To choose the right treadmill, you need to understand why one would be more fitted to your needs than another. Each treadmill is designed to give the maximum comfort at a specific target speed, depending on the running surface size, the motor power and the structure. These elements will have a direct impact on the product’s size and its price.
Matching the treadmill to your needs
You must choose your treadmill accordingly to your needs: do you wish to walk? To do speed walking? Jogging? Running? Some combination? Define your use to choose the right treadmill.
From 1 to 8 km/h (0.6 to 5 miles per hour), you will be walking (from slow walk to fitness walk). From 8 km/h, you will be jogging then running. Walking treadmills will be more compact than running ones. There are two types of walking treadmills for you to consider: those with motors or those without. Walking and running treadmills provide a wide range of exercises, whatever the weather and the moment. Security and comfort for your joints are guaranteed.
Walking treadmills without a motor
When there is no motor on a treadmill, it is the pressure of the foot on the running belt that will make it roll. These types of treadmills will have an incline, to better facilitate movement. These treadmills are lighter but can’t be used flat. The fluidity or smoothness of walking can be limited depending on the models, which can require more effort from your joints.
Walking treadmills with a motor
On a motorised treadmill, a motor will make the running belt roll. The running belt then will move at a constant speed chosen by the user (usually starting from 1 km/h). There are two benefits to that: these treadmills can be used flat and there is less effort put on the joints.
On a treadmill intended for running there will always be an integrated motor. Thanks to the motor power, the running treadmill can reach speeds from 1 to 16 km/h. Depending on the price of the model you choose, it might be equipped with extra features like a heart rate monitor, a speed display, being able to incline the running surface, or the number of calories burnt will be displayed. Different machines will have different features so keep this in mind if you’re looking for something specific.
Understanding the technical characteristics and benefits of every treadmill will help you to choose the right treadmill according to your needs. Which technical characteristics provide which benefits? Here is the information you need to make your choice:
The running surface
The faster you walk or run, the longer your steps will be. The running surface needs to be designed for your use.
- To walk at a speed of 1 to 6 km/h, a surface area of 100 by 40 cm is big enough. A walking treadmill will be fitted to your needs.
- To jog at a speed of 6 to 8 km/h, a surface area of 120 by 40 cm will provide more comfort.
- To run from a speed of 10 km/h, choose a treadmill with a surface area of 130 by 45 cm or bigger.
The motor power
The faster you go, the more powerful the motor needs to be. The motor power also depends on the maximum user weight given by the manufacturer (for example 100kg, 130kg…) A motor with the right power for your use will insure that the entire treadmill last longer before wear and tear starts to show. The first thing to have a look at is the “continuous” motor power (which is the power the motor can continually provide). The second one is the “pic” power (the power punctually provided, for example in acceleration time).
The cushioning will depend on your use. For walking, a flexible cushioning will provide comfort for the joints and a feeling of rebound. For running, a harder cushioning will provide more revival and dynamism, and less waste of energy.
This functionality is sometimes overlooked, but has many benefits. It allows you to vary your exercises by simulating uphill running. It will require even more of your lower body muscles (buttocks and thighs) but also the midsection muscles (by sheathing). It also helps to burn calories faster: up to four times more calories burnt with a 20% incline! Two types of inclination are available on the market: manual setting (you will need to stop the product to change the inclination) and automatic setting (you can change the inclination while using the product).
The control panel
The control panel is able to give you the basic information: speed, distance, running time, average number of calories burnt. Some models will display more or less information, such as your heart rate (nothing is more precise than a heart rate monitor belt to measure your heart rate). Then, depending on the models, you will have more or less programs like interval training, some compatibility features like coaching or attaching your mp3, and an increased ease of reading the information provided thanks to back lighting or big screens.
The maximum user weight
Depending on the model, the maximum user weight can vary between less than 100 kg to more than 150 kg. Every treadmill is designed in its structure and its motor to be used safely and for a long time by a user of a maximum weight. While you can theoretically use a machine that is rated for below your weight, you can damage the machine or injure yourself.
After you’ve used your treadmill, many of the models can be folded: the running surface goes up. To open it, some assistance will help lowering the running surface. Some treadmills, once folded, are so thin that they can fit underneath a bed.
Treadmills are a big investment so it’s important to pick the right one, a task you’re well prepared for now. Decathlon has a range of treadmills that might suit your training habits so feel free to have a look.