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Updated Monday, December 24, 2012 at 07:31 AM

5 tips to improve treadmill workouts

By Kelly Turner
Special to The Seattle Times

On Fitness

As the cold and wet of winter set in, many prefer the shelter of a gym to the great outdoors. With that, many people head to the treadmill for their cardio workouts.

But many people make critical mistakes while using the treadmill. Simply racking up minutes isn’t going to get you results. Don’t waste your time and effort. Make every one of those minutes count. There are several variables you can play with to get the most out of your treadmill workout. Try one or try them all, in any combination, to burn more calories and see better results in less time.

Speed up. The faster you go, the harder the workout. To find your ideal speed, use the talk test. You should be able to maintain a normal conversation with short sentences. If you have enough breath to sing a song, your intensity is too low but if you can’t get out a full sentence, dial it back.

Increase the incline. Inclines work in your favor in two ways: your legs work harder to propel your body upward and the vertical motion is more challenging on the heart and lungs, strengthening the cardiovascular system. Increase the incline of your treadmill to get better definition in your legs, burn more calories and improve your endurance. Don’t, however, hold onto the handles. It takes the load off your legs negating the incline.

Use intervals. A great way to drastically reduce you#mce_temp_url#r workout time is to use interval training. Interval training alternates periods of high intensity activity with periods of lower intensity recovery time to really spike your heart rate and torch calories. Based on your fitness level, this could mean anything from alternating three minutes of running with one minute of sprinting or five minutes of walking at 3 mph with two minutes of walking at 5 mph.

Wear your weight. The heavier you are, the more work it takes to move your body. The harder it is to move your body, the more calories you will burn. But carrying hand weights while on the treadmill can be dangerous, especially when running. Weighted vests are a safe way to add weight without throwing off your form or putting unnecessary stress on joints.

Give it some time. Whatever techniques you try, you will still need a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise most days of the week. Aim to burn around 300 calories during your 30-minute workout. Do more if you can, but if you are burning less than that in those 30 minutes, you simply aren’t working hard enough for the amount of time you are putting in.

Kelly Turner: kellyturnerfitness@gmail.com. Turner is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer and fitness writer: www.KellyTurnerFitness.com. On Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.


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