Trying to find the perfect workouts for your fitness, health and weight loss efforts isn’t always easy. We are inundated with various exercises to try and different ways to get fit. Some people like to push a gym membership on us, while others encourage home workouts.
What about if you want to go to the gym? There are so many naysayers about treadmills. Some people have all these views that they cause damage and don’t actually help you get fitter. You can end up avoiding them with a vengeance when it comes to going to your gym.
The truth is that the right type of treadmill workouts can be highly beneficial. It’s all about working on the legs, heart, and lungs in the right way. You need to focus on building the stamina while limiting the damage your knees and ankles can sustain.
That’s why I’m sharing six workouts that you need to try. These are all incline workouts that you want to get used to, so you can build your fitness levels and improve your weight loss efforts.
Why Incline Workouts Are So Important
Incline workouts are just as they sound: you workout on an incline. That means you’re going upwards instead of running on a flat surface. Just the slightest incline will mean that you put more effort into your running on a treadmill, so you work harder and burn more calories.
When running flat, the treadmill does the majority of the work for you. It’s pushing your leg backward to allow you to step forward without moving forward. You are running on the spot easily. By adding an incline into the workout, you force yourself to put an extra element to your exercise. You force yourself to move forward a little and put more effort into taking that step forward. Sure, the treadmill is still pulling your standing leg back, but your thighs must work harder to run up the incline.
As your muscles have to do more work, they need to build. You end up with toner thighs, calves, and buttocks. When the muscles build, they require more calories to get through the day. You end up boosting your metabolism with this very simple addition to your training.
It’s important to get the ankle and thighs in a position to start working on the incline. You’ll need to get used to running at a 30-minute steady pace on a flat treadmill before moving onto the incline. This helps to avoid injury and accident on the machine. You’ll always want to keep the speed lower, to begin with, as you will feel more tired than you did when just running on a flat surface.
Avoid holding onto the handrails on the treadmill, unless you need to steady your balance temporarily. When you hold on, you take the weight off your legs, so you’re cheating on the incline.
Now it’s time to get a range of treadmill incline workouts to try the next time you’re at the gym. Here are six that will work your body, whether you’re a beginner or more advanced.
Start With a Steady Pace 30-Minute Jog
A steady-state run is an excellent way to burn fat and build up stamina. Start by putting your treadmill on a 10% gradient at a comfortable pace. This isn’t about pushing yourself to the max for the next 30 minutes, but about feeling some sweat and getting a moderate intensity workout. Moderate intensity is especially important if you’re new to incline workouts. As you get fitter and find the incline easier, you can boost the speed and push yourself a little harder.
Just a steady pace will work wonders when you have your treadmill on an incline. You’ll work your thighs in ways that you never before and you will improve your fitness levels. This is very much like doing a 30 minute run on the solid ground outside without an incline. You’re stopping the treadmill from doing all the hard work for you.
If you find the 10% incline too much of a challenge, you can lower to a 5% instead, to begin with. Try hard at the 10% incline because it is the most beneficially for starting out with these types of workouts. As you start to find the10% incline too easy, you can move onto a 15% or 20% incline.
Only change the speed or the incline to make it easier or harder. Changing both at the same time will either make it far too easy so you don’t get all the benefits, or you push yourself too much too soon. It’s not a race to find out how quickly you can progress. You want to avoid injury to help keep the fitness levels up.
It’s also possible to up the amount of time you do the run for. You could find a 40- or 45-minute run is perfect for the current speed and incline.
Build to an Interval Training Incline Workout
You’ve heard of interval training, right? This is when you move at a faster pace for a set period and then slow down to a slower pace of an active recovery. You stay at the slower pace for a determined amount of time and then move back into the faster pace. This continues until you’ve finished a required amount of time running.
Some experts recommend 60-minute interval training but start with 30 minutes if you’re new to this. You want to alternate between a jog or a slow run and a brisk walk. The brisk walk should be fast enough to keep your legs moving but slow enough to give yourself time to recover and lower your heart rate back down in time for the next speedy period.
Keep the incline at 10% throughout the interval training. Rather than changing the gradient, you’ll want to change the amount of time you run and walk for. The aim is to spend a longer time running than you are walking. As you get fitter, your recovery time will drop considerably.
Start by doing 60-90 seconds of running and 30-60 seconds of walking. Build your way up to doing five minutes of running and a minute of walking recovery. Work your way up to a 60-minute workout. If you’re in a rush, 30-40 minutes will be enough but do try hard to fit in the full hour where possible.
Boost to a Sprint-Jog Workout
When you’re used to the interval training, it’s time to move onto a quicker paced workout. This is an excellent one to do in 30 minutes when you are definitely short on time but really want to give yourself a good workout. You’ll get all the leg muscles working, and your lungs will feel a positive burn as you stretch them out.
You want to do a similar workout to the one already mentioned above. The difference is that instead of jogging and walking, you’re sprinting and jogging. The sprinting replaces the jogging section, and the jogging replaces the walking.
Yes, you will feel the difference right away. However, if you’ve already improved your fitness, you should find that the active recovery while jogging does still bring your heart rate down. If you are struggling to fit your recovery into 60 seconds, you’ll want to reduce the speed of this recovery period.
It is possible to build to this from the interval training exercise previously mentioned. With each section of running, you can increase the speed gradually. When you reduce to a walk, lower it to a notch above the last one that you walked You’ll soon find that you’re sprinting and jogging without even realizing.
Opt for a Pyramid Interval Session
The pyramid interval workout takes your interval training to the next level. Not only will you change the speed that you run and walk throughout the session, but you will also change the gradient. Therefore, I suggest keeping your gradient at the 10% to start with during the previous interval workouts.
Start with the 10% incline when running and then reduce to a flat or even a downhill gradient if your treadmill allows for that (not all do) for the recovery stage. On the next spread, increase the gradient to 15% and put the incline back on a negative or flat for the recovery.
The idea is that you run up and down hills while on the treadmill. If you do get a downhill gradient on the treadmill, only do it on the walk and with a slower speed. There is the risk of injury, which is why not all treadmills are set up to allow this. If you feel unstable, hold onto the railing to prevent injury.
As you get better at the pyramid intervals, you can take out the downhill or flat gradient completely. Just put your treadmills back to the 10% gradient for the recovery period, whatever your sprint gradient is sitting at. When you get to the higher gradients, you will feel some relief by getting it to the 10%.
Don’t put your uphill gradient any higher than at 30-45%. You will run the risk of putting it far too steep to run up it. The aim is not to make yourself fall backward!
If you find the higher gradients too easy, you’ll need to push the speed up a little.
Sprint for the Full Time
As you get fitter, you’ll find that running fast isn’t a problem. In fact, you’ll be able to job faster for longer, even with a 10-15% gradient on the treadmill.
This is another workout to try out. You will push yourself harder, and you will boost the intensity of the exercise. As you get fitter, there’s nothing wrong with working out at a higher intensity on a regular basis. Your body is used to it and will have the strength and support to deal with that intensity regularly.
Don’t forget to listen to your body. You shouldn’t feel dizzy or in a lot of pain while running. If you do, slow down the pace.
A 30-45-minute run at a higher pace is all you need. You can do less, burn more calories, and say goodbye to more fat from around the middle. You’ll also feel much happier in yourself as your brain releases more endorphins during the workout.
If you do high-intensity workouts throughout the week, you only need to do 75 minutes rather than the 150 minutes of allow to moderate intensity workout to remain fit and healthy. That means you can do 150 minutes of high intensity a week instead of 300 minutes of low intensity to lose weight effectively.
Combine the Cross Trainer and Treadmill into an Exercise
You don’t just have to do the full workout on the treadmill. The next time you’re at the gym, combine two machines into the one routine. You can even put the cross trainer on an incline, just like you can with the treadmill.
The benefit of the cross trainer is that you work your legs harder. There’s less to help pull your legs back, and you need to work hard to get the machine going. You also have a lower impact on your knees and ankles, which is excellent for those recovering from some injuries. You can hold onto stationary handrails to avoid falling out without feeling like you’re cheating.
For the first 30 minutes, do a series of sprints and slow runs on the cross trainer. This will get you warmed up and will get the heart racing. You can then move onto the treadmill for an interval training session for the next 30 minutes. This gives you a full 60-minute workout without feeling bored.
Work Your Way Up to Avoid Injury
It’s tempting to just right into the fastest and hardest workouts. We want to build our fitness levels quickly and lose as much weight as possible. Well, that’s not the way to work out on treadmills with an incline. You run the risk of injury if you opt for doing it this way.
Avoid injury by working your way up on the speed and inclines. You only need a 10% gradient to work on your thigh muscles and improve your stamina. This can be at walking pace, to begin with, and then you can work on jogging for a full 30 minutes.
Don’t be afraid to start off faster and lower your speed later in the run. This is you admitting to your limitations so you can build your fitness without causing injury. You can also increase the speed if you start to feel like you need to do more to get the heart rate up and feel the sweat.
Once you’re comfortable with an incline, it’s time to start moving onto the harder workouts. Interval training will get your blood pumping and make you burn more calories. Your body must work harder after the workout to recover, so you’re still burning extra calories throughout the day compared to just running at a flat speed the whole time. If you want to boost your metabolism, you want to focus on some type of interval training whenever you do incline treadmill workouts.