The treadmill is a great piece of equipment for weight loss and gaining fitness, yet why for some people don’t they see ANY results?

Well, just because exercise equipment can work wonders for weight loss and fitness doesn’t mean that its user is using it correctly.

It’s like a car. It can take you to great places. But what if you don’t know how to drive? You won’t get far.

I’m a former personal trainer and regularly witnessed (and continue to do so) mistakes that people make with their treadmill “workouts.”

But how can you tell your treadmill sessions aren’t working?
The first big clue is that you haven’t lost any of the weight you thought would melt off or even trickle off.

Your Treadmill Routine Isn’t Working When…

• You haven’t lost fat; your clothes still fit the same.

• You don’t feel any fitter a few months, let alone six months, after you began your sessions.

• Everything else about you is the same – e.g., if you had high blood pressure, it’s still high; if you were getting winded easily from hurrying to your car in the parking lot, you still are.

• You begin asking yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

Treadmill Workouts SHOULD Work.

The reason they don’t for some users is because those users are not doing things correctly.

Remember, the treadmill is a piece of equipment. It must be used correctly in order to yield results such as weight loss.

The No. 1 Mistake People Make with a Treadmill

People hold onto the front bar, side rails or console. This is a universal mistake that I have observed at every single gym over multiple U.S. states.

This error spans all age groups, races, both genders, all heights, body weights and body types.

• I have seen young muscled men holding onto the treadmill.

• I have witnessed elderly men NOT holding on.

• I have seen young thin women gripping the machine.

• I have observed fat middle aged women jogging WITHOUT holding on.

The issue isn’t disability. It’s ignorance. You would not believe the reasons people have given me for why they hold on.

• “Everyone else does it.”

• “I’m afraid I’ll fall off if there’s a power outage and the tread suddenly stops.”

• “The machine keeps telling me to hold on for heart rate.”

Only one person told me, “I have multiple sclerosis.” However, I encouraged a man, who’d suffered a spinal injury years back, to walk one day without holding on, even though he’d always been holding on.

I KNEW he’d be able to walk hands free without falling off after I’d often witness him picking up 45 pound weight plates and loading the Smith machine to do squats – without assistance. Why was this guy holding onto the treadmill for a slow walk?

He surprised himself by being able to sustain the walk without holding on, despite nerve damage that left had his legs atrophied and unsteady.

If YOU’VE been holding onto the treadmill, what’s your excuse?

Use an Old Person’s Walker to Lose Weight

Yes, you read that right. Use your grandmother’s walker – go for 30 minutes a day with it – and you’ll lose fat!


But when you hold onto a treadmill, that’s essentially what you’re doing: mimicking the use of a walker!

His posture and gait are the same as someone holding the side rails of a treadmill. And NO, holding the front of the machine won’t solve the problem. Also note that he’s leaning some of his weight onto his arms and hands to subtract workload from his legs. This is exactly what anyone who holds onto a treadmill does, defeating the purpose of the walking. Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

Holding onto a treadmill is a downgrade from the baseline walking you in everyday life. So why would it cause weight loss?

Even at inclines and speeds faster than baseline, you won’t lose much weight because the higher the incline or faster the speed … the tighter you’ll hold on!

Holding onto a treadmill burns 20-25 percent fewer calories than if you were hands free at the same settings.

The calorie readout is generated by the settings, not the user. The calorie readout computer CANNOT tell if the user is holding on or not, and hence, makes no adjustments for this.

You Know Your Treadmill Routine Isn’t Working When…

The next mistake I always see is a walk that’s close to baseline, i.e., a mere replication of the walking that people do around their house, on the job or when shopping.

This won’t cause much fat loss or improve cardiorespiratory fitness even if the user is hands free.

It’s important to get in at least 6,000 steps a day, but if you want to shed pounds and boost cardiovascular fitness, you must do a lot more than just tack on steps.

You must perform well above your baseline, or what I call “house walking” – the kind of walking you do around your house. Tacking onto this will not train your heart to be stronger.

Even a steady state slow jog for an hour has limitations when it comes to slashing body fat.

The best way to burn body fat and boost heart and vascular health is to employ a technique called high intensity interval training (HIIT).

You will never say, “My treadmill workouts aren’t getting me results,” if you do HIIT!

And of course, when doing HIIT, do not hold onto the machine!

Strip off Fat with HIIT Workouts

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.