Treadmill vs Outdoors

July 28, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Cardio on the treadmill or on outside

We all know running is a vital part of exercising when maintaining a fit and healthy body. We can choose to run on the treadmill, or stretch and flex our legs in the outside terrain.

But which do you choose?

As someone who had sport built into me from a young age, the majority of training/running sessions happened outdoors. So for me, any running that i do will usually happen outdoors. It’s not to say running on a treadmill is a bad thing, it does have its benefits. Below i’ll describe the pro’s and cons of both:

As i stated, running on the treadmill isn’t a bad thing at all. And using the treadmill during those winter months will be more favorable for sure. The cold, rain, ice and snow of winter will wreak havoc on our fitness level and the condition of our bodies. No matter how hard we try to stay in shape, the bad weather and short days make keeping fit a difficult task. Running on the treadmill offers fitness and calorie burning benefits that are very similar to outside running. However, there are differences between outdoor running and treadmill running. The primary differences are:

– The lack of wind resistance

– A flat and unchanging surface

– The effect the moving belt has on your running or walking stride.

The main way to overcome this would be to have your treadmill workout routines mimic your outdoor training routine. But lets look fiurther into each of those that i have mentioned above.

The lack of Wind resistance

Ever since i was introduced to the treadmill in my teens, i never had been a big fan of this running machine. As i mentioned earlier, i was raised on the ‘train outdoors’ mentality. But i didn’t find out until later on the reasons why i disliked treadmill running so much. It was because of lack of wind resistance. The lack of wind resistance and the assistance of the moving belt make treadmill running slightly easier than outdoor running. So therefore i found it too easy, and going down a level in performance certainly will not improve your progress. When running on the treadmill you are running in place. You are not moving through the air. When you run outside the air creates resistance. It is estimated that outside air resistance creates an increase in your workload of between 2% and 10%, depending upon your running speed. The faster you run, the more of an effect the air resistance has on you. This problem is very easily overcome by elevating your treadmill to 1% or level 1. The slight incline will make your treadmill workout more equal to running outdoors.

A flat and unchanging surface

I have done quite a bit of outdoor running over the years and watched many others do their run also (which i’m sure most of you have), And every scenario goes a little like this (not necessarily in this order):

– A long run through the grass

– On to the pavement

– Dodging people or animals

-Run onto gravel

– A short hill to run down, run around puddles

Unless those reading this know better than me, there is no treadmill in the world that can mimic all the things that you face there (although it would be interesting to see such a thing built 🙂 ). The main negative result of this is the lack of proprioceptive training. Proprioception is an important skill when running on the treadmill. Proprioception is basically intuitively feeling and knowing the position and motion of your body, feet, legs, arms, etc. at all times. It is being aware of all of the different actions of your running stride. This is something that, to a limited extent, you do naturally. But to maximize your level of awareness, practice consciously being aware of your position on the belt, the amount of forward lean, the position of your hips, the angle of your feet and all stages of your running stride.

When running outside, you encounter all types of uneven and unstable running surfaces such as those i mentioned above. A changing surface will force your neuro-muscular system to become more proprioceptive because it must make split second adjustments in order to keep your body stable and moving in the right direction. The flat and even surface of the treadmill removes this valuable training opportunity. So, if you do most or all of your workouts on the treadmill, you should practice proprioception at all times. You can also use a wobble board. A wobble board is just what it sounds like. It is a board with a half sphere on the bottom of it. It “wobbles” when you step or stand on it. Performing exercises on this type of board will help build and maintain those proprioceptive skills.

Proprioception is important in all running activities, but even more so when running on the treadmill. Runners tend to allow the action of the belt and the lack of wind resistance to change their stride to a more upright, bouncy form with a shorter, less powerful stride. Being more aware of your running mechanics will make it easier to transfer your normal stride to the treadmill and visa versa.

The effect the moving belt has on your running or walking

I won’t talk about my dislike of the treadmill anymore, as i think you would have heard enough of it by now. But the only reason i do use it is to do what i call ‘entertainment running’. Which basically means taking it ‘easy’ while watching TV at the same time (don’t make a habit of this).

In general your running form should not change when you are training on the treadmill. Unfortunately, the moving belt of the treadmill can create havoc with your running mechanics. The moving belt can cause some runners to lean too far forward at the waist in an attempt to “keep up” with the belt. Other runners may run with an extremely “bouncy” stride or may run with a very short and tight stride. You can avoid these form problems by focusing on your running mechanics.

All runners should concentrate on proper form when they run, whether they train on a treadmill or the road. This is especially important for new treadmill users. It is much better to perfect your form right away, rather than acquire bad running form habits that may be hard to break. Good running form is the same no matter where you train.

The most efficient running posture is one that is mostly upright and relaxed, with a slight, whole body, forward lean beginning at the ankles. You should not lean forward at the waist. Your chest should be pushed out and your shoulders back and relaxed. Avoid all tension in your upper body. Tension is a form wrecker.
Leaning too far forward at the waist will cause a stumbling, high impact motion that will slow you down and put excessive stress on your knees, hips and ankles. Leaning backward will cause you to run with too much vertical motion and will also stress your hips and back. Even the totally vertical posture that many running experts recommend has some built in stride issues. When running with a very vertical posture, you tend to reach out with both your legs and arms. This wastes energy and slows you down A slight, whole body, forward lean will enlist the help of gravity just enough to assist with directing your momentum smoothly forward. Keep your hips pressed forward and your butt tucked in. Visualize standing face first against a wall. Press your hips forward so the front of your hips touches the wall. Running with your hips forward will help keep your motion going forward instead of up and down. It will also allow you to drive your knees efficiently forward. Your foot should touchdown on the ball of your foot, with your foot directly under your center of gravity, not on your heel with your foot in front of your body. If you land on your heel you are over striding and are putting too much stress on your knees and hips. You are also putting on the brakes with each stride. Landing either flat footed or on the ball of your foot minimizes the impact and keeps your forward momentum going strong.

So there you have it, the treadmill does have its good points and bad points. The main issue and most obvious issue is where the moving belt can suddenly swipe you off your feet (Youtube for many a demonstration!). This can lead to sudden embarresment and cause possible injury to your knees, hips and back. Be careful!

You have to be swift if this does occur. Quickly grab the sides of the treadmill and lift yourself up.

You need to have a quick, compact running stride, which is also the best outside running stride. Count the number of strides you are taking in 1 minute. If you are running correctly you should be taking approximately 85 – 95 full strides per minute. If you are taking less than that you are spending too much time on your feet.

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Working out on vacation aka The hotel work out

July 24, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Hotel Workout for home gym resultsEveryone needs a vacation every now and again, whether it’s a city break to a top European destination, the Caribbean or the Far East. But at the same time we do live in a body conscious world and the thought of staying in shape will be at the back of your mind when you are away. The worse thing would be to come back home after a short or long break away and realize you’ve either lost your muscle mass due to some hardcore partying or piled on the pounds. And then you are left with that Homer Simpson feeling, you look at yourself in the mirror and say,


It’s the same thing as not maintaining your frame when you’re in your home country and get distracted by illness, injury, stress from work, girlfriends, boyfriends. And then you get back to the gym and realize what an idiot you have been for stopping your workout routine.

So, is there a solution to this problem that we will all inevitably face at some point through out the year while on vacation?

Of course there is, when there is a will there is a way (woops, common cliche again :|)

The solution is called the Hotel workout!

What is the hotel workout you may ask?

The hotel workout is exactly as described, because everything that you do in this workout can be done in the room of a hotel. But you can do it anywhere really.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is why do you go on vacation. Because asking yourself this will tell you if this really is for you or not.

Why do you go on vacation?

– Relax

– Get away from it all

– Enjoy yourself

Those are the reasons i go on vacation for. I would assume it would be the same for the majority of others who do also.

If you view working out as a chore and you see it as a means to maintain basic health, then any kind of working out while away probably isn’t for you.

But if working out is an integral part of your life, like it is for myself, then what i have outlined below is something you can take away with you this summer while you’re away (or any other time of the year)

The Hotel Workout

Set aside 20 to 30 minutes everyday for your hotel workout. Yes, every day. Since you’re not lifting heavy weights, you don’t need to worry too much about muscle soreness or muscle breakdown. Your muscles will fully recover by the next day.

Find a free weight

Now for your props. Look around the room for something that weighs about 10 pounds and that you can hold easily in one or both hands. Be creative—a filled duffle bag, a laptop, a lamp base or even your kids! :D—just about anything you can lift will do.

One set, keep moving

When working out, do one set of each exercise and move quickly from exercise to exercise with little rest in between. Remember, you only have 20 to 30 minutes before you head outside to start your vacation day! The lack of rest will keep your heart rate up, and the variation between upper and lower body exercises will keep you from over training your muscles.

Extra credit cardio

If you have a full hour to work out, follow your 20- to 30-minute workout with 20 to 30 minutes of moderate outdoor cardio. Run on a trail or the streets, hike up into the hills, or swim in the pool. Keep your heart rate up and consistent for at least 20 minutes.

Add some resistance

If you’re really serious about staying fit while on vacation, consider buying some high-quality resistance bands like the All Body Express from TRX. These resistance bands can be attached just about anywhere and will enable you to do most common exercises that require a weight much more effectively.

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How to maintain muscle mass doing cardio…and look like a Pro?

July 8, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Mens workout - to look like this

I have always questioned how this could be done effectively. Especially for those who are naturally of a slim build. You want to increase your weight from lifting weights, yet know you need to do cardio work but don’t want to lose your ‘weight gain’ results :S

It is even harder when you are trying to lose that puppy fat that you have around the edges.

We have compiled a formula, that if followed correctly over a period of time, WILL give you results.

If you want to gain in muscle mass, you have to eat good meals 5-7 times/day or every 3 hours, with lots of protein from fish egg and red-meat and carbs from pasta, rice, and potatoes. Or if you have some money, buy a gainer like Super Gainer from Twinlab. And do this:

Meal 1.Good Breakfast like porridge with fruit or something

Meal 2. Drink a gainer meal

Meal 3. Lunch with alot of carbs 2/3 and 1/3 protein

Meal 4. Drink a Gainer meal

Meal 5. Dinner with 1/3 protein and 2/3 carbs

Meal 6. Drink a gainer meal

Meal 7. Eat a dish with 2/3 protein and 1/3 carbs

If you eat like this, drink 3-4 liters of water/day and work out 3-5 times a week you are going to gain in muscle mass. If you want to, you can take a supplement like Creatine Citrate from Peak Nutrition, but the weight gain you are getting from creatine in the beginning is water in the muscle cells, it’s not just muscle mass.

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