While many fitness enthusiasts agree that treadmills are one of the most effective tools for burning calories, how exactly do you burn calories on a treadmill, and what is the best treadmill workout to support calorie burn?
If you’ve asked yourself those questions, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we’ll explore the answers to those burning questions as well as:
- How to walk on a treadmill to support your fitness goals.
- The best treadmill speed and incline to support calorie burn.
Treadmill walking workouts: The benefits
Walking is a natural and effective form of exercise that can contribute significantly to your overall health. Because walking is also low-impact, it is an excellent option for people of all fitness levels and can be easily adjusted to meet individual needs and capabilities.
Plus, it’s also backed by science. According to a 2021 study by Harvard Medical School, a person weighing 155 pounds can burn about 150 calories walking for 30 minutes at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour.
But what if you can’t lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement? Maybe it’s a rainy day outside, or you’re just too busy to carve out time for a walk in the park.
Treadmill walking workouts can be beneficial because they allow for a controlled environment. Besides being able to work out in the comfort of your home or at the gym, and when your schedule allows, you can also monitor and adjust your speed and incline to help you achieve your goals.
In essence, treadmill walking workouts are a versatile tool in your fitness arsenal. They can be adapted to match your fitness level and specific fitness goals and can be modified over time to continue challenging your body as your fitness level improves. The key is to start where you are comfortable and gradually increase the intensity to maintain progress.
Incline treadmill: Your secret weapon
Speaking of incline, before we dive into the best treadmill workout to support calorie burn, let’s demystify this: “What is a good incline to walk on a treadmill to support calorie burn?”
Incline treadmill walking can be a game-changer when it comes to burning calories.
An interesting study published in the National Library of Medicine found that, compared to flat ground, when you walk on an incline, metabolic cost, which is the energy the human body expends to move a certain distance, increases by 52% at a five percent incline and a whopping 113% at a 10% incline.
The reason for this increase is relatively straightforward – the steeper the incline, the harder your body has to work to move against gravity. This extra exertion requires more energy, meaning you burn more calories in the process.
Another benefit of incline treadmill walking is the positive effect on your lower body. Walking uphill requires extra effort from your quadriceps, calves, glutes, and hamstrings, providing a great workout and promoting muscle tone and strength.
If you’re new to incline walking, a good starting point is setting your treadmill to a 1% incline. This might not seem like much, but even a slight treadmill incline can increase the calorie burn.
As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the incline to continue challenging your body. It’s important to note, however, that while it can be tempting to set a high incline right away, it’s crucial to increase gradually to avoid overtaxing your body.
Treadmill speed and incline: Striking the right balance
Creating the best treadmill workout to increase calorie burn often involves striking a delicate balance between speed and incline. These two variables, when combined correctly, can elevate the intensity of your workout and possibly increase your calorie burn.
A study conducted by the International Journal of Obesity found that incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with incline walking could enhance calorie burn by up to 28% compared to regular walking without inclines.
HIIT, which involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by recovery periods, is known for its calorie-burning power.
Aside from stimulating anaerobic power, HIIT workouts may also boost brain power. A small study involving 22 healthy middle-aged individuals published in the National Library of Medicine found that HIIT was shown to enhance their cognitive functions. Participants were assessed before and after performing a HIIT workout.
The key to making the most of treadmill speed and incline is to vary the intensity throughout your workout. High-speed or steep incline intervals can be balanced with periods of slower walking or lower incline. This approach keeps your heart rate up, increases your endurance, and likely means that you’re burning a high number of calories.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to keep in mind that there’s a fine line between challenging yourself and pushing yourself too hard. It’s essential to listen to your body and ensure that your higher-intensity intervals are challenging but manageable.
The best treadmill workout to support calorie burn
Ultimately, getting a good calorie burn from your treadmill workout doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here’s a simple yet effective treadmill workout designed to support calorie burn.
This workout utilizes both speed and incline to create intervals that challenge your body and boost calorie burn, all while remaining adaptable to different fitness levels.
- Warm-Up: Start your workout by walking at a comfortable pace with no incline for 5 minutes. This warm-up phase is crucial to prepare your body and muscles for the workout ahead.
- Phase 1: After warming up, set the treadmill to a 1% incline and, using the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale, increase your speed to a brisk walk at an RPE between 3 and 4 for 5 minutes. This phase should feel more challenging than your warm-up but still manageable.
- Phase 2: Next, increase the incline to 5% while maintaining your speed at an RPE between 6 and 7 for 3 minutes. This steeper incline increases resistance, causing your body to work harder and consequently burn more calories.
- Recovery: After the incline interval, reduce the incline back down to 1% and slow your speed to a comfortable walk for 2 minutes. This recovery phase allows your heart rate to lower slightly and prepares your body for the next incline interval.
- Repeat: Keep repeating phases 2 and 3 for about 30 minutes. This mix of high intensity and recovery will keep your heart rate elevated for optimal calorie burning.
- Cool Down: After completing the main part of your workout, slow down your pace and walk at a comfortable speed with no incline for 5 minutes. This cool-down phase is crucial to allow your heart rate to gradually return to its normal rate and to prevent muscle stiffness.
Throughout this workout, it’s vital to listen to your body and adjust the speed and incline based on your comfort and fitness level. The workout should be challenging, but it’s more important to ensure that it is not too strenuous or causing discomfort.
Simply put, the more active you are, the more calories you burn. To burn more calories, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends:
- Aerobic activity. Generally, you should aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. You may need to exercise more if you want to burn more calories or meet specific fitness goals.
Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, biking, swimming, and mowing the lawn. Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running, heavy yard work, and aerobic dancing.
The bottom line
A well-planned treadmill workout can effectively increase calorie burn, contributing to your fitness goals.
But remember, the best treadmill workout to support calorie burn includes a mix of incline and speed adjustments, along with proper warm-up and cool-down periods.
And despite the scientific support, it’s important to note that everyone’s body is unique, and results can vary. So, experiment with your treadmill workouts and discover what works best for you. Most importantly, though, enjoy the journey towards a healthier you. Happy walking!
Want more treadmill workouts to support calorie burn?
Check out a few of our top picks:
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.