Fitness Tips

8 Most Common Treadmill Mistakes Beginners Make

Treadmill exercises have always been the go-to for everyone who’s into exercising at a gym or at home. Treadmills are dynamic machines you can incorporate to a variety of workout routines.

But it’s not just about putting one foot in front of the other when it comes to exercising on a treadmill! Most beginners, and even treadmill training veterans, are guilty of committing the most simple mistakes when running on a treadmill and it’s not surprising.

What’s important is learning how to address these common treadmill mistakes we make and improve our technique to benefit from our workouts without wasting time and effort.

8 Most Common Mistakes Beginners Make When Buying a Treadmill

To get you started on getting the most out of your indoor running workout, check out the list I’ve made of the TOP 8 TREADMILL MISTAKES beginners often make that hinder optimal performance:

Buying the WRONG Treadmill

treadmill mistake one picking the right treadmill

 

Many beginners often overlook this and don’t even realize they’ve made such a costly mistake until it’s too late!

You’ve either bought a treadmill that is:

  • Not the right size – either too compact or too big of a treadmill that won’t fit in your basement or apartment with low ceilings. You need to buy either a low profile treadmill or a treadmill that is designed for apartment use if you want it to fit in a place with low ceiling height or in an apartment home gym.
  • You Cheaped out – one that’s most cost-efficient without a lot of tech-y tweaks from your favorite sporting goods store only to find out it won’t suit your exercise routine or fitness lifestyle. Don’t buy a cheap treadmill.
  • Super Expensive – yeah, this can be okay and could be the right way to go if you plan on sticking with using it for along period of time.. but as a beginner, shoot to get one that gives you the most bang for your buck.

Before you make an investment on your new beginner treadmill, ask yourself a few questions:

Are you trying to improve your running or just looking to increase physical activity with a walking program?

Do you want features such as a heart rate monitor, several pre-made workouts you can choose from with one click of a button, or the option to connect your treadmill to apps to keep track of your website? Do you want your treadmill to have a screen or do you prefer one without?

Do you want your treadmill to have both an incline and decline feature?

Can your budget allow you to buy and maintain a treadmill?

How much space do you have at home for your treadmill? Are you putting it in a basement with low ceilings or somewhere that is tight and compact? Do you need a fold flat under bed treadmill that will fit under a bed?

If you’re focused on running, you’re better off investing on a motorized treadmill with higher continuous horsepower that’s built for longer training sessions and higher speeds. But on the contrary if you are a senior and more interested in only walking then a treadmill designed for seniors will be your best option.

On a similar note, if you’re on the heavier side and are trying to lose weight, you’ll benefit more from same type of treadmill as those ideal for runners because they’re built to be heavy duty (no pun intended). Or if you have bad knees, you are going to want a treadmill for bad knees one that is designed with cushioned deck.

If you’re simply trying to incorporate more walking into your exercise and don’t plan to use it for long periods, you can opt to buy a motorized treadmill with not less than 1.5 continuous horsepower or even a self propelled treadmill if you’re on a tight budget.

You ought to be on the lookout as well for treadmills sold at a discount and boast a lot of built-in technology. Most of them do this to hide the fact that they’re not as great as the advertisements make them out to be.

They sensationalize unnecessary features to distract you from one important fact: they’re missing the vital factors of a quality treadmill.

You wouldn’t want to spend so much money on a treadmill looking like Detective Gadget but is barely equipped to help you achieve your training or fitness goals!

Another thing to factor in is the durability of the treadmill you’re planning to buy.

It’s better to get a slightly more expensive professional treadmill that will last you almost a lifetime rather than choose a machine that breaks down after your second workout and would need constant fixing (and that means bye-bye $$$!)

When I decided to go shopping for a treadmill to set up at my home gym, I almost made that mistake. Thankfully, a friend who runs his own fitness center pulled me aside and helped me figure out the best treadmill not only for my goals but also for the space the I was going to put it. I needed a low profile treadmill that would fit in my basement because of the low ceiling height. This is very important to keep in mind when you are looking for your best fit.

Skipping Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises

treadmill running mistakes

I must confess, I am very guilty of this. Back when I started my love affair with the treadmill, I would get on the machine without stretching and start walking. Back when I first got my Zwift treadmill and running in the Zwift program I would go straight to sprinting!

To make matters worse, I’d hop off the treadmill after a long workout and go about my day. I would notice feeling lightheaded after working out but it went away after a while so I thought nothing of it.

Everything was fine for a few more workouts until one day my head felt fuzzy as I was 10 minutes away from getting off the machine and out of the blue, I experienced a sharp pain in one of my calves.

The pain was so bad, I fell off the treadmill groaning and flinching like crazy.  I had muscle cramps! If you’ve never had one, let me tell you, the pain is so unbearable you’re bound to regret being born while you’re cursing the heavens.

I learned an important lesson the hard way. Fortunately, I wasn’t permanently injured because of my carelessness. It’s vital to warm up because our muscles are “asleep” when at rest and our body needs a wake-up call before getting into a proper workout.

A warm-up exercise literally warms your muscles up, loosens them, and increases the elasticity of all connective tissues in your body. This reduces the risk of straining your muscles or cramping up mid-workout.

Equally vital is to make time to cool down after a workout. Cooling down helps your muscles to relax while reducing your heart and breath rates.

Cool down exercises prevent the occurrence of varicose veins and any sudden feeling of dizziness or faintness due to blood pooling in your legs.

Not Letting Your Arms Loose!

We’ve held on to a treadmill’s side rails more often than we’d admit. Sometimes it’s unintentional, other times we’re just really holding on to dear life trying not to slip off the machine.

But grasping the rails prevents you from achieving the maximum benefit of your workout! You’re ruining your posture and stride, you’re not engaging your arm and core muscles, and you’re not burning a lot of calories since you’re taking weight off your legs.

If you’re finding it hard to keep up and it’s forcing you to grasp at your treadmill’s rails, there’s a simple solution: slow down. Doing a treadmill workout isn’t a race. You’re not getting anywhere, literally and figuratively.

Letting go can do us good sometimes and it’s especially true in this case! By letting your arms swing while you’re on the machine, it reduces any risk of neck and shoulder problems you may develop from sitting all day in front of a desk or a TV.

Forgetting to Look Up

treadmill mistake two forgetting to look up when running on the treadmill

A lot of us can get conscious of where our feet land on the belt and we’re inclined to look down on our feet while on the incline.

Even if you have the best treadmill running shoes that look freaking awesome, it doesn’t matter. This bad habit of looking down and hunching our shoulders reinforces bad posture and puts a lot of unhealthy tension in our shoulders and neck.

To benefit from any exercise, it’s imperative to always maintain good form. Proper form such as a good walking posture reduces the possibility of injury, helps increase oxygen flow, and simply aids you to work out smarter.

It’s time to start keeping your head up with your eyes looking forward while on the machine! You can also stretch out your shoulders by rolling them forward and backward a few times while you’re on the treadmill.

Avoiding Any Changes to Routine

treadmill mistake 5 not buying the right treadmill

Doing the same routine every workout day is not only boring, it’s preventing you from improving your health and reaching your peak level of fitness.

Your body has the ability to adapt to any challenge it goes through over time and workouts are no exception.

You’re better off changing routines every few days or alternate your routines to make your body consistently respond to movement.

By changing up speed, intensity, duration, and even the frequency of your exercise, you’re challenging your body each day and preventing any risk of training plateaus.

Overdoing Your Workouts

It’s good to challenge yourself and your body. Pushing past your limits is how you check your capabilities and learn to improve your training. But constantly overtraining and rushing can lead to injuries and fatigue.

This can set you back and undo all that hard work you’ve done. Check if your body is built up to the level of the program you’re trying to embark on. If not, take it easy and learn to gradually increase the intensity, speed, and frequency.

Even experienced runners are discouraged from constantly pushing themselves to intense levels! If you keep at it, you’re in for a while of excessively sore and aching muscles.

Rethink your workout before you jump back on that treadmill!

Not Getting to Know Your Treadmill

Most often, we’re comfortable just knowing how to turn the treadmill on and off. It’s an added bonus when we figure out how to choose the machine’s built-in workouts!

By not taking the time to learn a treadmill’s features, whether it’s the one you use at the gym or the machine you have at home, you’re missing out on making the most out of your workout.

Every person has different fitness goals and needs. Being able to know how to customize your routine or choosing the best mix of programmed workouts on a treadmill can help you achieve your goals and hasten improvement in training.

Having No Plan is the Plan

Winging your workouts on a treadmill won’t cut it. Simply getting on the machine and treading until the timer goes off is not only boring and uninspiring, you’re not pushing your body to reach its optimum level.

Having a plan before you step on that belt will always be more beneficial for you since you’ll always be able to do more with a roadmap in your head.

Without a goal set for each workout, you’re at risk of giving up right before you hit that sweet spot when exercising.

Committing to a plan is one of the many ways you can challenge yourself and push further to reach your goals. Make the work in workout happen with a solid plan!

Keep Yourself Motivated

This is something that I see too often… As a beginner to working out, especially on the treadmill you have to find a way to keep yourself motivated. Running and walking on the treadmill can be extremely exhausting and is something that requires motivation. Get yourself an inspiring motivational water bottle so that every time you take a drink you know it is time to stay focused and not lose sight of your workout goals for the day. Or throw in some headphones with some motivating music. Whatever is may be, keep yourself inspired and motivated.

Avoiding These Treadmill Mistakes Is Easy

The treadmill is one of the most popular exercise machines we use for our cardio and we shouldn’t take it for granted nor underestimate it. It’s not simply walking or running on the belt of a motorized machine.

While using the machine is as simple and approachable as counting 1 to 3, it’s essential to keep in mind how not to develop bad habits when hopping on a treadmill.

Learning the most common mistakes we make when working out on a treadmill is just as important as knowing the basics of a good treadmill routine.

I’ve always improved much faster and more effectively when I actively learn from my errors. My younger self would be proud of me knowing I strive to do my treadmill workouts properly today!

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Ben Mayz

Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now. My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future. I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics. My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics. Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward. You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page

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