Written by: Jessica Weiler, Personal Trainer, O2 Fitness Wilmington
You're probably thinking there must be a million different and complex ways to maximize a workout on a treadmill. Most of the treadmills we use today are flooded with options and features, but there's one common feature that can be very effective:
The Incline Option.
Most treadmills have an incline option with some models going to a grade as high as 15%. Walking on an incline offers multiple benefits whether you are exercising to lose weight, improve cardiovascular health, or working to build leg strength. Maximizing your time in the gym is important.
Studies show that walking or running with an incline can as much as double the amount of calories burnt during your walk or run.
Working at intensities of 65 to 85 percent of your maximal age predicted heart rate helps improve cardiovascular fitness. A lot of people believe that the only way to achieve this higher heart rate is to speed up, however using the incline feature or raising the grade on the treadmill can help to achieve the same results. Raising the incline also will help to improve leg strength by activating the muscles of the calves, hamstrings and glutes.
Walking or running on an incline forces your lungs to breath deeper and increases blood flow to the lungs and heart which can offer many cardiovascular benefits. Walking up hill is a great way to get your heart pumping without having to jack up the speed, which allows people of all fitness levels to reap the benefits. Try raising and lowering your incline allowing your heart rate to rise and then recover. Varying your speed and incline will help to keep your body guessing, train your heart to recover, and also will help to add variety to your routine.
Using an incline on the treadmill helps to build muscles in the upper and lower thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings), gluteal muscles and ankles. Training on incline provides a stretch to the calves that will promote the building of long lean calf muscles.
Building bone density....
Another great benefit of using the treadmill is that it is a weight bearing exercise helping to build bone density which is very important in helping to fight against osteoporosis. This lower impact type of cardiovascular training also helps decrease the risk of injury or strain on the knees and hips.
Don't forget to free your arms!
In order to achieve the best results from using the grade feature on your treadmill, allow your arms to pump and swing freely. Don't hold on! There is nothing for you to hold on to when walking, running or climbing hills outside, right? If you do find it difficult to keep up without holding on try decreasing your speed or lowering your grade so that you are able to keep up. I would like to challenge you to hop on a treadmill the next time you are in the gym to find a comfortable speed that suits you and let go of the handles, start climbing those hills and see how it feels!