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Running will burn more calories but can be painful for people with joint pain.
Unless you already have the shapely yet bulky thighs of a bodybuilder, chances are you're looking to thin down your thigh region because of excess fat in that area. Here's what you need to know -- to lose fat anywhere on the body, you have to do calorie-burning exercise and not "spot reduction." Leg exercises off the treadmill will help you build muscle, but it's the activity you do on the treadmill that's going to cut the fat.1.
Enter your weight, age and gender into the treadmill's computer before you work out so you'll get a more accurate reading of the number of calories you burn during each workout.2.
Set a goal to walk or jog on the treadmill for at least 20 minutes, three to five days a week. If that's already an easy task, increase the time and frequency of your treadmill workouts to as much as 60 minutes at a time, five or six days a week. To lose fat, there is no secret here -- you have to put in the time doing the calorie-burning exercises. Naturally, you'll burn more calories running, but if you're a beginner, it's safer to start with walking.
Perform hill workouts on two of your training days. Your body gets adapted to the training demands you put upon it, which means you have to make your workouts more challenging and mix them up in order to keep seeing results. On your "hill" days, increase the incline on the machine by one to five percent so that you're doing a hill workout. You can also program the machine to the "Hill" setting.4.
Perform high-intensity interval workouts one or two other days of the week. Your treadmill may also have an "interval" setting for this. These workouts involve periods of walking or running at a relatively slow speed mixed in with periods at a faster pace. These workouts can greatly increase your aerobic and anaerobic fitness and help you burn more calories throughout the day. A routine of two days of hill workouts and two other days of HIIT training will leave one "easy" day, during which you can simply walk or jog at a steady pace.
Make a note of the number of calories you burned during each session, keeping in mind that the machine's computer may not be 100 percent accurate in estimating your calorie burn.6.
Enter the calories you burned for each workout into an online calorie-tracking website or a smartphone app (see links in Resources). These tools allow you to set a realistic goal for the number of calories you should eat in order to lose weight, and you can enter in the foods you've eaten and the exercises you've done. When everything is tallied, you'll be able to find out whether you've met your calorie goal for the day or whether you're significantly over or under.7.
Adjust your training schedule and eating habits based on the results you're seeing and your calorie goals. If you find that you're going over your calorie goal on a regular basis, increase the amount of time you spend on the treadmill each day, add another day of training or increase the intensity by speeding up or adding more hill workouts. Also look for foods that you can cut out, such as sweets, alcohol, high-fat foods, fast food or prepackaged items. To make progress, you have to create a calorie deficit through both diet and exercise.
- Cardio is the way to burn fat, but don't overlook strength training, either. Building muscle in the legs through squats, lunges or leg presses will make your legs more shapely. Since muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat, that extra muscle can also help you lose more fat throughout the days. Don't worry about getting too bulky, either. A moderate routine of one or two sets of a moderate weight twice a week won't result in huge muscles.
- A realistic amount of weight to lose is between 1 and 2 pounds a week, reminds the Mayo Clinic. If you lose more than that, you may feel overly hungry or tired or not have the energy you need to continue your treadmill workouts. Be patient and stick to realistic goals; you'll get there.