You love running outdoors but the inclement British weather means you need to supplement it with some indoor fitness. Enter the treadmill. Found in most gyms and quite a few homes as well, the treadmill can be a great way to keep your exercise regime going even on the wettest, coldest days. Or if you’re a running virgin, the treadmill is ideal for building up your stamina and sorting out your running form.
What are the advantages of running on a treadmill?
If you want to get your cardio training done in the gym, the treadmill is a good place to start. It’s simple to use, adaptable to all fitness levels, and mimics a movement you use in everyday life.
Increasing the incline so you’re walking or running up a steep hill will work on your lower body strength
While the amount of calories you burn depends on a number of variables such as your weight and speed, running on a treadmill requires you to support your bodyweight, making it much more effective than, say, the elliptical trainer where you can hold the handles for support and balance.
While you may think of the treadmill as just a cardio machine, increasing the incline so you’re walking or running up a steep hill will work on your lower body strength too. Bonza.
“The treadmill is the perfect tool to control your run and get your effort or pace exactly right,” say Nick Anderson running coach at RunningWithUs. You can choose how steep an incline you’re running on, what speed you’re running at, and exactly how long you’re running for – plus you never get lost!
It’s also a good way to get used to training in warm weather. “Humidity is often higher in a gym,” says Nick, “so the treadmill can help you acclimatise to heat, meaning you’ll be able to perform better in warmer conditions on the road.”
Nick also uses treadmill workouts to assess regular runner’s running style and see where there’s room for improvement. “We’ll film the runner on a treadmill as running mechanics and footplant is so much easier to see than on the road,” he says. “We can then assess the runner’s gait and posture by slowing down the frames and analysing the footage.”
But to stop you from having those comedy moments where you fall off the back of the equipment, we’ve got all the tips you need to make sure you’re using the treadmill correctly and making the most of your workouts.
9 top tips for using a treadmill properly
1. As with all exercise, it’s best to make sure you’ve warmed up properly before you use the treadmill, even if you train regularly. Perform five to 10 dynamic stretches to loosen up your joints and muscles.
2. Even though you’re not hitting the road, you still need to make sure you are wearing the correct shoes for your running style and foot shape, otherwise you can pick up an injury before you’ve even broken a sweat.
3. “Set the treadmill to a 1% incline,” says running coach Nick Anderson. “This takes away the advantage the treadmill provides by the belt moving towards you. As we all know, the road or trails are stationary and we move over them when running.”
4. If you’re new to the treadmill, don’t run straightaway – begin with five minutes of walking so that you can get used to the feeling of motion on a moving surface. Then, you can start to increase the speed or incline.
5. “Aim to run tall, light on the feet and with a slight forward lean,” says Nick. “The treadmill offers a chance to focus on running form. Ideally your foot should land under you with perhaps a lighter or midfoot strike. Having mirrors in front and to the side can help you to see and feel how you’re running.”
6. “Try to run towards the front half of the belt within reach of the screen, speed and safety buttons,” says Nick. “It may sound obvious but imagine finishing a hard sprint and not being able to touch the speed button to slow down.”
7. Don’t look at your feet while you’re running otherwise you’ll lose your balance. This can also put strain on the back of your neck.
8. Try not to hold onto the handles while you walk or run as you will lessen the intensity of your workout and burn fewer calories.
9. “Don’t tie your towel or top to the front or side rails,” warns Nick. “The vibrations will loosen the knot midway through your session and before you know it, your jumper will be wrapped around your feet and you’ll be on the floor!”
To see all this in motion, check out this handy video from eHowFitness as personal trainer Madison Chase shows you the basics.