The Only 20-Minute Treadmill Workout You Need To Build Muscle And Cardio Over 50 |  Livestrong.com

The Only 20-Minute Treadmill Workout You Need To Build Muscle And Cardio Over 50 | Livestrong.com

This 20-minute treadmill cardio workout increases your heart rate while strengthening your entire body.

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yacobchuk/iStock/GettyImages

Prioritizing fitness as we age is important for promoting longevity, and exercising on the treadmill for just 20 minutes most days of the week is a great way to help you maintain a good health and achieve your cardiovascular fitness goals.

In fact, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

And there’s a good reason for that: your cognition declines with age, but following an exercise routine and engaging your mind with brain games can help keep you sharp. According to a July 2018 review in the ​International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity​, physical activity programs for older adults that incorporate cognitive exercises may help improve cognitive health, which declines with age.

To help you keep up with your cardio, try this 20-minute cardio workout on the treadmill, which includes incline and upper-body exercises using dumbbells.

Inclines will activate your posterior chain (muscles at the back of your body) and strengthen your lower body, as well as increase your heart rate for cardiovascular work. Mid-workout dumbbell exercises are unilateral (one-sided) to increase upper body strength and coordination.

Remember to come to a complete stop on the treadmill before doing the floor exercises.

20-Minute Treadmill Cardio and Strength Training

  1. Start by warming up on the treadmill at a 1% incline for 5 minutes at a brisk walk (about 3 mph for beginners and 4 mph for intermediates).
  2. For the next 2 minutes, increase the incline to 3%. If you are walking, increase the speed to between 3.5 and 4.5 mph. If you prefer to jog, increase the speed to between 4.5 and 5.5 mph. This should sound difficult.
  3. Stop the treadmill and step down to the floor safely. Do 10 repetitions of each of the five upper body strength exercises below, then safely return to the treadmill.
  4. For the next 2 minutes, increase the incline to 4%. Go back to the speed you used for the last lap or add a bit more speed if you want more of a challenge.
  5. Stop the treadmill and step down to the floor safely. Do 10 reps for each of the five upper body exercises, then safely return to the treadmill.
  6. For the next 2 minutes, increase the incline to 5%. Go back to the speed you used for the previous round or increase your speed if you want more of a challenge.
  7. Slow down for the next three minutes, returning to your brisk walking speed at 1% incline.

Point

Use your arms to propel yourself as much as possible on the slopes. Bring your elbows back at 90 degree angles. Hold on to the rails for support if you need it.

If you’re holding on to the rails for support, lean slightly forward from your waist to reap the benefits of walking on an incline. Leaning back will place your back in an upright position, which will decrease the strength training that results from adding the incline.

Always listen to your body with any cardio program. You want to feel challenged, but still in control. You can use a heart rate monitor or a scale like the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to help you determine your exertion.

1 percent incline at 3 to 4 mph

5 minutes

3% incline at 3.5-4.5 mph (walking) or 4.5-5.5 (jogging)

2 minutes

Get off the treadmill and do the floor exercises below

10 reps per move

4% incline at 3.5-4.5 mph (walking) or 4.5-5.5 (jogging)

2 minutes

Get off the treadmill and do the floor exercises below

10 reps per move

5% incline at 3.5-4.5 mph (walking) or 4.5-5.5 (jogging)

2 minutes

1 percent incline at 3 to 4 mph

3 minutes

5 strength exercises to do off the treadmill mid-workout

As you age, it also becomes increasingly important to incorporate unilateral (unilateral) exercises into your fitness routine. Working one side of your body at a time promotes core strength while working on your balance and coordination.

Perform these exercises as part of steps 3 and 5 above.

1. Alternate bicep curls

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Sets

2

Representatives

ten

Part of the body

Arms

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Keeping your body still, bend your right elbow bringing the dumbbell up to your right shoulder.
  3. Release your right arm down to the side. That’s 1 rep.
  4. Repeat with your left arm.
  5. Keep alternating until you’ve completed 10 total reps.

Point

Engage your heart as you work. The weight imbalance with each alternating curl will challenge you to keep your body in a straight line. This is where stability and coordination come into play.

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Sets

2

Representatives

ten

Part of the body

Chest

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your chest, elbows bent and touching the floor.
  3. Push your right arm towards the ceiling.
  4. Bend your right elbow and bring your arm back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
  5. Repeat with your left arm.
  6. Keep alternating until you’ve completed 10 total reps.

Point

Keep your elbows about 45 degrees from your shoulders on the floor to avoid putting extra pressure on your shoulder joints. As you press the dumbbell above your chest, squeeze your core and push your back toward the floor to help raise the weight.

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Sets

2

Representatives

ten

Part of the body

abs

  1. Start on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Your back should be flat.
  2. With control, lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously until they are parallel to the floor.
  3. Bring your hand and knee back to the floor. That’s 1 rep.
  4. Repeat with your left arm and your right leg.
  5. Keep alternating until you’ve completed 10 total reps.

Point

Your main commitment in this exercise is to focus on balance on your supporting arm and leg.

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Sets

2

Representatives

ten

Part of the body

Return

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and push your hips back, creating a hinge in your hips until your back is flat.
  3. With your arms straight and your palms facing each other, raise your right arm, squeezing your shoulder blade.
  4. Return to the starting position. It’s 1 rep
  5. Repeat with your left arm.
  6. Keep alternating until you’ve completed 10 total reps.

Point

Brace your core as you bring your elbow back. Your body will naturally want to turn, but keeping a tight core will help prevent this.

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Sets

2

Representatives

ten

Part of the body

Shoulders

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level, palms facing forward.
  2. Press your right arm overhead until your biceps are near your ears, then return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
  3. Repeat on the left side.
  4. Keep alternating until you’ve completed 10 total reps.

Point

Brace your core to avoid pressure on your lower back and avoid leaning over when pressing the weight overhead.

More than 50? Here are some other workouts to try

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