12-Week Treadmill Workout

Even avid exercisers find excuses to skip workouts in winter. So we asked Norma Shechtman, the American Council on Exercise's Group Fitness Instructor of the Year for 2003, to develop a lower-body routine that burns fat, builds muscle, is at least a little fun—and can be done indoors.

She surprised us by bringing up an old standby that's probably sitting in your basement: a treadmill. "Many people think of treadmills as monotonous," she says. "I wanted to prove that you can have 3 whole months of workouts with so much variety you'll never get bored." The treadmill is the most popular piece of home exercise equipment, and for many walkers and runners, it's the only way they can stick with their workouts during the cold winter months.

On the following pages you'll find a 12-week program that includes challenging power mixes, hill climbs to keep things interesting, speed intervals to crank up your calorie burn, and unique strength moves to get your legs as ready for shorts season as you probably are.

  12-Week Fat-Burning Workout
    Weeks 1 to 4 Weeks 5 to 8 Weeks 9 to 12  
  Monday Cardio Walk Cardio Walk
Strength Moves
Cardio Walk
Strength Moves
  Tuesday Speed Intervals Speed Intervals Speed Intervals  
  Wednesday Cardio Walk Cardio Walk Cardio Walk  
  Thursday Incline Intervals Incline Intervals Incline Intervals  
  Friday Rest Cardio Walk
Strength Moves
Cardio Walk
Strength Moves
  Saturday Power Mix Power Mix Power Mix  
  Sunday Rest Rest Cardio Walk  


Warm up (5 minutes)

Walk slowly (1.5 to 2 mph) for 1 minute. Slow your speed (to no more than 1.8 mph), and walk on your toes for 30 seconds, then switch to your heels for 30 seconds. Repeat the toe and heel walking one more time. Raise your incline to 6, and stretch your legs by taking longer strides for 1 minute. Lower the incline to 0, and speed up to 2.5 to 3 mph for 1 minute.

Cool down (5 minutes)
At the end of your walk, reduce your speed to 2.5 to 3.5 mph, and walk for 3 minutes. Then slow down to 1.5 to 2.5 mph, and walk for 2 more minutes.

To avoid tight calves, try this stretch: Standing on the edge of a step, gently lower one heel. Hold for 45 to 60 seconds, then switch legs.

Cardio Walk
After warming up, walk between 3 and 4 mph. Choose a pace that has you breathing harder but still allows you to talk without gasping. Remember to cool down afterward.

Weeks 1 to 4
Walk for 20 minutes. Total workout time: 30 minutes

Weeks 5 to 8
Walk for 30 minutes. Total workout time: 40 minutes

Weeks 9 to 12
Walk for 40 minutes. Total workout time: 50 minutes
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