Hate jogging in the dark? Here's how to make the most of a treadmill workout

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Avoid treadmill boredom with this top advice from personal trainer AJ Perera...

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With the weather taking a turn for the worse, more and more fitness fanatics are turning to the treadmill as a safe (and warm) way to stay in shape and maintain their fitness. While running on a treadmill can be repetitive or even a bit boring, the treadmill is a fantastic training tool when used properly.

We caught up with Fitness First trainer AJ Perera to find out his top tips for winter treadmill workouts...

Monitor your heart rate

Your heart rate values are different on a treadmill. Without external stimuli like hills, wind and heat your heart rate will be lower. It also makes a difference that the treadmill is pushing your legs instead of you pulling your body forward. You can counteract this effect by manipulating the incline periodically to stimulate your aerobic system.

Uphill climb

Use a minimum of a 1% incline . Running at 0% incline is similar to running on a slight downward slope. It's also very difficult to maintain solid run form on a flat treadmill, so kicking it up to a minimum of 1% means that you'll have a better chance of getting into your normal running style (foot strike, body lean, etc.).

As you increase the incline for hill workouts, be sure to cut back a bit on the speed. We all slow down a bit as we head uphill, but the treadmill won't unless you tell it to.

Change the settings regularly so your body gets used to different speeds and different incline levels. By keeping your body guessing you'll be more conditioned to outside running when the weather improves.

Build up your muscles

Don't ignore resistance training to maintain and build your muscles strength. Incorporating a basic weight routine is a great way to make sure your legs maintain their in-season strength through the winter.

Squats:
Do 3 sets of 15/20 repetitions while holding a 4 kg dumbbell in each hand. Just imagine sitting down on a chair and standing back up again with all the weight on your heels.

Lunges:
Lunges are a good way to work your hamstrings, quads and your bum and increase strength. Do 3 sets of 15/20 reps while holding a 4 kg dumbbell on each arm.

Leg extensions and leg curls:
Leg extension and curl equipment will work your quads/hamstrings and help to build up your lactic acid tolerance. Over time this will help with endurance running and long outdoor runs. You should aim to do 3 sets of 15/20 reps on minimum 25 kg. If you're unsure of anything do ask - injuries will only ruin your week!

Planks :
Plank is a core and abdominal exercise, having a strong core puts less pressure on your lower back. If you are running long distances its important to have a strong core so that you can maintain a good posture during your entire run. Go into plank position and hold that position for minimum 30 seconds and each week try and add an extra 5 seconds.

Get outside once a week, weather permitting. There is no substitute for the real thing. Even if you have to wait until midday on a weekend for the temperature to climb, do it. Just one outdoor session a week will help you maintain your "feel" for the road.

Training through the winter isn't easy, even with treadmills. If you mix up your routine, it will help you stay fit and sharp and will have you ready for next season in no time!

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