Treadmill exercise can help tone your lower body.
Treadmills are versatile fitness tools that can help you burn calories, lose body fat and tone your muscles. If you have 30 minutes per day, three to four days per week, you can tone your muscles using a treadmill. The idea of this workout program is to combine the benefits of incline treadmill training and high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. Both of these workouts combine to burn a substantial number of calories and strengthen the muscles in your lower extremities, all in 30 minutes time.
Benefits of Incline
Increasing the incline of the treadmill deck also increases the number of calories you burn and activates more of the muscle fibers in your legs, which leads to improved muscle toning. A study published in the March 2012 edition of the вЂњJournal of BiomechanicsвЂќ found that a 5-percent treadmill incline leads to a 17-percent increase in caloric expenditure, while a 10-percent incline leads to a 32-percent increase in calories burned compared to exercising on a flat plane treadmill. The same study states that incline training increases muscle activity in lower-body muscles, including calves and hamstrings, over flat treadmill training.
Adding HIIT for Toning
HIIT is a highly intense type of training that involves alternating bouts of moderate exercise with short spurts of vigorous exercise. For example, you could walk on the treadmill for 60 seconds followed immediately by a 30-second sprint at near maximum speed. HIIT has an anabolic effect on your muscles, meaning it helps you build and tone your muscle tissue better than steady-state exercise. This 30-minute workout combines both HIIT and interval training to get maximum muscle-toning results in the shortest time possible.
Before and After
Walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill for two or three minutes before starting this workout. Follow this warm-up with some dynamic stretching -- leg kicks, knee-to-chest, forward lunges -- for one or two minutes. Do the same routine after you complete the workout to ensure your heart rate returns to near-rest levels and muscles are properly stretched to prevent cramps or muscle tightening. Use static stretches post-workout, such as toe touches and other leg stretches held for five to 10 seconds each. It's important to also drink plenty of water before, during and after the workout.
Begin by walking at a moderate-to-fast pace with the treadmill at a flat incline for 60 seconds. Immediately transition to a 5- to 10-percent incline for 30 seconds at the same speed. Reduce the incline back to flat, and increase the speed by 1 mph for another 60 seconds. Again, increase the incline the same as before while maintaining your speed for 30 seconds. Once again, reduce the treadmill deck to flat and increase the speed by 1 mph and do another 60 seconds. Lift the treadmill incline to the previous incline level and do a hard 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds off the treadmill to complete the first five minutes of the workout. Complete this entire five-minute interval cycle a total of six times to finish the 30-minute training session.
Adjust this workout according to your current fitness level. For instance, if you're already accustomed to exercising on a treadmill regularly, you may want to jog instead of walk. If you're a complete beginner, lower your workout intensity to a lower level that you feel comfortable doing while still challenging your body enough to promote muscle growth and calorie burning. Don't do this workout on subsequent days due to its strenuous nature; take at least one day of rest between workouts.