Treadmill going nowhere? Mix it up

Washington Post

So you bought a treadmill a few months back and here it is April, and your routine is stale. That once-sleek, addictive toy has become the Dreadmill. Here’s your ticket off the plateau.

* Circuit breaker -- A treadmill workout needn’t glue you to the rubber belt, says Mark Fenton, host of the PBS series “America’s Walking” and author of “Walk it Off: The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss and Fitness.” Try this: Warm up with five minutes of light walking, then walk for two minutes at a slightly quicker-than-normal pace.

Now, jump (carefully) off the treadmill and do 30 seconds of chest presses (push-ups or lifting dumbbells while lying on your back).

Hop back on the ‘mill for two minutes, then get off again and do 40 seconds (20 seconds each side) of a pulling exercise, such as one-handed dumbbell lifts with one knee on a bench.


Keep alternating walking stints with strength training, working in shoulder presses, pull downs (chin-up bar or an exercise band), biceps and triceps; then cool down. “Do this whole thing twice, and you’ve got a great 45-minute workout, hitting all the major muscle groups,” Fenton says.

* Mountaineering -- Fenton also advocates “the mountain”: After warm-up, add a 2% grade to your incline for two minutes, then bump it up to 4%, then up to 8%, back down to 4%, to 2% and, finally, level again.

At 3.5 miles per hour, adding a 5% to 8% grade can boost caloric expenditure by 15% to 25% compared with flat ground, Fenton says. It will also work your quads, hamstrings and butt.

* Telaerobics -- For tube-watching ‘millers, Scott Quill, an associate editor of Men’s Health magazine, suggests using the TV to time intervals.


“Say you’re watching one of the (NCAA tournament) basketball games. Whenever the clock stops (timeouts, foul shots), bump up your pace to about 80% effort. When the game’s in progress, dial [back] down” to your normal pace. You can make it work for any sport or TV show, Quill says.

* Tone to tunes -- Quill cites a British study that found men can handle much higher workloads when listening to music that builds in tempo from slow to fast, rather than maintaining a consistently fast beat. (We assume women are not immune to this effect.) “Load your MP3 player wisely for even better results,” he says.

* The om-burning zone -- Fenton, now in his 40s, credits yoga with extending his running and walking careers. He recommends these yoga moves, after a five-minute warm-up and 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous walking: Two sun salutations; two minutes of alternating dog-tilt and cat-tilt poses; one minute of child pose; and one minute of warrior one pose, 30 seconds each side. Then walk for another 10 minutes. (All poses are illustrated at Click on “practice” then “yoga postures.”)