My guide to buying and using a treadmill

Here’s my experience and tips on buying a treadmill which you may find useful.

Most important factors to consider when buying a treadmill at home:

1. Motor capacity – This is by far the most important factor you should consider. However, if you’re buying a non-branded treadmill, shopkeepers would usually lie to you to close their sale. Which motor capacity you should buy depends on how much you weigh – A 130kg man would need a stronger motor to keep the belt rolling compared to a 70kg guy.

2. Padding – When you run on a treadmill, your knees absorb the impact on every step. If your treadmill has a moderate amount of cushion support underneath, it’ll greatly help in reducing the impact. Some amount of cushioning is a must, otherwise your knees will give up after a few days.

3. Jerky or smooth stop – What if you’re running on the treadmill at 10kmph and there’s a powercut? Does the belt stop with a sudden jerk or does it gradually slow down?

4. Belt slips – This is something you want to avoid at all costs. A slippery belt will mean that you will always be scared of losing your balance while you’re running. That could cause a serious injury and could even be fatal. Good quality branded treadmills usually don’t have this problem, but cheaper ones get slippery after just 1-2 months of use!

Less Important factors:

1. Running area – The longer and the wider the running area, the more comfortably you can run without the risk of accidentally stepping outside and falling.

2. Incline – If your treadmill has electronic incline, you can adjust the angle even while running on the treadmill. But inclined treadmills are much much harder to run on and cause far more pain in the knees later – Evaluate carefully if you really need this.

3. Displays and Programmable workouts – The last thing that should be on your list but unfortunately this is what you see first! Fancy LED’s and plenty of buttons on the front console give an appearance of a “high-tech” treadmill and it’s easy to fool a lot of people with that. Hi-tech stuff is a nice addon, provided everything else in this list has been checked off already.

4. Commerical or personal use – If you’re buying a treadmill for home, you need not buy treadmills that are meant for gyms. Gym treadmills are heavy duty and are meant to run for hours together. Home treadmills are usually supposed to be run for a maximum duration of 45-60 minutes per session. If multiple people at home need to share a treadmill, maintain a gap of 30-45 minutes before each use.

Using a treadmill the right way

The number 1 mistake I’ve seen people making – Buy a treadmill => Run at full speed => Have a body ache next day => Blame the treadmill => Close it down and use it for drying their clothes.

Don’t be that guy. Your body will take it’s own sweet time to get used to a fitness regime. Start with speeds of 2-4 kmph and with as little as 2 minutes a day. Go up by 5 minutes after every week. Personally, I took about 2-3 months to warm up myself to my peak running speed of 10 kmph.

Are you buying the treadmill for weight loss?

Then is the biggest trick I learnt – Blindly running on a treadmill day and night will not cause weight loss at all. If all you need to do is reduce a few kilograms, you need to do “interval training”.

You can Google around for details or I’ll explain here in brief – Once you’ve got used to your treadmill for 1-2 months, do one minute of slow walk at around 4kmph and one minute of super fast running at 10kmph or so. Keep doing this in alternation for about 45 minutes. Of course, take 5 minutes to warm up and 5 minutes to cool-down on the treadmill before starting the intervals.

Personally, I bought a Treo 103 from Proline Fitness and I was quite happy with my purchase. It worked well without any belt slips or any other issues. I used it for about 18 months and reduced by 27 kgs. Of course, I also kept my diet in control, but I’ll leave that for another blogpost.

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