3 Treadmill Workouts To Elevate Your Fat-Burning

By Rick Morris

To maximize your fitness level, you need to train a number of different body systems. You need to improve your muscular strength, your bone density, cardiovascular fitness and stamina. You also want to maintain a healthy bodyweight. That is a lot of different types of training you need to do. All of those different workouts further complicate your time problems. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one workout that would do all of those things? Sure it would, but there isn’t one workout that does it all…or is there?

There is, actually – hill running. Hill training is a unique workout because it is a multiuse exercise that provides all of the following benefits:

3 Treadmill Workouts To Elevate Your Fat-Burning

BENEFIT #1: Build Muscular Strength

Running uphill requires much more muscle activation than running on level terrain. You are lifting more of your bodyweight with each stride. You are also moving through a larger range of motion, which brings more muscle fibers into play, which means you’re building more than just your leg muscles. Uphill running also requires more use of the core stabilizing muscles in your trunk and the driving muscles of your upper body.

BENEFIT #2: Improves Bone Density

Any activity that places stress on your bones will increase your bone density. Hill running does this in two ways. The additional impact of running both uphill and downhill increases the stress directly on your bones. The added forces on your muscles also places additional stress where your muscles attach to your bones.

BENEFIT #3: Increases Cardiovascular Fitness

An exercise that raises your heart rate will improve your cardiovascular fitness. Running on level ground does a good job of that, but running uphill is even better. The uphill running raises your heart rate to higher levels than running over flat ground. A higher exercise heart rate will further improve your cardiovascular fitness.

BENEFIT #4: Builds Stamina

Your stamina is a measure of how long you can exercise at a moderate to high intensity. The major limiting factor in your stamina is how your body deals with lactic acid. Your body produces lactic acid at all times. It is part of the energy-producing processes in your body. Lactic acid is produced quicker when you exercise at more intense levels. Eventually, you reach an exercise intensity at which the lactic acid is produced faster than your body can process it. This point is called your lactate threshold. If you can improve your body’s ability to process that lactic acid, you will also improve your stamina. The best way to do that is by exercising at or near your lactate threshold. Hill running can raise the intensity of your exercise to that level.

BENEFIT #5: Weight Loss

If you burn more calories than you are consuming, you will lose weight. There are two ways you can burn more calories – exercise longer or exercise harder. If time management is a problem, you should concentrate on exercising harder. If you haven’t already figured this out, running uphill is hard. The additional energy required to run uphill will burn more calories and help you lose weight.

There is one big problem many people run into when it comes to hill training— lack of hills! It can be very difficult to find hills to run on. This is one of the greatest advantages of the treadmill. You can make your own hills. You can make long hills, short hills, steep hills and gentle hills. There are an unlimited number of possible hill workouts you can do on your treadmill.

Here are three workouts to get you started.

BEGINNER: ENTRY-LEVEL HILLS

The maximum incline for this workout is a moderate 5 percent. The moderate elevation will allow a “hill newbie” to gradually improve running strength and also beef up those all-important tendons and muscles that support your knees, hips and ankles. Set your treadmill speed at your easy running pace (ground running). Keep that pace steady throughout this workout. The pace may not feel easy due to the incline, but keep the pace steady.

  • Set your treadmill incline to 1 percent and warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy running.
  • Increase the incline to 2 percent and run for 5 minutes.
  • Set the incline to 3 percent and run for 5 minutes.
  • Raise the incline to 4 percent and run for another 5 minutes.
  • Now reduce the incline to 2 percent for 5 minutes of running.
  • Increase the incline to 5 percent and run another 5 minutes.
  • Finally, decrease the incline to 2 percent and run for 5 minutes.
  • Cool down with 5 minutes of running at 1 percent incline.

INTERMEDIATE: Hill Fartlek

Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” In runner’s lingo it is a fun, unstructured workout in which you vary your pace throughout your workout. Here I have adapted it for hill running. If there is such a thing as a “fun” hill workout, this is it. You decide when to throw in a hill and how steep to make it. You decide how far to run up the hill. You also decide what pace to run.

Make this run different each time you do it. When you perform this run, don’t plan it in advance. Just go with the flow and do whatever you feel like doing. The only rule is that you must change both the pace and elevation frequently— at least once every few minutes. Throw in a little bit of everything. Do some long hills and some short hills. Run fast on some hills and at a more moderate pace on others. For your first workout, run for 20 minutes. Add 5 minutes to your run each time you do this. Gradually work up to a 60-minute hill fartlek workout.

ADVANCED: 5K Hill Simulator

This hill run uses short hill repeats done at a fast pace with easy-paced recovery intervals. The hard repeats should be done at a pace that feels hard. On a scale of one to 10, with one equaling no effort and 10 equaling maximal effort, you should be running at a level eight or nine. The easy recovery intervals should feel easy. This is not only a great hill workout, but is also a good workout if you are training for a 5K race. The total distance of this workout is just over the 5K distance…3.25 miles with much of it at a quality pace.

  • Set your treadmill incline at 1 percent and warm up with 1/2 mile of easy running.
  • Increase the incline to 3 percent and run at a hard pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Decrease the incline to 1 percent and continue running at a hard pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Leave the incline at 1 percent, but decrease your speed to an easy pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Increase the treadmill incline to 5 percent and increase your speed to a hard pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Decrease the incline to 1 percent and continue running at a hard pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Leave the incline at 1 percent, but decrease your speed to an easy pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Raise the incline to 8 percent and increase your speed to a hard pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Decrease the incline to 1 percent and continue running at a hard pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Leave the incline at 1 percent, but decrease your speed to an easy pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Increase the incline to 10 percent and increase your speed to a hard pace for 1/4 mile.
  • Decrease the incline to 1 percent and decrease your speed to an easy pace for 1/4 mile.

About the Author

Rick Morris is the author of Treadmill Training for Runners.

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