A treadmill is hands down the best and probably the first fitness equipment that comes to mind when someone wants to get into shape. They are great for not just for cardio but also increase your stamina and endurance.
Though it falls into the premium gym equipment section, it is the best investment you could make on your fitness journey. It’s benefits surely outweigh its pricing by a large factor.
What are the benefits of using a Treadmill?
- A treadmill is the easiest piece of exercise equipment to use out of all
- Treadmills can help you burn calories faster than most of the other in-house exercise machines such as cross trainers or bikes. A study conducted by the Milwaukee VA Hospital has proved that it infact burns 25% more calories than bikes or cross trainers
- Walking or running on a treadmill can help maintain and improve your overall cardiovascular health too.
- Treadmills help you tone your leg muscles
- People of any age can use a treadmill
- As a treadmill has a predictable and controllable surface, it is much easier and safer to walk on it than walking on the streets, curbs or trails where you may have the risk of falling down.
- You can control the speed, incline, warm up period, monitor the energy spend and much more on a treadmill
- A few treadmills come with additional features such as heart rate monitors and step counter which will give you additional insights into your health
- You can program the duration of your workout among others using a treadmill
- You can do any other task or maybe watch a movie, television, read a book and much more all while working out on the treadmill. This will keep your workouts interesting and fun at the same time.
Areas of the body impacted by a Treadmill
One of the most common and simplest forms of cardio activities, a treadmill is not just for losing weight or increasing endurance. If done right, it can help you work on a lot more than just that. Let us look at all the areas a treadmill can affect your body.
- Upper Body: When you run, jog or walk on a treadmill, you work on your chest’s pectoral muscles as well as your biceps.
- Core: If you stand erect and perfectly straight while you are running or walking, your core will act as a channel for the transfer of energy from the upper body to lower body. Thus getting strengthened
- Buttocks and Hips: When you run or jog, your gluts will push all the 5 tendons of your knees and develop them while helping you push to run or jog or walk.
- Thighs: Either walking, jogging or running will work all your tendons collectively as the hamstrings. This will enhance your endurance.
- Calves and Shin: A treadmill can work on your shin muscles and behind that, the calve muscles as well
How to workout on a Treadmill?
While a treadmill is a simple to use machine, there are many possibilities as to how you can use it. You can simply start with walking, or running. You can do a variety of cardio activities on it as well.
First, let us look at some of the beginner level exercises that you can do using a treadmill and slowly move on to various different workouts we can do on a treadmill.
Before beginning a workout on a treadmill, always make sure that you board the machine with your legs on either sides of the machine foot sides. Set the machine to a minimum speed with 0 inclination (inclination comes later) and hit start.
1. Walking and Running
Set the speed to anywhere between 1-3 k mph or maybe 4 kmph. Anything more than 4 kmph is more of a jog than walk. Start walking slowly and ideally, walk for at least 15-30 minutes (if you are not going for a jog or a run in the middle, 30 minutes should do fine).
As for running, never directly go for a high speed run right from the beginning. Always start with a small speed and then gradually increase your speed. For a quick jog, 15 minutes should be fine at a max speed of 5 or even 6 (long jog). If running, try to run for a max of 5-7 minutes and then take a break before resuming. Again, these numbers are not standard and are subjected to depend from individual to individual.
2. Walking Lunges
Lunges are very well known to burn great calories but may feel like a difficult job to do. While it may seem like a job not possible, it is actually fruitful and easy to do.
Stand firm on the treadmill with your legs apart up to the width of your hip. Now punch in to 3 kmph or 4 kmph speed on the machine. Set a small inclination to 5% or so and start.
Step forward and lunge your right leg with your lower body going down until your left knee touches the ground while keeping your chest upright with hands close to it. Look at the video below for further reference:
3. Side Shuffles
Working on both your outer and inner thighs, side shuffles work as cardio workout which can also help tone your calves. For this, set the speed of the treadmill to 4 or maybe 6 kmph. Always start with small speed as there is a slight possibility that you may topple and fall if done at high speeds.
Side shuffles are basically running to the sides. Now facing perpendicular to the dashboard, perform the shuffles. Start slowly and never do them on high speeds and switch sides every few minutes. You can look at how it is done as shown in the video below.
4. Walking Plank
This is another workout that is relatively easier compared to the traditional planks. Working primarily on your shoulders, this will also affect your core too. For this, set the treadmill machine to the lowest speed of 1 or 2 kmph. Now start the device and stand outside the treadmill in front of it. Place our arms on the end of the ramp and walk with your hands while your feet are parallel to it in a plank position. Make sure you are keeping your body straight, head forward and continue it in 1 or 2 minute variations. Here is a video for reference
5. Treadmill Pushes
A small challenging exercise, this works on your core strength. For this, you need not have to turn your treadmill power on. Turn it off and pull the emergency tag. A quick reminder that this may not work for all the different types of treadmills but only for those types whose belts move when the device is turned off.
Now place your arms on the handle below the dashboard and push it while trying to run forward. Keep your elbows bent slightly and make sure you drive your legs in a forward fashion as if you are pushing the ramp backwards. Look at this video for further reference.
Precautions to using a Treadmill
- If you have any history of any joint based injury, consult with a doctor before proceeding to workout on a treadmill
- People with heart conditions should always be cautious about the time they spend on a treadmill
- Clip on the safety pin to your body. When or if you fall down, it pulls the emergency button and stops the machine
- Drink sufficient fluids or eat some fruit about 30 mins prior to your workout to avoid heavy dehydration or dizziness.
- Wear a pair of comfortable and quality running shoes. For these, make sure you have heavy padding.
- Make sure you are warming up before the work out and then cooling down after a workout.
- Start by placing your feet on either side of the machine and then punch in the speed.
- Start with a small speed and only then go to higher speeds.
- Swing your arms properly and more often
- Keep your body straight and do not lean forward or slump your shoulders
- Hold on the side rails for support but leave them from time to time. Do not entirely rely on them.
- For better effect, do not just increase the speed but also the incline of the machine gradually.
- Never step off the machine abruptly. Always slow down and step down with proper guard
- All treadmills come with emergency stop buttons which will stop all activity slowly and use it whenever you feel you cannot handle it.
Maintaining a Treadmill
Face it; A treadmill is a costly piece of equipment and you cannot entirely rely on the warranty or the repairman for every issue you have with it. The best way to prevent any issues is to have proper maintenance to it. Let us go through and look at a few points on how you can maintain your treadmill better.
1. Placement of the Treadmill
Where you place the treadmill is a very important factor to consider. A treadmill should be placed on a leveled floor. This will prevent the belt and the motor in the machine to have proper balance and never lose it. In case you are unable to find a stable leveled spot for the placement of the treadmill, try and adjust its position by adding or placing some sort of support at the rear or front section at the bottom of the treadmill.
2. Cleaning a Treadmill
Dirt being accumulated on a treadmill is one of the major issues for it to malfunction or get damaged. Most of the dirt gets accumulated on either the belt or on the deck causing it to have increased wear and tear.
Make sure you are cleaning your treadmill at least once or twice a month. Take a wet sponge or a damp cloth and wipe down all the sides of the treadmill, which includes both the belt and the deck and other exposed areas. Three times every year, make sure you are also cleaning the motor area of the treadmill but be careful while doing this. Either consult with a serviceman or follow the instruction manual. Also make sure that you are lubricating well than most parts of the treadmill with oil every now and then. This is particularly important for the motor part.
3. Belt maintenance
The conveyor belt in the treadmill is the most important part after the motor. Great care must be taken of that and carry out regular maintenance for that as well. This includes, lubrication, alignment and tension maintenance
- Lubrication of a conveyor belt
Lubrication enables a treadmill to perform better. Many treadmills come with special wax that is present on their components that will enable them to lubricate by themselves. For all the other treadmills that need lubrication, use an engine oil or silicone oil for lubricating it. Go through a user manual to find other specific instructions
With frequent usage, a treadmill’s conveyor’s belt may miss its alignment. Hence it is important to realign it. Such alignment is not just the case with mid quality treadmills but top end treadmills also need adjustments.
First off, check if the belt needs alignment and this can be found by looking if the belt is running straight towards the centre or to the side. The bolts on the back side of the machine on two sides can be adjusted to align the belt. You just need to turn or tighten these bolts for alignment. If you still find trouble, refer to the owner’s manual or approach a serviceman for help.
- Tension Maintenance
The tension in a belt need not be touched and at most times, is pristine and perfect. But using the machine more and more will result in the belt becoming loose or it may slip. To see if your treadmill has a loose tension conveyor belt, set the treadmill at a slow pace and place your feet hard on the belt and try to slip it further. If it slips, tighten the bolts on the side like you just did for the alignment.
4. Replacing the Belt
If the belt is worn out after much rough usage or maybe due to the low quality of the device as a whole, you might need to replace the belt once in a while. Often than not, conveyor belts show signs of wear and tear in about three months. But with proper care and usage, this might come for a year or even higher as well. Always invest in durable and high quality belt.
A treadmill is a wonderful piece of equipment with many benefits and much more to offer than most of the workout equipment. Apart from aiding in your cardiovascular health, it aids in toning your muscles and overall well being as well. As good as it is, be sure to maintain certain precautions and follow certain tips while you are using it. Make sure you are maintaining it properly by cleaning, oiling and maintaining the belt, motor and other parts from time to time.