Let's be honest: There are few cardio workouts more painfully boring than jogging on the treadmill. Yet many of us often resort to such drudgery -- especially during the winter months -- and wish all the while that time would somehow speed up.
Despite its reputation as a soul-sucking human hamster wheel, the treadmill's benefits have made it one of the most ubiquitous pieces of gym equipment. It serves as a helpful training tool for beginning joggers and marathon runners alike. It's one of the most efficient indoor cardiovascular exercises when it comes to burning calories and boosting metabolism long after the workout is over. And it's a pretty dynamic machine that can be used in a multitude of ways.
That's right. There's more ways to use the treadmill than just interval sprints and endurance runs that not only work your muscles, but also make you feel excited to jump on and get moving.
Check out these seven treadmill exercises if you're looking for a total-body workout that will make you smile as much as you sweat. Note: Please use the utmost of care while performing these advanced moves!
Grab a set of five or 10-pound dumbbells and place them in the compartments next to the treadmill's display screen. Set the belt at a comfortable speed -- we recommend starting at no faster than half of your typical walking pace -- and begin to walk slowly. Holding the dumbbells in each hand, take one large step forward with your right foot, lowering into a lunge, keeping the knee in line with the second toe. As you return to the original position, immediately pull your left foot forward with another large step, lowering into the next lunge. Repeat until you've completed 10 to 15 lunges on each side. Worried about the weights? Try the walking lunge with your hands on your hips for a simple modification.
Putting the dumbbells back in the compartments, stand on the stationary sides of the treadmill belt as you increase the incline to its maximum, maintaining the same speed you selected for the lunges. Grab the dumbbells, rotate to face the back of the treadmill and begin walking to establish a comfortable pace. Once you feel ready, curl the dumbbell in your right hand to your right shoulder and lower to the original position, taking two steps as you complete the one rep. Repeat on the left side. Continue alternating bicep curls to the pace of your backwards walk until you've completed 10 to 15 reps on each side. Want to take it a little slower? Lose the dumbbells and use the treadmill handrails for added support as necessary.
Maintaining your slow walking pace, face the right side of the treadmill with both feet on the belt. As you walk sideways, gradually increase the speed to just above your average walking pace. Step to the left with your left foot. Switch feet with a quick hop onto the right foot, then step to the left again with the left foot. Take your time adjusting the speed until it feels comfortable to maintain a steady side shuffle. These will be slower than side shuffles you would perform across the gym floor, so don't worry if you feel a little behind. Continue for 30 seconds, slow the belt to your original walking speed and switch directions, then repeat. If you feel unstable, slow the speed to a walk and perform controlled side steps instead.
Return to a forward-facing position on the treadmill belt, and set the speed slightly faster than your average power-walking pace. Once you feel comfortable, begin by kicking the right foot back as close to your butt as possible, focusing on engaging your glute and hamstring muscles. Repeat with the left foot. Remaining light on the toes with your posture tall and core tight, continue alternating butt kicks for 30 seconds.
With the belt at slightly faster that your average power-walking pace, switch from walking to skipping. After finding your steady pace, kick things up a notch: Drive your right knee toward your chest as you push off of the left foot, jumping as high (and as controlled) as you can with tall posture and core tight. Step down and continue smoothly as you push off with the right foot, driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue alternating for 30 seconds. If you're not quite ready to jump on a treadmill, stick to just skipping at first.
Set the treadmill belt speed to no faster than half of your average walking pace. Bring both feet together at the front of the treadmill and immediately lower into a squat position, keeping the knees safely behind the toes. Let the belt carry you to the back of the treadmill, and then drive through your legs to jump forward, returning to the front of the treadmill in your initial squat position. Repeat until you've completed 10 to 15 jumps. If you feel at all unstable, modify by decreasing the speed of the treadmill.
Top off your treadmill workout by using your hands instead of your feet! While standing on the stationary sides of the treadmill, decrease the speed to 0.5 to one mile per hour, and step off completely. Move to the back of the treadmill and assume a plank position, feet on the floor, hands on the stationary sides of the treadmill, hips in alignment with the shoulders. When you're ready, place your hands on the moving belt, with the right beneath your shoulder and the left extended in front of you. As the belt moves, walk the hands along the belt in front of you. Continue alternating hands as the belt rotates until you've completed 10 to 15 reps on each side. Be sure to keep your hips level throughout the exercise, avoiding any twisting motion as your hands move.