Fitness Corner: Treadmill workouts

Texans strength and conditioning coach Dan Riley is back for another installment of his Fitness Corner column.

Riley and assistant strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright will continue to post selected answers to your questions throughout the year. Join in by shooting over an e-mail to fitness@houstontexans.com.

Here is an archive of past columns. Dan and Ray have also made the club's strength and conditioning manual available. Click here to download it. And here is an abridged one for the fitness enthusiast.

Here's Dan…

In your Texans Strength and Conditioning Manual you discuss seven components that make up the Fitness profile for your Texans football players. I am currently focusing on the Conditioning aspect and would like to learn more about some of the treadmill routines you utilize for your players at their different positions. I am also interested in how you implement the Polar heart rate monitors to assess training.* *

-- Ed Cicale

Strength & Conditioning Coach

Oak Hills High School, Cincinnati, Ohio

You asked for information about our conditioning treadmill routines. We use our treadmills primarily for interval work. We have three treadmill interval workouts we use with our players. Two of the three routines can also be performed on a stationary bicycle (400s and 200s).

Our off-season running program begins in March with our treadmill interval routines. We progress from 400's, to 200's, to Hills on the Mills. We head outside to begin our outdoor running program during the first week in April. However, these routines can be performed at any time of the year.

We tell our players running 400s on the treadmill is comparable to running a ¼ mile or 400 meters. Running 200s is comparable to running 220 yards or 200 meters. Running Hills On the Mills is comparable to sprinting up a hill with a 25% grade.

You asked about the treadmill routines for our players at different positions. All of our players perform the same conditioning workouts on the treadmills.

Conditioning is very specific. The objective of our interval treadmill routines is to begin to condition and prepare the two energy systems our players will use when they begin running outdoors. The ATP-PC System and the Lactic Acid System are the two dominant energy systems used to play the game of football. For this reason our running intervals never exceed 60 seconds and continue to decrease in length as the off-season progresses.

A specific running regimen utilizing appropriate exercise time, exercise intensity, and adequate recovery, is necessary to effectively develop the two energy systems listed above.

To insure all our players (at each position) are developing the same energy system we must make sure they are exposed to the same amount of exercise. To accomplish this we must pay strict attention to exercise time and exercise intensity. The distance covered is not the key to developing the proper energy system. The key is the intensity of exercise and the amount of time needed to complete the exercise.

The advantage of our treadmill workouts is that all players at every position run each interval for the same amount of time. The only difference is the speed of the treadmill and the distance covered. This will insure the same energy system is being used and developed.

While with the Redskins we used Polar Heart monitors to help establish norms. We no longer use the monitors. We use time, not recovery heart rate when running our treadmill routines. When running 400's and 200's we use 2 ½ times the running time for recovery. Example: Run for 60 seconds and rest for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Run for 30 seconds and rest for 1minute 15 seconds.

Treadmill Running

The purpose of any interval workout is to deplete energy (ATP and glycogen). The muscles then become more efficient at storing more energy and replenishing it quicker. Treadmill running is very useful to accomplish this. The energy requirements to run level on a treadmill and run overland are almost identical.

I have a reference in my files that discusses the energy expenditure of treadmill running vs. overland running. Unfortunately I don't have the date of the document. The source is Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (p. 480). It is a document that refers to many research studies regarding treadmill running vs. overland running.

The document states, "It is often argued that a runner does not undergo a net change in potential energy during treadmill running because he is running in place. But this argument is invalid because, relative to the frame of reference, the same change in potential energy occurs for treadmill and overground running. Similarly, the argument that the treadmill belt moves by under the feet while the body is airborne, fails to take into account the proper frame of reference."

When running outside your body falls forward from one foot strike to the next, taking advantage of one of Newton's Laws of Motion. This doesn't occur on a treadmill. There is no forward momentum when the foot strikes the treadmill belt. Forward momentum stops immediately. The advantage on a treadmill is the moving belt pulls the foot rearward. In terms of energy expenditure it is a tradeoff.

The authors of this document go on to state, "*Although treadmill and overground running should be completely analogous, as Ingen Schenau demonstrated, several factors have been identified which could cause differences between the two situations. These include wind resistance and variation in the belt speed with each foot plant. However, these factors did not appear to have a measurable effect within the range of speeds examined in this study."

*

* "At both the 0 and 5.7% grades, no significant differences were observed between overground and treadmill running. In summary, it would appear that measurements of VO2 obtained during level and inclined treadmill running are valid when applied to overground situation."

*

I mention the above because I've often heard people arguing over the pros and cons of running on a treadmill and running outside. We've been using treadmills for more than 20 years to supplement our running program. Sooner or later our players must run outside because the game is played on grass, not a moving treadmill belt.

Conditioning is specific (Specificity of Conditioning). The precise physiological adaptations to play the game of football (position specific), can only be developed by practicing and playing the game (at game speed).

The primary purpose of our off-season conditioning program is to train the energy systems our players use to play the game and get these systems in good enough shape to go to summer camp and let football get them in shape to play football.

Our tempo at practice and the game itself, are what develops and maintains our players level of conditioning during the season. During practice Coach Capers constantly stresses the value of "playing fast" to our players.

Therefore, use treadmills if you have them. They create some great variety for us. To make the transition to outdoor running easier, we keep the grade at 1% for our treadmill 400's and 200's.

Moving Treadmill Belt

* *Running at higher speeds on a treadmill requires skills not used while running aerobically at slower speeds. Getting on and off a fast-moving treadmill belt requires some attention to detail. We ask each of our players to warm up properly before running at high speeds.

Before performing our treadmill routines we ask our players to warm up, by walking 3 – 5 mph, jogging 5 – 7 ½ mph, running 7 ½ - 10 mph, and eventually sprinting 10 mph and above.

After the warm-up, they should practice getting on and off the treadmill at slower speeds. Sprinting at higher speeds requires our players to know how to get on and off the treadmill at higher speeds.

We suggest they gradually increase the speed of the treadmill by one mph and continue to practice getting on and off. Our players will be ready to begin the workout once they become proficient at getting on and off the treadmill at the running speed for that day's workout.**

**

We teach two different methods to mount the treadmill and allow each player to select the technique they are most comfortable with. I caught linebacker Kailee Wong and strength coach Ray Wright running some treadmill 400s.

Guidelines to **Mounting a Fast-Moving Treadmill:

**

Technique #1

1. Look downward at the landing point for the right foot on the moving belt.* *
2. Grasp the front handrail with both hands while keeping the body in an upright position. Do not bend over at the waist.
3. With the left foot resting on the side deck, raise the right leg and foot to a position ready to step on the moving belt.
4. Step onto the middle of the treadmill with the right foot pointing straight ahead. Stand tall. Do not bend forward. Do not step onto deck with the foot facing at an angle.
5. As the right foot rapidly moves rearward, be ready to step onto the belt with the left foot pointing straight ahead.
6. Release the hands from the front handrail and begin the run.
7. Run far enough away from the handrail to allow a normal running stride. Run close enough to the handrail so that the handle can be reached in the event of an emergency.
8. Never reach a fatigued state that allows you to drift to the rear of the treadmill making it more difficult to safely dismount.

Technique #2

1.      Another method used to mount the treadmill is the straddle technique.

2.      In the starting position, straddle the running deck.

3.      With the left foot remaining on the deck look downward and step onto the middle

of the moving belt with the right foot facing forward. Do not bend forward at the waist.

4.      As the right foot rapidly moves rearward, be ready to step onto the belt with

the left foot pointing straight ahead.

5.      Release the hands from the front handrail and begin the run.  Linebacker Kailee Wong keeps an eye on strength coach Ray Wright while they

alternate running 400's Adhere to steps #7 and #8 listed above.

How to get off a moving treadmill:

1. Grasp the front handrail with both hands. Do not release the handrail until you are standing safely on the side deck.
2. Look down at a spot on the landing area on the left side deck of the treadmill.
3. As soon as you're right foot strikes the treadmill hop to your left landing on the treadmill deck with your left foot. Keep your eyes on that landing spot until you have safely dismounted the treadmill.


Treadmill 400s

Exercise time: 60 seconds

Rest:  2 minutes 30 seconds

Reps: 6

Grade: 1%

Speed: Determined by current fitness level.

Work Volume: 1764 yards @ 10 mph, 2640 yards @ 15 mph

Workout time: 17 minutes**

**

Exercise Protocol:

1. Warm up.
2. Practice mounting and dismounting treadmill at higher speeds.
3. Preset treadmill at running speed for current workout.
4. Mount treadmill and run for 60 seconds.
5. Dismount treadmill and rest for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
6. Remount treadmill and run for 60 seconds.
7. Continue this process until 6 reps have been completed.
8. When six 400s can be completed at the same speed, increase the speed of the treadmill by ½ mph for the next running session.
9. Do not increase the speed of the treadmill until you can complete all six 400s at the same speed.
10. At 15 mph begin increasing grade by 2% instead of increasing the speed.
11. Cool down, walk at 3 mph for three minutes and then stretch.


Your current fitness level will determine the treadmill speed for each workout. Selecting the treadmill speed the first time you run 400's is a trial and error proposition. It is similar to selecting a starting weight the first time you perform a new exercise. We recommend selecting a starting speed that allows the runner to safely complete all six sprints.

For safety, the fastest speed we recommend (for adult athletes) is 15 mph. At this point we begin increasing the elevation (2% grade) instead of speed.

Treadmill 200s

Exercise time: 30 seconds

Rest:  1 minute 15 seconds

Reps: 10

Grade: 1%

Speed: Determined by current fitness level.

Work Volume: 1500,yards @ 10 mph, 2000 yards @ 15 mph

Workout time: 17 minutes**

**

Exercise Protocol:

1. Warm up.
2. Practice mounting and dismounting treadmill at higher speeds.
3. Preset treadmill at running speed for current workout.
4. Mount treadmill and run for 30 seconds.
5. Dismount treadmill and rest for 1 minutes 15 seconds.
6. Remount treadmill and run for 30 seconds.
7. Continue this process until 10 reps have been completed.
8. When ten 200s can be completed at the same speed, increase the speed of the treadmill by ½ mph for the next running session.
9. Do not increase the speed of the treadmill until you can complete all six 400s at the same speed.
10. At 15 mph begin increasing grade by 2% instead of increasing the speed.
11. Cool down, walk at 3 mph for three minutes and then stretch.


Use the same exercise procedure for 200s that are used for treadmill 400s.

Our next treadmill routine is one of our more demanding workouts. It is comparable to running on our ramp outside at our practice facility. We caught Tony Boselli running some Hills on the Mills. Tony runs really well for a big man. He attacks every workout and is currently in great running shape.

#### Hills on the Mills

Exercise time: 15 seconds

Rest: 1 minute 30 seconds

Reps: 10

Grade: 25%

Speed: Sprint

Workout time: 20 minutes

Exercise Protocol:

1. Warm up.

2. Straddle treadmill.

3. Step on treadmill and begin sprinting.

4. Sprint as fast as your conditioning level allows.

5. Dismount treadmill.

6. Complete 10 reps.

7. Cool down by walking at 3 mph for three minutes.

Elevate the treadmill to 25% grade and remove magnet from control panel. This will allow the running deck to rotate freely. Mount the treadmill with legs straddling the running deck. Step on the deck and begin sprinting while holding on to the front handrail. Sprint for 15 seconds and dismount. Rest for 1 minute and 30 seconds and continue this procedure until 10 reps have been completed. Cool down.

When we run Hills on the Mills in groups, we can assign as many as six players to a treadmill. This provides adequate time for each player to mount the treadmill, sprint for 15 seconds, and dismount. Players continue in succession until all ten sprints have been completed.

This is not a workout for the unfit person. This is a very demanding workout if each sprint is performed at near maximum running speeds. Make sure you buckle up for this one.

If you do not have a Woodway treadmill, elevate your treadmill to 25% grade (or as high as it will elevate) and adjust the speed to a level that allows you to safely sprint fast for 15 seconds. When you can complete all ten reps in good form, increase the speed of the treadmill by ½ mph the next time you perform Hills on the Mills.

We recommend performing 400's several times until a safe and challenging running speed has been obtained. The same exercise protocol should be used for 200's, and Hills on the Mills. Remember, mounting a fast moving treadmill belt can be risky if runners do not pay strict attention to mounting and dismounting. Adequate space must be given to allow runners to comfortably mount and dismount treadmills.

Thank you for your question Coach Cicale. It gives the Texans a chance to share our treadmill routines. The athletes at Oak Hills High School are fortunate to have a coach looking for new information. Go Oak Hills! Go Texans!

References:

*Ingen Schenau, G.J. van. Some Fundamental Aspects of the biomechanics of overground versus treadmill locomotion. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 12:257-261, 1980. *

*Riley, Dan, Arapoff, Jason, Coach and Athletic Director, Treadmill Running for Off-Season Conditioning, March 2000. *

Riley, Dan, Wright, Ray, Houston Texans Strength & Conditioning Manual, 2002.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising