A treadmill is an indoor exercise machine used for cardiovascular exercise and lower body toning. The user has the option to walk, jog or run in place. A person stands on the circular belt that loops around the base and performs his/her desired exercise. This machine is often found in fitness and sports clubs but they are also available for home gyms. A treadmill is a valuable piece of equipment to own and provides an alternative to walking, jogging or running outdoors. Long distance cardio can be done rain or shine with a treadmill.
There are two types of treadmills available. The first type is electric. Electric treadmills are commonly used. They are powered by electricity. When in operation, the motor operates the circular belt present under the runner’s feet. There are varying speeds offered with electric models that can be increased or decreased with the speed settings located on the control console. Electric treadmills often come with features ranging from the ability to create individualized fitness programs to progress tracking. Manual treadmills are more lightweight than motorized models and are powered solely by the user. The circular belt moves as the runner moves so there are no speed settings to choose from. A console is present at the front of the machine. The console often houses a monitor to track distance, duration and calories burned. A rail is also present for safety. Additional features may include an adjustable incline or a more advanced front console. Both are good options and deliver an amazing workout. The type selected depends on individual needs. When shopping for a treadmill make sure to consider personal goals, ease of use, maintenance and safety features. Lastly, always try the equipment.
There are several reasons to invest in a home treadmill. For starters, owning one is a huge time saver. Having a treadmill at home also saves money. Most purchase a gym membership to have access to the machines. Having one at home eliminates this need which means no monthly fees. Another reason to have a treadmill in a home gym is the ease of use. All a person has to do is walk or run. No special skill is required but the results are transformative. Treadmills are very effective at burning calories, assisting in weight loss and improving cardiovascular conditioning. Having one at home will greatly assist in achieving fitness goals and make exercise easy and convenient.
Treadmills are incredible machines. They’re fairly easy to use, are available at a wide variety of price points and deliver an impactful workout time after time. Treadmills also help keep the body in shape, encourage progress and will improve one’s overall health with regular use. These reasons are enough to get anyone on a treadmill but if you need more convincing, here are 5 treadmill benefits.
Offers a Controlled Workout Experience
Treadmills offer a controlled workout experience making them ideal for those who prefer not to or are not ready to negotiate sidewalks, curbs, people or more challenging terrain. The primary goal when running on a treadmill is doing so to the best of your ability while maintaining a steady pace. Your feet are going to make contact with the belt and nothing else so your chance of tripping is significantly reduced. The controlled experience makes users feel safe.
Treadmills Are Convenient
The main reason people use treadmills is convenience. It is always there and you are not required to go outdoors. Whether you have a busy schedule, the weather is dreadful or you just don’t have time to go out for a run, there is no excuse not to exercise when you have a treadmill. These are the reasons why treadmills are an excellent addition to a home gym.
They Work for Everyone
Anyone can use a treadmill and customizing user experience is easy. Although it depends on the model and the features included, users can design programs to their liking, set their desired pace, decide the duration of the warm up period, cool down period, overall workout duration, incline and more.
Ignites Calorie Burn
Running is great exercise that burns a lot of calories and that calorie burn increases when users integrate short, high intensity intervals. That calorie burn makes treadmills ideal for weight management/weight loss. To get the most out of all that they have to offer, keep your eye on the prize; progress. One way to continually improve is increasing the intensity of your sessions every 3-5 runs. This boosts performance by causing the body to burn more calories and encourages the afterburn effect which causes the body to burn additional calories once a workout is complete. Using a treadmill with an incline also encourages additional calorie burn post workout since muscles are targeted. When you run at an incline, the glutes are put to work, legs get stronger and the core is activated.
A main objective of regular treadmill exercise is improving speed and treadmills do just that. Speed is significant from a performance standpoint (everyone wants to be better) but an increase in performance directly impacts your cardiovascular health. With every run the arteries open up, blood flow to the heart increases and that vital muscular organ gets stronger and stronger. Like all cardiovascular exercise, lung function is also improved. As you run and develop that out of breath feeling, the body asks for more oxygen. With regular training, lung capacity increases to satisfy the body’s increased demand.
Types of Treadmills
Treadmills are popular for good reason. They allow users to walk, jog and run rain or shine. Treadmills can be used by anyone and always deliver a great cardiovascular workout. That simplicity and ease carries over to the types of treadmills available. Treadmills come in three types which are manual treadmills, motorized treadmills and hybrids. Continue below for the lowdown on all three types.
Manual treadmills are solely operated by the user. Although the design does vary by the manufacturer, all manual treadmills feature a tread belt fixed onto a roller system. Users stand on the belt and use force from the feet and legs to move the belt. As the user moves, the belt rotates around the deck of the treadmill. Like all types, there is the option to walk, jog or run. Pace is solely determined by work output and electricity is not required. In addition to the frame, deck, belt and rollers, manual models house a display console. For manual models, consoles tend to be limited. The display console often tracks heart rate, counts the number of calories burned and the distance covered. The manual treadmill is the most basic type and is the most cost effective.
Motorized models are operated by electricity. Unlike manual treadmills, the belt on motorized treadmills are driven by an electric motor. To operate, the user selects a speed setting by using the control console and then begins their workout. Rather than setting the speed by controlling the belt manually, users have to keep up with the motor in order to maintain a steady pace and stay on the machine. Aside from the basic frame, deck, belt, motor, rollers and control console, many motorized models come with advanced features ranging from preset programs and in some cases, an incline feature to increase workout intensity. Motorized models are the most popular type of treadmill for both home users and gym goers alike.
Hybrid treadmills allow you to get the best of two worlds in one awesome machine. There are many hybrids out there but all are either a treadmill and elliptical or a treadmill/stair climber combo. The primary purpose of hybrids is offering a more vigorous workout. This is done by mixing up the way the body moves. Due to the fact that hybrids are literally two machines in one, the structure and design is more complex. Quite often, hybrid treadmills have dual tracks that move over treadles (long pedals) and these treadles incline so the machine can be used as a treadmill as well as an elliptical/stepper. This is all powered by an electric motor that is operated via the control console.
All three types of treadmills offer their own unique user experience and are great additions to any home gym. Treadmills, no matter what type, gets the heart pumping, engages muscles (especially those in the lower body) and improves endurance. The movement is all the same but the specifications, capabilities and features differ.
How to Use a Treadmill
You probably hear treadmill and think, “I know how to use one”. Of course you do. All users have to do is stand on the machine and run, right? The thing is, there is a right way and a wrong way to use a treadmill. Knowing the proper way will benefit your training tremendously and protect from exercise related injury.
Step by Step Instructions
No matter what type of elliptical you’re using, you don’t want to get right on the machine. Instead, straddle the treadmill with your feet by placing them on either side of the belt. Consider this your starting position.
2. Start Walking
If using a manual machine, simply place feet on the belt and start walking before picking up the pace. For motorized models, you want to get the treadmill going at a very slow pace. Get a feel for the machine, get comfortable and then begin to gradually increase the speed. Users that have not used a motorized treadmill or have not used one in a while should walk for 10-15 minutes before jogging or running.
As you speed things up, be sure to stay focused. Rather than getting distracted by your surroundings, pay attention to your body. Keep the core engaged, keep knees in line, keep strides short, maintain quick strides and make sure you are pushing up and off the belt.
4. Slow It Down
Once you are ready to end your treadmill session, never jump off of the machine or stop it abruptly. Doing so may cause you to lose your balance which can result in a fall. Whether you are using a manual or motorized model, always slow down prior to getting off.
5. Hold On and Get Off
As you are getting ready to get off of the machine, be sure to hold on to the handrails before you step on the rubber strips (located on each side of the belt) one foot at a time.
What to Avoid
Just think ouch. You will be amazed at the number of people who have injured themselves on a treadmill because they were distracted by their phone. Treadmill time is not the time to text, talk, snap a selfie or surf the web. Users must focus on the task at hand. It is better to be safe than injured.
The Wrong Shoes
Function matters when running on a treadmill. Choose a pair of running shoes with extra padding in the soles. You need extra padding to protect the heels. Since both feet strike the deck repeatedly, you need that additional protection.
People often do this because they are looking at their feet as they run or jog. You want to avoid doing both of these things because they can cause you to lose your balance. The goal is remaining centered and upright.
Out of Control Arms
When you run, keep your arms under control. They should be at your sides (when walking) or bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping them under control preserves energy which will help you run longer and achieve higher speeds.
Tips for Buying a Treadmill
As you know, a treadmill isn’t a purchase you just want to take a chance on and return if you don’t like it. Of course you can return a treadmill but returning such a large machine is work. When purchasing a treadmill, get the right one the first time, set up the machine in your home gym and enjoy. Here are some helpful tips for buying a treadmill.
Pick a Type
Each treadmill type has its pros and cons. Manual models are compact, lightweight and affordable (they usually cost no more than $300) but lack features and motorized treadmills often come with all the bells and whistles. Not only is the belt on motorized treadmills moved by a powerful motor but the control console at the front of the machine allows users to track their progress, increase speed, decrease speed and on many models, adjust the incline without having to get off of the machine. These additional features and capabilities do come with a more expensive price tag. Motorized treadmills can range anywhere from $800 to $5,000. Keep in mind that motorized treadmills under $1,200 usually have fewer features. Lastly, hybrids, the most expensive type, have it all. They house powerful motors, impressive features and are two machines in one! After assessing your needs, decide which type is right for you.
Be Prepared to Invest a Little
Whether you decide on a manual treadmill or one with a motor, be prepared to invest. Good treadmills do cost more because of the quality. Better materials are used, more features are included, they have better specs and pricier models really keep the user in mind. Think about it this way, buying a treadmill is investing in your commitment to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Isn’t that worth a little more money?
Location, Location, Location
Where you buy your treadmill does matter. Most turn to the internet and the web is great for researching but buying a treadmill from an authorized specialty fitness retailer is highly recommended. The main reason for this is the service they provide. Customers have the benefit of dealing with a more educated staff as well as access to higher quality equipment. On top of that, buying from a specialty fitness retailer gives you the option of having the treadmill assembled for you. There is also a place to come back to for support after the sale is finalized.
Never buy before you try. As said, a treadmill is an investment and you never want to invest in something that you have not tried out first. When you plan to go check out the machine, don’t just expect to get on and walk for a minute. Instead, actually put on your running shoes and wear comfortable clothes so you can walk, transition to a jog and then run.
Check the Controls
When trying out the machine, don’t just focus on the construction, shock absorption and how the belt moves. Pay attention to the controls as well. Controls are extremely important since they control the machine. They must be easy to use, displayed well and easily accessible.
A treadmill will add a lot of variation to your fitness plan. Rather than getting on and running for an hour, take a different approach and create workouts that you actually look forward to doing. Need a few ideas? Three are waiting for you below.
This starter workout will get you in the swing of things. It isn’t too challenging but will certainly burn calories and better yet, get you used to working out on a treadmill. This starter should be done on a treadmill with an adjustable incline but can also be done on a model that does not have this feature. In this case, simply increase your work output to achieve a similar intensity.
You will need:
- Treadmill with adjustable incline
Total Duration: 20 minutes
Warm up – Walk for 5 minutes, no incline
Jog – 1 minute, no incline
Run – 3 minutes at 60-70% of your max heart rate (MHR) with 5% incline
Jog – 1 minute with 5% incline
Walk – 3 minutes with 8% incline
Run – 2 minutes at 60-70% of your max heart rate with 5% incline
Cool down – Walk for 5 minutes, no incline
The Boredom Eliminator
If your treadmill routine needs some excitement, this is the workout for you. It combines treadmill work with resistance training and some high intensity interval training so there is never a dull moment. You get to spend time on the treadmill, get off, perform some other moves and then return rather than spending 30 minutes or more doing the same thing.
You will need:
- Kettlebell (use any weight you feel comfortable with)
- Exercise mat
Total Duration: 35 minutes
*Repeat the following twice. Take a 5-minute rest before starting the second circuit.
Warm up – Walk 5 minutes then jog 5 minutes
Run – 1 minute at 75-85% max heart rate (MHR)
Plank – 30 seconds
Run – 60 seconds at 60-70% MHR
Kettlebell Swings – 30 seconds
Single Arm Kettlebell Press –30 seconds, right side
Run – 1 minute at 80-85% max heart rate (MHR)
Single Arm Kettlebell Press – 30 seconds, left side
The exhauster is just the workout needed to push you past your limits. It is going to increase your endurance, speed and burn fat to get you closer to achieving the body you want. This workout is great for those trying to get shredded (body fat percentage must decrease to show off mass) and those that just want to take their cardio to the next level. It’s fast paced, high energy and really shows what your body is capable of.
You will need:
- Treadmill with adjustable incline
Total Duration: 15 minutes
Warm up –Jog for 5 minutes
Run – at 5-6 miles per hour (mph) for 30 seconds with 15% incline
Rest – 30 seconds
*Repeat 2 times
Run – at 8 mph for 30 seconds with 9% incline
Rest– 30 seconds
*Repeat 3 times
Run – at 10 mph for 30 seconds with 6% incline
Rest – 30 seconds
*Repeat 2 times
Run – at 6 mph for 30 seconds with 12% incline
Rest – 30 seconds
*Repeat 3 times