Introducing the Treadmill Body

Running is only the beginning. With the right moves, this tried-and-true machine has the power to transform.

David Siik sees it every day. "They step on, shrug their shoulders, and have no idea what they are going to do," says Siik, a full-time treadmill running coach who teaches Tread&Shred at Equinox's West Hollywood and Beverly Hills locations. It's the treadmill status quo—a passive approach of mindless mileage, possibly improved by the occasional pick-up, but largely time misspent and opportunity lost. Which is why Siik, a former competitive runner who is authoring a book about running due out next year, is so adamant that exercisers learn to view this machine in a new and different light. Specifically, as a total-body workout tool. 

"The number one thing I tell people in the club is to never get on the treadmill without a plan," says Siik. "There are infinite ways to map a session on a treadmill, and the challenging and fun part of it all is that you get to be creative in its design." 

Siik's creative vision, as displayed in the video above, incorporates not only fat-burning intervals, but dynamic strengthening, balance and toning exercises. "Being creative on a treadmill is the best way to become a better runner. Backwards running on a moderate incline, for example, is a great tool in strengthening your hamstrings and glutes. Side shuffling helps with balance and focus as well as being a killer workout for your inner thighs."

While running occurs mainly in the forward-motion sagittal plane, adding these exercises to a session challenges your body in new ways so you can achieve a fitter, more balanced physique. "On a treadmill, there is no turning right or left, there is no downhill running, there is no leaping over a puddle. Those conditions require unique and complex movements, engaging a more intricate network of muscles, ligaments and joints," he explains. "Adding these movements helps keep balance, and I largely credit these additional movements to me being an injury-free runner. In the middle of a hard sprint, my joints feel stable, my hips are in line, and I have the strength in all the smaller, lesser-used areas." 

If you're ready to take your workout to a new level, try one of Equinox's treadmill classes at your local club, or use this sample interval workout, designed by Siik. "No other machine in the club can hold you as accountable as a treadmill, which has the inability to be dishonest with you," he says. "It's a brilliant machine of continuity and precision, so step onto it with a plan. Giving yourself a starting point and a finish line will immediately change the way you look at the treadmill." 

Siik's 30-Minute Interval Workout:

3 minutes warm-up
Segment 1: Creating Best Incline
30 seconds at your starting 'fast' speed (e.g. 6.0, 8.0, or 10.0) @ 1% incline
1 minute recovery @ 0% incline
Repeat sequence @ 2%, 3%, 4%, then 5% incline
2 minutes complete recovery

Segment 2: Creating Best Speed
30 seconds starting fast speed plus 0.2 (e.g. 8.2) @ 0% incline
1 minute recovery @ 0% incline
Repeat sequence @ starting fast speed plus 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, and 1.0
2 minutes complete recovery

Segment 3: Combining Speed and Incline
30 seconds new fast speed (e.g. 9.0) @ 1% incline
1 minute recovery @ 0% incline
Repeat sequence at 2%, 3%, 4%, then 5% incline
2-3 minutes cool-down

To master his treadmill-based toning moves, click here.

Check Out Siik's 3 Most Surprising Treadmill Tips:

1) Step Away From The Console: "The majority of people run far too close to the front of their treadmills, mostly because they feel most safe there. However, you end up unconsciously shortening your stride in order to not kick the front of the treadmill and adopting strange short arm movements. When you are in a nice fast run, get away from the front of your treadmill and drive your arms. You will immediately feel your stride open up, your body will be less tight and tense, and you will run with the natural stride you were meant to have."

2) Flat Is Fine: "For years people have been told that a 1% incline equals flat. The design of treadmills have changed dramatically over the years, and most current treadmills are built true to horizon. Incline is great and important, but you shouldn’t always be on an incline. So when you want to run flat, just run flat!"

3) Steep and Speed Don't Mix: "Based on my own observations and studies, it is my personal belief that a person never need sprint on an incline over 5-6%. I strongly believe that the force on the lower back and knees is compounded greatly as inclines rise above that. It is not worth it. Period. I see too many injuries from people going too fast, too steep, which is why in my book, the golden ticket to a great incline run is getting the max burn between inclines of 3-6%."

Video by Project Dstllry

*Shot at the ANDAZ 5th Avenue, New York, a Forbes Travel Guide 4-Star Rated Hotel, on a Woodway treadmill 

Filed Under: Abs | Cardio | Running | Tone Up | Workouts