Don’t train in vain:
What are you running for?
When many of us go to the gym we already know what the number one time killing piece of equipment is: The treadmill. After looking at the dashboard of this thing, most will gather that the best thing to do is just push start and start running on it till we fill like we’re fitting in with everyone else around us. As we’re on there we start to notice features on it such as distance, calories burned, and even something called METS; which to the untrained eye seems like something that’s good too. This charade carries on until one of three things happen: 1) We’re on there long enough that the people surrounding us has left. 2) We see that we’ve covered a distance far enough that gives us some sort of feeling of accomplishment. 3) We get bored. So, the question is, what are you on there for?
There are actually many benefits to treadmill training. Now before you shy away for the word “training”; this doesn’t necessarily mean training as in Rocky vs Ivan Drago (The Russian) in Rocky IV. We’re talking training meaning to perform one action within a series of actions in route to gain a greater understanding of your ultimate goal. With that said, what’s your goal?
Using a treadmill with goals in mind:
When trying to only burn excess fat, the first thing you have to understand that “fat burning” is a specific request. Much like any specific request, there must be a specific response. Most don’t understand that only low to moderate exercise burns calories only from fat. This would explain that brief chart that describes your “fat burning” zone somewhere on the dashboard showing your target heart ranges. However, I advise the spot treatment option of “fat burning” to those who are doing just that; spot treating i.e bodybuilders/fitness competitors. What I mean by that is, if you’re ultimate goal is to lose 20lbs, remember that there are 3500 calories in a pound…you can do the math to figure out how many treadmill sessions that will take if your diet isn’t immaculate. That only becomes reasonable when that’s your job…when have your ever heard of a Bodybuilder running? Right. This low intensity option is also for those who are new to exercise and are looking to raise their heart rate for the recommended 30 minutes a day (ACSM guidelines, 2012). However, whatever gets you off the couch.
This option is for those with low heart risks, and looking to burn some serious calories in a short amount of time. What this does is add variance in speed and elevation to increase the amount of energy required to respond to the machine. Basically, your heart works harder whether it is trying to supply more oxygen to the muscles because of the increased speed, or it’s working harder to slow itself down when the pace has slowed; this in fact also requires a surge in energy as well. Don’t believe me? Take off for a 100 meter spring then come to abrupt stop…listen to that heart work! We in the professional world like to call this EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption). What is EPOC you ask? It is when your heart has to repay a debt from a deficit it made. Since it takes a while to get your heart rate to match the effort that occurs when there is a switch in activity level, it puts your body in a deficit. Think about it like this, if you were to borrow a lump sum of money that you didn’t have from a friend, it’s going to take you a while to pay it back, right? Right. This is the same concept in interval training. Only this case, this debt loss in pounds instead of friends!
Outside of having a running coach, the treadmill is the one time an individual has a good idea of what pace their running at. So use it! If you’re goal is to get your mile time under eight minutes, the treadmill will show you what it feels like running at 7.5 mph for the duration of eight minutes. My advice for a goal mile time would be to start working on sustaining your ideal pace for two minutes to, and then work up to how ever many minutes it will take to reach a mile. Easier said than done, but that goal can be reached by using the treadmill for it’s purpose: A training tool.
In review, lets no longer hop on a treadmill to make yourself tired! Lets have a goal in mind and use these devices to take us there; don’t train in vain.