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Health Articles

Learn how to apply current physiology and nutrition research to improve your health and performance.

Are Treadmills Doing You More Harm Than Good?

Go into any box gym like LifeTime, LA Fitness, and Planet Fitness and you see row after row of treadmills. It is hard to find a gym that does not have one or more.

Is this the best thing to be using for fat burning or various types of conditioning?  

Poor Fat Burning

Physics students and professionals will tell you that the body experiences no work since your body doesn't travel anywhere and you are gracefully hopping in place from one leg to the next. This is typically where you find people with no structured programming and those who are terrified of using free weights. If you look in their cup holders you will typically find them consuming some variation of gatorade or sugary beverage so they don't cramp up during their workout. 

The problem with drinking a sugary beverage during your training is that your body will quickly switch from burning stored fat from your gut to stored sugars in your muscles and liver. It is best to drink water and not have any carbs 2-3 hours before your training if you'd like to be using fat for energy expenditure. 

Leave the Sport Drinks at home and switch to water for fat burning

Poor Movement

Are your hips tight from sitting at a desk all day?  Can you barely find your butt muscles (glutes) with 2 hands? 

When you are on a treadmill, the way your body moves is completely different from walking, jogging, or running outside, and not helping your cause for better glutes and loosening up your tight hips. The main issue is that the belt on the treadmill is doing the work for you. All you are doing is lifting your knee and contracting your quads and hip flexors to avoid falling and then again to prevent collapsing on the treadmill. When you sit in a chair all day those muscles are constantly contracting to keep you in that position. This only leads to back pain and tension in your shoulder blades/neck. If you went for a walk or a jog outside or on an indoor track then you'd actually get to use your hamstrings, butt, and low back muscles and start to reverse your tight hips you get from your job or driving in rush hour traffic. 

Get off the treadmill and go for a walk/jog outside or on an indoor track