How to Maximize Your Treadmill Workout

Good Housekeeping
Healthy Living
September 6, 2012


For years I avoided the treadmill. Such an unexciting machine, I thought. But when I moved and could no longer attend my beloved kick boxing class, I begrudgingly gave the treadmill one more try.

Related: Budget-Friendly Fitness Plans

Not being a runner, I felt that walking on an incline would offer me the most challenge. So I ramped the incline up to 11%, bumped up the speed to 4.3 mph, and grabbed onto the console for support. Things were going well for a while, or so I thought, until a friend pointed out to me that what I was doing was all wrong. He gently suggested that I not hold onto the machine and either lower my speed or the incline so as to get the most benefit from the treadmill. My pride caused me to foolishly ignore his advice and, after all, I wasn't alone in this. Many of my fellow treadmill runners in the gym were doing the same thing and we couldn't all be wrong, could we? However, after one more nudging, I did a little research for myself and here's what I found out about walking on the treadmill on an incline:

Related: Exercise Advice You Can Trust

  • Walking on an incline at a low speed still offers a great cardiovascular workout but puts less of an impact on the knees and hips.
  • Holding onto the treadmill while walking on an incline cancels out the effect of the slope and minimizes the benefits, even at higher speeds.
  • Allowing your arms to swing at your sides while walking simulates the natural movement of climbing a hill.
  • If you can't keep up, lowering the incline or the speed of the treadmill will make it much more manageable.

Lesson learned: While adding an incline to your treadmill workout offers variety and increased resistance, it's very important to do it correctly so as not to cheat yourself of the fat-burning benefits.

Related: Quick and Easy Exercises

Walking is a great and easy way to burn calories but if walking indoors isn't your thing, read Good Housekeeping's story on how to choose the best walking shoes, and while you're at it, use a pedometer to monitor your workout.

What is your favorite way to work out? Let me know in the comments!

- by Charmaine Gillespie

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