How to Use the Treadmill: A Beginners Guide

You wont find a gym without one. They’re often held up as an example of everything that’s wrong with 21st century living. They have, after all, taken people from nature and natural living, and put them into air conditioned, insipid and soporific spaces. But the truth is, treadmills offer a lot of advantages over running outdoors.

The treadmill can get people running who would never have consider running outside, and it allows outdoorsy runners to keep on running when time of day, season, location, time constraints (lunchtime run anyone?) or various safety concerns might otherwise stop them from running in the great outdoors.

Therefore, while treadmill running by no means replaces outdoor running, it is an awesome alternative.

Treadmill Benefits

Continuing the theme of singing the praises of the treadmill, it does offer quite a few other benefits:

Absorbs Impact. The deck of a treadmill is slightly flexible which absorbs some of your impact as you land. This means that using a treadmill may be easier on your feet, knees and hips than running outdoors.

No Obstacles. There is no need to worry about obstacles and hazards such as potholes, raised paving slabs, dogs, cars or bad weather when using a treadmill – you can walk, jog or run in relative safety.

Accurate Feedback. You can be very accurate and prescriptive with your treadmill workouts, as the machine’s display will tell you exactly how far and how fast you are exercising.

Entertainment. You can safely watch TV or listen to music when you work out on a treadmill, as you don’t have to worry about traffic and other road users. This can make your workouts more enjoyable and seem shorter by keeping you distracted.

Pre-Programmed Workouts. Many treadmills have pre-programmed workouts you can do to keep your training interesting and fun. These include workouts that involve changes in speed, incline or both.

Monitor Running Form. You can easily monitor your running form by watching yourself in a mirror. This can be useful for gait analysis and identifying technical errors which can lead to injury.

Read on: How to run with proper form

How to Use the Treadmill

Below you’ll find a few tips to help you get the most from your treadmill workouts.

  • Wear the right shoes for running on a treadmill. Running shoes are best. No running barefoot or in sandals!
  • Stand in the middle of the belt in easy reach of the controls. If fitted, attach the emergency stop clip top your shorts or top
  • Make sure you identify the emergency stop button in case you experience any difficulties and need to bring your workout to a fast conclusion
  • Increase speed gradually; from walk to jog to run. Only go as fast as you feel comfortable and remember to stay near enough the front of the treadmill that you can reach the controls, but not so close that you’re almost stepping on the housing. If you get too close to the back, the belt is probably going too fast and you are in danger of falling off
  • Practice good running form. Try to keep your upper body relaxed, look straight ahead, land as lightly as you can and keep your breathing relaxed and rhythmical
  • Keep a water bottle close by so you can stay properly hydrated during your workout. And don’t forget your towel!

How to Make Your Treadmill Run Harder

To get stronger and faster, to build endurance and become generally more fit, there have three main things you can change up in your treadmill workout:

  1. Running longer – increases endurance
  2. Running faster on the flat – increases foot speed, stamina, and endurance
  3. Running slower on an incline – builds strength and power

Increasing any of these variables means that you’ll be working your heart, lungs and muscles a little harder, which pushes you out of your comfort zone, making you more fit. You should aim to change all three variables to make your workout tougher.

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