The treadmill is one of the most common fitness machines, both at the gym and at home. Using a treadmill correctly will help you to burn more calories, use proper muscles, and avoid injury. To help you out, we have compiled a list of the top 12 most common treadmill mistakes, and how to avoid them. Hopefully after reading this you will be able to break some of your bad habits and make your workouts as effective as possible!
1. Competing With Your Neighbor
It’s true that there is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. It can help you to push yourself. But constantly comparing your pace with your neighbor’s is not going to do anything for you. In fact, it’s a really quick way to make an enemy! Focus on yourself when you are running. If the workout is feeling too easy, up the pace or increase the incline. If it feels like you are pushing yourself too hard, take it down a couple notches to avoid injury.
2. Same Workout, Different Day
It is easy to fall into routine mode once you hit the treadmill. Muscle confusion is important in order for noticeable progression to occur. Try intervals, hill climb, and fat burning workouts. This will increase the amount of calories you burn because your body will not get used to one specific workout. Self magazine gives 10 workouts that will keep both your body and your brain on point. Next time you feel yourself in a running rut, try switching it up with one of these boredom-busting treadmill workouts!
3. Hanging onto the Handrails
This is probably the most common treadmill mistake on our list. Just walk into a gym and you are sure to see a few runners cheat their workouts by using the handrails as a safety net. Although you may feel safer, you are depriving yourself of the full workout potential. When you hang onto the handrails, you are taking the weight off of your legs. This will slow muscle growth and decrease the amount of calories you burn during your workout.
4. Skipping Your Warm Up & Cool Down
We have all been faced with the same dilemma: your gym time was cut down because of work, school, or other responsibilities. Although ditching the warm up and cool down portions of your workout may seem like you are managing your time effectively, you are putting yourself at risk for injury. When you take a few minutes to warm up, you prepare your body for the workout, giving it proper blood flow, oxygen, and lubrication for joints. A cool down allows the body to get rid of waste products from the muscles that are worked, decreasing the amount of soreness you feel in the days following your workouts.
5. Autopilot Mode
Going into autopilot mode is easy to do. Too many people jump on the treadmill, read through a magazine during their workout, and hardly break a sweat in the process. Make sure you are paying constant attention to your body during your run. How is your breathing? What is your form like? How are your strides? Being aware will help you to get the most out of your workout. You are much more likely to see results when you are making a constant effort to improve your running.
6. Running at the Same Pace
Runners often find a pace that is mildly challenging, and then stick with it. It is important to switch it up! Not only should you be increasing your pace as it gets easier, you should also be varying your pace within your workout. Interval training is effective because it will burn more calories, improve your aerobic capacity, and keep you interested in your workout. For a full list of the benefits of interval (also called high intensity) training, check out bodyrock.
7. Too Steep of an Incline
It’s not very often that you face a 7-mile steep hill in the real world. According to Basso, exercise should be functional, and strengthen your muscle for real world use. It’s pretty common to see people at the on the treadmill, on the steepest incline, and they are holding onto the handrails for dear life. If that is the case for you, the incline is too steep! Try to keep you incline levels at a practical level, and one that you can maintain
8. Checking the Display
When treadmills show your distance, pace, calories burned, time elapsed, and so many other things, it’s hard to ignore the numbers on the screen. The problem with the readings is that they are based on algorithms, not on your body. What you read is a very rough version of what is actually happening physiologically. They can be discouraging and cause you to lose your motivation. To avoid glancing down at the screen every minute, throw a towel over it! That way, you will run until you are done, regardless of what the machine says.
9. Jumping Off at Full Speed
This is also a very common occurrence at the gym. People get up to a sprinting speed, and then jump off to go grab a drink. The majority of people don’t have the coordination to do that without risking injury according to Huffington Post. It may save you a minute or so of time, but is that worth the risk of spraining your ankle? Save yourself an injury, and slow down your pace before you jump off the treadmill. You can thank us later!
10. Tensing Up
Do your best to avoid tensing up during your workout. Running on a treadmill is hard enough without tensing up muscles in addition to it! Try and relax while you are on the belt. Keep your breathing steady and your neck relaxed. This will help you to avoid unnecessary post-workout soreness.
11. Improper Stride Length
When you transition from outdoor running to indoor running, it can be tough to get in the groove. Your strides will not feel as natural because your body does not naturally keep a 100% consistent pace. It is important to find a stride that is not too long and not too short. Your feet shouldn’t be too far in front or behind you. Keep them directly beneath you and running on the treadmill will feel more natural and you will feel more balanced.
12. Improper Form
Perhaps the worst mistake on our list, many people do not have the proper form when running on the treadmill. Make sure to keep your gaze forward. Avoid craning your neck in one direction just so you can see a TV. Keep your head directly above your spine with your shoulders back. Make sure your hands aren’t in tight fists and your jaw isn’t clenched.