Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Treadmill/Elliptical Tips

This week's Q&A in the Orangeville Citizen briefly goes over a few ideas on how to stay motivated by running on a treadmill. These tips are great for treadmills or ellipticals, so I will go into further detail in this blog.

Treadmills and ellipticals are a great way to keep your running legs active over the winter. There are many benefits and advantages to staying fit inside on an exercise machine rather than outside, especially once there is snow on the ground. Studies have shown that your chances of a stress fracture are reduced by nearly 50% from running on a treadmill rather than a road and the impact on your joints are even further reduced on an elliptical. 

Many people dislike exercise machines because they can seem monotonous at times so I will detail a few tips to keep things interesting.  

1) Mix things up with intervals. Many machines now have pre-programmed interval routines right in their computers varying incline and speed for set periods of time. You could even manually change your incline and pace for short bursts at time. I recommend 1:2 ratios where you would increase your speed for 30 seconds and then slow back down to a jog for a minute, and repeat a number of times. 

2) If you have access to watching a television while exercising, you can get creative with it. Every time there is a commercial break, bump your speed up a bit either on alternating commercials or for the entire break. When your program returns, slow back to your regular jog.

3) Negative splits are a term used in the running community, but can be applied to elliptical work as well. Basically what this means is that you will finish your run faster than you started. Begin your run at a nice easy pace, and every minute or two hit your speed button to increase your pace. You will continue to increase your speed the entire run without ever declining your pace. Do this for as long as you can, but make sure at the end you go back to your first speed for a nice 5 minute cool down or so.

4) Simulate hill runs by increasing your incline (or elliptical resistance) for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes, go back to level incline but increase your speed for 1 minute. After that, go back to a jog for 1 minute to recover and then repeat that whole sequence 3 more times.

5) Load up your mp3 player or ipod with your favorite tunes. Many studies show that people that are listening to their favourite high-adrenaline tunes help them increase their workload. Not only that, you could combine this idea with #1. Create a playlist that alternates fast songs with slow songs. On the fast ones, increase you pace/incline and then for the slower songs, chill out and reduce your speed!

6) Most gyms have mirrors. No, they are not there for you to be constantly checking your hair, they are there to help you check your form. While running, check your form as it gives you something to concentrate on. Watch for these: (1) Minimize your contact with the belt. Don't bounce; think quick feet. (2) Stand tall so all your body segments are aligned. (3) Stay loose and relaxed. Your hands should be in a loose fist, not tight and your teeth should not be clenched.

7) I cannot recommend a heart rate monitor enough. I prefer the ones with a chest strap as I feel they are more accurate and precise. They are great to let you know if you are dogging it or if you are in your training zone. Plus, it is one more thing you can focus on rather than thinking about the 20 minutes of your dreaded workout you have left!

I am a huge fan of going for runs outside in the summer, but the winter can be pretty long and depressing so doing cardiovascular activity indoors during the winter can greatly improve your mood. In fact, some studies have shown that even just 30 minutes of running on a treadmill increase your level of phenylacetic acid (natural antidepressant) by up to 77%. Great for those dark winter days when the sun sets so early!