The treadmill is the most widely used cardiovascular training tool both at the gym and as far as home training equipment go. This is quite understandable, but, in reality, do people really know how to use it properly?
In this article guide we discover the benefits of the treadmill and how to work on the treadmill depending on your level of experience and physical fitness. We provide useful advice for an even safer and more effective workout.
If you don’t know what to look for when choosing from the wide range of treadmills available on the market you can refer to our treadmill review pages, where we offer you a simple guide to choosing the most suitable treadmill.
There is nothing left between you and the run: if the bad weather prevents you from running outdoors, you can always rely on a treadmill.
The benefits of running on the treadmill
There is no doubt: running and walking are the physical exercises that allow you to burn more calories and fat. We can argue that running on the treadmill burns more calories than road racing since sweating increases and therefore so does the calorie expenditure.
To simulate the resistance of an outdoor run, just set a slope of 1-2%. Initially, calorie expenditure increases in proportion to the speed and distance travelled, but these will have to be chosen according to your physical condition.
TONING YOUR LEGS AND FIGHTING CELLULITE
Walking as an exercise mainly targets legs, buttocks and calves. The treadmill is therefore the right exercise equipment to tone them up and also fight retention problems?
Decrease speed and increase slope to increase working time (foot rest) on the carpet and consequently contraction of the muscles and blood circulation.
KEEP IN THE SHAPE OF THE HEART AND JOINTS
Cardiovascular training performed on a treadmill activates blood circulation and improves cardiovascular efficiency: the result is that we will have more stamina and feel less tired. This is why I personally enjoy exercising first thing in the morning as this gets me ready to face all of my daily challenges and commitments.
With this kind of workout, we will also keep the joints in action while maintaining the elasticity required to prevent accidents or problems caused by aging.
FOCUSING ON DIFFERENT GOALS
With the treadmill we have the ability to handle workloads and speeds, creating custom training plans.
We can do this through the predefined profiles or levels offered by the exercise machine, or by working on our heart rate or even with dedicated apps that are available today. All this allows us to train for various different needs and goals: from weight loss to preparation of a marathon.
How to train on the treadmill
Increasing the slope allows you to train the cardio-respiratory and muscular strengths more effectively. Increase this gradually so you do not get tired too much. It’s generally recommended to go up to a maximum gradient of 4% if preparing for a race and 5 to 8% for a regular walk.
To spice up your exercise routine and make it even more effective we also recommend alternating gradient and plain steps every 3-4 minutes.
The right treadmill workout for beginners
On the treadmill the body performs a movement similar to that of a walk or a road race, however, because the effect of treadmill activity is different from outdoor racing.
Why? because the treadmill is built specifically for this purpose, while roads are not. So, shock absorbers inserted in the treadmills, for example, reduce impact on joints as opposed to the impact of asphalt or cement found in most normal roads.
On a treadmill you can also concentrate more on your body signals and form because the floor is always flat and you do not have to keep an eye out to external elements like, road cracks, traffic and rain or wind.
For these reasons, the treadmill is recommended to those who must start a physical activity from scratch or resume moving after a long period. The ideal is to begin with a slow steady walk and gradually increase the exercise intensity.
For a slow walk we recommend to set the speed at around 5 km per hour (3.5 miles per hour). If you want to increase the intensity for a fast walk instead then crack it up to 6.5 km per hour.
For jogging or running purposes you should increase the speed to over 6.5 km per hour.
Running on the treadmill is recommended if you want to work intensively and lose weight, while walking at a fast pace will be enough to keep a toned body.
Before starting a high intensity workout it is important to perform some warming up exercises and also at the end of the exercise session by doing some stretching exercises.
The standard recommended work-out sessions should be done three times a week, with each session duration lasting at least 30 minutes.
Set a time-frame for yourself and try to stick to it. For example why not try to do a 30 minute session three times a week for 2 months. You’ll see quite a lot of improvement if you stick to this, both physically and health-wise.
Workout to prepare for the marathon
The recommended workout to prepare for a marathon race should be based on controlling the intensity through monitoring of the heart rate.
Using sensors positioned on most treadmills or alternatively an external hear-rate monitor and chest band, you can set an exercise based on a constant heart rate, which must be at least 75% of the maximum heart rate allowable for your age. Find out what your maximum heart rate is here.
Once you are able to maintain the same training intensity for 45 minutes, you can then gradually increase your heart rate as you progress in your race form. Try and maintain an increase of 5 to 10 beats in each progressive phase.
Useful tips for effective exercise
THE SHOES … FIRST OF ALL
Outdoor racing and indoor racing: can we use the same shoes? Basically yes, but if we only use them on the treadmill then it is better to opt for lighter and less cushioned shoes because the carpet surface is already cushioned and not as hard as asphalt or cement.
YOUR POSTURE ON THE TREADMILL
During treadmill exercises we must always keep an upright position, looking forward. Avoid turning around as this can risk you distracting and falling down.
It is very useful to use a mirror positioned in front of the treadmill to look at yourself while walking or running on the treadmill and spot any incorrect posture or techniques. This way you can eventually correct these mistakes for race day. Those with a more professional approach to the race can undergo footstep analysis to understand how to work better on their own posture: this service is often offered free of charge in specialized running shops or else you can get a consultancy at a podiatrist.
HYDRATION IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT
Depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment in which you’re running, whether at the gym or at home, drinking is still of paramount importance. So remember to have a bottle of water or other drink with you that is handy and easy to reach. Most treadmills have comfortable water-bottle housing containers or baskets.
AT THE END OF THE TRAINING
To gradually relax the muscles it is best to finish the exercise with 5 minutes of slow walking (recommended speed of around 3 km per hour) followed by 10 minutes of stretching on the ground or in a free space.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Care should be taken if using the treadmill when muscular problems have been diagnosed, especially when it comes to the back, the knees or the ankles. In this case it might be preferable to use a stationery bike or cross-trainer machine that has a more fluid movement and less impact on the knees and feet.