If chillier mornings and shorter days are cutting into your workout time, and you’ve decided to take your training indoors, a treadmill can be a great tool. That is, providing you know how to use it.
Here are some tips:
♦First, push the “incline” button as high as it will go. This simulates a hill, which adds extra oomph to your workout. Start with a slow speed until you get used to the different moves you’ll be making on the moving belt.
♦Walk forward for a minute or so, then put your feet on the narrow platforms on each side of the belt. Holding on to the hand rails, carefully turn around so that you’re now standing backward, with your feet on each side of the belt. Still holding the rails, lift one foot and use your toes to “dab” the moving belt to get the feel of walking backwards. Then step on the belt with both feet.
Using a treadmill to walk backward up an incline works a totally different set of muscles than walking forward. It uses more of the glutes, spinal erectors (lower back) and hamstrings (back of the thigh).
♦Practice backward treadmilling until you’re comfortable with it, then push the speed up a little. Once you’ve adjusted, push the speed up more.
♦When you’re OK walking backward on the treadmill as fast as you walk forward, it’s time for “the Grapevine.”
The grapevine is an exercise used by football players to build agility. It’s like sideways running: The right foot is crossed over in front of the left foot, the left foot is brought out to the side, then the right foot is crossed behind the left foot. This is done for a specific distance or time, then you turn on the treadmill so the direction is reversed. Now the left foot is crossed over the right foot, as the exercise is repeated.
Lower the speed of the treadmill to practice sideways stepping in both directions until it feels easy. Gradually increase the speed of the belt so your “stepping” is more like running. Put some spring in your stance, so it’s almost like skipping.
♦Now, it’s time to put the whole sequence together. Lower the speed again, then practice walking forward for one minute, turning sideways and doing grapevine for one minute, turning backwards for one minute, then turning to the other side for grapevine in the other direction for one minute, all without stopping. Increase the speed a little and do the sequence again. Take a break if you feel you need one.
As you practice, you’ll get more surefooted and be able to do the sequence faster. Each four-minute sequence is one rep. Do three reps, and get a total lower body workout in just 12 minutes — with the addition of excellent training for balance, agility and coordination, all the skills every athlete, in every sport, yearns for.