How to Lose Weight Using a Treadmill

By M.L. Rose

Lace up your running shoes and hop on a treadmill for a climate-controlled way to get in your daily cardiovascular exercise, a key facet in shedding pounds. To enjoy an efficient weight-loss program, however, don’t just walk or jog for a while and expect the weight to fall off. Develop a plan and stick to it to lose weight safely and consistently. Include strength training and a smart diet program within your treadmill training plan.

Treadmill Basics

Even though you’re doing aerobic exercise, you need to warm up before starting your main treadmill workout. To keep it simple, walk or jog on the treadmill for five to 10 minutes at an intensity that raises your heart rate and lets you break a light sweat. Throughout your workout, maintain an erect posture with your head looking forward, rather than down. Use the same stride length as if you were walking or running outdoors. Don’t hold the handrails, otherwise you’ll be supporting some of your weight and not working at maximum intensity. Instead, swing your arms to burn a few extra calories, even if you’re just walking.

Steady-Pace Program Design

There’s no one-size-fits-all program to lose weight on a treadmill. As a general rule for a beginner, perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity treadmill walking five times per week. To determine your intensity, calculate your target heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Keep your heart rate within 50 to 70 percent of your target rate during a moderate-intensity workout. Increase your walking distance by about a quarter-mile per session and raise your speed slightly every two to three weeks. Monitor your heart rate to make sure you remain within the moderate-intensity zone as your workouts progress. A 30-minute treadmill workout helps you lose weight by burning about 120 to 180 calories if you walk at 3.5 mph, or 240 to 355 calories if you jog at 5 mph. If you do that five times per week, you'll burn an extra 600 to 1,775 calories in the seven days -- enough to lose 0.17 to 0.5 pounds, provided your calorie intake doesn't increase.

Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating higher- and lower-intensity segments within your workout. You can increase your intensity by moving faster, by raising the treadmill’s incline, or both. This type of training burns more calories per minute than steady-pace exercise and helps you lose weight at a faster rate. An interval routine can be as simple as walking for 30 seconds, sprinting for 30 seconds and then repeating the pattern for about 20 minutes. If you’re new to interval training, try replacing one of your weekly steady-pace workouts with an interval session. Monitor your heart rate and keep it within 70 to 85 percent of your maximum during an interval workout. Increase the intensity over time by doing two or three interval workouts per week, or by running faster or raising the incline further during the intense intervals.

Diet and Strength Training

Exercise is only part of a complete weight-loss program. Perform strength training at least twice each week, working all your major muscle groups. If you add muscle mass via strength training, while losing fat with your overall program, you’ll increase your metabolism. As a result, you’ll burn more calories even when you’re at rest, further boosting your weight-loss efforts. Additionally, eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet and keep an eye on your calories to complete your weight-loss efforts. Eat in moderation, basing your diet on food such as vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, legumes and whole-grain items, while avoiding processed and sugary foods. No matter how hard you work on the treadmill, you must burn more calories that you consume to lose weight.

References

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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