Treadmill Workout to Burn Fat
So you want to lose a bit of weight? Join the club. Read on while I give you the ultimate treadmill workout to burn fat. It’s nothing to worry about and something that you should enjoy.
Treadmill or running machines, they’re the same thing, so take your pick. The quick version is that running on a treadmill is essentially the same as exercising outdoors, only you have a roof over your head and your stride might be a bit limited compared to the more natural gait you use on open ground.
As treadmills are expensive, even for relatively basic ones, you probably want to start off by training on the machines at your local gym. Once you are familiar with running indoors, you can then take the plunge and buy one for home if you feel the need. Just don’t go straight out and waste a lot of money on something that you don’t like. Alternatively buy a second-hand running machine to start out. You should find a bargain on eBay or Craigslist.
There are plenty of people who think they’re going to take up a new hobby like running and end up shelling out on top-of-the-range kit that they use once or twice; then they get sick of tripping over it and eventually get round to advertising it online – so a lucky person like yourself can snap it up and save a chunk of cash.
Familiarize Yourself with the Running Machine
You can start off by familiarizing yourself with the running machine by doing a quick 20-minute workout increasing to 30 minutes once you feel comfortable, then 40 minutes and so on up to 60 minutes maximum. Of course you need to do a 5-minute warm up and cool down, just as you would on any running session.
For your first few goes on the runner you should be getting used to the functions and experiment with the incline, though don’t go above a couple of degrees, say 5 at most, when still a beginner.
Have a play with the speed dials up and down and above all else don’t get bored and enjoy yourself. Running should be fun and if it isn’t then you won’t want to keep up your weight-loss programme. Don’t go overboard though and you should only push hard once you are fully warmed up, but due to the warmth of the gym your body temperature should rise quicker than when running outdoors, unless they’ve got the air conditioning turned up high and you’re the only person in the gym.
Intervals are the Key to Rapid Weight Loss
While the weight-loss principles are basically the same for running indoors and outdoors. For example, you need to run for at least 20 minutes to start touching your body’s fat stores and to make a big difference you should really be aiming for 45 minutes to an hour. This can sound daunting for a beginner and it’s something that you should definitely work up to in your own time.
However, there is a quick way that will save you time in return for hard work. Sounds like a good deal? What we’re talking about is interval training. There are many formats of intervals, such as variable intervals and rigid intervals. It’s not something to stress over which is better, as long as you are working your body hard and you feel shattered afterwards.
A couple of things to note are that intervals are something that you should only start to practice once you have a base level of fitness under your belt. If you try them fresh out of the box on your first couple of days running you might injure yourself and get off to a bad start with your running career. Instead be patient and only start interval training when you are genuinely feeling good about your running ability.
Everyone is different so it’s hard to say when the perfect time to start intervals is, but as long as you’re not seriously overweight then you should be fine after 3 or 4 weeks of basic running. Intermediate level runners will of course be able to start much quicker. As always listen to your body and if you feel pain anywhere then stop – there’s always another day to train so don’t feel guilty. If you’re not ready that’s nothing to feel ashamed about. Just be stick at it and your day will come.
Treadmill Interval Training for Beginners
20-Minute Speed Intervals
- Minutes Speed Incline Feeling
- 0-5 3 1 warm-up
- 5-7 4.5 1 hitting your stride
- 7-8 7 1 pushing it
- 8-10 4.5 1 steady pace
- 10-11 7 1 pushing it
- 11-13 4.5 1 steady pace
- 13-14 7 1 pushing it
- 14-16 4.5 1 steady pace
- 16-17 7 1 pushing it
- 17-20 3 1 cool down
You can use the above workout as a guide and adjust accordingly. By all means mix it up somewhat, but start off with something that you are comfortable with and then increase the pace and lengthen the harder sections, while cutting down on the resting periods.
Due to the hard work you will be putting into your interval training it isn’t necessary to do a workout as long as you would when running for 45 – 60 minutes on a long, slow distance run.
The idea being that you are cramming more work into a shorter space of time, which has the added benefit of increasing your fitness levels when you are pushing your body to the limit.
How Many Interval Sessions Should I do per Week?
It’s always good to have a balance to your running schedule so if you train four days per week, then maybe do two lots of interval training. You don’t want to overdo it and adding different formats of running in the mix will give your body a break from the hard slog, but longer and slower running has different benefits so you needn’t think you are being lazy by only doing two intervals per week.
Chopping and changing workouts also prevents boredom from creeping in as well as over training. You don’t want to get stale, because if you try and attack an interval session and your legs feel dull then you won’t get the full benefit. Your legs should always be fresh when training intervals.
On the other hand, if you are only having a steady run then if you feel a little tired it isn’t the end of the world. In fact when your legs are low on glycogen (energy from carbohydrates) then you are more likely to burn fat instead, which is what you want on a long slow distance run (LSD).
How to Mix Up Intervals?
The basic elements that make up an interval training, especially on a treadmill, are speed, distance or time and incline. You can make an interval schedule where you gradually work your way up faster and faster then work back down again. So you’d do 2 minutes at 5 mph, then 2 minutes at 7 mph and so on until you reached 10 or 12 mph. If you’re really fit you might want to go up to 15. It’s always fun to see how far you can push your body, but only when it’s safe to do so.
Alternatively you may want to concentrate on distance and run for 0.5 miles, then increase the speed every 0.5 miles.
If you wish to replicate running up hills then you need to adjust the incline, which will be good for increasing your strength. However, don’t go too steep too soon. Incline is the last thing you should work on when training to lose body fat on a treadmill.
For one, incline will test your strength and you need to be at a good level of fitness before you can attack it with any real intent. Use your intuition and listen to your body. You won’t know your limits until you push yourself hard. Running is something that we do naturally and as long as you are in good health it’s unlikely that you will do yourself any damage if you approach the treadmill with caution.
What Not to Do on a Treadmill
These days you see people always trying to come up with something new to catch the eyes of people on social media. This isn’t always a good thing, even though there might be some actual science behind it. What I’m getting at is when you see people running backwards or sideways on a running machine.
Hitting your body in new ways will work muscle fibres differently of course, but unless you are with a personal trainer then I’d say just stick to running forwards where you can see yourself in the mirror. It’s not worth showing yourself up if you fall over in the gym with a huge crowd secretly laughing at you. Not to mention you could seriously injure yourself if you don’t pay attention. It’s unlikely that the gym staff will be very happy if they see you running in strange ways either. They will most likely give you a telling off or even a warning, or at worst they might bar you out of the gym or being dangerous. Clearly it isn’t worth the hassle.
Keep Track of Your Interval Sessions
As always, use your fitness tracking app on your smartphone or a pen and paper diary, the old-school way, to record your interval speeds and times. You can look back on this further down the line and see if you are improving your fitness as quickly as you originally planned.
You can also keep track of calories burned, or at least an estimate of the energy you’ve used. If you combine this with weighing yourself once or twice per week then you will have all the information you need to analyse how well you are doing with regard to your weight loss goals. If you are at a minimum losing 1 lb per week that is absolutely fine, but nearer to 2 lb per week is perfect.
Like anything else, your biggest gains will come early on in your weight-loss programme. The reason being is your body fat is at its highest level so it’s going to be easy to lose the first phase. Once you get trimmer then it will naturally become harder and harder. This is where you might hit a plateau and struggle to move the needle anymore.
Don’t panic if you get to this stage. All you have to do is reevaluate your interval training along with your diet and look for any weak points that you feel you can improve upon.
It’s not good to become obsessive with weight loss, because people can easily get mental health problems due to thinking about their body shape too much. Try and keep a balanced view and be realistic. If you are someone who naturally carries body fat then it’s always going to be hard to compare yourself with someone who is naturally whippet thin.
If you are healthy and have seen a big improvement from where you started out then that should be something you should be proud of. After all, it isn’t all about losing weight, it’s just as important to try and keep it off otherwise your hard work will have been for nothing.
Finish of With a Cool Down and Stretch
You should always make sure that you finish your treadmill intervals with a cool-down period and then five minutes or so stretching off afterwards. It’s not hard to learn a few stretches for your leg muscles: quads, hamstrings and calves.
Stretching will ensure that you aren’t as sore the next day when walking around, as it realigns the fibres in your muscles and helps expedite recovery and repair.
All you need to do if you’re in a hurry are three simple stretches.
- Stretch each muscle for approximately 30 seconds and shake off.
- Stretch each muscle twice.
- Quads (the large muscles on the front of your legs).
- Hamstrings (the muscles at the back of your legs).
- Calves (the muscles at the bottom of your leg behind your shin bone).
See this How to Stretch Your Legs on WikiHow for guidance if unsure.
Five More Runner’s Reads
- Staying Motivated for Weight Loss
- Half Marathon Training for Beginners
- How Long do Running Shoes Last?
- Running Weight Loss Plan
- 24-Hour Running
What’s Your Favorite Treadmill Workout?
Let us know what treadmill tips you feel we’ve missed out. It’s always good to have a second opinion and hear other people’s views.
Have you lost weight on the treadmill or did you do it outdoors? Give us a heads up in the comments – I’d love to hear your feedback and will gladly include it when I update this article next.