Mechanical — the running belt is set in motion by the athlete’s muscular effort (while he is running, the belt rotates). Running load is adjusted by changing the angle of the track.
Advantages: relatively low price, no connection to the mains is required. The disadvantage is that the athlete has to expend a lot of effort to rotate the tape, which creates an additional load on the legs.
Magnetic – running load is created by the action of a magnet. Advantages: in such a track, you can adjust the level of load without changing the angle of inclination. A more expensive option than a mechanical one, but the smaller size and weight justify the price.
Electrical — occurs most often. The running belt is driven by an electric motor. The running load is regulated by changing the angle of inclination and the speed of the running belt. Using such a device is much more comfortable, since the athlete does not need to expend effort to rotate the tape.
- Mechanical treadmill
- Electric treadmill
Electric treadmills are divided into several classes.
Economy class — used at home advantage — low price; the size of the canvas is small, the set of functions is limited.
amateur class – used both at home and in gyms; there are training programs and the ability to create your own.
Hi-end class — universal option. It differs from the amateur class by the function of heart rate control, which corrects the load. In addition, this simulator has a large number of training programs.
Professional – used in hard operation mode (gyms, fitness clubs, etc.). It features a powerful engine and increased resistance to wear (24/7 use is allowed — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), the largest number of built-in programs. The disadvantage is a very high price.
- Complicated — the design of the treadmill allows it to be folded. Such devices take up minimal space and can be stored under a bed or closet. In addition, folding models are easy to transport in a car.
The uniformity of the running belt and the maximum speed directly depend on the engine power. In models with a more powerful engine, these figures are higher. The motor power of the electric treadmill varies from 0.75 to 23.0 HP. (Horse power).
Each class of treadmills differs in engine power:
- economy class — up to 1.5 hp;
- amateur — up to 2 hp;
- Hi-End class — from 2 to 3 hp;
- professional class — more than 3 hp
Important: maximum engine power must be distinguished from constant power. It is on the latter that you need to focus when choosing a simulator.
The speed of the walking belt varies from 2 to 40 km/h. In most cases, models with speeds up to 16 km / h will be the best option. This allows you to set a greater number of load levels during the workout.
Each class of treadmills has its own indicators:
- economy class — up to 15 km / h;
- amateur class — up to 16 km / h;
- Hi-End class — up to 18 km / h;
- professional class — up to 25 km / h and above.
Important: For beginner athletes, it is advisable to work at a low speed, as this will help to adapt to running on the simulator. In addition, the maximum speed can provoke a breakdown of the running belt, which will lead to injury.
The width of the canvas
The width of the running belt ranges from 31 to 87 cm. The wider it is, the more comfortable the workout.
It should be noted that the wider the canvas, the more space the simulator takes up. For training large people, it is preferable to choose a wide track.
Each class of treadmills has its own belt width:
- economy class — 38-40 cm;
- amateur class — 40-45 cm;
- Hi-End class — 45-50 cm;
- professional class — from 50 cm and above.
The length of the running belt is in the range from 80 to 224 cm. This indicator should be sufficient so that the athlete does not stumble during training (125 cm). A longer canvas requires a more powerful engine, which affects the cost of the simulator. It should be noted that the length of the canvas affects the dimensions of the treadmill.
Important: to determine the optimal parameters for the length and width of the running belt, it is worth testing the treadmill in practice in a store or gym.
The maximum tilt angle varies from 3 to 40 degrees. To simulate walking or running over rough terrain, most exercise equipment has the ability to change the angle of inclination. The higher the angle of inclination, the more effort the athlete will spend to overcome the distance. A number of models allow you to change the slope directly during the training process (the «Hills» program).
Manual — used in mechanical and inexpensive electrical models. Before training, the athlete fixes the front of the track at one of the levels.
Automatic — used in expensive electrical models. To adjust the angle of inclination, it is enough to press a button on the control panel, which is much more convenient than the manual version.
Number of load levels
There are many combinations of speed and incline, so it is very difficult to calculate the exact number of load levels.
The load changes in steps or continuously (stepless system).
- Step system – has several preset load values. Unlike stepless, intermediate load parameters cannot be set here.
- A five-step system – allows you to change the load in a wide range. This adjustment allows you to set the desired parameters much more accurately.
constant pulse — allows you to automatically maintain the heart rate at a given level. When it decreases, the load will increase, and when it increases, it will decrease.
Quick Start («fast start») — used to prepare the body for intensive training (warm-up).
Cool Dawn («hitch») – used to relax the body after intense exercise (restoration of normal heart rhythm, muscle tone). This program is based on the staggered stop of the machine.
«Hills» – used to simulate running or walking over rough terrain. As a result of a constant change in the angle of inclination of the running belt, the load also changes, which increases the endurance of the body. With the help of such a program, you can make your workout more diverse.
Custom – allow you to save your training settings (training time, load level and other parameters) to the simulator’s memory. This feature is provided by expensive models.
For a while — Set the duration of the workout. The system will announce its completion with a sound signal or display information on the display.
At a distance — sets the distance that is planned to «run» for the workout. In the process, information about the passage of the distance is displayed on the display, and upon completion, the system will inform you about this with an inscription or a sound signal.
Important: the number of training programs varies from 1 to 100. A large number of programs allows the athlete to accurately select the best option. A smaller number of programs can be compensated by the possibility of their self-creation (programming).
Cardio sensor — a device for measuring the pulse. Allows you to correctly calculate the level of load for each athlete.
There are several types.
built-in — placed on the handles of the simulator. Occurs quite often. Allows you to constantly monitor the pulse, holding hands on the handle. Advantage — no need to attach the sensor to the body.
Wired — is placed on the athlete’s body (belt, on the finger, on the earlobe, chest) and is connected to the simulator computer. Advantages: simplicity, reliability and low price. The disadvantage is that the wires hinder the movements of the athlete.
- waist — differs from other wired sensors in that it limits the movements of the athlete to a lesser extent. However, it is less accurate than the breastplate. Occurs rarely.
- breastplate — Accurately measures the pulse, as it is located at a close distance from the heart.
- Clip on ear — a high-precision device that responds to changes in the light transmission of the earlobe (depends on the pulse). Has received wide distribution.
Wireless — exists in several varieties (the same options as in the wired one, with the exception of the “finger-mounted” mount). Advantages: provides the highest accuracy of pulse measurement and does not hinder the movement of the athlete. The disadvantage is that it is more expensive than wired.
Scan mode – the treadmill computer display constantly displays information related to the workout (heart rate, calories burned, distance traveled, average speed).
Evaluation of indicators
Fitness assessment — allows you to assess the speed of recovery of the body. Such a program exists only for simulators with heart rate sensors.
Body Fat — allows you to evaluate the content of adipose tissue (in percent) in the body of an athlete. Does not have high accuracy.
Ultimate load — notifies the athlete about exceeding the maximum possible load by means of a light or sound signal.
Maximum user weight
This indicator expresses the maximum allowable weight of the athlete, at which the use of the treadmill will be safe. As a rule, simulators are designed for people weighing up to 150-160 kg. If the athlete’s weight exceeds this figure, then it is recommended to choose only professional models.
PC connection — allows you to transfer information about the results of classes to a PC or from a computer to install training programs on the simulator. This feature is provided in expensive professional models.
Connection to a cardiograph. A cardiograph is a device that monitors the work of the heart. Connecting treadmills to this device is especially important for training athletes or for rehabilitation training.
Vibro massager — a device that warms up the muscles before classes and relieves fatigue after them. There are only a few models of treadmills with a vibrating massager.
shock absorber system — allow you to reduce the load on the ligaments and joints, as well as soften the blows. This feature is found on most electric treadmills.
Castors/rollers — allow you to easily move the simulator from place to place.
Adjustable feet — you can adjust the position of the simulator relative to the floor.
Also, treadmills can be equipped with a stand for a glass (bottle), a book stand, a fan, push-ups, etc.
The budget segment of treadmills includes products of Russian, Ukrainian and Chinese brands Eurofit, EnergyFIT, Jada Fitness, USA Style. Exercise equipment from these manufacturers may have the following disadvantages: not the best assembly (backlash, creaking parts), not stable and not ergonomic design, increased noise level. To satisfy the needs of a novice runner, perhaps such models are enough. However, you should not count on high reliability of the simulator. You should also avoid buying products from so-called werewolf brands, such as Torneo. Thanks to advertising, these simulators are reputed to be among the most popular on the market, but this is not the case. It is enough to read user reviews: treadmills break down very often.
When choosing a simulator, you should pay attention to the well-known and time-tested brands AeroFIT, BH Fitness, Cybex, HouseFit, Kettler, LifeGear, NordicTrack, Precor, Sports Art, Star Trac. These treadmills are recommended by professional athletes. Some manufacturers produce equipment exclusively for fitness centers and gyms, but you can find models for home use in the middle price segment. You should not save on the simulator, because such a purchase is not made so often. A high-quality and reliable track will last a long time under any load, it will work quietly, but efficiently.