Great Treadmill Workouts for Weight Loss

Incorporating treadmill workouts into your weight loss program can be the workout that finally makes a difference.

The physicians and staff at the Medical College of Wisconsin found in a study comparing different exercise machines that the treadmill is the best indoor exercise machine for burning calories and losing weight. The study couldn’t entirely explain why treadmill workouts burned more energy than the other workouts at the three exercise intensities tested. According to Martin D. Hoffman at the Sports Performance and Technology Laboratory, one factor, is that running involves many large muscles, from shoulder to toe, working through a wide range of motion. In contrast, rowing doesn’t involve the large leg muscles, and a stationary bicycle does little from the waist up. The great thing about treadmills is the skills you need to use it are very low for walking, jogging or running.1 And in situations where walking is difficult, the best treadmill for weight loss is one from AlterG that enables mobility by decreasing pain and making walking easier.

Treadmill Interval Workouts

Aerobic Interval Training

Aerobic interval workouts on the treadmill are designed to progress a beginner to the next level of weight loss. This workout is a great starting point for those not capable of performing a 20 continuous cardio workout. This level of interval training is alternating stints of low intensity aerobic exercise with a short breaks following. For example, perform 5 minutes of low intensity aerobic activity prior to taking a short break, followed by another 5 minutes of low intensity aerobic training, until you accumulated 20-30 minutes of activity. Over the first couple weeks of training, you should try to increase the time of each aerobic interval session while decreasing the rest interval. The advantage of the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ is that it helps those that are too deconditioned to even complete short stints of exercise.  By unweighting users, the AlterG can allow for activity by making walking easier and safer.


High Intensity Interval Workout

A word of caution first regarding high intensity interval training, it is not for beginners. There is a much higher incidence of injuries due to sprinting and the high acid levels in the muscles. If you’ve been running and are ready to step it up a notch or have accomplished aerobic interval training (mentioned above) then interval training leads to greater fat loss. Even though you burn less calories during the activity, you continue to burn calories due to EPOC, excess post exercise oxygen consumption. An example workout would be to sprint for one minute and then walk or jog for two minutes following this pattern for 10 to 15 sets. This interval would be considered a 1:2 work to rest ratio interval workout and would take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete. To avoid injuries, it is recommended to perform sprinting interval training at zero percent incline. High intensity intervals for endurance athletes should limit this type of workout to two times per week.  With the AlterG, athletes can decrease joint impact forces, possibly protecting them from injury, when performing these high intensity interval workouts.

Fat Burning Treadmill Workout

Exercising at a constant pace or sustaining the intensity for the duration of the workout is highly effective for weight loss on a treadmill, particularly for novices. The technical definition of steady state training is when heart rate and oxygen consumption stay the same at a constant rate of work. The best way to accomplish this is to exercise at a low intensity for a prolonged period that uses fat resources as opposed to available carbohydrates in your system. To benefit from steady state training you need to increase your workout time at a pace of 60% of your max heart rate which is typically 220 minus your age. Monitor you heart rate to keep the same intensity. You should incorporate this type of workout 3 – 5 times per week or rotate it with some of the other workouts in this article. On the Anti-Gravity Treadmill, the user can adjust not only speed and incline, but also body weight, to modify the workload and maintain their target HR.

The “Random” Setting Workout

Checkout the setting on your favorite treadmill and you will most likely see a setting call “Random”. This setting puts you though a random course of inclines and speeds. This program works so effectively because it creates an element of surprise during the workout. It creates muscle just like an outdoor trail run or jog would do. Muscle confusion is a training principle that utilizes constantly changing movements so that the body has a difficult time adapting, thereby working harder and responding with more energy expenditure or calories burned. Do this workout for 30 to 45 minutes. Incorporating this type a workout is a nice change and is rewarding when you finish. The added parameter of % body weight in the AlterG creates even more  opportunities for users to “surprise” their body and contribute to muscle confusion.

Hill Climbing Treadmill Workout

Hill climbing workouts are great for building muscle to trim fat on your legs and glutes. Again take a look at your control panel for your favorite treadmill and you will see the “Incline” up and down arrows. The biggest bang for your workout dollar occurs at inclines above 10 percent. According to FreeMotion Fitness, researcher Dr. Matthew Rhea, director of human movement at A.T. Still University, determined the following:

  • Walking at 3 mph with a 12% incline yielded the same heart rate as running at 6 mph on a flat surface.
  • At an incline of 15% incline, muscle activation in the legs exceeded 75 percent of maximal isometric contraction.
  • At zero percent incline only 20% of muscle tissue was activated.
  • At 2 mph and 16% incline, over six calories per minute from fat were burned.
  • Compare this to less than two calories per minute from fat used at 6 mph and 0% incline.

For example, set the incline to 10% grade and walk or run at an intensity level of 80% of maximum heart rate, 220 minus your age. You can maintain steady state through the hills or incorporate intervals of lower inclines with higher inclines. Do the hill climbing workouts for 30 to 45 minutes. Adding this type of treadmill workout for weight loss is effective at once per week. On the AlterG you may have to adjust your speed and incline to reach you target HR if you are taking advantage of the unweighting option. But the big upside of being able to take load off of your joints is less aches and pain, for more results in your weight loss program.

Treadmill Workout Tips

To avoid injuries warm up five minutes before each training session and cool down five minutes after each session. Stretching 10 minutes into the workout can make tight muscles relax if you are feeling overly tight. Stretch all major muscles after your cool down should never be skipped. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. When you are first starting out keep a journal to track your progress including duration, calories burned and type of workout. You will be surprised with results and it is rewarding to have it on paper and motivating. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the workout. Combining your new training program with a healthy diet of lean protein and veggies will give you the quickest results and you will feel great. Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your physician.

1 Hoffman, Zeni, Clifford –