Archive for the tag - treadmill

7 Treadmill Myths You Probably Believe!

o-SMILE-TREADMILL-570The treadmill can be an incredibly useful and effective tool in any workout. But it’s no surprise that there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding this piece of equipment.

Here are a few of the most common:

  1. Calories burned is accurate: MYTH! Our bodies are very, very unique. It’s completely ridiculous to believe that by typing in your age and weight, a treadmill can accurately calculate your caloric burn. This is a gross oversimplification. Instead, use calories burned as a very general guide.
  2. You’ll run the same speed outside as on a treadmill: MYTH! Just because you can run a six minute mile on the treadmill doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to run one outside. The outside world is a very different beast with lots of added variables including weather, headwinds, uneven surfaces, hills, traffic and much more. Moreover, the spinning treadmill belt actually enables you to run a bit faster. This is especially important to consider if training for a 5k or competition race.
  3. You should always do cardio before strength training: MYTH! If your goal is cardiovascular endurance or weight loss, it may make sense to do cardio first – when you have a fresh set of legs. But if your goal is muscle size or strength, hit the weights first while your energy is still high. In actuality, the order of cardio versus strength training doesn’t make a huge difference; it’s more important to do what works for you.
  4. If someone is on the treadmill next to you, you’re not racing: MYTH! I’m only half joking with this one. Runners can be very competitive, and sometimes it’s nice to have an extra challenge.
  5. If you run at a 1% incline, it simulates outdoors running: MYTH! This is a very common tool and something that I’ve previously recommended. Because treadmill running is easier, adding an incline can help increase energy output and better simulate outdoors running. But the 1% incline is very general, and represents an over simplification. It’s only been found to accurate at running speeds of 7MPH or faster.
  6. Holding the treadmill handles while running is smart: MYTH, MYTH, MYTH! This myth needs to die today. Holding onto the treadmill handles is dangerous, especially at faster speeds. It also fundamentally changes the way your body moves and can make you less stable when walking or running without a treadmill. Moreover, holding onto a treadmill while moving at an incline actually negates the incline. All around, it’s a terrible idea.
  7. Sweating more will help you lose weight: MYTH! Well, it’s technically true that sweating results in weight loss – but the weight being lost is water, not fat. As soon as the body is re-hydrated, all that water weight comes back on. Nonetheless, you’ll see people running in sweatsuits to increase perspiration. It’s a silly idea that’s not backed by science.

Treadmills are a great tool. I use one almost every day and absolutely love it. But it’s important to separate fact from fiction and to have a safe, smart and effective workout.

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5 Treadmill Mistakes You’re Probably Making!

653_1Treadmill walks, jogs, runs or sprints can be a great way to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. But there are a lot of mistakes that even avid gym-goers make.

Here are 5 common treadmill mistakes:

  1. Spending too much time. When it comes to time on the treadmill, more isn’t more. If you’re spending 30 or 45 minutes or more on a treadmill, you may be cannibalizing your results. Longer cardio sessions result in the release of an anabolic hormone called cortisol that reduces protein synthesis, facilitates the conversation of protein to glucose and stops tissues growth. It’s also associated with increases in fat stores around the body’s midsection. Instead of a low intensity, long cardio session on the treadmill, challenge yourself. Do more in less time. Maybe even try high intensity interval training.
  2. Holding on. Please, stop holding onto the treadmill. By holding on, you’re negating the intensity of your workout – especially if you’re using an incline. In fact, it’s estimated that holding onto the treadmill reduces calories burned by 20% – 25%. It also worsens posture, balance and doesn’t translate to real world gains. If you’re running on a street or track, there’s nothing to hold on to. Let go.
  3. Static stretching. A lot of runners engage in static stretching before their treadmill session. It’s the type of stretching wherein you hold a pose for an amount of time – like touching your toes. However, recent studies suggest that static stretching decreases strength and power and increases injury risk. Replace static stretching with dynamic stretching like jumping jacks or arm circles.
  4. Not using the incline. Many runners ignore the incline – mostly because it makes the workout more challenging. But that’s exactly why you should love and use it! For every 1% increase in the incline, you expend 4% more energy. This is especially useful if you’re not able to increase your speed, but still want an extra challenge. It also shifts muscle use upward – and can give you a great butt workout.
  5. You’re on autopilot. Doing the same workout every day gives you the same results. Most cardio exercisers cruise through their workout session. Some are even able to talk on the phone or text while exercising. I’ve got news for you: If you can text while running, you’re not running fast enough. If you want enhanced results, you need to increase the intensity of your workout; you will always get out of your workout what you put into it. So instead of doing the same old treadmill workout, do something that’s intense and challenging. And then keep pushing yourself.

What other mistakes do you see people making on the treadmill? Share them in the comments below!

Is The Treadmill Easier Than Running Outside?

male-legs-treadmill-running-resized-600The treadmill definitely has its advantages – not the least of which is convenience. But when it comes to running on the treadmill versus running outside under comparable conditions, are exercisers cutting their results short? And if exercising on a treadmill is easier, how can runners account for the difference?

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research set out to answer those questions. Researchers enlisted the help of 14 participants ages 20 – 26 and tracked the amount of energy that they burned on a treadmill. Then, participants completed the same walk outside.

Researchers discovered that running outside requires about 10% more energy. This increased energy requirement, according to researchers, can be attributed to breezes, slightly uneven terrain and other variables that come into play outdoors. If the wind becomes stronger, the amount of energy required to maintain a given speed increases even more.

This doesn’t mean that the treadmill is a bad choice. However, if you’re training for an outdoor run such as a 5K or marathon, you need to take this disparity into account. The researchers recommend adding a 3% incline to the treadmill to simulate the energy requirement for outdoor running.

Did you prefer running outside or on the treadmill? Why? Let me know in the comments below!

 

5 Reasons: Don’t Hold the Treadmill While Walking or Running.

The treadmill can be a hugely effective piece of exercise equipment – when used properly. The problem is, many gym-goers make one very big mistake when using it: They hold on to the machine for support while walking or running.

Unfortunately, holding onto the machine has some negative consequences:

  1. Fewer calories burned. Holding onto the machine makes the exercise easier and less intense. That means fewer calories burned. The treadmill may display one number for total calories burned – but the treadmill doesn’t know that you’re holding on. It’s estimated that holding onto the treadmill results in 20% to 25% fewer calories burned.
  2. Doesn’t translate to the real world. If you’re walking or running while holding onto the treadmill, it gives you a false sense of progress. In the real world, you can’t walk or run around while holding onto a machine. You’ll have a false sense of accomplishment and athletic ability.
  3. Negates the incline. Adding an incline to your walk or run increases the intensity. But when holding onto the treadmill, walkers and runners lean back. This makes the body perpendicular to the machine; the net effect is that there’s no incline at all! Holding onto the machine cancels out the incline – and all the benefits!
  4. More likely to result in injury. People think that holding onto the treadmill makes the machine safer. In fact, the opposite is true. By holding on, and aligning your body in an unnatural way, you increase the risk for longer-term injuries and pain – especially in the shoulders, knees, lower back and hips.
  5. Worsens balance. Running or walking on a treadmill helps improve your body’s balance – but all of that is thrown out the window when you hold on. When you hold on, you teach your body to rely on an external machine for balance. That’s not a good thing.

If you need to hold on to maintain your current speed, crank things down a bit and let go. You’ll get a better workout – and experience increased benefits – from going slower and letting go, than holding on at higher speeds and inclines.

Treadmill Trick: Make Your Mind Work For You – Rather Than Against You.

Ready, set, go: Make your mind work for you - rather than against you.

I know you’ve been there: You’re 5 minutes into a 20 minute treadmill run. You’re already short of breath – and all you can think about is that you still have 15 minutes of running left. In your mind, you’re already defeated and there’s no way you’re going to finish the run.

I like to say that running is 75% physical and 25% mental. Sure, our ability to run is largely determined by our level of cardiovascular performance. But our mind plays a huge role, too. Running is, at least in part, mental. As such, we can use our minds to sabotage our running – or to help us push through.

One of the simplest and most effective mental treadmill tricks is shifting your focus away from the total amount of time left. In the above example, don’t put your attention on the remaining 15 minutes. Instead, consider that you already have five minutes under your belt. Focus on getting through the next minute. If that seems too much, push yourself another 30 seconds. Once you get there, extend your goal just a little bit further out. It’s just like the donkey and the carrot.

When I train with intervals, for example, I’m usually tired within the first few minutes. I often push myself to just finish the next set of intervals. Once I’m there, I realize that there’s enough figurative gas in the tank for another. And then so on. It works.

Your mind can be your biggest challenge or your biggest cheerleader. It can be a foe – or a friend. To get the results you want, it makes much more sense to use this powerful tool in your favor.

Does Running on a Treadmill Burn More Calories than Outside?

Studies show that there may be a slight caloric advantage to outside running.

There’s no doubt about it: Treadmill running is convenient. Rain, sleet, snow or shine – treadmill runners are untouched by weather conditions (unless, of course, you lose power). But for people looking to lose weight, how does the calorie burn of treadmills compare to running outside?

There have been a number of studies comparing treadmill running to outside running. The studies generally find outdoor running to be slightly advantageous when it comes to calories, though the extent of this advantage varies by speed. For individuals running between 5 and 9 miles per hour, running outside burns somewhere between 0% and 5% more calories. For individuals running at 10 miles per hour and above, running outside burns up to 10% more calories.

If you burn 400 calories inside, it would likely require an additional 0 – 40 calories (depending on your speed) to replicate the same workout outside. All in all, the difference is quite slight – but even small changes add up over time.

Treadmill running burns fewer calories because it’s easier. For one, the treadmill belt assists leg turnover, making it easier to run faster. When you run outside, you must propel your body forward to move. Moreover, when you run outside, you experience wind resistance – a condition that isn’t replicated with treadmill running. To account for these differences and better simulate outdoors running (especially if you are training for an outdoor running event), many people add a 1% to 2% incline on the treadmill.

The bottom line: Regardless of calories, select the type of training that works best for you, your schedule and your personality. Treadmill running isn’t for everyone; many people find it monotonousness and mind-numbing. Likewise, people with joint issues may prefer the extra cushion provided by treadmill running. Whether you do it outside or indoors, running can be a great way to get your cardiovascular exercise.

Running Inside Vs. Outside: Pros & Cons.

Matthew McConaughey getting his outdoor jog on.

I’m in Palm Springs for a few days, enjoying a nice little vacation from winter. The lovely hotel at which I’m staying doesn’t have a treadmill, and so I’ve decided to take my cardio out of doors.

Running outside is a totally different beast, and so it begs the question: Is it right for you? The answer depends on a number of factors, and there are pros and cons for each.

Running Inside (Treadmill)

I love treadmill running for one reason: It’s easy to clock speeds and distances. It’s totally measurable. Nothing is left to guesswork, and if you set the treadmill to 9.5 MPH then that is the speed at which you will run. Moreover, the course is entirely customizable. You can add in hills whenever you want. Treadmills give a lot of control to the runner. And, they can be used any time of the day, any day of the year – rain, sleet, snow or shine.

But treadmill running isn’t all sunshine and roses. Many people find it painfully monotonous, even if running with headphones or watching TV. I actually enjoy the monotony; it feels like a meditation to me. But beyond the repetitive nature of treadmill running, many running enthusiasts will notice that the belt does provide some running assistance – and that there is no wind resistance indoors. If you’re training for a running event, you’ll find it much harder to achieve treadmill speeds outdoors. Adding a slight elevation to the treadmill (even 1%) can help overcome the belt’s running assistance and lack of resistance.

Running Outside

I think the biggest advantage to running outside is the ability to enjoy the scenery. But actually. I had so much fun running up and down the desert streets of Palm Springs, checking out the architecture and viewing the landscapes. It was gorgeous – and my cardio time literally flew right by. When running on the treadmill, time tends to stand still. Outside, it’s quite the opposite. In addition, outdoor courses are the real thing. There are hills, ups, downs, turns and wind resistance. If you’re training for a running event, nothing beats actual pavement experience.

Unfortunately, however, it’s much harder to determine running speed, keep track of distance, etc. Unlike the treadmill, outdoors running isn’t measurable – and the runner has little control. And snow, ice, rain or darkness can make for dangerous running conditions.

Conclusion

If you’re just running for exercise, and provided you are not completely bored by indoors running, then the treadmill is probably your best bet. If, on the other hand, you’re training for a competitive running event, there’s really nothing that can beat actual outdoor training – or at least a mix of indoor and out.

Do you run inside or out? Why? Let us know in the comments below.

Buns of Steel: Which Cardio Machine is Best for Your Butt?

Buns of steel could be only a jog away, according to a recent study.

As a gay man, I spend a lot of time thinking about butts. So I was especially excited to get my paws on a new study about glutes (a.k.a. ass muscles) and cardio machines. So which cardio machine is best for your backside? Is it the treadmill, the recumbent bike, the stair master, or the elliptical? You may be surprised by the answer.

Here’s what the study found:

  1. Treadmill (jogging): 48.9% of glutes activated.
  2. Elliptical: 32.6% of glutes activated.
  3. Treadmill (walking): 24.3% of glutes activated.
  4. StairMaster: 24.0% of glutes activated.
  5. Recumbent Bike: 6.0%of glutes activated.

Jogging on the treadmill is the clear winner (running or sprinting, though not included in the study, is presumably even better). Jogging speeds, by the way, are different for different people – it’s based on perceived effort – though most jogging speeds are less than 6 mph.

Here are a few tips to dig even deeper when doing cardio:

  • When walking, jogging, running or sprinting on a treadmill, add an incline to activate a greater percentage of your glutes.
  • When cycling, use the upright bike instead of the recumbent bike.
  • When stair climbing, take bigger steps.

Bottom line: If a stronger ass is in alignment with your fitness goals, picking up the pace on a treadmill takes the cake.