Treadmill Tips

A guide to treadmills

If your goals include general fitness, weight loss or building up stamina, then a treadmill makes a great choice – and they’re really easy to use for people of all ages.

There are two main types of treadmill:

  • Manual treadmills – which are ‘pushed’ by your feet
  • Motorised electric treadmills – offer more options including inclines and heart rate monitors

Not only can treadmills be used for running, but they can also be set on lower speeds for walking on the flat or at an incline to simulate a hill.  Motorised treadmills offer you more: inclines, programmes to simulate different terrain and conditions, and heart rate monitors to tell you how fast your heart is beating.

Treadmill speed

All treadmills have a maximum speed. If you’re starting out, a machine that goes up to 8 miles per hour will be fine. As you get fitter, try one that can take you up to 10mph – if you’re training for an event, you might even want to push it to 12mph.

Making space for your treadmill

Measure up before you choose your treadmill. In general, allow at least the same space as a single bed, with half a metre or so on each side. Also check that you have enough space to get it around tricky doors and stairwells.

Defining the parts

Grip sensor. Many treadmills have tubular ‘grips’ that sense your heart rate. This is useful for checking you’re within the most effective training zone of 70-80% of your maximum heart rate.

The greater this incline, the harder your workout will be. On a motorised treadmill, different programmes may give you different inclines over a workout session.

The programmes on a treadmill give you a planned workout based on total distance you want to reach or total time you want to work out for. Different programmes may include varying speeds or inclines to stop you getting bored! example programmes include: 5km loop, 400m track laps, mountain pass, rolling hills, speed builder.


A treadmill console

The LCD display on the console gives you useful information – your running speed, total distance travelled, time to go and so on. The console controls, usually surrounding the display, let you switch the display to the numbers you’re most interested in and enter or change the programme.


Speed The speed the belt’s moving at – in other words, your running speed!
Time The time since your workout started, and/or your time per lap.
Calories Estimated amount of calories you’ve burnt off since starting.
Distance Total distance travelled or distance left to go on a programme.
Pulse/heart rate Your current heart rate, typically measured through hand grips.
Motivation Encouraging messages displayed to keep you going.
Elevation Estimated ‘height’ you’ve reached after running up an inclined track.
Incline The angle the track’s sloping upwards at (0 if flat).


What are my fitness goals?

Decide what you want from your decision to invest in a treadmill. Are you looking to lose weight, or feel healthier, or become fitter? A word of warning though: running can be addictive, and plenty of people start out intending to complete one 5km fun run and end up finishing a full marathon the next year!

This treadmill guide – ask yourself what you want to accomplish.

Lose weight Any treadmill capable of taking your body weight
Get fit Motorised treadmill with inclines and programmes
Become stronger Motorised treadmill with inclines to build strength and endurance
Become faster Motorised treadmill with programmes and heart rate
Train for an event Motorised treadmill with high maximum speed

Manual treadmills are great value and don’t take up much space (many also pack down flat if you need to move them.) If you want to train seriously and become fitter rather than just burn a few calories now and again, go for a motorised treadmill with programmes – either way there are some excellent machines available.