I know when I visit fitness centers one of the most frequently used pieces of equipment is the treadmill. And oftentimes there is a wait! I’m sure many of you put in 30–60 minutes on the ‘dreadmill’ a few days per week. But let’s be honest shall we? It’s super boring to walk or run on a treadmill, unless you’ve learned to spice things up!

So today I’m asking how do you keep your treadmill training interesting?

Personally I use treadmills for HIIT training. So I’ll sprint for anywhere from 30–60 seconds then walk for the same amount of time. There are no rules really and generally the faster I sprint, the shorter the duration and the more time I need to recover. I’ve also seen many people wearing weight vests or setting the treadmill to a super high incline. But for the most part when I see someone on a treadmill, they’re moving at the same pace, whether walking or running, for almost the entire time. That’s just as boring as watching paint dry to me!

 The truth is the treadmill CAN be a valuable training tool. For instance, during some WOD’s, I may jump on the treadmill and sprint ¼ mile as part of the session. Or I may start the workout off with a ½ mile sprint, perform the WOD then finish with another ½ mile. I mean after all treadmills are for running and walking right? Well yes and no. What if I told you to try walking lunges, mountain climbers, sideways shuffles or even running backwards on the treadmill? How about putting your HANDS on the treadmill with your feet on the ground and trying walking planks? My friends, the treadmill is much more versatile than you think and again you’re imagination is the only limiting factor.

A great workout I’ve performed in the past is called The ¼ Mile Drag.  This is a series of ¼ mile sprints followed by 30 seconds of 8 bodyweight and 4 dumbbell / resistance band exercises. It’s a full body workout that utilizes the treadmill as part of the routine in a useful and productive way. And of course you can swap out exercises as you see fit and change times as well. But you get the general idea that long, boring bouts of treadmill use don’t have to be that way. Here’s another little workout to try – get on the treadmill with the power OFF, hands on the rail in front and start pushing the belt. Then try to generate enough momentum to start a sprint. That’s super tough and a great workout that will leave you breathless very quickly.

What’s also very interesting is that when you switch up your treadmill training you’ll also increase your fitness. Honestly, for those of you who use treadmills – when was the last time you ran faster or made some tangible progress in your training? Most people have a ‘number’ that they use on the treadmill and it never changes. So if you’ve been walking at 4.0 or running at 6.5 for a year, you may be burning calories but you’re not increasing your fitness. Your body is already efficient at the demand you’re placing on it and it’s time for a new stimulus to become more fit and healthier. Just like other modes of exercise, you must strive to perform better and mix up your routine to reap consistent benefits of an exercise program.

I’m not a huge fan of treadmills as most of you know. I think they’re too heavily relied upon as the go-to source for burning calories and losing weight. BUT they can have a place in your program if they’re used creativity and intelligently. As said in a recent Twitter chat, “Run the treadmill, don’t let it run you”. Got it!

So how do you keep treadmill training fresh and exciting – or are you bored out of your mind? Share away…

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