Just owning a good treadmill doesn’t automatically guarantee that you’ll be seeing a trimmer waistline in the near future. You do have to put the work in after all!
But you knew that already, didn’t you?
Still, progress can quickly stall after weeks or months following the same basic routines while walking/running on your home treadmill.
The Problem With Traditional Distance Walking/Running and Fat Loss
The main issue faced by anyone who wants to burn fat and sculpt their physique is that our bodies are designed to adapt to whatever stressors we throw at it. Although our heart, lungs and the rest of our body adapt to each workout and get better at transporting oxygen into the cells and lactic acid out; the body also becomes more adept at preserving its fat reserves!
The body will use sugar stored in your liver and spine during the first several minutes of exercise. Once those stores become depleted, the fat-burning process (hopefully) begins. At around the 40 – 50 minute mark, the body switches into “survival mode,” whereby it will preserve fat stores and switch to consuming muscle tissue for energy.
Less Time + More Intensity + Plenty of Variety = Fat Loss Win!
In order to burn fat and maintain critical calorie-torching muscle tissue you need to work smarter: shorter intense workouts and plenty of variety in your routine, combined with a good diet and plenty of rest are all you need.
Less is more if you do it right!
How Much for How Long?
A good rule of thumb is to workout on your treadmill at moderate to high-intensity for no longer than 30 minutes at a time; 4 – 6 days per week.
• Moderate intensity means that you can (just barely) carry on a conversation without running out of breath. Your heart should be pumping at 50 – 65% of your target heart range
Note: Use the simple formula of: 220 – Age = Max Heart Rate. Then use this easy percentage calculator to find out your where your target heart rate range is. For example: 36 year old would use a range of 94 – 120bpm to stay in the moderate intensity range.
• If you’re working out at high intensity, you shouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation at all. Your heart rate will be in the 65 – 80% range and should stay there for the duration of each treadmill session, to maximize fat loss.
*People with poor fitness or cardiovascular issues should stick to moderate-intensity routines until given the go-ahead to do more by their doctor.
The more intense your routine is, the more fat you’ll be able to burn. High intensity also revs up your metabolism, meaning you’ll burn more fat for up to 36 hours after your workout is done! (see afterburn effect)
Fat-Incinerating Workouts You Can do at Home on Your Treadmill
3 X 10’s
3 x 10’s are great for on-the-go types who’re so busy they don’t have 30 straight minutes to devote to their workouts on any given day. They’re also great for keeping your metabolism high throughout the entire day.
Start out with a 10 minute workout first thing in the morning; then another at noon-ish; and another in the evening. Do a 3 minute warmup phase, then drive the intensity up to a level you’re comfortable with. Work in intervals (see below) if you can, but make each workout a fat-blaster by doing them as intensely as your health and fitness level will allow!
Interval training on the treadmill is one of the most effective ways to burn fat from the comfort of your own home. Split up each 30 minute training session by alternating between varying intensity levels. It’s so easy to do on a treadmill, since you can vary the incline and belt speed with the push of a button.
All modern, and many older treadmills have intervals pre-programmed into them, or at least give the option to program and store your own favorite interval routines. After a 3 minute warmup, alternate between varying levels of difficulty. It’s important to ease into doing higher-intensity intervals (also knowns as HIIT).
This Muscleandfitness.com article details how to do high-intensity intervals on your treadmill. If you’re just starting out, tone the workout down and make sure you’re not exceeding 65% of your max heart rate.
On the surface, sprints are really just a variation of intervals. However, you’re going to be breathing much harder and expending way more calories after a sprint workout!
Basically, you’re going to want to warmup for 3 minutes (important), then start cranking up the belt speed to a fast jog for 1 minute all-out (@ 4 – 5mph). Then you want to get off the treadmill and stop moving for another minute. Next set you want to crank up the speed by 1mph for another minute, followed by a rest, and so on.
The goal is to work up to your maximum speed within the first 10 minutes of the workout, then maintain that speed for consistent 1 minute sprints/1 minute rest intervals for another 10 – 20 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes.
These sprints are not for the faint of heart, and are near impossible for your body to adapt to. Since you’re going to be hitting your max heart rate regularly over the workout, the one-minute rest won’t be enough to bring your pulse down out of the fat-burning zone either. Consistency is very important though – don’t take extended rest periods.
Get to Work!
Now it’s time to go out and apply one (or all) of these workouts. Constantly strive to mix up the intensity, including incline, speed and intervals, to keep your body constantly guessing. Don’t be afraid to take an extra rest day when you start to feel sore or overly fatigued. Overtraining promotes catabolism (burning muscle tissue for energy) and makes the body preserve its fat stores, not burn them.