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Motorized Folding Treadmills, How to Choose, What to Buy, Workouts

Updated on November 19, 2016
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John uses his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop and test reliable 'how to' guides and reviews about technology, equipment, apps

There are two basic varieties of folding home treadmills for you to consider : motorized and manual.

The motorized version provides a better workout because it sets the pace. You can also vary the load by tilting the treadmill.

Folding treadmills are the best option for those with limited space or those who cannot set up a home gym in a spare bedroom. Some of the advantages of a motorized treadmill are:

  • The belt is driven by the motor, and you don't have to struggle to get it going and up to speed.
  • On the more advanced treadmills, you can change the incline and speed, or at least the speed, while you are still running or walking. The computer system may do this for you, without having to stop. On others, you may have to stop walking, step off and adjust the incline/speed manually. Generally you will just have to turn on the treadmill on again to run it using the new settings.
  • With a manual treadmill, your pace is set by how far you push yourself against the magnetic or other resistance, and it is much harder to maintain a set and steady work load. If you slow down, the treadmill slows down. With a Motorized Treadmill the speed is controlled and hell steady. The speed is adjustable and most folding motorized treadmills have systems containing workout programs that are built into mini-computers. These systems can be set to adjust the speed for warm-up, interval sessions and warm-down so you can get a varied workout. This provides a much better and more controlled workout.
  • The controlled moving belt speeds motivates you to keep up and so get the exercise you need.

Features to Look for When Choosing a Model to Buy

Home treadmills offer a way to keep fit in your own home.
Home treadmills offer a way to keep fit in your own home. | Source

Motorized treadmills for home-use can three to four times as expensive a manual treadmills but the extra cost is well worthwhile. There are cheap motorized treadmills (less than $1,000) that have very basic features. Others have very sophisticated electronics and computer systems and can cost up to $5,000. The best bet is to aim for a solid and sturdy, moderately priced model, that has favorable reviews and a good set of features. New models will cost around $1,200. You can opt for a second hand one or the more expensive models, but you need to make sure it is working perfectly - once again read the reviews and check out the age and warranty. The cheaper models have underpowered motors, and are generally less sturdy, have fewer options for adjustments and inadequate systems for programmed workouts and monitoring and recording your sessions.

Hunt for Bargains

The biggest compromise when choosing a treadmill to buy is cost. Look for bargains. Many people sell their virtually-unused treadmills as their resolutions wear off or they upgrade to models with more sophisticated features. How do you justify the expense? Getting a home treadmill may save heaps on gym fees and the yuck factor of using public equipment. Studies have shown that most people stick with a treadmill for training much better than with other fitness equipment because walking, jogging and running is so natural and you can do it day and night, during any weather or season. So you are more likely to keep to your program and stick with using the treadmill - so it won't be a waste of money.

How much should you Pay?

As for most things 'you gets what you pay for'. If you have no experience with treadmills it may be worthwhile going to the gym or the local equipment seller and trying out various models to see what you like. If you are more experienced you will know what features you want and it is a matter of looking at the specifications and reviews to narrow down you search and choice options. For new folding motorized treadmills the prices you can expect to pay are:

  • budget models ($500 to $1,200)
  • moderate range ($1,200 to $3,000)
  • high quality with sophisticated programming features ($3,000 plus).

What Features to Look for When Choosing a Motorized Treadmill?

Below are some the criteria to check on the specifications and reviews for the various models:

Treadmill Motor and Power Ratings (Horsepower)

The motor is important as it has to work hard and cope with a lot of variations during workout sessions. The motor's horsepower (HP) rating in the specifications can be somewhat confusing and misleading. Examine the specifications very carefully and locate details for the "continuous duty rating" figure. This specifies what the motor will provide in response to a continuous load. You should look for a rating of 1.5 - 2.5 Horse Power "continuous duty." The "peak duty" rating is important for interval training and surges but is less important. The "treadmill duty" rating generally lies between peaks and continuous load. If you can get on a machine you are considering buying and really give the motor a work out - if it smokes or complains - you need a more powerful model! Look for a model with the longest and most comprehensive warranty for the motor and try for a minimum of 12 months. Motor failures are the most common problem for new and used treadmills. DC (direct current) motors are quieter than AC ones , but they may be more expensive.

Treadmill Stability, Sturdiness and Smooth Ride

Do a test run on various treadmills that are on your short-list wearing your workout clothes and shoes. Trying machines in your street clothes is useless. Performance response may vary with your weight style and how fast you want to go. Any shakiness or jerkiness in the ride is a warning sign that you need to step-up to the next model. Make sure the hand rails feel sturdy when supporting you and are in just the right position to grip easily and not interfere with your arm movements when walking, jogging and running. Make sure the belt is wide enough for your stride and allows the lateral movements that you need to make. Choose a solid, sturdy and well made machine of good quality that provides a study and smooth ride. The machine must fit your weight and fitness level now, as well as your future weight, fitness and capability. Don't assume that it will be OK when you have lost weight!

Stride Distance

Another important consideration when you are choosing a folding motorised treadmill is how much room there is for running on the belt. This may mean a compromise caused by the portability of the machine. If you are taller side and have a longer stride, or you want to really stretch out when running fast you may need a treadmill with a longer belt surface.Once again test it out fully in your running gear.

Treadmill Workout Features

Inability to adjust the machine for treadmill workouts and variety can kill enthusiasm and motivation. Choose a treadmill model and style that has the most sophisticated preset range of setting and programmable workouts that you can afford. This includes the ability to vary pace and incline according times and distances traveled. Both the inclination angle and pace should be easily controllable from the console. A heart-rate pulse monitor is also worthwhile. A good system for recording the details of your workout is also very worthwhile.

Noise and Space

Make sure your treadmill choice is suitable for the space and place you want to use it. Check out how noisy it is, and whether there are quieter options? If you want to listen to music or watch TV, etc., make sure the noise of the treadmill does not drown these entertainments out. Also thoroughly check the size of the treadmill when folded and make sure it will fit into the storage space you want to use for it.

Check out the Reviews and Specifications

Always make sure you compare all the specification and reviews for the models you are considering buying.

Accessories and Add-Ons

Check out what accessories and add-ons are available even if you don't want to invest in them straight away. A book rack, magazine holder, or water bottle holder-device are considered essential items for many people. Some models can allow you to plug into a video or audio player or even to the Internet while you are working out. Make sure that these options are available and suits you equipment - including the plugs and connections.

© janderson99-HubPages

Workout Program Ideas

Below are a weekly Program and a 12-Week Plan to try.

Weekly Treadmill Program

Monday - Total for 50 minutes
Power walk for about 30 minutes
Strength-train for at least 20 minutes
Tuesday - Total for 45 minutes
Warm up for 2 minutes, Walk at an easy pace, then more briskly for 3 minutes
Power walk for 2 minutes
Run fast (but not sprinting) for 2 minutes
Repeat slow and fast pace intervals - 10 times (interval training)
Cool down for Walk easily for 2 minutes
Wednesday - Total for 40 minutes
Warm Up for 2 minutes, Walk easily for 5 minutes
Strength-training repeats for 12 reps (your favourite)
Power walk at 4% to 6% incline for 3 minutes
Repeat slow and fast pace intervals - 6 times
Cool down for Walk easily for 5 minutes
Thursday - Total for 30 minutes
Warm Up for 2 minutes, then Walk easily for 5 minutes, then briskly for 3 minutes
Power walk for 2 minutes
Run fast (but not sprinting) for 2 minutes
Repeat slow and fast pace intervals - 6 times
Cool down for Walk easily for 3 minutes
Friday - Total for 50 minutes
Power walk for 30 minutes
Strength-train for 20 minutes
Saturday - Total for 45 minutes
Warm Up for 2 minutes, Walk easily for 3 minutes and then at moderate pace for about 5-6 minutes
Power walk for about 2-4 minutes
Run fast (but not at a sprint pace) for 4 minutes
Repeat slow and fast paced intervals about 6 times
Cool Down by Walking at a slow pace for about 4 minutes

12-Week Treadmill Program

Weeks 1 - 4
Weeks 5 - 8
Weeks 9 - 12
Cardio Walk
Cardio Walk
Cardio Walk
Strength Moves
Strength Moves
Speed Intervals
Speed Intervals
Speed Intervals
Cardio Walk
Cardio Walk
Cardio Walk
Incline Intervals
Incline Intervals
Incline Intervals
Cardio Walk
Cardio Walk
Strength Moves
Strength Moves
Power Mix
Power Mix
Power Mix
Cardio Walk

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© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


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