Treadmills (aka, “dreadmills”) are a great fat loss tool when used properly; however, they are often misused, rendering them completely useless for helping with weight loss and fat burning.
Treadmills and Fat Loss
According to Dr. Doug McGuff, the primary problem with cardio machines is that we have been “brain-washed” by the fitness industry into believing that you can simply walk or jog on a treadmill for hours and magically burn fat.
While that may be the case if you have your diet and strength training dialed in, traditional forms of cardio are not going to work for most people because walking and jogging simply aren’t intense enough to burn significant calories or increase fat burn.
Recently, this false belief around magic “cardio” and treadmills has been exacerbated by the “wearable” device companies, who have worked closely with the “cardio” industry to set arbitrary standards like the 10,000 steps rule.
These “step standards” take your attention away from calories burned, and keep you focused only on total steps as your primary workout metric. The result? endless hours are being logged on treadmills walking or jogging at a snails pace with very little to show in the form of fat loss or calorie burn.
Don’t misunderstand what we are saying; walking and jogging are both good for you. However, they may not be intense enough to help you lose significant amounts of weight.
That said, we think treadmills are a great fitness tool for rapid fat loss, but you have to use them properly. Here are our 3 tips for burning more fat and super charging your weight loss on the treadmill.
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3 Key Treadmill Fat Loss Tips
Tip #1: Walk or Run in a Fasted State
If your goal is to burn fat, then you need to create a caloric deficit (even if only short term) and increase lipolysis, which is the process by which our body converts stored fat into usable energy. One of the easiest ways to do this is to perform your workouts before eating breakfast.
You see, when you eat prior to your workout the body uses the food you just ate as energy. However, when you workout in a fasted state, your body will be forced to use stored fat for energy. This naturally increases the fat burn during and after your workout.
Tip #2: Use High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”)
The next way to improve your fat loss using the treadmill is to crank up the intensity. HIIT workouts have been shown over and over again to be an effective tool for burning more calories and helping people to lose fat quickly.
The next time you are on the treadmill, rather than walking or jogging non-stop for 20 minutes, try alternating between intervals of walking and sprinting. For example: sprint at speed of 6-8 mph for 60 seconds, followed by 30 seconds to 1 minute of walking.
Alternate like this on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes and you’ll increase the number of calories burned and increase your odds of hitting your weight fat loss goal.
Tip #3: Crank Up the Incline
Another easy way to increase the intensity of your treadmill workouts is to raise the incline. This is especially helpful if you prefer walking over running. Walking at 3 mph is easy, but try walking 3 mph with the incline between 12 and 15 degrees of incline. We guarantee it will gas you out, plus stress your calves and glutes.
Similar to using HIIT intervals of sprinting and walking, try alternating between long intervals of walking/running on a steep incline, with short intervals of little to no incline. This will not only burn calories, it will also activate your glutes and hamstrings, giving them an even greater workout.
Conclusion: If you want to burn fat fast on a treadmill you have to focus on intensity. Walking and jogging at a moderate pace are great for building cardiovascular endurance, but they aren’t that effective for helping with rapid fat loss.
Final thought: If your goal is to lose fat fast, make sure to make strength training your first priority. Muscle uses up a lot of calories (even when resting), so you will likely reach your weight loss and fat loss goals quicker if you work on building strength and increasing lean muscle mass.
You also have to dial in your diet, so clean that up first!