By Kimberly Flynn
1. ALWAYS DOING THE SAME WORKOUT.
“People often fall into the trap of hitting the treadmill for 30 minutes every time they work out,” says Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, Calif. “It works at first, but then your body starts to adjust to the routine, and you burn fewer calories.” To keep seeing results, change one workout factor like intensity or duration every trip to the gym, then completely switch your activity every three to four weeks.
If you can watch TV during your workout, you’re not working hard enough. Instead of relaxing while you run, try interval training. After a five- to six-minute warm-up on a cardio machine, work as hard as you can for one minute, then reduce the intensity for two minutes. Alternate back and forth for five rounds, making sure to increase the number of intervals you do each workout.
3. HOLDING ON TO THE HANDLEBARS.
When your arms take your body weight off your legs, you burn fewer calories. “If you have to hold on or lean, go slower,” says Cosgrove. (Supporting yourself without assistance gives you a better core workout as well.)
4. NOT USING THE INCLINE.
Setting the treadmill on an incline increases the activity of your glutes and hamstrings so you make them even stronger and burn more calories. Depending on your fitness level, set the incline at between 6% and 10%.
You don’t need to sip sports drinks all afternoon, then eat an energy bar at the gym, and then follow that up with a post-workout shake. Instead, limit yourself to about 300 calories—the same number you burn in an average 30-minute workout. Any more and you’re not going to get thinner.
Originally published on February 1, 2008