Some people (me included) will tell you that excess cardio does more harm to your body than good. For this reason we always advice anyone new to any kind of regular workout to start with strength training exercise first. Why? Because cardio alone doesn’t do more than burn calories during the workout, while strength training builds the body towards fitness. Also, only doing cardio exercise — especially repeating the same workout over and over will lead to diminishing returns. This means that the more you do of the same cardio workout the less you benefit from that workout. To learn the science behind this you can read chapter 4 of Forever Young Forever Fit, where I explain exercise physiology in simple terms. Once you have got your training and workout routines in order, cardio exercises are actually good things. You can do cardio on days when you need to give your strength-trained muscles a break. Also, it helps people who are already fit lose that last bit of sticky fat.
Treadmills for Cardio Workout
Walking is the most natural thing a person can do to move. That is what the treadmill is for. It is not better than walking on real roads, but it is ideal when outdoor conditions aren’t so great; like in bad weather or in cities where the air is polluted. I travel to cities in India and China, and can attest to how the treadmill at hotel gyms become life savers! The good thing about using treadmills is that you can literally push yourself to go fast or exert on an incline by setting a workout program before hand. While it isn’t necessary to over exert when doing cardio, having the programs set up can be fun. My caution again is : do not get hooked on the treadmill, because there are other more useful exercises you can do with your time.
The Best Treadmill Workouts
Here are 5 ways to workout on a treadmill:
- Rolling Hills: Set your treadmill program to hills. Some machines will do this automatically for you when you choose the rolling hills option. Otherwise it just means something like this: for a period of 35 minutes, do 5 mins flat road (level 0) warm up at moderate speed (maintain this speed throughout exercise) — 5 mins gradual up-hill to level 2 incline — 5 mins back to level 0 — 5 mins gradual up-hill to level 4 incline — 5 mins back to level 2 — 5 mins gradual up-hill to level 6 incline — 5 minutes cool down.
- Interval Training: You can do this manually with a workout timer or timer app on your phone. Start with 5 mins warm up at moderate speed, then do a 40 second dash, followed by 20 sec walk. Depending on your fitness level, you may set the speed to be faster or slower. You may even increase incline with speed.
- All the way up the Hill: Start with 5 minutes warmup, and slowly increase the incline for 20 minutes. This is a strength workout for the legs.
- Slow paced cardio for Recovery days workout: Set a moderate speed, and walk/jog. It is better to do this on a slight incline, and go slower rather than faster. Also doing this, you should watch your posture, pack your shoulders down and tuck in the belly.
- Refer to this interesting article: How to do Strength Training With the Treadmill <– this is the best way to use the machine!!
Unless you are doing exercise 5, you should get off the treadmill at intervals and do some upper-body workout, like push ups, pull ups and lifting.
Calories Burned Doing Treadmill Workouts
It depends on your body, and the state of your fitness. Unfit people benefit more from treadmill workouts, that is why they are attractive machines to use. The fitter you get, you have to vary your exercise more. [symple_highlight color=”yellow”]An average female of 130 lbs can expect to burn 400-500 Calories doing vigorous running on the treadmill for 40 minutes. [/symple_highlight] Some people burn less and some burn more calories. It all really depends on you fitness level, your body type and what kind of exercise you are doing on the treadmill. For example if you do exercise 1 you’ll burn more calories during workout than if you did exercise 4 or 5. BUT, doing exercise 4 can build good muscle power and exercise 5 builds full body function. Even though you “burn less” calories during some workouts, you burn more calories hours after that workout. Therefore all workouts have their functions. All you have to do is choose the right one at the right time. Important to note: Calories shown on exercise machines do not reflect reality. Do not be a slave to the numbers. Instead exercise for fitness and exercise wisely!
Treadmills for the Home Gym
As for all exercise equipment for the home gym, do get only the best quality equipment you can afford. The treadmill goes through pounding like no other, do bear this in mind when purchasing a piece. I usually check the products available on Amazon before heading for the stores. I think the product reviews do tell a lot more than brochures from advertisements. Here are a couple of promising pieces. Do check each product for the foldability, space usage, incline levels and how much weight the machine can take. Those are important factors. The other thing to remember: If you want to run on the treadmill, by only motorized treadmills!
LifeSpan TR 1200i Folding Treadmill (2013 Model)
- 2.5-horsepower folding treadmill with spacious 20-by-56-inch running surface
- Biomechanically correct deck suspension system supports up to 300 pounds
- Multicolored LCD console tracks your time, calories, distance, speed, and more
- Offers several weight loss, healthy living, sports training, and heart rate programs
- EZ Drop folding system; measures 33 x 54 x 70 inches (W x H x D); lifetime warranty on frame and motor
- Treadmill Doctor “Best Buy” Award for Best New Treadmill; Fitness Professor “Head of the Class” Best Treadmill under $1,000 for 2011