A Change of Pace from Running in Place: 9 Exclusive Treadmill Workouts

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Your enjoyment of any exercise is influenced by your environment. It's more fun to lift weights in a clean, high-energy gym. Yoga is more peaceful in a quiet park than in a house full of kids. The same goes for running: For most of us, the miles go much faster on a lakeside trail than they do on the dreaded “t-word.”
The treadmill is one of the necessary evils of running, right up there with side cramps and chafing. Although it's usually not anyone’s first choice, there are inevitably times when inclement weather, late hours, lack of childcare or other circumstances force you to choose between running in place or not at all.
It may be tempting to turn on the TV while cranking out your allotted mileage—but many trainers believe that type of distraction breaks the mind-muscle connection and makes workouts less effective. Plus, if you're wrapped up in media, you'll be more prone to missteps that could cause accidents. So aside from binge-watching your favorite Netflix series, how can you make treadmill training runs more tolerable?
Billy Polson has some ideas. The fitness expert and founder of DIAKADI, the largest personal training and lifestyle facility in the Bay Area, believes that treadmills can get you on the fast track to your running goals. "Treadmills are notorious for epic running workouts," he says. "If you’ve been avoiding them, it's time to change your thinking."
Polson tested these exercises on a Woodway treadmill, but you can try them on any machine. The workouts don't include any required mileage, which means you’ll get a full-body workout while adding some variety to your routine.

The Moves
1. Bear Crawl
Turn the treadmill to a safe, manageable speed for this movement. "I would start as low as possible, at .1 mph, and increase it until it feels comfortable for you," Polson recommends. "Everyone's starting speed will be different." Get into a push-up position with your hands on the solid running boards beside the belt, with your head toward the front of the machine. Perform a lower body bear crawl, with your legs climbing as your hands stay still. When you have completed the exercise, place your feet on the running boards to stop exercising before dismounting the treadmill. 2-3 sets, 20-40 seconds each.
2. Skateboard
Stand on the treadmill but off to the side on the running boards. Hold onto the handles and then use the inside leg to push the belt backwards, as if you were riding a skateboard. Make sure there is a slight bend in the static leg to activate the glutes, quads and hamstrings.

3. Side Step Squats
Stand on the treadmill, facing to the side. Hold onto the railing, slowly releasing it as you are able. Set the treadmill to a safe, manageable speed for this movement (Polson recommends starting as low as .1 mph and slowly increasing from there). As the belt begins to move at a slow speed, slowly step your lead leg out to a side squat width and perform a full squat. As you return to starting position, step both feet together before immediately stepping back into the next side squat. Repeat for a full set before turning around to do the other side. 2-3 sets, 10-30 squats in each direction.
4. Side Shuffle Hops
Stand on the treadmill facing to the side. Hold onto the railing, slowly releasing it as you are able. Set the treadmill to a safe, manageable speed for this movement (Polson recommends starting as low as .1 mph and slowly increasing from there). Perform a full set in each direction. This is an ideal training movement for athletes looking to increase their lateral speed and agility, and is also a great interval to intersperse randomly throughout a treadmill jog. For example, every fourth minute, do 30 seconds of side shuffling in each direction. (Advanced: Try both sides as well as the transition between sides without holding on.) 2-5 sets, 15-30 seconds in each direction.
5. Pikes
Begin at the foot of the treadmill with the treadmill off. Assume a plank position with your hands on the floor and feet on the belt. From here, draw the belly button toward the spine as the hips lift up and shoulders come into alignment above the elbows and wrists. Slowly return back to plank position.

6. Walking Lunges
Stand on the treadmill facing to the front. Hold onto the railing, slowly releasing the assistance as you are able. Set the treadmill to a safe, manageable speed for this movement (Polson recommends starting as low as .1 mph and slowly increasing from there). As the belt begins to move, slowly alternate steps as you perform alternating leg walking lunges. 2-3 sets, alternating 10-30 lunges on each side.
7. Reverse Jog
Stand on the treadmill facing the rear. Hold onto the railing and reverse walk as a beginner, slowly releasing your grip and reverse jogging as you are able. Set the treadmill to a safe, manageable speed for your level (Polson recommends starting as low as .1 mph and slowly increasing from there). This is a great interval movement interspersed randomly throughout a treadmill forward jog. (For example, every fourth minute, do a 30-second reverse jog.) 2-5 sets, 15-60 seconds.
8. Knee Tucks
Maintaining a hold on the railing as described above, keep the body suspended the entire time and draw both knees toward the chest. Avoid letting your feet touch the belt until the final repetition.

9. Plank Walk
Begin at the foot of the treadmill with the treadmill off. Assume a plank position with your hands on the belt and feet on the floor. Lift your right hand off the belt as your left hand pushes the belt forward. Place your right hand back down as your left hand lifts and your right hand pushes the belt forward.

7 Treadmill Safety Tips
  1. If you're new to exercising, consult your doctor before getting started with this or any treadmill program.
  2. Avoid wearing baggy clothing or accessories that could get caught in the machine. Make sure your shoelaces are tied securely.
  3. If the treadmill you're using has a safety clip, attach it to your clothing. This will cause the machine to shut off if you trip or fall.
  4. Always start with your feet on the running boards on either side of the treadmill and then step carefully onto the slowly moving belt.
  5. If you want to add an incline, turn on the machine and increase the gradient without increasing speed, then release the emergency clip.
  6. Stay aware of the length and position of your strides to prevent losing your balance or drifting off the belt.
  7. Listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, have any chest pain or find it hard to breathe, slow down or stop the workout.

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NANASUEH 11/20/2020
thanks Report
BOOKNUT52 11/20/2020
I really liked this article. But...what is "exclusive" about it? Report
_CYNDY55_ 10/6/2020
Thanks Report
PATRICIA-CR 9/23/2020
Wow! Report
NEPTUNE1939 9/21/2020
ty Report
LIS193 9/18/2020
Thanks Report
MAREE1953 8/9/2020
I, too, expect my gym would prohibit many of these uses of its treadmills, e.g. pike pushups, knee tucks. There is other more appropriate equipment. Suppose someone with a treadmill at home could use these ideas Report
JANIEWWJD 8/6/2020
Thanks for all the tips!!! Report
NELLJONES 7/11/2020
I'm just a perpetual walker, I walk everywhere. Report
_CYNDY55_ 5/10/2020
Thanks Report
LIS193 3/3/2020
Thanks Report
I am pretty sure I’d be kicked out of my gym for misusing the equipment if I tried some of these. Report
I think some of these ideas are out of the realm for most people. Report
I think I would end up in the hospital. Definitely not for me. Lol Report
It would be nice if there were videos of all, so we know exactly how to do it.
As many have said, injuries are bound to happen, when we are unsure of what to do. Report
Good article for those younger than me. I could see a wreck happening for myself. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
thanks Report
Excellent article. Report
Interesting Report
"Treadmill Dancing" looks like a lot of fun. Any chance of an article about that and how to get started? All the suggestions in this article are good ones, will be trying a few to mix things up. Am especially interested in the lunges, maybe sideways agility moves, walking backwards is a maybe. Good stuff, thanks! :) Report
These look advanced! Report
Wow, I'd be challenged to do most of these. BUT for those who can, looks like it would be interesting. Report
Not for me! Report
Great ideas.................Thank You. Report
Some of these looks rather dodgy even with the start out at 1mph caution. Sheesh.
I'll stick to the traditional running and walking. Should I feel the urge to try some of these oddities I'll try them on the floor with a bench so I don't break my face. Report
Interesting ideas. Thanks! Report
The instructions are so sketchy - especially if you don't know already know the terms being used - and so risky if the moves aren't done precisely - good grief. What an invitation to injury! Report
interesting. Report
Thanks for the ideas. Is there a video showing the moves? Report
I love trying new workouts, which is why I read the article. But frankly, with the exception of maybe a couple, these exercises look downright dangerous! I firmly believe that all machines should be used with common sense and respect. Report
Holy Cow-ever neat! Report
Oh wow, I would have to say this is for some very fit people to do. Like others I will stick to my regular walking/incline Report
These all seem pretty difficult, not to mention dangerous!!! I'm going to stick to my normal walk/jog/run on the treadmill, thanks. I want to lose weight, not die!! Report
Seriously??!!! I wouldn't do any of these exercises in the privacy of my own home, nevermind in the gym! Nuts! Report
I'm way too old for these exercises! Report
I'm pretty much betting most commercial gyms would like to kill you right about now for even suggesting some of these. (My trainer gave me side-eye and begged me "Please no," after OK-GO did their "treadmill dance.") I do like to take breaks and do incline push-ups with my feet on the side rails and hands on the handlebars every mile and a half or so. It's a nice variation that won't get you injured or kicked out of the gym. Report
The "plank walk" is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! My nephew had a toe TORN OFF just walking on a treadmill barefoot. If you slip and your finger ends up under the belt, you could be badly mauled.

I'm, frankly, appalled that Spark People would even allow something like this to be published. If you're at a gym, someone will probably save you from yourself and this ridiculous move. Imagine someone doing it at home, alone, with no one to turn off the machine when it's grabbed their hand, probably broken bones, and is grinding the flesh off the hand! Report
Yikes! No way could I or would I attempt these! I'm a beginner, and I wouldn't attempt it even if I was a pro. A big CAUTION would have to be put on my back! Report
I don't think I will be allowed to those exercises on the treadmill at the gym I belong since the members use it to run and walk Report
Obviously, most of these exercises are not for the average exerciser. I must admit that is some awesome upper and lower body strength to be able to do this. Exerciser beware! Report
Some look dangerous to do and not sure a gym would approve some of these tips . think watching tv meditation and just listening to music sounds better and safer to me. Report
I can hear the calls to 911 now, lol. Report
I would kill myself trying to do those things! Report
Since I have a small space for exercising, I might try some of these that have movement, like the bear crawl and walking lunges, because I'll actually be able to do the movement without bumping into furniture or the wall. Report
I might try the walking lunges. I agree with Proverbs31Julia Report
I must say this was enlightening as I never thought of these Report