If you’re trying to lose weight but run at the same speed and incline every time you hit the treadmill, you can run right into a rut that’s boring and lacking in kilojoule-torching power. The good news is jogging on the treadmill can go from a tedious trek to a quick fat-burning session. All it takes is a bit of know-how and strategic programming that’ll not only improve your speed, but your weight loss capacity, too.
1. Mix It Up
Exercise’s role in weight loss may seem easy: To lose weight, you need to burn more kilojoules, says Janet Hamilton, an exercise physiologist at Running Strong. You can do that by upping your intensity or your duration. The problem is that if you work too close to your maximum heart rate, you might tire out too quickly. But if you run slow and steady you’ll have to go a long time to see results.
The happy medium is variety, says Hamilton. On some days, take your usual 20 to 30 minutes a little bit faster. On other days, go longer and slower – for about an hour or so.
2. Master Your Speed
Intervals – or short bursts of sprinting sprinkled throughout a workout – are one of the easiest ways to cut time off your workout (score!) and centimetres off your waist. In fact, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that ladies who ran hard for two minutes (then slowed down for three minutes) burned more kilojoules the day after their workout than those who went the slow and steady route.
What’s even better: They dropped four per cent of their body fat in the coming weeks. The group who did low-intensity, steady workouts didn’t lose any.
Start with intervals in 1:2 or 1:1 ratios, says Hamilton. That means upping your speed for 30 to 60 seconds, then dropping it for the same amount of time or double that. Choose a speed that’s an effort you could hold for between two and five minutes, says Hamilton. You want to feel invigorated, not exhausted. You can build up to higher intensities, but how hard to go all depends on your experience – so first check out where you fall with this new treadmill workout you have to try.
3. Do Hills the Smart Way
Up your incline, up your kilojoule burn – it sounds simple. Unfortunately, running or walking on a steep incline can be hard on your body. “Most people instinctively know that, but when we get on the treadmill, we lose that common sense, crank up the incline, and hold on for dear life,” says Hamilton.
Instead of setting the incline and forgetting it, pretend you’re outside, says Hamilton. Learn to go up a hill at the same effort you’re going at a flat road. That might mean dropping your speed a little, but “this is an opportunity to build strength in your hips and legs, working them a little harder.”
You can also try incline intervals, she says. Crank the incline up between 2 and 4 per cent for one to two minutes, let your speed drop 0.1 or 0.2, then bring your incline back down to 0 for that same amount of time and repeat. Once you’ve mastered maintaining your effort on a hill, work to maintain speed.
4. Some Days, Just Keep Going
We’ve all had those miraculous days where eight kilometres feels like four. “Just doing a longer workout will burn about 50 percent more kilojoules,” says Hamilton. Instead of running for 30 minutes, going for 45 increases your duration and calorie burn by 50 per cent. While this isn’t a good everyday technique (hello, boredom and plateaus), switching up your routine with some longer runs is a great way to up your kilojoule burn without a ton of effort.
5. Don’t Ditch Other Workouts
Research published in The Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that the best way to lose weight isn’t doing the same routine over and over again. Finding the perfect mix of resistance training, intervals, endurance, and stretching will help you meet your goal faster.