Whether you consider the treadmill your sacred space for indoor runs or a torture device, the fact is, you can get much more out of this machine than a cardio workout. Just ask Mindy Kaling. Her trainer, Jeanette Jenkins, posted a video on Instagram of the Champions and A Wrinkle in Time actress walking it out at a moderate pace on a treadmill while performing hammer curls to an overhead press.
What’s the benefit of bringing the upper body into this treadmill-based workout party? According to Rustin Steward, a Tier 3+ Trainer at Equinox Sports in New York City, multitasking in this way not only helps decrease the amount of time you're in the gym, but it also totally ups your calorie burn because, well, you’re recruiting more muscles. Follow Kaling's lead, for example, and you'll be working your entire lower body, shoulders, biceps, and forearms.
Faheem Mujahid, owner of HumanWorks training facility in Miami, adds that walking with weights can also help prepare your body for some common functional movements. Think wielding your luggage (we're not talking rolling bags here) on travel days. “Lugging your bag down the aisle of an airplane, picking it up, and then putting it in the overhead compartment is essentially the compound exercise that Kaling is performing here,” Mujahid points out.
That said, don’t just hop on the tread and amp up the speed to a breakneck pace while carrying a super heavy load. It’s a new movement, so you’ll need to get acclimated first. Mujahid’s rec: Start without weighs, aiming to mimic the same movements you’d perform with the weights. “Once you’re feeling stable, try loading just one arm with weight, while using the other arm for stabilization, holding onto the console,” says Mujahid.
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If you do decide to use weights right off the bat, ease into the workout. “I’d say 3.5 miles per hour tops, using light dumbbells, so you can get your steps coordinated with your upper body movements,” says Steward. “Make sure your upper body movements and steps are slow and controlled.”
Now that you’ve found your groove, give this hammer curl to overhead press combo a whirl for a while. If you prefer to break things up, try intervals, suggests Steward, alternating the walking and upper body combo exercise for 1 minute with just regular walking for 1 minute, repeating this cycle for 20 to 30 minutes. And don't be afraid to mix in a few other upper body sculptors for variety's sake, says Steward. Biceps curl, front raise, farmer’s walk, or simply just holding the weights above your head are all good alternatives, he adds.