Being a personal trainer, I spend a lot of time in the gym. In doing so, I often see individuals do some extraordinary and not so extraordinary things (what can I say…It comes with the territory). I have noticed several individuals grabbing or holding onto cardio equipment handles. Don’t get me wrong. The handles are there for safety purposes or to monitor your heart rate. However, the prolonged holding onto handles has an adverse effect on your workout. Here are three reasons why you should not hold onto the treadmill handles or rails.
1. You Burn Fewer Calories. When you hold onto the machine, it decreases the intensity of the exercise, and you burn fewer calories. It’s estimated that holding onto the treadmill results in 20% to 25% fewer calories burned.
2. When you walk or run on an incline, it increases the intensity of your workout. However, if you hold onto the handles and lean back, your body becomes perpendicular to the machine. Ultimately, the net effect is that there’s no incline at all! Holding onto the machine cancels out the incline!
3. By holding onto the handles, you align your body in an unnatural way or in a poor postural position. In doing so, it's more likely to result in injury. You increase the risk for long-term injuries and pain especially in the shoulders, knees, lower back and hips.
If you need to hold onto the handles in order to maintain your current speed, reduce your speed and let go of the handles. You’ll get a better workout and experience increased benefits.
Tom Campbell Fitness © NCSF - Certified Personal Trainer Starkville, MS