This treadmill workout plan mimics a bell curve; it starts out nice and easy at a fairly low intensity before progressively working up to a challenging peak, and then gradually dropping back down to a less demanding level.
The layout of the plan forces you to pay attention to what you’re doing during your sweat session, which is good. You’re going to have to closely watch the timing on your treadmill’s readout.
What you need for this routine: Thirty-five minutes, a treadmill that has an incline of at least 15%, comfortable shoes, and maybe some music.
How many calories this treadmill workout burns: Including your short warm up, approximately 330 calories for the average 140 lb woman. Depending on factors such as your weight, gender, and lean muscle mass, you could burn anywhere between 250 and 560.
Muscles used when walking on incline: Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, abdominals, lower back, obliques, front and rear deltoids, diaphragm, and the ankle, knee and hip complex.
Before you jump right in: Walk for five minutes at a brisk pace that gets your muscles warmed up and ready to work.
Start the Bell Curve Treadmill Workout: Once you hit that five minutes that marks the end of your warm up, bump the incline on your treadmill up to .05%. From this point on, every 30 seconds you will increase the incline of the treadmill another half percent, until you reach the maximum 15%. So, it should take you 15 minutes to reach the full 15% incline.
Once you do your 30 seconds of walking at the max incline, you get to gradually work your way back down the same way that you worked your way up: by making an adjustment of .05% every 30 seconds. That’s another 15 minutes of walking on an incline (at least of a decreasing rate of climb, this time) before you are back down to ground zero, for 30 minutes total.
One thing you will likely notice is that it’s a lot more challenging on the way back down, as you slowly move towards a neutral, flat level again. Your legs will likely start burning (if they already hadn’t earlier), you will definitely be sweating up a storm, and you may end up having to bat your own hands away from prematurely hitting the button that lowers your incline.
About your walking speed throughout the incline variations: You may find that you need to decrease your pace as your climb gets steeper and steeper. To get the toughest workout that expends the most calories, do what you can, the entire time, to stay close to a pace that normally gets your heart rate up on level ground. You can always move up or down slightly in order to catch your breath or challenge yourself further, just remember to push yourself.
What this routine does for you: Aside from burning a good deal of calories (especially for a low impact walking plan) this workout has you making an intense enough climb that it tones the muscles in your butt, hamstrings, and calves.
The ascent is steep enough that this turns into a moderate to intense cardio workout (especially depending on your current fitness level). This makes this plan a great way to bump up your cardiovascular endurance and burn a great deal of calories, without the somewhat jarring impact of running.
To burn even more calories:
• Do the entire plan twice through – two “Bell Curves” – in order to burn anywhere from 500-700 calories in that 60 minutes.
• Make sure that you don’t rest your hands on the sides or front of the machine. Force yourself to use your balance and you will increase your burn.
• Hang around a while once you get to the maximum; instead of starting the incremental decline after 30 seconds at the top, spend as long as you can at a 15% incline before beginning your descent.
• Maintain a brisk pace while you scale that Bell Curve. You can always take it back down a notch if you need to, so don’t be afraid to push yourself.
• Jog or run the Curve. You’re going to have to be in great shape to tackle this feat but if you can hack it, you will burn a ton of calories.