Do you have any of those friends who hate running? That was me one and a half years ago. I am not a morning person. The idea of waking up early and running in the cold mornings dampens my spirit. As my friend and I discussed our exercise routines, she pointed out that I was missing out on cardio by skipping running. She suggested that if I wanted a well-rounded fitness routine, I could run on a treadmill instead of outdoors.
Since then, I have been ardently running on a treadmill without compromising on my sleep or warmth! It has been an integral part of my cardio session, and I would like to share the basics of a treadmill workout, what its advantages or disadvantages are and what factors to look at before purchasing treadmill equipment, if you are interested. I will also be sharing 6 tips for a better treadmill workout which have been personally tried and tested.
What is a Treadmill?
A treadmill is a stationary cardio workout gear on which one can walk, run or jog indoors. A treadmill provides you the option to workout without having to go out! (Source)
It features different settings such as speed and inclines, to provide variation to your experience. The incline setting provides an elevated or downward surface. Both settings help simulate an environment similar to that in reality.
What is a Treadmill Workout?
Nothing can substitute running outside, but a treadmill is an option that provides the closest alternative to it. A treadmill workout simulates a similar experience to running or walking out. The individual runs or walks atop a smooth vertical panel with automated controls for speed, incline, and so on.
The smooth surface of the treadmill absorbs ground reactions. It could save your bones from any unwanted injuries as compared to running outdoors. (Source)
Is a treadmill workout more beneficial than running?
Nothing can compare to the experience of running outdoors, but let’s not forget that a treadmill is a convenient option for unfavorable circumstances such as the weather or the lack of running space.
What I love about working out on treadmills is how I get control over how I want to run or walk. The option to have a simulated environment through these controls makes it an indispensable tool in my daily exercise routine.
Running on a concrete surface is comparatively better as it reinforces your bones (Source). However, research has suggested that a similar effect of running outdoors can be achieved by setting the treadmill to a 1% grade. It can be for a specific pace of 7:09 or more (Source)
A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that an intensive treadmill workout will make you burn more calories than a similar workout using a stationary exercise bike or stair climber for the same period (Source)
Factors to consider while buying a treadmill.
Today’s market offers a lot of different types of treadmills, however here are some factors you can keep in mind before purchasing a treadmill:
The belt size should be wide enough for you to occupy space on it comfortably. It should ideally be at least 48 X 18 inches in dimension. While the belt should measure 54 inches for someone who is over 6 feet tall.
The belt should be sturdy and comfortable to provide stability while on the treadmill. The quality of the workout depends on the horsepower. It would be beneficial to buy a treadmill with a speed of 1 mph or more.
My trainer suggested this useful tip to be on the safer side regarding treadmill weight capacity. Subtracting twenty kgs from the actual user weight rating gives a more reliable reading. Treadmills can usually manage up to 250- 400 lbs in weight. (Source)
So, if a machine says its maximum capacity is 200 lbs, it means 180 lbs is its actual threshold strength.
Space and Size:
It is essential to keep in mind that a treadmill is heavy and will occupy space. While making a purchase, consider how you intend to use it, how often, and in which corner of your house.
A treadmill can have additional features like a pulse monitor, music, and adjustable speed. I personally love the MP3 player on my treadmill. It is a pleasant mood booster!
The quality of a treadmill is directly proportional to the length of its manufacturer’s warranty. The longer the warranty period, the more sure you can be that it is a good treadmill.
You can look for one with a maximum ten-year guarantee. Generally, treadmills have a five year warranty period.
Investing in a treadmill is investing in your health. The price varies according to the features. It would be beneficial to refer to reviews and conduct your research considering factors unique to your needs.
6 Tips for a Better Treadmill workout:
It is the first and foremost rule before taking on any activity, whether exercise, dance, or singing. There is a legitimate reason here. It prepares the body muscles to relax before the real deal begins. A warm-up should be for around 5-10 minutes. However, it varies according to the length of your workout.
Bell Curve Approach:
This is honestly one of the best tips I received while starting my treadmill journey. To maintain momentum running on a treadmill, one should use the Bell Curve approach, which is to start slow, then build up the pace then slow down again towards the end of the activity.
The same applies for when you want to get off a treadmill. Many people make the mistake of abruptly stopping the treadmill or jumping right off it mid exercise. It could increase the risk of injuries. The correct way to get off a treadmill would be to follow the Bell Curve approach. Slow down the tempo of the treadmill, ease yourself, and then get off as the machine dies off.
Mix it up!:
Like other exercise routines, switching up routines while on the treadmill is recommended. Depending on the treadmill, some of them have in-built programs targeting different parts of the body. Modulating build up is vital throughout the activity. (Source)
You can incorporate the treadmill exercise into your circuit. After a treadmill run or walk, you can get off and do squats or lunges. Interval training on a treadmill is also an excellent option for fat-burning.
It is crucial to maintain the right posture while exercising on a treadmill. You should keep your back upright and settle back. Remember to keep your abs pulled in. It will ensure that you do not strain your upper body while leaning forward. Make sure not to look down too often as it can make you dizzy or lose control.
There are several instructional treadmill exercises on the internet. You can tune in to one and accordingly carry out the exercise. I have tried this myself, and it almost feels like I am working out in a gym with an instructor.Some apps give instructions according to a simulated environment.
How many times have you heard this time and again without registering it? It is one of the most basic tips, but something we don’t necessarily remember.
Let’s not forget that we are losing out sweat, with each passing second on the treadmill. Hydration is key to having consistent stamina throughout the exercise!
What are the Pros and Cons?
A treadmill’s settings can simulate an environment like running uphill or running around a racecourse. Treadmills have an incline of up to 10 % or more and up to 12 mph.
You can exercise in simulations of an environment without having to step out of the house.
Softer surface preventing the risk of injuries:
The belt of a treadmill is softer than asphalt or other surfaces. It reduces the risk of injuries that you might otherwise face while exercising.
You can regulate your speed, tempo, and incline on a treadmill, maintaining a consistent pace and switching it up when needed. It gives the user a customized experience.
Some treadmills have features like heart rate monitors and step counters, which provides you with an accurate reading of your vital stats as you exercise.
Usually, the surface is comparatively cushioned than other surfaces; you have to be careful of the surface and rebound.
The prices for a treadmill vary, but one can look at it as an investment.
A treadmill takes up a lot of space, which could be a disadvantage for smaller homes.
Since the surface of a treadmill is even, it could be monotonous for your feet to run on the treadmill. It is different from running outside, where you have to adjust your motion each second.
The Bottom Line
Working out on a treadmill has its pros and cons, but the pros outweigh the cons when you have a busy lifestyle and cannot make time to go out for a run in nature. Plus, it’s exercise at your convenience without having to worry about the external factors of weather conditions and pollution or when you want a quick cardio before your actual workout.