Tips for choosing and buying a treadmill
The treadmill is one of the most popular fitness equipment in the world. This success is explained by the multiple health benefits and the convenience of being able to run at home in all weathers. However, choosing and buying a treadmill is not easy given the number of models available on the market and the multitude of features offered. Discover in this buying guide our advice to make the right choice according to your objectives.
Why buy a treadmill?
The treadmill allows you to simulate running sessions on the field and thus to avoid bad weather conditions. No more time excuses!
It is one of the most complete fitness equipment for physical training. It works more than two thirds of the body’s muscles! Useful for training, preparing for competition, developing cardiovascular skills or maintaining fitness, losing fat or even relaxing after a day’s work, this device is a good alternative or an excellent complement to the practice of elliptical cycling.
In addition, it protects the joints from shocks and offers fun and motivating programs to train at home. Many models are equipped with a USB plug to connect an MP3 player or even a screen and a DVD player to watch a movie or participate in a virtual reality competition as if you were there!
How to choose the right treadmill?
The criteria to choose your carpet
You must choose your treadmill according to your objectives (weight loss, training, etc.), the type of use (occasional, regular or intensive) and your budget. To help you in your choice, we have divided this section into 3 parts:
- Technical characteristics: these are the criteria that must determine your choice. The 4 most important criteria are :
– The size of the running surface – The engine power – The maximum speed – The damping
- The console and programs: this less important part can nevertheless help you to make your choice after an initial selection based on the technical characteristics.
- Additional accessories and features: To stand out from other devices, manufacturers offer innovative features to get the most out of your device, including keeping you motivated. These functions constitute a real added value to the device and can be decisive in your choice but add to the price.
Ideally, your mat should be comfortable (as large as possible), have a powerful motor (for training in intensity and for the longevity of the device), tiltable (to work more muscles and more efficiently), heavy (for stability), have a good cushioning and if possible have a heart sensor. A cardio watch is also an asset for easier and more accurate use
We have summarized below some selection criteria to help you in your choice according to your objectives:
|Objective||Use of the system||Allure||Engine||Inclination|
|Physical maintenanceFitness and relaxation||Max 30 mnOccasional practice||Slow walking or jogging Less than 8km/h||With or without 1.5 HP (more if large babarit)||Optional|
|TrainingWeight LossCardiovascular System Development||More than 30 mn1 to 5 sessions/week Regular practice||Slow to fast jogging8-10 km/h||2 HP||0-10%|
|Preparation of a competitionIntensive training||Intensive practice||All types of races, split up to 16-20 km/h||2 CV > 2 CV||0-16%|
The technical characteristics
The surface of the belt (tread): as large as possible
The tread surface is an essential element to consider when choosing your treadmill. The bigger it is, the more comfortable the mat is. The length of your stride depends on your size but also on your pace: the faster you run, the bigger the stride. It is therefore necessary to provide a mat long enough not to leave the mat during training. Width also plays an important role: the narrower the mat, the more concentrated you have to be in order not to get away from the middle.
The sizes of the treadmill vary from 30 to 56 cm in width and from 100 to 160 cm in length. Note that the size of the carpet has a significant influence on its price.
The length of the treadmill should be chosen according to your size and maximum running speed. It must at least exceed your stride length. Also take into account that with fatigue, you will tend to shift your position to the rear, making the run even more uncomfortable if the mat is too short. To help you in your choice, we recommend that you measure your stride length under real conditions. Except for slow speed use (walking or very slow jogging), we advise you to buy a treadmill at least 120 cm long.
The width of the mat must be at least 40 cm for a minimum of comfort.
The engine: it must be powerful enoughWhere to buy a treadmill?
Essential on the Internet, these commercial sites offer an efficient and serious service:
- Fitnessboutique: the specialist in fitness equipment! Quality service and advice by telephone.
- Lepape offers quality equipment and discounts all year round. Free delivery for orders over 90 €.
- Nordictrack: free shipping.
- Proform: free shipping.
- Amazon: generally free shipping.
- Used.ForSale : for second hand options
The power of the motor is also an essential criterion in the choice of your treadmill. It is on this that the performance of the belt and its longevity depend: the more powerful the motor, the higher the running speed can be. The device must be able to counter the runner’s resistance, especially if the belt is inclined or if the running speed is high. The weight of the user must also be taken into account: the higher the weight, the more powerful the belt must be to operate properly. A low-powered engine will also heat up and fail more often.
Engine power is expressed in horsepower (HP). Manufacturers often offer a different unit:
- Peak power (HP): it is the maximum power that the belt can reach. The higher it is, the more it makes it possible to make speed peaks and to practice the fractioned one.
- Continuous power (CHP): it is the constant power that the mat develops during the whole duration of the exercise.
The power of the motor must be chosen according to the use you want to make of the belt (desired running speed, objective) and your weight. If your goal is to run, any engine will do. If you want to practice an intensive training or if you are a large size, you need a powerful motor. Ideally, the more powerful the engine, the better, but the price will also obviously follow.
To help you choose the right device, we recommend the following values:
- Walking, slow jogging, occasional use: 1.5 HP
- Slow to fast jogging (7-10 km/h), regular use: 2 to 2.5 HP
- Running, intense or regular practice: 2.5 HP and more
For a user weighing 100 kg or more, the power must be at least 2 HP.
Maximum speed: 16 km/h or more depending on your objective
16 km/h is enough for everyday use and this is what most devices offer. If your objective is more ambitious or if you want to practice fractionation and reach higher peaks of speed, choose a more powerful camera.
For greater accuracy, some devices allow fine speed adjustment, usually in steps of 0.1 km/h. The user can thus find the precise setting that best corresponds to his or her rhythm. This feature can be important when choosing your device.
Dampened: not too flexible if you are looking for performance
Treadmills are equipped with a damping system that minimizes impacts on joints and back, thus reducing joint trauma. A good carpet absorbs between 15% and 35% of the impacts.
For occasional use, rehabilitation or walking, opt for a good cushioning. For regular to intensive use, a firmer cushioning is preferable to make your stride more effective (bounce) and keep the running sensations outside. You should know that some devices allow you to adjust the damping.
The inclination: 10% is a good compromise 2 to 3 more calories burned in the ribs!
Running on a hillside increases your calorie consumption. Thus, depending on the value of the slope, 2 to 3 times more calories are expended on the slope than on the dish. Working on a hillside also allows you to work more on certain muscles (buttocks, thighs, abdominal strap). It is therefore more complete.
Most mats can be tilted to simulate a slope and make your training closer to a field trip, especially by letting the programs control this parameter. This characteristic increases the difficulty of the run and thus puts more strain on certain muscles (buttocks, thighs, abdominal strap). Ribs also allow you to burn more fat (see our box). Finally, the inclination is useful to simulate the resistance of the air, which does not exist on a carpet. An inclination of 1 or 2% compensates for this difference.
Some devices even offer a negative inclination to work more muscles. This is the case with Nordictrack devices.
The inclination varies between 0 and 10% for most carpets, up to 18% for the best equipment and can reach 40% on rare professional models!
The adjustment of the inclination can be done manually (it is necessary to get off the device. Be careful, some devices only offer 2 possible inclinations) or electrically (via a button or controlled by the program). The ideal is of course the automatically adjustable devices that a program can control for you. Virtual reality races use this feature to adapt the difficulty to the terrain on a map.
- Weight and stability: the weight of your carpet determines its stability. For intensive training or fractioned training (accelerations, decelerations), choose a heavy belt.
- Easy storage: most of the current entry-level and mid-range carpets are foldable and equipped with wheels, a very practical side for a minimum of space and easy storage. Some models can be opened and closed effortlessly with a hydraulic cylinder and can even be stored in a cupboard or under a bed.
- Level compensators: some mats have stabilizers to compensate for unevenness in the ground and ensure good stability of the unit. This is important if you use your carpet on a floor that is not perfectly flat.
The maximum weight of the user
It varies from 100 to 150 kg. For optimal performance and to extend the life of your device, we recommend that you choose it at least 20% higher than your weight. Thus, for an 80 kg person, a device with a maximum user weight of 100 kg or more will be appropriate.
Taking heart beats
Some devices are equipped with a heart rate monitor and measure your pulse during activity from a sensor placed on the arms of the device or a chest belt. We recommend this type of mat even if you already have a cardio watch. The device will be able to use your heart rate to deduce the calories expended but also to adjust the difficulty of the exercise (speed and slope) to optimize your session in weight loss programs or specific training (threshold work, improvement of VO2max, etc.)
Almost all current carpets are equipped with a security key that must be inserted into the console for the carpet to work. Connected to the runner’s waist, it cuts the mat in case of a fall. It also prevents children from starting the device.