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Running is not always such an accessible option. The low temperatures, a rainy season, the lack of light or the short time we have, can be reasons that force us to choose to train on a treadmill instead of outdoors.
There are many myths about running on the treadmill and today I will try to take them apart, telling you the advantages and disadvantages of this type of training and some exercises that can encourage you to practice it.
False Myths about Running on Treadmill
There are many myths about indoor running. Obviously, running on the street is not the same as running on the treadmill of a gym or your home, but if you know how to train it doesn’t have to be a bad practice. Let’s dismantle a few myths.
Running on a Treadmill Means More Effort
The fact of facilitating the movement of the foot backward by the same sliding of the treadmill implies a smaller muscular effort to propel the body forward.
As there are no other external agents such as wind resistance, visual distractions or a variety of terrain, this means that, as a whole, it involves less muscular effort and energy expenditure.
Do not be confused: that you sweat more when you run on the treadmill is not an indication that you are trying harder. Remember that being in a closed place and having less ventilation than when you are outdoors can cause an increased perception of effort and heart rate.
Other aspects, such as the fact that the stride length can be shorter and make strides in less time or not change the landscape or have visual stimuli, can also increase that perception of your effort and make your career seem more monotonous and the workouts get longer.
Running on Treadmill Shatters the Joints
Although it will depend on the damping of the surface of the concrete treadmill that we are using, although the impact on it makes it generally more aggressive than other surfaces such as grass or soil, it is still less aggressive in most cases that the asphalt, so at all, we can say that running on treadmill is synonymous that we will suffer an injury.
The secret is to use and not abuse. That is, in doing short workouts of about 30-45 minutes a day so as not to crush your joints, wear good shoes and that the treadmill where you train has a good cushioning. Later we will see what are the characteristics so that you recognize a good quality treadmill before using it.
Running on a Treadmill and Outdoors is the Same
Running on a treadmill is not the same as running outdoors, nor is it recommended that running on a treadmill becomes a substitute for outdoor running. Training on the belt is ideal only as a complement to our workouts when we cannot go jogging, whether due to lack of time, weather conditions or other reasons.
Keep in mind that there are many aspects that vary with respect to outdoor training. In addition to the external agents that I have mentioned (wind resistance, variety of the ground, visual stimuli), there are other aspects that we modify such as the amplitude of the stride, the tread, the movement of the arms, the plantar pressure, the energy cost, and even the muscles we work.
When you go out to run your legs, they aim to propel your body forward while when you run on a treadmill, being a treadmill story that moves towards you, you don’t need to exert that propulsion force.
The role of the legs when we train on a treadmill focuses more on maintaining stability by working much less on our extensor muscles and partially inhibiting the use of some muscles (buttocks) and ligaments. It is for this reason that when you start running on a treadmill you can feel some unusual discomfort in the back and/or hip or tibial flexors.
Running on a Treadmill is the Only Effective Method to Lose Weight
Using the treadmill can be a good exercise to complement your weight loss program, as long as you do it by investing time and intensity high enough to burn more calories than you eat.
Undoubtedly, throwing hours and hours on the treadmill will make you lose fat since after all you will be burning calories. However, doing only cardio is possible to lose weight also where it does not suit you, since cardio burns both fat and muscle.
If what you want is to achieve a more lasting weight loss, it is better that you also integrate strength exercises into your routine. If you add weight training to your exercises you will create muscle mass and this will raise your metabolism helping you burn even more fat (even when you are not exercising)
Advantages and Disadvantages of Treadmill Training
Treadmills have both their supporters and their detractors. What is clear is that they are a perfect tool for training where you can vary the speed accurately and control the heart rate.
This gives us the opportunity to do very satisfactory progressive workouts and it also means we have some inconvenience. That is why it should be analyzed separately.
Advantages of Running on a Treadmill
It allows you to train at any time of the year. It doesn’t matter if the weather is too cold, too hot, or the weather conditions do not accompany. In addition, you will save catching a cold or a summer sunstroke.
It will help you train at higher rates by increasing maximum speed. If you are one of those who tend to accelerate or slow down unintentionally, the treadmill will help you maintain a steady pace and create your own fixed race pace.
By not having to follow a path or look at the terrain or obstacles that are outdoors you can concentrate more on your career technique. That is, in improving aspects such as posture, support, placement of your arms or breathing.
If in your city you do not have strong slopes you can train with different inclinations and vary your workouts. Above all, if you are thinking of introducing yourself to a career that will have pending.
Disadvantages of Running on a Treadmill
What you gain in a matter of less effort compared to outdoor training, you lose in a matter of articulation. In addition, if you run on poor quality treadmills or with improper maintenance you can be the victim of an injury. Joint discomfort can be aggravated if you train on an unstable or excessively soft surface that changes your stride, your footprint and forces you to run improperly.
You Will Need to Hydrate More Frequently
When you sweat more inside a closed and less ventilated space than when you run outdoors, you should always have a bottle of water on hand to combat rapid dehydration.
Treadmill Running Inevitably Anacortes Your Stride
This unconscious decrease in the amplitude of your movement in arms and legs is due to fear that you advance more than you should on the treadmill and hit you in the front or that you lose your balance and fall. It is a very frequent mistake, especially in beginners. But as experience and security on the treadmill accumulate, it can be run and normalized.
The Price is One of the Biggest Drawbacks
Running outdoors is not a cost to you. However, using a treadmill implies, at a minimum, paying a fee in a gym. Buying a treadmill for your home does not usually compensate for the high price they usually have (at least if it is quality), its large dimensions and the little use we can give it only in the winter months.
Another Drawback is Usually Boredom
Sometimes, neither the variety of exercise or preconfigured programs the treadmill offers are enough to entertain you. Being in a closed place, running without getting anywhere, without landscape changes or visual stimuli can become too monotonous and hopeless. In these cases, the best solution is to choose a treadmill with videos, landscape simulators or a music player with songs that help you motivate yourself.
Features that a Treadmill Must Have
Normally, you use treadmills in a gym, as they usually have the best and most up-to-date machines. But if you are thinking of buying your own treadmill for running at home it is also important that you take into account the basic features that a quality treadmill should have.
Before buying a treadmill, make sure you have enough space in your house to house it, as they are quite bulky. If you are convinced that you are going to use it daily and want to get the most out of it you will have to invest a lot of money so that its functionalities are minimally acceptable.
You can also try to find a treadmill in the second-hand market. It is very possible that you will find practically new treadmills at a lower price. But before you buy it, make sure that it is in perfect condition and that it has been well maintained.
Size and Surface
The dimensions of the treadmill surface are an important aspect to consider. Depending on your height your stride will be more or less long, so if you are taller you will be more comfortable on a larger belt.
If you measure less than 1.65 cm the minimum recommended length of the running surface is 120 cm. But if you measure 1.80 cm or more it is better that you run on a treadmill that has at least a minimum surface area of 130 to 147 cm.
The cushioning systems of some treadmills allow the runner to withstand less impact and better protect their joints. Therefore, you should not train on the belt of a gym or buy one for your home use without having tried it before or having found out if the manufacturer ensures that the damping of the treadmill’s treadmilltry will be good quality.
You should make sure that when you walk fast or when running, the platform remains stable and firm and does not wobble. It should not be too soft and spongy or too hard, in both cases, you may notice discomfort if you already drag some joint problems in the knees.
The power of the engine is an important element and is measured in CV (horses) and, as you can imagine, the greater the power, generally, the higher the quality and maximum speed. So before choosing a treadmill, make sure the engine is able to support your weight and reach the maximum speed that fits your goals.
Taking these aspects into account, it is advisable to use treadmills of at least 1.5 hp, although the optimal standard power is 2 hp, especially if you weigh more than 80 kg and run (or aspire to run) at an equal speed or exceeding 16 km/h.
It is about the speed at which the machine’s treadmillstry will turn and, therefore, our speed on it. It is measured in km/h (kilometers per hour). This speed depends, as we have already said, on the power of the engine and usually ranges between 10 and 20 km/h.
Beginner runners usually reach a maximum speed of about 12 km/h but if you carry out more advanced or professional training, the general recommendation is that you run on a belt that reaches at least 16 km/h.
It is essential that your treadmill has the option of adding earrings to your workout. It is usually measured with percentages ranging from 0 to 15% and is selectable according to the level of inclination you want or the training program you choose.
The inclination of the belt also depends on the power of the motor, since, the greater the inclination the greater the power it will need.
The inclination is a perfect option to tone and reaffirm your buttocks since it requires more muscular effort in this area and helps you consume more calories. The greater the inclination, the more weight your body will support and the more you will work your muscles. Of course, if you have any problem related to the ankles, it is better that you avoid using the inclination of the treadmill.
It is always better for a treadmill to include a series of preconfigured training programs available. This can provide you with more motivation when adding dynamism to your sessions. Some even allow you to memorize your workouts so you can use them whenever you feel like repeating them.
These types of programs are the solution to monotony and will help you make your workouts much more effective and satisfying. It has been shown that always performing the same type of training is losing effectiveness.
A good LCD system will help us show information about our workouts and select or change the various training programs available. It is normal for us to provide data on distance traveled, speed, elapsed time or calories burned, among other parameters. Visualizing all this information will help you motivate yourself, increase speed or incline and add new challenges to your workouts.
Less impact and less effort with respect to outdoor running make treadmills the best ally for beginner runners. It is a powerful resource to monitor the progression of cardiovascular resistance and will allow you the possibility to follow the ‘CACO method‘ (walking and running) and combine the change of slopes in a simple way.
In addition, it is also very useful for improving and correcting the technique of the race, since it allows you to focus on correcting the upright posture of the chest, the stroke and achieve a good stride.
The key to the workouts on the treadmill is in the intervals. Instead of running at a constant pace, it is better to change speed and add different exercises. In addition to the programs that the treadmill itself can offer you, I propose a few exercises to practice.
Inclinations: Design Your Own Terrain
Try to run a minute with an inclination of 4-5% followed by two minutes of slow jogging with a smooth surface. Do up to 10 repetitions increasing up to 6%.
Go controlling the incline percentage without letting the quadriceps get very heavy. When you see this happening, reduce the incline, recover and raise it again.
This exercise is a challenge for your cardiovascular system, but it will be simple because it does not require a very high speed.
Speed: Learn to be Faster
Try to make 3-minute intervals running at forced speed (a pace somewhat faster than your 5km pace) by inserting a soft 2-minute jog to recover. If you run several days a week, include this practice once a week.
When you do outdoor speed intervals you always tend to reduce speed unconsciously in the last repetitions due to accumulated fatigue. In the treadmill, this does not happen, since the movement of the treadmill forces you not to stop.
Undoubtedly, this exercise is very intense and requires great effort, but you will notice the results very soon in terms of improving your speed and endurance.
Random Intervals: Mix the Techniques
Try 10 minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of random intervals and about 10 more minutes of cooling. Combining random changes of inclination with changes of speed on your treadmill will provide you with a more complete job than any other technique since you will be training all possible muscles at once. This type of training will come in handy if you do not have much time to train since you will get a lot of work intensity in a short time.
Slimming: Burning Calories Running on the treadmill
Running on the treadmill can help you lose weight fast. With a daily cardio routine combined with exercise on other machines such as the exercise bike or the elliptical, you will be able to lose weight and tone your legs dramatically.
Try it for two or three weeks, about 30 minutes a day and soon you will start to notice the results. Remember, of course, that you must combine it with a balanced diet and strength and toning exercises so that your workouts are completely effective.
Conclusion: So is it Good to Run on a treadmill?
No doubt running on a treadmill is much better than sitting on the couch. A rainy day or a hibernation period is no excuse for not training. And that is the biggest advantage that treadmills give us.
We cannot determine if running on a treadmill is good or bad in a generic way. Like everything in life, it will depend on the use or abuse you make of it or the quality of the machine you use.
But without a doubt, we have seen that more than a substitute for running, it can be an excellent complement to your outdoor workouts and a highly recommended practice for beginner runners who want to start running and improve their technique or as your perfect ally for losing weight.