How many times have you hopped on a treadmill only to get bored in the first couple of minutes? If you're like many people, that answer is, "all the time!" You might feel like a hamster spinning on a wheel, but the treadmill doesn't have to be monotonous. It can even be (dare we say it?) fun!
For example, in the workout below, you'll use incline to keep things fresh and build strength in your posterior chain, These are the muscles that run along the backside of your body, including your spinal stabilizers, lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Because these are some of the biggest and strongest muscles, having a strong posterior chain can help prevent injuries, improve posture and aid in daily tasks.
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Upping the incline also makes you a better runner in general. Since your body has to work harder to propel you up the incline, the added intensity challenges your cardiovascular system and trains you to run faster. That's because strong, powerful legs mean increased speed. Plus, when you take your run to the streets, you'll be bettered prepared when you approach a hill or uneven terrain.
And let's not forget, there's the bonus of a higher calorie burn when adding incline, which is something we can all appreciate.
Try This 6-5-2-5 Incline Interval Treadmill Workout
With this treadmill workout (you can follow along with the video above), you'll be doing a 6-5-2-5 format. This consists of:
- 1 minute of walking at a 6-percent incline
- 1 minute of jogging at a 5-percent incline
- 1 minute of running at a 2-percent incline
- Repeat this pattern 5 times.
Set a goal for yourself and see if you can maintain your speeds for every round.
There are a few important things to consider when tackling incline. While it may be tempting to hold on to the handrails — don't. While holding on may make things easier, it also changes your gait and can cause injury. If you were climbing a hill outside, you wouldn't have anything to hold on to. Plus, your arms help to propel your forward. Where your arms go, your legs will follow.
If you feel the need to hold on, it's usually because you don't have control of the treadmill. Slow down and regain control. When you're walking or running on an incline, you won't be able to maintain the same speed as if you were on a flat road for long. The added incline is harder, even though the pace is slower.
As you go uphill, make sure you're leaning forward through the chest, not the hips. And always keep your chest held high, taking smaller, quicker steps. Your longer strides should be saved for the flatter portions of the workout.
Another thing to keep in mind is that incline should take priority over speed in this workout. The goal is to build strength, so you don't want to sacrifice your incline to go faster. You'll work your way up to higher speeds over time as you get stronger, but for now, focus on incline.
You'll find that using interval incline training along with other treadmill programs (like speed intervals and longer endurance runs) will make you a stronger and more confident runner all around. Many distance runners attribute better race results to training with inclines.
Ready? Set. Go!