Make the best of your treadmill with these 30 tips
There was an article published in Fitness Management magazine a few years ago stating that the treadmill was recommended by researchers as the first choice for cardio exercise and running as the number one aerobic sport.Why? Because, among other benefits, running provides the highest amount of calorie expenditure and increases bone health better than other sports. Moreover, based on the studies conducted, we need little skills to profit from the caloric and cardiovascular benefits when exercising on the treadmill, and that’s why it’s considered the first choice for those who want to take full advantage of running’s perks.
After running on treadmills for more than 4 years, I can confirm that these theories aren’t just stories, but they’re based on reality. Having a treadmill in your life can make training sessions easy, fun, engaging, motivating and efficient. It can be a primary training tool to complete the minimum 30 minutes a day exercise recommended by the American Council on Exercise, or a helpful tool to complete your race training. Whatever your purpose of training is, you can rely on this machine. To make the best of it, and to be sure it will not let you down, consider these 30 useful and practical tips:
- Make a running schedule in advance and alternate different workout types on consecutive days. Include in the schedule long steady runs, speed intervals, incline intervals, mixed intervals or heart rate based workouts.
- Take advantage of the User Profile / Custom Workouts feature to create your own preset exercises. Such workouts change speed and incline automatically while exercising, and they give you the tool needed to diversify your training schedule.
- Use interactive workout systems, such as iFIT, to have access to a multitude of entertaining options. iFIT is one of my favorite tools because it offers the option to create custom workouts that simulate terrain with Google Maps, features the option to race against friends and it can be used to download preset Training Programs for specific goals created by professional trainers.
- Multitask to make time fly quickly. Read work briefs, watch the news or motivate your running partner who may not run as fast as you.
- Energize your workout by listening to lively music. Headphones do a great job blocking noisy distractions.
- Place the treadmill near a mirror so you can observe your posture, stride length and gait while you run, and make adjustments when needed.
- Dedicate at least 4 minutes to warm-up at the beginning and 4 minutes to cool-down at the end of the workout.
- Always set the incline at minimum 1% to simulate wind resistance.
- Choose the speed level so that your feet push the belt backwards a little bit, instead of the belt pulling your feet along.
- Keep your body posture straight. Don’t lean forward, not even when you change speed or incline while exercising, because the belt pulls your feet back when you do so.
- Take short breaks during your workout. Decrease speed to a walking pace and catch your breath for a couple of minutes. Then resume the exercise.
- Wear light running shoes because they help increase speed.
- Or try running barefoot if you like this technique.
- Keep a bottle of water next to you while you work out. You sweat more on the treadmill than when you run outdoors because the air doesn’t pass your body. The reverse effect is that, because there is no air resistance, you run faster.
- Never hold onto handrails or the console while you exercise, but sway your arms as you move your feet. If you believe speed is too fast and you need support, slow down at a speed level you feel comfortable with.
- When you gain some experience, start adding HIIT (high-intensity interval training) in your routine. It is one of the most popular forms of exercise used to improve cardiorespiratory fitness in athletes.
- Train for longer races (half marathons or marathons) at a constant pace to adjust the body to the rhythm you’re most comfortable with. The treadmill can help you increase or test your endurance level. Remember to alternate indoor workouts with outdoor practice to be fully prepared for the race day.
- Walk hills to tone the legs and benefit from full cardio workouts without relying on high speed exercises. Use incline to simulate hills.
- Use a wireless chest strap to monitor the intensity of all workouts, including the heart rate based exercises.
- Keep count of calories burned listed on the console only if you enter your personal information in advance. If not, remember that those numbers are estimations predicted based on a generic formula.
- The treadmill is a safe and comfortable training equipment for moms to be and new moms. Set speed at a level where you can have a conversation comfortably and exercise for 15-20 minutes a day. Add a 5-minute warm-up and a 5-minute cool-down to each exercise.
- Run on the treadmill if you’re prone to suffer from running injuries like shin splints or the iliotibial band syndrome. It does a better job at protecting you because the treadmill features cushioning.
- Don’t let children play with the treadmill because it’s not safe. Keep the treadmill in a room where they have little access, always unplug it, remove the safety key and fold it (if possible) when not in use.
- Never move off from a moving belt. Slowly decrease speed until the belt stops, then move your feet on the side-rails.
- Always have the safety clip attached to you while you exercise. It’s meant to protect you.
- Pay attention to the power requirements. Most treadmills built for the US and Canada require a 120-volt circuit and must have a dedicated grounded outlet. If you disregard this tip, you’ll have a hard time operating the treadmill.
- Speed and incline calibration is mandatory, and it should be done every time you move or adjust the treadmill if you want to see the exact speed and incline info listed on the console.
- Belt lubrication prolongs the treadmill life, and it should be done every 100 usage hours as instructed in the User Manual. If you buy a treadmill with no lubrication needed, you’re off the hook with this one.
- The treadmill part that wears the quickest is the belt, and you should replace it as soon as you notice any damage to it.
- A treadmill mat helps to reduce the vibrations made by the treadmill when in use. Buy one if your machine is positioned on a hard surface. Better yet, try an antistatic mat because this one prevents gathering dust near the treadmill too.
The treadmill has been part of our lives for more than 60 years. Nowadays, many runners, from beginners to professional athletes, find it an indispensable machine. If you feel the same way, I hope these 30 tips will help you explore the benefits of the number one cardio machine. There is more where this came from in the 101 Running Tips section.
Author Bio: I’m Anna Moore, a dedicated runner with a passion for a healthy lifestyle. I haven’t been an addict of this sport all my life, but once I began to run on a regular basis, I found myself hooked and happy. I’m also the Editor-in-Chief at here at RunReviews.com. I welcome all questions or comments about running or treadmills, so please don’t be shy.