Treadmills are a great tool for those looking to get in shape and improve their cardio. What a lot of people don’t know is that there are scientifically proven ways to use a treadmill to achieve the best results. Whether you’re at home or at the gym, there are a few things you should consider to help you get the best treadmill workout.
Increase that incline
Scientific studies have shown that people running on treadmills don’t exert as much energy as people running outside. According to an article published in the Journal of Biomechanics in 2009, runners were able to achieve a maximum speed of 11.9% higher running on a treadmill inside than they were while running outside over ground. The article proposes the increased maximum speed attained could be due to three factors:
- A lack of air resistance
- Relative ease of acceleration on treadmill
- Stability control on treadmills
To compensate for this, you can increase the incline on your treadmill. A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences in showed that a 1% treadmill incline reflected the energy cost of running outdoor. Other studies more recently have shown that a 3-4% incline at minimum is need to achieve that energy cost. Other benefits of increasing treadmill incline include increased muscle activity. In January of 2012 Rodger Kram and Jason R. Franz published a study in the journal “Gait & Posture” that showed increased muscle activity in the hip, knee and ankle extensor muscles while walking up to a nine degree incline. They measured average activity increases of 136% to 635% depending on the muscle. They also found that the increase in muscle activity was more extreme at higher speeds.
Another well researched area of treadmill workouts is the benefit of interval training. Studies have consistently shown that interval training increases workout gains and calorie loss. The 2012 study “A Single Session of Sprint Interval Training Increases Total Daily Energy Expenditure,” showed increased energy expenditure throughout the day from subjects who did five 30 second sprint intervals during their workout, alternating with a period of four minute rest after each sprint. People differ on what speed, incline and length for intervals is the most effective. The key thing to remember when running treadmill intervals is to start with short sprints and slowly increase their length over time. Make sure to have at least a minute’s break between each sprint.
Listen to music
The last thing you can do to make sure you get the best treadmill workout is listen to music. A study in 2008 by Brunel University’s School of Sport and Education showed that participants who listened to music showed up to a 15% increase in their endurance levels during their cardio excercises. In addition, researchers found that runners who listened to music experienced more positive feelings about their workout. So make sure to grab your headphones and put on your favorite playlist before you begin!