What Are Treadmill Buttons and How To Use Them

Start button on treadmill console being pressed


By Simon Gould

There’s one thing common in every treadmill and that is the selection of treadmill buttons on the console. Some, like manual treadmills, are very simple and might not have any buttons at all. Some treadmills with a lot of features have 20 or so buttons that do all kinds of things. These are usually motorized treadmills. Here I’ll look at the buttons you’ll find, what they do, and what to do if they stop working.

Treadmills are very easy to use

I think treadmills are easier to use than riding a bike. I think the same of the console and the various things the treadmill can do. In time, you will get used to the buttons you use the most. At present I just use the start, speed up and down and the stop. This is the same as when I use a treadmill in the gym.

The buttons are there to help enable you to get the most out of your treadmill. Some newer models are beginning to have touchscreens and expensive ones use the touchscreen for every function. You may have a treadmill with a mixture of both, this is like the one I use at my local gym. Whatever type you have, getting to know what it can do should be a priority.

Regular treadmill buttons

If you’ve bought your treadmill make sure you keep the manual. Every button will be explained there along with the location of it on the console. Some buttons are on the handrails and you’ll also be told this. The picture above shows a typical home bought treadmill console and the buttons are all located within easy reach so you can press them as you exercise.

Start – This is the big green button to get the treadmill going. It usually starts on the lowest speed for safety. When pressed it’s called a manual program and you change the speed and incline as you go. It shouldn’t count as a workout program but often is in product descriptions. Sometimes the button is used to select something like a specific workout program.

Stop – This is the big red button to stop the treadmill. Anything you’re doing, any speed or incline is over ridden by this and the treadmill stops moving. There is usually an emergency stop button as well. This is often attached to an article of clothing using a key. When the connection is broken the treadmill stops itself.

Speed – On some treadmills there can be quite a few buttons that deal with speed. Normal motorized treadmills for the home will go from 0 to 12 mph. The speed up and down buttons will change the speed gradually in increments of 0.1 mph, you can normally hold them down to keep the speed changing until you release your finger.

A lot of treadmills have other speed buttons with numbers on them and they would take you to the matching speed directly. So one with the number 6 on will take you to 6 mph in a gradual way whatever speed you’re currently on. This is a feature more common on home bought treadmills than those in gyms and fitness facilities.

What you may also find with some machines is they have speed buttons on the handrails. This way you don’t even have to reach for the console, not that it’s much effort, you simply press up or down to make the change. You’ll find which way you prefer doing it but the speed button will be one of the most common you’ll be using.

Incline – Where you find the speed buttons on one side of the console, the incline will be on the other. The incline or hill can go up to 15% and this is the gradient. ometimes you’ll find a small decline and you’ll select the steepness of the hill by incline buttons going up or down. My advice is to only use a high incline for walking.

Like with speed, you’ll often see a selection of incline buttons that have numbers on them. These will take you to the exact number you see, so 7 will take you to a 7% incline. Again, you might find speed buttons on the left handrail and inclines on the right. Inclines are popular and recommended for walkers trying to lose weight.

Other buttons – Fans are popular on home treadmills and a button will turn it on. Some fans have different speed settings and as you keep pressing the button the speed of the fan will change. Many treadmills have special buttons that are often a particular feature of that model. The manual will tell you everything you need to know.

Workout program buttons

These are built in programs that give you a particular workout when you press the button. You often have settings within these so you can choose how easy or difficult they are. Sometimes you can select a maximum speed or incline the program will use or how long the routine will last. The buttons will usually have the name of the program on them.

Hill – This one involves the incline and as the name suggests has you climbing a steep slope. The climb is gradual at first and peaks in the middle. Then the incline decreases as you approach the end of the program. Sometimes you’ll find valleys included when you see this on different treadmills.

Fat burn – A typical program to help you lose weight. Although it’s called fat burn it will help you burn calories more than anything. You will burn fat and lose weight as long as you take care of your diet as well. This program focuses on the speed and you burn more fat the longer you can maintain the exercise.

Cardio – This one is designed to help increase your cardiovascular fitness which is your heart and lung health. Aerobic exercise is the perfect way to do this and so this program will have you working till you are quite out of breath. The speed fluctuates and the incline stays quite low. Work up to doing his one for 20 minutes or more if you can.

Strength – If you want to increase the tone and shape of your legs and butt muscles (glutes) then this one is for you. On my treadmill the speed increases to a high in the middle and then goes back down. It’s the incline that gives you the hard work. Which is what it should do to gain strength in the lower body.

HIIT – This is high intensity interval training and more treadmills are featuring it in their programs. Mine has a button for it. The feature of these workouts is a period of maximum effort for around 30 to 40 seconds then a recovery for a similar amount of time. The process is then repeated many times for a very effective workout.

Heart rate control – You may not see this on a button by itself but nearly all treadmills have this. It uses a heart rate chest strap to monitor your heart rate and the speed or incline changes. It does this to keep you at a percentage of your maximum heart rate for a workout tailored to your age and fitness level.

What If The Buttons Stop Working?

If the display is on and the buttons don’t work, then the console may need replacing. Press all the buttons so you can see if it’s just one button or console wide. Try turning the treadmill on and off at the plug. Also try a factory reset. If none of this works then you may need to call out a professional to come and take a look at it.

If the buttons don’t work and you don’t see anything on the display. You need to check if the treadmill is getting any power. Try plugging it into a socket you know that works. If you know it’s getting power, ensure any cables to the console aren’t damaged or lose. Call the manufacturer and explain any problems, and again, you might need a professional.

Final thoughts

Treadmill consoles have been designed very well. Underneath it are all kinds of electronics to help you control every aspect of your machine. I do advise you not to press any button too firmly, they can go wrong and stop working. The longer you can make them last the better. Also, treadmill consoles are expensive to buy and fit.

After a while, getting on a treadmill and using the console will become second nature. Every treadmill has a start, speed, incline and stop button and you’ll soon learn where they’re likely to be. Treadmill buttons aren’t something to be concerned about but are a tool to help you use all the features to increase your fitness and health.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.

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