How does gripping the front bar and pushing your feet out hard behind you compare to regular walking without holding onto the treadmill?
Every so often I see someone with their hands firmly on the front bar of a treadmill while doing push-off walking: They’re leaning forward and pressing their feet hard into the tread surface and exaggerating each stride.
Sometimes they tug with their arms with each step.
Is this technique more effective than regular walking with a natural arm swing?
No. No. And NO.
Nothing beats the natural gait: walking without holding on; with a natural arm swing.
The arm swing (and to what extent varies from one person to the next) is the way the human body was engineered to walk.
While walking without holding on, all the body’s parts work fluidly in unison.
These biomechanics are disrupted when you hold onto a treadmill – even when you spiff it up with a deliberate hard push-off with each step that makes your legs go behind you.
Whenever I see this, I wonder what benefits these men and women think this will create.
Why not just set the speed and incline to something that you can manage with a natural, hands-free walk, while at the same time, the settings are challenging and elevate your respiration and heart rate?
One of the simplest, most rudimentary concepts in exercise is that if you sense you’ll fall off a treadmill if you don’t hold on, then … LOWER THE SETTINGS!
Look, if a barbell is too heavy for you to lift, what do you do? You take some weight off.
If the load on a machine is too heavy for you, what do you do? You set the pin higher up.
If a treadmill setting, then, is too tough to handle without gripping the bar in front, or anywhere else for that matter — then it’s a no-brainer: LOWER THE SETTINGS.
If you were walking outdoors for fitness or weight loss, you wouldn’t be clinging onto anything for support, would you?
So why would you do this when walking indoors on a treadmill? It absolutely makes no sense.
The exaggerated push-off with the feet will not make this type of walking more effective, whether your goal is better heart health, more walking stamina or weight loss.
Don’t be fooled by fit-looking people who might be doing the push-off gimmick while holding fast to the bar before them.
They’re fit-looking due to other exercise they do plus not taking in more calories than their body burns, not their holding onto a treadmill.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.