Are Treadmill Workout Programs Worth Using? (Answered)
By Simon Gould
When you use a treadmill in a gym or health club you nearly always press the quick start button and off you go. You then change the speed and incline to what you want. Maybe you've bought a treadmill for your home. So are the workout programs you get worth using? What can a workout program do that you can't do yourself?
Workout programs available
Buy any new treadmill and the manual will show a range of programs available to you. Whatever your fitness goal you'll find one that caters to it. There's always a variation of a weight loss program. They could be called "fat burn" or "calorie burn" but they all do the same thing. They're great for beginners who want an introduction to what a treadmill can do.
You'll often find a strength program which is designed to build strength in your legs. A hill program can often be seen which changes the incline. Some of them have different levels which can make the same program easier or harder. I think these are a great idea. Otherwise the workout program could be worthless.
Custom and heart rate programs
Good treadmills will often have custom programs. These are where you can create your own routine to be stored in the treadmill. The manual will show you how to make them and can be a way of getting the settings to change without pressing the controls. These are saved in the memory of the console so you can try it again the next time.
Some treadmills come with heart rate chest straps or have the ability to read them. A heart rate program uses your heart rate to keep your heart beating at a certain level of exertion. These can be a great way of ensuring you get the most from your workouts. Heart rate training is a method some athletes use to enhance their performance.
They give you variety
Treadmills have a reputation for being boring so what better than do a run or workout that you haven't experienced before. Some workout programs on some brands of treadmill allow you to adjust the routine to your own fitness level. So a beginner and experienced runner can use the same program and get a good workout from it.
The fact that you have multiple programs to choose from is more variety. Some brands, by adjusting for your own fitness level, can have hundreds of different combinations. As your fitness level improves you make the routine harder. Once you've got bored of one program or fancy a different challenge it is there for you.
You'll grow out of them
They're restrictive, while being great for beginners, once you've been exercising for a few months, you'll find your own routines that suit you. Most people find this whether you enjoy power walking for weight loss, or training to compete in your next race. The programs may have been enjoyable but you need something more.
As and if you become more serious at running, maybe you're thinking of running a race or you're looking to run longer distances in a quicker time, you won't need or want to use console workout programs. They're great for beginners who are just getting into the treadmill but a serious runner needs a more personal routine.
As you define what you want to get out of running a 2 mile calorie burn might not meet your needs. Or it may be too much for you. Making your own routine is what you'll start to do. After a while you'll start only using the manual program. This is where you get on the treadmill and adjust the speed and incline as you go.
Find your own routines online
Maybe you've bought a treadmill to lose weight. Those "calorie burn" programs can only do so much. The treadmill has so much potential to help you lose weight and sometimes these programs are doing it a disservice. I have devised routines for walking or running and some use the incline. Feel free to modify these for your fitness level:
As you become more proficient at running you may want to get quicker. Then you'll read about speed work that you can do and a treadmill is ideal for these. You'll find different routines you can do online that you follow by changing the treadmill's settings as you run. We have made some speed routines you may enjoy:
If you're training for a race of any popular length you can find routines that will help you train for that distance online. These can usually be attempted by a runner of most abilities and will slowly improve your distance run over the weeks as the schedule goes on. We have made some race distance routines that may help you:
For new runners these workout programs are great. If they encourage people to keep exercising then that's a good thing. They can introduce you to the different ways you can use the treadmill like with using different speeds and inclines. They may help you choose the type of runs you prefer then you can concentrate on getting better at them yourself.
As we said above you will out grow them. You will find your own routines based on the sort of exercise you want to do, based on the races you want to enter, based on the weight you want to lose. We still think they are a good thing and they are worth using. Anything that encourages you to exercise more is a good thing.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here's my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*