A running machine, or a treadmill as it is generally called, is a convenient piece of exercise equipment that provides an efficient indoor cardiovascular workout by either running or walking. Most treadmills offer a variety of options and allow you to climb hills or choose from a number of pre-set programs that guide you through various running trails at different speeds and grades of inclines. Creating your own workout is also always an option on the treadmill.
Develop a plan before you step onto the treadmill. Having a specific goal in mind for the session can help to maximize your productivity during your workout. For example, increasing and sustaining your speed, running for a specific amount of time, such as 30 minutes, or following an interval program that includes altering the incline throughout the workout.
Warm up for the first five minutes of your workout on the treadmill. Whether you will be running or walking throughout the session, starting slow and increasing your pace gradually can help you to avoid a fast burnout or injury.
Increase the incline to simulate walking or running up hills, which help to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and calves. Start with a moderate incline and change to steeper grades gradually as you become stronger. Climb hills with proper form to avoid foot and ankle injuries; keep your abdominal muscles engaged to protect your lower back; take small steps; and have your foot land directly beneath the center of your body. Land on your mid-foot and roll through your toes to push off, with an emphasis placed on the big toe.
Change the pace of your activity by rotating through walking, running or sprinting intervals. Walk or lightly jog for two minutes and then increase the pace to either a run or sprint for 60 seconds. Continue altering between the slower and faster paces for 20 to 30 minutes.
Mix it up by inserting two to three minutes of fun yet effective exercises that will target all of the muscle groups in your legs, such as side-shuffles, walking lunges or walking backwards. Slow the treadmill down while performing these types of exercises and hold on to the railings to help with stability.
Stretch after your treadmill session for 10 to 15 minutes. Include all muscle groups that were activated during your workout, including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and ankles. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds as you inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Avoid pushing your muscles past their normal range of motion while stretching.
Leave at least one full day between treadmill sessions to allow time for your muscles to rest and recover.
Consult with a physician before starting a new walking or running program. Tell your doctor if you have any injuries or medical conditions that may be affected from working out on a treadmill.