Know what people love about treadmills? They love that no matter what shape you’re in, a treadmill is your friend because it will do whatever you tell it to do. You see, a treadmill is simply a tool for accomplishing your personal fitness goals. You don’t have to be a runner, and you don’t have to be in great shape to use one effectively. People of all ages, shapes and sizes use treadmills for the following purposes:
- improve cardiovascular capacity
- tone muscles
- keep joints active
- train for a marathon
- burn fat
Ready to get started? Here’s how to use a treadmill for your own fitness goals. This is a simple to use, easy to read guide that takes you from gym newbie to expert in just a few steps. How’s that possible, you ask? It’s entirely possible because there’s really nothing at all to using a treadmill to improve your health. It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.
Step One: The Approach
- Just like getting on a horse, make sure everything is ready first. You never want to step onto a treadmill while anything is moving. Look down and make sure the “moving sidewalk” isn’t moving yet!
- Step onto the treadmill and stand arms length from the control panel in front of you. There’s a “sweet spot” you’ll want to find for maximum effectiveness.
- Once you’re on, notice where your hand grips are located. There will be some on the sides and some in front of you. This is important because if you need to stabilize yourself that’s where you’ll put your hands. Practice reaching out to both sets of hand grips so it feels natural.
Step Two: The Control Panel (Don’t Let it Scare You!)
Now rest your eyes on the control panel. Yes it’s intimidating at first. Even the most seasoned gym rats cringe every time they have to use a new treadmill because of having to learn a whole new control panel. But if you break it down and focus only the one or two buttons you need to start the treadmill, you will be OK. Those buttons are “Manual”, “Start” and “Stop”.
Focus on 3 little buttons found on every treadmill and you’ve mastered any control panel in seconds
Don’t worry about all the choices until later, after you’ve become used to being on the treadmill. “Manual” will simply start the sidewalk moving at the slowest possible speed. You will be able to handle that because it’s the equivalent of walking in slow motion!
One more button to find before you begin walking, and that’s the “Stop” button. It’s usually front and center and colored red. This is an emergency button that stops the belt immediately. Good to know in case you need to stop right away.
Step Three: Now You’re Moving!
- If you’re a beginner, just choose the “manual” setting and when you’re ready hit “start”. On some treadmills, these should be pressed in reverse order.
- The conveyer belt under your feet will move a slow pace if you’ve chosen “manual” setting. Walk for a while to get the hang of it.
- Then find the “up” arrows on the control panel. When you’re ready to start walking at a brisker pace, use them!
- If your goal is to run, you would still begin by walking. You should always walk to warm up before running in order to slowly raise your heart rate to running pace.
- If your goal is not to run, then you can either keep on walking or you can add some resistance to your workout. Find the “incline” buttons on the control panel. Like the speed buttons, they will be an up arrow and a down arrow. The incline buttons add hills to your workout. By pressing the up arrow, you are actually raising the sidewalk so it simulates a hill. Go for it- the treadmill raises up so slowly you’ll hardly notice it at first. This is a great way to tone your muscles. Yes, you will feel the burn!
Step Four: Build a Workout & Start Slow
When you use a treadmill, you will want to have a plan. For example, are you going to walk for 20 minutes? Are you going to run a mile? Are you going to try and improve on your last workout? Are you simply warming up before hitting the weights? Set a goal and you’ll not only have a better time, you’ll have better workouts and increased fitness in the long run.
Whatever length of time you choose, leave time for a warm up and a warm down. Always begin by walking for five minutes. That gets everything warmed up and ready for the workout. Then at the end, walk again for five minutes. That brings down your heart rate slowly, which is recommended by doctors and fitness professionals.
When you’re just starting, whether it’s because you’re a newbie or because you’ve taken time off from exercising, just walk. Don’t push your body until your body is ready to be pushed. You need to first become accustomed to walking on the treadmill, loosening up your joints, engaging your muscles. Train consistently- several times a week- and you’ll not only feel better immediately but also prepare yourself for more challenging workouts. Then, after a few workout sessions, then you can add more incline and more speed. If you overdo things the first week, you risk injury.
Step Five: Challenge Yourself
When you’re ready for more, use those up and down arrow buttons for more speed or more incline. Walking up hills increases your cardiovascular health and also your endurance. Increased speed will do the same. Moderate speed for longer periods of time will burn fat. Whatever your personal fitness goals, make it a point to always challenge yourself. If you are not breathing a little faster or breaking a sweat, your treadmill is not doing its job. By following these steps and easing into treadmill use properly, you are well on your way to a healthier, happier you!