focus the work on your glutes and hamstrings, or push with your toes to move the focus to your quads.
The second method requires you to be a bit more creative. Instead of facing the dashboard, put your feet on the end of the treadmill facing away from the dashboard, with hands in push-up position on the floor. Brace your abs and drive the belt backwards with your feet.
Traditional? No. Fun? You betcha. Stare inducing? Maybe.