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Death To The Treadmill: The New Cardio Types


Death To The Treadmill: The New Cardio Types

Variety. It’s what you want in life. From what you eat, and how you work out, to what you do in the bedroom, variety is key to keeping you interested and enthused. Importantly, it’s also what gets you better results sooner.

It’s not so surprising, then, that the treadmill has become one of the most vilified pieces of gym equipment – gym-goers are ditching the human hamster wheel in favor of other, more engaging forms of cardio exercise. For good reason too.


Treadmill problems

The treadmill is ineffective. Running 100 meters on one uses 36% less oxygen than cantering at the same speed on nature’s treadmill, terra firma, according to a study in Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise. So the going is far easier on a treadmill compared to good old-fashioned grass.

We’ve all seen that guy or girl in the gym, slogging it out on the treadmill day-in day-out and making absolutely no progress – and that’s because it’s all too easy to go light on yourself on the gym staple. Run on rough terrain and your muscles are pushed in new ways with every step. The same just isn’t true of the treadmill.

“Jumping, climbing, swinging and rolling are activities that almost everyone has done as a child and it was simply called ‘playing,’” says Michael Conley, gym manager at Tempest Freerunning Academy in Los Angeles, USA ( “These elementary movements have been standardized and expanded upon thus creating the arts known as ‘parkour’ and ‘free running.’ People come to our facility because it’s different and actually looks fun.”


A new wave of cardio types

It’s not only new types of cardio workouts that are appealing to those seeking treadmill alternatives. Martial arts and martial-arts-based activities, for example, have grown in popularity, too. “We find that more and more people are coming to us as a change from ‘normal’ gyms saying that they are ‘bored,’” says Stuart Grant, of Westside Martial Arts in Melbourne, Australia ( “We have treadmills at our gym but they are used for people to warm up for their training or for the purpose of cutting weight for competition.”

And by far the most effective alternative to treadmill work is circuit training. “The popularity of circuit training workouts that incorporate more functional pieces of equipment like stability balls, sand weights, weighted vests and battle ropes has exploded in recent years,” says Ponn. “This type of fitness delivers maximum results, as you’re not only burning calories but also sculpting lean muscle that will in turn increase your metabolism and help your body burn more fat.”

So in 10 years time, will we look back at treadmills in the way we now view manual typewriters and video tapes?


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