A buyer's guide to treadmills
When you buy a treadmill or running machine there are several aspects to take into account, your budget and the targets you have set yourself. Once you are sure about these two points, you have to bear in mind the following specifications and technical features:
- 1) Dimensions of the treadmill.
- 2) Size of the running surface area.
- 3) Maximum user weight.
- 4) Motor power, speed and the possibility of incline.
- 5) Console and training programmes.
1) Dimensions of the treadmill
The size of the treadmill refers to the space it takes up, fundamental if there is not much space at home. Currently there are a great variety of folding models which can be folded and stored away easily after use.
2) Size of the running surface area
The running surface area is the part of the treadmill on which you run (length x width). If space isn't a problem, we recommend you go for the treadmill with the largest surface area as a few centimetres can make all the difference for your comfort and running pleasure.
3) Maximum user weight
The maximum user weight is directly related to the power required from the motor. The heavier the user is, the harder the motor has to work and so the more powerful the motor should be. Make sure there is a good margin between your weight and the maximum supported weight in order to guarantee optimum performance for your workout.
4) Motor power, speed and the possibility of incline
Motor: The motor is the most important part of the treadmill. It defines its resistance and durability. Choosing the model with the right power of motor will depend on your training targets. Treadmills for home or semi-professional use have a built in DC motor while treadmills for professional use have an AC motor. The type of motor affects the time you can spend working on the treadmill without a break.
The power of the motor, measured in horsepower (HP), is given in continuous mode or for peaks. Power in continuous mode is the power which the motor can maintain constantly during a workout session, and peak mode tells you the maximum power the motor can reach at any given moment, but which cannot be maintained constantly during the workout. So the peak power will always be higher but it is the power in continuous mode which will really determine the robustness and the real capacity of the treadmill.
Speed: A maximum speed of 12 Km/h is enough for moderate and regular training. However, if you want to train harder and more regularly, we recommend you make sure the treadmill can reach a speed of between 16 and 20 km/h, as otherwise you will quickly reach its speed capacity and the machine won't be able to give you that higher level of workout which you need to keep improving.
Incline: Setting the incline of the treadmill can be done manually or electronically. Most treadmills have an incline of between 10% and 12%, although this could increase to between 8% and 15%. The incline is an important feature as it enables you to simulate races with gentle or steeper slopes and to test your times, speed and stamina at a particular gradient of slope.
5) Console and training programmes
The console controls all the functions which change the type and the intensity of the workout.
The screen shows basic indicators such as speed, incline, time, calories and pace. Depending on the price the treadmills offers different technological and comfort features.
The integrated training programmes are automatically activated following a pre-set target (burning calories, strength training, stamina or speed, etc). Depending on the model you choose, the treadmill could have between 8 and 100 different programmes to carry out personalised and varied training sessions.
6) Technological Extras:
Another standout feature which is becoming more and more important when buying a treadmill is the possibility of doing interactive workouts. Many manufacturers are already integrating systems which synchronise with different iOS devices (iPod, iPad or iPhone) as well as with Android (Tablets and Smartphones) to offer, through specific Apps, workouts which are more fun, more visually stimulating and more motivating than training on conventional treadmills.