How To Program A Treadmill

Woman programming a treadmill

Andrej Bondarchik/

By Simon Gould

Treadmills usually come with a lot of workout programs built in. They usually have names like “hill climb” or “calorie burn”. These are designed to give you some variety and achieve the goal of the workout name. Some treadmills come with custom programs. These enable you to design and create your own routine that you program in and the treadmill stores it for you.

As your workout program is stored you can repeatedly try it like any other program. You can modify it though by making it easier or harder or different as your imagination takes you. You may want to recreate a race so you would enter an incline at the appropriate distance. All this makes custom programs worth using.

Programming a treadmill

Selecting a pre-installed workout program is usually as easy as pressing one button on the console and then start. If you’re not sure how to use treadmill buttons, read this guide. With some you can select levels to make the workout harder or easier. Check with the manual for your specific model about selecting workout programs and programming custom workouts. It’s usually quite straight forward once you know how.

We’ll take the example of Sole Fitness as their treadmills have 2 customizable programs. All treadmills should come with a user manual that explains step by step how to program the individual model you have. Sometimes you can adjust a preset program with your personal details and we’ll go through how to program a custom routine.

There are 10 available programs and you can change any one of them by selecting them and entering your personal data. You would press the start key to begin the program or the enter key to input your personal data. You can adjust the length of time for a program by adjusting the controls when “time” on the console is flashing and pressing enter.

You enter your body weight when “calorie” is flashing on the console. You do the same when “heart” is flashing and when “speed” is too. Pressing start at any point will begin the program you’ve modified. Then we get onto the 2 custom programs and how to program them.

The custom programs

Select one of the 2 custom programs and press enter. Then the time will be flashing and this is where you select how long you want to the routine to last and then press enter. As before the calorie window will be flashing and here you enter your bodyweight. The pulse will flash and here you input your age and press enter.

Then we come to setting the speed and incline of the workout. This is the meat and guts of the routine you’ll be doing and how hard or easy you make it for yourself. A segment will be flashing, here you set the speed using the fast and slow keys and then press enter, you’ll be doing this for each segment of the workout. When finished the first segment will flash again for you to enter your incline levels.

When all this is done and you’ve entered your workout how you want it then press start. This will begin the workout and, more importantly, save it to memory. Now when ever you select that custom program your routine will appear until you change it, and that’s how you program the custom workout on a treadmill.

Heart rate programs

Some treadmills have a heart rate program. These are very effective at getting you to workout at the optimum intensity. These use a heart rate chest strap which often comes with higher end machines. The treadmill reads your heart rate and displays the number on the console. The heart rate program uses this number to keep it within a certain zone.

The ideal intensity to exercise is in what’s called the fat burning zone. This zone is where your workout is having the peak effect on your fitness and calorie burn. You’re in this zone when your heart rate is between 60% and 80% of your maximum working heart rate. The heart rate program increases or lowers speed to ensure your heart rate stays in this zone.

It’s clever because your maximum working heart rate is dependent on your age, it goes down as we get older. Therefore the treadmill will have you input your age to help in its calculations. This means the workout is very individual to you. It may take some time to get used to, but if you can stick with it, you’ll get a lot of health benefits using this program.


All treadmills that have custom programs will all enable you to modify them in a similar way. Remember to keep the user manual to refer to in case you run into any problems. If it comes to it I’m sure the customer service people would be able to help you if the worst should happen. After all, you pay a lot of money for a treadmill.

Like I said these are great for races where you can copy the layout of hills and maybe the speed you want to run at. They also useful as your fitness level progresses, running the same routine may become easier after a while. This is a good thing and happens as you get fitter. Then is the time to extend it or modify it further so it still challenges you.

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

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