How to Use A Treadmill? – Guide for a Beginner Treadmill Workout

For a lot of us, treadmill running invokes memories of love-hate relationship. The love comes from the fact that it can be a great exercise tool that has effective benefits for all seasons like burning calories and reducing body fat. You would, at the same time, hate it too, as doing the same workout can get extremely monotonous and you do not extract much fun by running on a treadmill indoors for prolonged durations, every day or most days of the week. For this reason, it also has a moniker – ‘the dreadmill’. It is during these tough times that you need to remind yourself of the ultimate goal you are after and you only have one buddy to help you with it.

In order to use a treadmill safely and effectively, it is useful to start walking slowly and not to rely on the handrails.

Treadmill runners should get familiar with treadmills, wear proper footwear, maintain good posture. Stretching exercises before, and looking straight while running helps maintaining balance.

These exercise machines amazingly simulate walking or running when outdoors, giving you a motorized option of walking, running, or doing interval training. They also help improve your cardiovascular health and lose weight, whilst you walk away on the revolving belt in a cyclical fashion or do high intensity intervals. These days, most treadmills come with standard digital features and consoles that allow its user to adjust the speed and incline setting to match the specific fitness goals that you might have. If you are unsure about them, it is best if you talk to a certified personal trainer and you may also wish to check out some workout videos. Having said that, it is imperative that you know how to properly use this equipment for your treadmill workouts to avoid injury.

The execution is pretty simple. You just need to synchronize your body movement with the moving belt that you are walking or running on. These machines are meant to burn calories in the same amount as you would expect whilst walking or running in a garden or park, except for the incline uphill feature. Uphill running or walking is relatively easier on a treadmill than in a real life situation and on the same grade of terrain.

Modern day treadmills are more technologically advanced with shock absorbing and springier features. Some other functions include internet and Bluetooth connectivity so you can virtually enjoy a walk or a run with people from all over the globe in different terrains and ‘outdoor conditions’. They also come with added personal trainer programs (over a hundred or so) to suit your style of exercise plan or heart rate monitors to check your heart rate.

Whenever you use a treadmill, you need to consider certain aspects for optimum performance, longer usage and staying safer at all times. Let us look at them in detail.

how to use a treadmill

Slow Start

When you turn on the treadmill, always ensure that your feet are placed on either side of the belt (and not on it). The next step should be stepping on the belt when you are certain that it is moving at a safe and slow pace (generally 1 or 2 miles per hour) and with a zero or slight incline. All the newer versions of treadmills offer safety features that do not let you start off at higher speeds for safety reasons; however, you shouldn’t rely on them and always take necessary precautions during the start up, and increase your speed gradually. One such precaution includes attaching the safety kill switch that can be attached comfortably to a part of your clothing (if there is one) before you press the “Start” button.

No Reliance On Handrails

As a new user (or when you are resuming work out on a treadmill after a long time), you can hold onto the handrails for good balance. As soon as you regain balance and are comfortable walking on your own, you should stop using the handrails. You get more traction and benefit and get a more natural rhythm when you swing your arms freely whilst you walk or run on a treadmill. The handrail holding position (holding on to the front rails and slightly leaning back) is often referred to as the water-skier position. This position makes you work more aggressively and is more stressful for your elbow joints particularly when the machine is on an incline position. Moreover, you are not burning enough calories and not the one that is being displayed on the console panel.

On the other hand, if you are unsure of your balance during your treadmill workouts, then make sure to hold the handrails lightly, so you remain steady and secure whilst on the move.

Looking Straight

It is only natural that your feet are followed by your eyes, whether you are walking on a road or a treadmill. Always focus on what is ahead of you, and you can achieve this by generally walking straight ahead rather than stumbling or straying to the side. Moreover, never get distracted when you are on the machine. Do not look around or on the sides to respond to someone who may be calling your name or seeking your attention. This can throw you off balance, make you fall and lead to an injury.

Disoriented At First

Do not be worried or startled if you feel dizzy during the first few times you step down from a treadmill after use. This is your brain and body trying to make sense of the sudden stopping of the belt under your feet. This vertigo like feeling doesn’t last long and may only happen a few times, before you get the hang of running or walking on this machine.

Proper Footwear

A good pair of walking or running shoes that fit your feet comfortably are a pre-requisite for effective treadmill workouts. This also helps keep your feet safe during those high intensity intervals. Comfortable trainers go a long way in providing you an efficient and relaxed treadmill workout. When you invest in a treadmill, also make sure you buy a pair of walking shoes as well (unless you have one available).

how to use treadmill

No Reading When On Treadmill

This is stating the obvious, but a lot of people still do it. Reading whilst walking on a treadmill is fraught with danger, as you are exposed to losing your balance and may fall or stumble off from the side or worse, your back.

Familiarize Yourself with the Exercise Equipment

You need to get used to the treadmill, regardless of whether you are a new user or a pro. The speed and incline adjustments are the basics of any treadmill and you need to know these settings at the back of your hand. If you are ever in doubt, always check with the salesperson, your certified personal trainer or the instructor at the gym, before using the treadmill.


Always perform 5-10 types of dynamic stretches and warm up to loosen up your joints and muscles before getting on the treadmill.

Proper Form and Posture

You should walk or run on a treadmill with your back straight, shoulders flexed out in a broad position and your sight set straight. Your arms and legs should work in a synchronized manner to give you a pace that is sustainable.

Longer Duration

The more you use the treadmill, the better the benefits and the more calories your burn. There is no rocket science in that. 30 minutes of cardio exercise for 5 days a week is good enough to prevent heart related diseases. Anything over 60 minutes will assist you in your weight loss endeavors.


Using a treadmill effectively and efficiently is directly linked to your physical strength and endurance as well as mental attitude. If your mind can control your body and make it use the treadmill properly, you are bound to reap great benefits over a period of time. Running gives you immense gratification and that too in no time, if you start enjoying it. Stamina building and body endurance demand time and effort. These can easily be built and sustained whilst using a treadmill.

The more you run, the better your relationship gets with the treadmill. You stop seeing it as a boring and hideous oversized machine, and more like a great workout and an ally that will help you achieve your health and core strength training. Besides the benefits and results associated with health and fitness, you also see a noticeable difference in your overall health, fitness level, mood, and mental approach.

The various settings are priceless and let you stay on track or even exceed your expectations when you start achieving different goals and targets. The uphill, incline, and hill workouts are great if you are looking to push yourself. You will never achieve this on your own when you are walking or running outdoors.

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