Six Physio blog

Eight ways to get more from your treadmill workout

Dec 17th, 2014 / Nicki Chick

Neil Smith offers a couple of tips on treadmill workouts, so you can maximise the benefits of running inside. Tesco Living 17th Dec 2014

Eight ways to get more from your treadmill workout

Your regular run may have moved indoors for the winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the
same results. Here’s how to maximise the benefits of running inside

1. Always have a minimum incline of 1%
“This helps to switch on the hip extensors (the bum muscles and hamstrings) to make the movement
more like running outside,” says Lyndon Littlefair, managing director of Equilibrium. “When you run
outside, you have to move yourself forward on the ground, whereas the treadmill belt moves for
you, so the incline compensates for this by making running a little more challenging.”

2. Warm up properly
“To prepare your body, heart rate and mind for your run, warm up on the treadmill for five or six
minutes,” says personal trainer Joel Hilton, co-founder of Project Fit “Start off at walking pace and
then, over four or five minutes, gradually increase the speed until you reach a comfortable jogging
pace. Maintain that speed for a minute or two until you feel warm – now you’re ready for the main

3. Pay attention to your technique
“To keep your hamstrings and glutes working efficiently and safely, keep your steps fast and short.
Try to make as little noise as possible when hitting the belt and don’t let your feet get dragged too
far behind you,” advises Neil Smith, Chartered Physiotherapist at Six Physio (

4. Don’t look down!
“As tempting as it is to look at the monitor to check how far you’ve gone, keep your head up and
look straight ahead; it will prevent you from slouching, which can be a reason for neck, back and
knee pain,” says Smith.

5. Mix it up
Variety is key: switch up your programme or route every six weeks to ensure your body keeps
benefiting and doesn’t get too used to a particular workout,” advises personal trainer Anna

6. Keep hydrated
“Surprisingly, you may lose more water running on a treadmill than running outside, as the air
resistance created while running outdoors helps keep you cool,” reveals Ferguson. Ensure you’re
properly hydrated before your run and have a drink afterwards.

7. Step to the side
“Sidestepping on a treadmill conditions parts of the hips and thighs known as the abductor muscles;
these help stabilise the pelvis and strengthening the core, to make running more efficient,” says
David Clancy, physiotherapist at Isokinetic. “Stand sideways on the treadmill belt, with knees slightly
bent. Set the speed at 4-5kph and step towards the front of the belt with the foot closest to the
monitor, quickly bringing the other foot towards it. Aim for three minutes per side and then stop the
treadmill before switching sides.”

8. Go backwards
“Backwards walking effectively primes the glutes and is a great ‘eccentric’ conditioner for the quads
and for the calves. It also challenges balance, posture and proprioception, all essential for running
forwards,” explains Clancy. Want to try? “Set the speed between 4-5kph and then face the opposite
way on the treadmill. Walk backwards, taking shorter, faster strides than usual, keeping your
shoulders over your feet and striking the belt with your forefoot then heel for five to eight minutes.”

Once you’ve warmed up, try one of these workouts:
“Try walking for one minute, then jogging for a minute, gradually increasing the speed each time you
walk or jog, until you reach your limit, then return to your slowest speed,” recommends Ferguson.
“It’s a great way for beginners to improve their fitness and speed, plus knowing you can walk every
minute allows you stay on the treadmill for longer, affording a longer workout.”

To challenge your body, Hilton suggests jogging at a comfortable speed before taking the incline up
to 4.5% for one minute, then lowering the incline to 1.5% and taking your speed up 1 level, for
example from 8 to 9. “You should be running a little faster than you were on the incline but at the
end of this minute, return to your start speed and take the incline back up to 4.5% and alternate
between to the two speeds and inclines for 20 minutes.”

Workout – Advanced
“Hill workouts are brilliant for improving your fitness and increasing muscle strength,” says Merrell
personal trainer Tracey McCartney, who suggests advanced runners tackle this session. “Warm up
on an incline of 1% then raise the incline by 2% every minute, while aiming to maintain your speed,
then continue raising the incline until you are no longer able to run. Once you’ve reached your max,
lower the incline by 2% every minute until you reach flat ground; keep running throughout and
adjust your speed if you feel you could go faster.”


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