The best way to burn fat on a cardio treadmill is to challenge as many of your muscles as you can while your heart rate is accelerated. Yet, rumor has it, you are sick of your boring treadmill workout and, even though you initially felt more fit when you started using it for regular cardio, you have hit a plateau and you are considering (or already have) using the treadmill as a clothes hanger. Wait! Don't give up just yet. This is the crucial time in your health and fitness plan to not fall off the wagon (or treadmill - ouch!) and start burning more calories and fat.
Tip #1: Challenge Yourself
You probably feel like you have hit a plateau because you have inadvertently stopped challenging yourself. It is chore enough to get on the beast and do your 30 minutes of power walking while catching up on your DVR. Why would you believe you are capable of anything else? Guess what - you are capable of so much more and you will be so proud of yourself when you prove it.
In order to burn more calories, you need to transform the constant, comfortable pace of your current treadmill workout into an interval workout. This means hills, valleys (or flat lands), and varying speeds. You will notice a difference in the way your muscles burn during the workout and how you immediately feel after the workout. This is because you are challenging new muscles and burning more calories in a shorter amount of time than when your workout consisted of 3 minutes of warm up, 25 minutes of power walking or running and 3 - 5 minutes of cool down. Accelerated calorie burning leads to fat burning.
Tip #2: Control Your Interval Training Program
There are endless options for a great, fat burning interval workout on your treadmill. What I have found to be the safest and most effective method, instead of looking online and following all the various guidelines, is to take a moment and reflect on your strength and fitness level.
Find 3 levels - easy, medium and hard (these should reflect the low, medium and high end of your target heart rate zone) - for 3 categories - treadmill speed, walking/running speed and incline. Here's a hint - don't cheat yourself and make your easiest pace/speed slow motion. Remember you are trying to burn fat so unless you are just beginning your treadmill workout program, do not forget this is about challenging yourself to burn that fat off.
Once you find your 3 comfort zones, apply them to your own personalized interval treadmill workout by making sure to begin and end with at least 5 minutes of warm up and cool down at your lowest incline and slowest pace. Between the warm up and cool down, create 1 - 3 minute intervals that meet your comfort level while still challenging you. Maybe 1 minute at your fastest walk/run pace on your medium incline followed by 2 - 3 minutes of your slowest pace on your highest incline followed by 2 minutes of your fastest pace at the lowest incline and continue. Challenging yourself like this also makes the treadmill grind less boring.
Tip #3: Fight Cardio Treadmill Boredom
Other ways to spice up your treadmill workout while burning more fat is to do different exercises on the treadmill. Who just walks or runs on a treadmill anymore? Not you! There are a lot of other exercises for treadmill workouts that force you to use your core and other balance muscles. All of these activities can be incorporated into your interval training program as you continue to personally tailor it for yourself. It will feel so rewarding when you get to start lengthening your intervals as you become more fit. Please take into consideration how coordinated and strong you are before trying these at home or in public.
First, try putting your treadmill on a very slow speed and do walking lunges for 30 second intervals. Another interval to try is side shuffles. Be sure to really focus on your core during the lunges and side shuffles. Both walking lunges and side shuffles can also be done at an incline, but please be careful when you challenge yourself.
Stretching before and after more intense exercises like these is invaluable. Another fun treadmill exercise to try is walking backwards for 30 second (or more) intervals. This uses a whole new set of leg muscles and it challenges your core for balance. If you really want to get fancy, you can walk with light weights in your hands for certain intervals or do some resistance training or push-ups beside the treadmill for a minute here and there.
You should view your treadmill as an opportunity to try different exercises that are new and surprise your muscles. You have absolute freedom on your treadmill, and you can really challenge yourself to never get bored with it. Have fun and feel powerful!