Anatomy of a Treadmill: Know the Most Important Features

What to consider when considering a treadmill. 
How do you find the best treadmill to fit both YOU and your workout goals? 

It's true - There is a lot to consider when purchasing a treadmill for your home, and our equipment experts can help you select the best treadmill to fit your goals, budget, and available space. Learn the questions to ask before purchasing a treadmill here.

For those of you wondering why there are so many considerations when deciding on the right treadmill for you - and what's the difference between the many different treadmills out there -- we can help! 

Anatomy of a Treadmill – The Naked Truth

Well, treadmills are not all built the same and those construction and design details make a BIG difference in the quality of machine and your overall training experience.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important features of a treadmill, and how they can help you discover which is the right treadmill for you.

First, we’ll look under the motor cover, which exposes the motor, elevation system and the drive electronics. 

Motor: Many motors have a flywheel on it and also a cooling fan on the end. That's very important for a treadmill to have because the flywheel will smooth out the pulses of the foot hitting the deck, which would normally slow the motor down. So, a premium treadmill will have a good-sized flywheel and motor.

Elevation System: There are many types of elevation systems – most often you’ll have landing gear that comes down as you push or pull the elevation towards the motor. Your Gym Source expert can talk you through some of the options and which is best for you. 

Drive Electronics: These are very important because they have to be able to withstand the constant pounding as you run on the machine. You want to make sure it’s designed for heavy-duty use.

Frame construction: Frame construction is so important. You're going to be running on this, pounding on it pretty hard. This frame has to withstand quite a bit of abuse. There are a lot of different construction methods, but the one thing that you're going to notice when you have a treadmill that's built strong is that it's heavy. One of the things that we look for in a treadmill that will get a lot of use is a solid frame construction

Side rail cover: Your side rail cover should be fairly wide because when you go to try to get off the belt, you need to have a secure area to land on. The edge of the rail cover also covers the belt, so that dirt that's falling from your sneakers or whatever you're running with if you walked in from outside, is not going directly under the belt onto the deck. It's basically held in place by the side rail.

The Running Deck: This is actually a significant differentiating feature on a lot of units. When you run on a treadmill, there's a considerable amount of force that you develop during running, and the highest loading in normal gait during running happens in the middle of your stride.

The deck itself has to help you avoid anything that could essentially lead to overuse injuries without affecting your stride. If it starts to affect your gait, and you’ll get stress in your back, your knees, your ankles, and your hips, and you may not know why because it happens over a period of time.

So it’s very important that there's a degree of cushioning in the running surface, but not too much. And treadmills are built with different suspensions and mounts, so different areas of the deck have different levels of cushioning.  Some will feel more comfortable to you than others.  

So to find the right treadmill, you have to take it for a test drive. Try several before you determine the one that fits you best!

Handles: You want very safe construction and make sure the handle is substantial and really well constructed. It must be able to support your body weight in case you lose your balance. Also, the design should be simple.  Watch out for extraneous handles or railings that might cause you to get stuck in case you slipped or your foot went off the side.

Safety lanyard: There's some controversy about the safety lanyard as to whether or not it actually does any good. The reality of it is when you pull the lanyard, it takes about three seconds for the belt to come to a stop but it only takes half a second for you to fall off of the machine.  So don’t count on the safety lanyard to keep you safe. You definitely want to be paying attention and focused on what you're doing when you're running on a treadmill.

Ergonomics: You’ll want to check out the ergonomics of the machine. You should be able to reach the display, reach the controls, store your water, etc. while still operating the unit safely. For instance, handles are usually tilted at an angle because it matches the most comfortable carrying angle for your hand as you were resting on it. 

Display: There’s a lot of variability in which kind of display a treadmill might have.  You can select a simplified display with just a few numbers and a little graph to a high-tech monitor that shows you every data point and television, movies, internet, you name it. 

Ready to test drive a few treadmills yourself? Our experts at your local Gym Source showroom are here to help. Come visit us in the store to test-drive a wide selection of premium treadmills and find the right one for you.

Want to learn more about how to purchase the right treadmill for your home?
Learn how to avoid buying the wrong fitness equipment

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