The Walking Dead – Rise Of The Treadmill Zombie!

BEWARE OF THE WALKING DEAD!? Well maybe not quite as thrilling and intense as the TV series, but we do still have a new pandemic of treadmill zombies spreading the nation. (I can only speak for the UK…hopefully this hasn’t spread internationally yet or ever will!) You may have already seen them in your gym, or even worse, you may have already been infected by one of them and become a treadmill zombie yourself!

‘How do I avoid them or know if I already am one of them?’, I hear you ask. For those of you who are regular gym goers you’ll know exactly what I mean when I explain, but for those of you who may not be regular gym goers I’m going to help you to avoid them. However, and most importantly, I’m going to cover 3 reasons on how becoming part of this crazy uprising can actually have a negative effect on your training!

Did Someone Say Zombie!?

So who and what is a treadmill zombie? They’re those cardio gym bunnies you see every day who spend hours a week slaving away on the same treadmill. However, and this is where the nickname comes in, they set their treadmill incline level to the highest possible number but then hold onto the top of the machine because they can’t phsically walk at that incline level…obviously makes sense. Not only that, they set their speed level at a pace they can’t handle forcing them to hang on for dear life..simulating how a flailing zombie would walk (sigh).

How has this even become a thing!? When do we ever walk or run up hills whilst hanging onto something!? If you need to hold on whilst on an incline, then either the speed or the incline level need to be reduced. Find a setting that you can maintain a natural walking or running movement as if you were outdoors, without a machine to hold onto…just like a normal person.

Enough of my ranting! Apart from looking a little silly, there’s actually some negatives to bear in mind if you choose to train this way or are already doing so:

Negative #1 – Lower Calorie Burn

No matter how hard you think you are working, the calorie burn on the treadmill won’t be a true reading if you are holding on. Whichever setting you choose when using a treadmill, the calorie burn total shown is a prediction based on you running or walking on your chosen setting in a natural movement pattern without any assistance.

However, if you decide to select the highest incline setting there is at a fast walking pace whilst holding on…the calorie burn total shown will not be correct. You’re only fooling yourself to believe you are working harder than you think!

Negative #2 – Risk Of Injury

Holding on can make your form unnatural, which could result in muscle strain and discomfort in both your upper and lower body. As soon as you start holding onto the treadmill, especially on a high incline level, your arms will start to take most of the weight off of your body and possibly start to pull on your shoulders. Throw in a fast speed that you can’t maintain without holding on and suddenly your arms are being pulled from your shoulders as your body jolts to try to keep up.

Moving onto the risks in the lower body, you could end up with a muscle strain or cause yourself to pull a muscle. Walking at speed on a high incline is not something we do every day and probably not something any of us would come across on a daily basis. Therefore, the impact on your shins may create some discomfort and cause you to have shin splints. Again. throw in a speed that you can’t maintain without holding on and your legs are working double time to try keep up. Over working a muscle passed the point of discomfort could cause a strain or you to pull a muscle.

Not only is there a risk of injury from trying to emulate one of the walking dead whilst using a treadmill, but it also takes away the need for your body to work on its core stability and co-ordination whilst running or walking.

Negative #3 – Workout Intensity

Your workout will be a lot easier whilst holding on due to your upper body taking away some work from your legs, as previously mentioned in negative #2.

Doing so reduces the intensity and effort required resulting in a lower number of calories being burned during your workout…which also ties in with negative #1.

As you can see, your overall workout intensity will be massively reduced which will ultimately slow down your progress.

Don’t Be A Treadmill Zombie!

I’ve had my rant and I’ve given you 3 negative effects that can happen to your training if you choose to train like a member of the walking dead. So with those points in mind, as well as the fact you can look a little silly, and it’s not how we naturally run or walk…DON’T BE A TREADMILL ZOMBIE!



I go to the gym pretty often and I totally know who you are talking about, me knowing about these people made this post really funny to me as I never really took notice of them before but now you mention it, it is really stupid! 🙂

I can’t see where the logic comes from, surely doing something which requires you to hang on for dear life, isn’t going t benefit you when it comes to tread mills, just turn the speed up and incline down… thanks for writing this post, it was really enjoyable!

Glad you found it entertaining Joe!

I was at the gym a few years back and almost injured myself after being thrown off it.  I tried to slow it down but pressed the accelerator button by mistake!  

Fortunately a nearby personal trainer checked me over and I was alright, just rather shocked and slightly bruised.

We Live to Learn!

I think we’ve all had a treadmill disaster at some point! Hopefully it hasn’t put you off going to the gym though.

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