Getting better mileage on the treadmill

Avoid these top three mistakes treadmill mistakes if you want to get the most from your workout.

Next time you hit the treadmill

Get the most out of your treadmill workout: Avoid these top three mistakes:

If you run or walk on the treadmill and are perfectly happy getting little to no results, then stop reading now.  However, if you want to get the most out of your cardio session, whether your goal is to improve your fitness level, lose body fat, or both, then keep reading, and take notes.

Before I dive into the top three ways to sabotage your progress at the gym, I am going to soften the blow by saying that any exercise is better than none at all.  Given the choice, I would rather you be on the treadmill and make all the mistakes listed below than not working out at all.  However, you probably don’t go to the gym just so you can say you did, and to pretend you got a good workout.  You go to the gym because you want results.  For the best results from your time on the treadmill, make sure you are not a culprit of these top three mistakes.

Holding on for dear life.

Holding on to the treadmill is the No. 1 mistake I see at the gym.  When you get a treadmill for the first time, it’s understandable to want to hold on for balance and stability.  However, you should learn to let go as quickly as you can, even if it means slowing down the pace for a few sessions until you get comfortable.  Here’s why.  First, holding on alters your natural gait.  Muscles that are normally responsible for stabilizing the spine (your core) and propelling you forward get to take a break.  The result is poor posture, and faulty movement patterns.  Both can lead to injury.  Second, holding on takes most of the work out of you workout.  Don’t believe me?  If you are guilty of handrail-holding, try letting go during your next workout, but keep the incline and speed the same.  You will quickly notice a difference.  Slow down, or decrease the incline until you can maintain the pace hands free.  You will burn more calories, improve your muscle tone in your legs and increase your cardiovascular fitness.

Just like most other rules, there a few exceptions.  If you have poor vision, walk with assistance or have poor balance, then please continue to use the handrails.

Reading an entire novel on the treadmill.

Not every workout has to be challenging –  easy or recovery workouts are a very important component of a well rounded fitness routine.  However, if you can easily read chapters of your a novel or magazine during every workout, you are probably not working hard enough.   As I mentioned at the beginning, even an easy workout is better than none at all.   If you are consistently turning pages during your sweat session, however, it’s time to trade your book for some motivating music and turn up the intensity of your workout.  Your body will thank you.

Doing a boring workout.

Walking or running on the treadmill at the same pace for 30 minutes or an hour is boring.  It’s also a fantastic way to reach a plateau in your fitness level.  If this is what you have been doing, it’s time to increase the intensity of your workout.  A great way to reduce boredom, and boost your calorie burn is interval training.  Try this workout to shake things up and get the most out of your time on the treadmill.  Remember not to hold on, and if you think you could read during the hard parts, up the intensity!

• Minutes 0-5 – Warm up (easy to moderate)

• Minutes 5-7 – Hard (increase speed, incline or both)

• Minutes 7-8 – Easy (recovery)

• Minutes 8-10 – Hard (increase speed, incline or both)

• Minutes 10-12 – Easy (recovery)

• Minutes 12-26 – Repeat minutes 5-12 twice.

• Minutes 26-30 – Warm down (easy to moderate)

Next time you hit the treadmill, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.  The result?  More calories burned, better muscle tone, and a fitter you!


Tanja Shaw is a Kinesiologist and personal trainer, specializing in weight loss, group fitness, pre and postnatal fitness, and health and wellness programs.  She owns Ascend Fitness Coaching, home to Ascend Fitness Boot Camp, Stroller Boot Camp, personal training programs and the 30/30 Peak Fitness Challenge.  For more fitness tips go to

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