As the weather takes a turn for the worst this winter, you are probably hitting the treadmill more than ever. In fact, who wants to run when it’s cold or even snowing outside? The treadmill provides a safe (and warm) way to keep fit.
5 tips to maximize your treadmill training during winter season:
1. Warm Up and Cool Down
It’s always important to warm up before you run. However, since it’s colder out than usual, it’s more important than ever. You need to increase your heart rate, blood flow, and body temperature so you won’t pull a muscle or injure yourself when you start your real treadmill workout. Your muscles are much more prone for injuries when their cold so you should do a light jog and stretch before running. Also, don’t forget to cool down. After you run or jog, return to a walking pace so your heart rate properly returns to normal. Ideally you should finish off with some stretching exercises as well.
2. Do Intervals
While long distance running has its benefits, you should incorporate intervals in your routine at least half the time, in which you sprint as hard as you can for 20-30 seconds and then go back into a slower jog for a minute or two at a time. Do this repeatedly throughout your cardio session. More likely than not, you do the same treadmill workout over and over again. It’ time to bust past your plateau and shock your body. To deal with this shock, your body uses more energy than what its currently burning. This type of training recruits more fast-twitch muscle fibers, as opposed to training slow-twitch muscle fibers when jogging. Your body is using your stored fat for fuel to recover from this new type of training, more so that ever before. Fast-twitch fibers need more fuel to recover from a workout. Not only will you burn so much more fat, but your cardiovascular health will dramatically improve.
3. Use a minimum 1% incline
You never really run on a flat surface outside. You need to take this into account when running on a treadmill. Running without an incline is similar to running on a slight downward slope. Therefore, use a minimum 1.0 incline when running to stimulate outdoor running conditions. You should also incorporate steeper inclines to really boost your cardio and activate more muscle fibers. Researchers at the University of Georgia found that running uphill activates 9 percent more muscle each stride compared with running with the same intensity on flat ground.
4. Don’t hold onto the handrails
Holding onto the handrails is fake running and ruins form. When you are properly running, and not touching the handrails, both halves of the body work together in harmony to create a fluid running motion. Your core is the vital link between your lower and upper body, and this link is broken when you hold onto the sides of the treadmill. Over time, this can change your running form and result in injuries to your body, especially your neck, back, hips and knees. You need proper technique to run effectively and you won’t benefit yourself by holding on.
5. Get outside once a week, weather permitting
There is no substitute for the real thing. It may be cold outside but bundle up and make the most of your run. You need to keep your body used to running outdoors and getting a feel for the natural road.