Running on a treadmill has helped my outdoor running. I have been using it for years and credit it with improving my stamina and overall conditioning. I prefer to do my running outside, on a grassy surface, however living in a temperate region of the US with its harsh winters has forced me to utilized the treadmill at least three to four months during the colder periods.
When running on these machines I do just that — run with a purpose. There is a place for walking and jogging but I get the most bang for my efforts by doing sprints or interval training on treadmills. I use other cardio machines at my local gym, however the treadmill is usually my ‘go to’ trainer. It absorbs my foot falls similar to grassy surface and I can adjust the speed on the fly.
Believe it or not running down hill activates more muscle action and you can prove this the next time you go up and down a set of stairs. So if you can find a treadmill with a decline setting by all means use it.
Read the following article which briefly mentions some of the errors we make when using treadmills.
The Treadmill Mistake You’re Probably Making
One of the greatest perks of running on a treadmill is being able to train on an incline that you can adjust. But, not all treadmill runners take advantage of this feature, and those who do may not be doing it right.
Jason Fitzgerald, Strength Running founder and a certified coach for USA Track & Field, spoke with Women’s Health about how great inclines can be. As he explained, “changing up your treadmill’s incline changes the muscles you emphasize during your workout.” It also “increases the aerobic demand of the run [helping you develop more endurance], and boosts muscular strength, which can help prevent injuries.” But, keep in mind that steeper isn’t always better. Joy R. Miles, a certified coach for the USA Triathlon, told Women’s Health, “if you have any issues with hip flexor tightness, high inclines can cause irritation to those muscles.”
Beginner treadmill runners should focus on a moderate incline. Fitzgerald suggests “inclines of 2-4% before moving up.” For those preparing for a outdoor race, Fitzgerald suggests a “1-1.5% incline” to compensate for the harsher conditions — such as wind — that you’ll face once you’re running outside.
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Remember: No matter which incline you choose, if it is steep enough that you need to hang on to the treadmill, it’s too steep. Fitzgerald explains that “by reducing activation of the leg muscles, hanging on essentially defeats the purpose of increasing incline…you should never set the incline or speed so high that you can’t move hands-free, [with] your body forming a straight line.”
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P.S. By doing intervals on the treadmill I am able to reduce my cardio time by five to eight minutes and I get a more quality workout. Remember — unless you are an elite athlete, intervals should only be done three times per week, at most.
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