If you have never included an exercise routine in your regular schedule then what should you focus on and when will you see results? There are three basic keys to succeeding that will get you off to a good start. Focus on these keys for the first sixty days and your success is virtually guaranteed!
The first key is consistency. Our bodies have a propensity to stay the way they are. This is referred to as homeostasis. Your body will only adapt and change if the stress to which it is adapting is more than just a short-term thing. Your body must recognize that the stress, exercise in this case, is going to go on for the long haul. Only then will it adjust to the stress of exercise and do things like improve cardiopulmonary performance, drop body fat and strengthen muscles and connective tissue. The amount of time it takes for your body to get with the new program is between thirty and sixty days. However, each time you skip a workout during that critical time period you reset the clock and start over. Skip your workouts and your body does not recognize the demand as ongoing. Many people suffer this mistake and not seeing results get discouraged and quit. Stick to your three day per week schedule and you will reap the reward of rapid, dramatic change for the good sometime within that thirty to sixty day window.
Key number two is intensity. Your body will adapt only if the stress is greater than what it can already comfortably handle. If you don’t work hard enough your body won’t change. On the other hand, if you work too hard you can exceed your body’s ability to repair damage or injure yourself. So how do you measure intensity? For aerobic exercise the most clear and objective way is to monitor your heart rate while you exercise and know and observe the rules for heart rate training zones. Make sure you are in the proper zone for your personal health, fitness level and goals.
The final key is duration. How long does each session need to be in order to get benefits? Let’s back up. Focus on consistency and intensity first and don’t worry too much about duration. You want to look forward to your exercise sessions and this is hard to do if they feel tedious and draining. Don’t wipe yourself out. Decide before you start exactly how long you will exercise and stick to that time. Make it short enough so that you walk away knowing you could have done more. This will actually make you look forward to getting back after it next time. So start with a comfortable time. There is nothing wrong with just five minute session for the first week. Build on your time according to how you feel. You are initially shooting for a session that includes a three to five minute warmup, twenty minutes in your heart rate training zone and a five minute cool down. Longer is fine if you want to but keep in mind that the point of diminishing returns is considered to be 45 minutes in-zone. Of course people participating in various sports activities and advanced exercisers will use different protocols. Over time you may want to try interval training or tabata.
But you are just starting. And the keys to your success are consistency, intensity and duration. Use these keys and you will unlock the potential you have to create the body you want. Have you ever noticed that most infomercials for exercise products guarantee results in 60 days? Of course that is if you follow the plan they give you which lays out consistency, intensity and duration (along with diet guidelines). That midnight infomercial may tell you the magic is in their new machine, but success actually comes from these three keys.
Sometimes even low-end equipment manufacturers advertise their products as “health club” or “commercial quality equipment for your home”. This can be misleading if not outright deceptive because few of the companies saying this will warranty the machines they are talking about for commercial use. There are three different classes of fitness equipment in the industry; health club (also called full commercial), institutional (also called light commercial) and residential or home . Warranty coverage is the defining factor.
Full commercial or health club equipment is warrantied for use in a facility where the users pay dues to use the equipment, membership is open to the public and providing a place to exercise is the primary focus of the business. There are no maximum hours-per-day usage limits.
Institutional or light commercial equipment covers equipment purchased by any other business user. These are places like hotels, apartment complexes, corporate fitness centers, schools, police and fire departments and medical rehabilitation centers. The warranty usually says something like “non dues paying facilities only”. Sometimes they add an hours-per-day limitation. A treadmill may be covered in facilities using them up to three hours per day for instance or six hours per day. It’s fine to put a health club piece in an institutional application but not vice-versa. If you did so it would have zero warranty coverage.
Residential equipment is warrantied for in-home use only. There is nothing wrong with purchasing commercial equipment for your home. Sometimes it is even advisable. For instance, when a treadmill will be used by multiple persons in the home and they are serious runners or larger people. Commercial equipment is designed for heavier demands so the components are higher quality and stronger than those of equipment designed strictly for in-home use. Many times a warranty for commercial equipment will have longer coverage terms for in-home use. There can be delivery and installations issues however. Commercial equipment is designed for delivery to businesses with large doorways and easier access than a home. There can also be different power requirements. These are things to discuss with your sales person.
If you see something being touted as commercial quality for your home, check the warranty. If the warranty says in-home use only, then consider what else that manufacturer may be misleading you about.
If you want to get the longest service life out of your treadmill you need to know two things. First, make sure you perform any required deck lubrication on schedule. The running belt slides across the deck underneath. The bottom of the belt has a backing that is typically polyester. There is a lubricant carried in that polyester backing. As the lubricant dries up and dissipates it needs to be reapplied. If this is neglected and the backing dries out there is more friction. This makes the current draw go up which in turn makes the electrical components run hotter. The belt backing will also wear out much faster if it runs while dry. Circuit boards can burn out from the overheating and that can be a costly repair. Not to mention you will be without the use of your treadmill while you wait for the part.
If the circuit breaker on your treadmill or on your electric service panel starts tripping while you are using the treadmill, the high amp draw causing the breaker to trip is usually being caused by lack of lubrication or a worn out belt backing. The procedure for lubrication is covered in your owner’s manual (which I’m sure you’ve read, right?). It is usually performed based on hours of operation. Sometimes there is a prompt that shows up on the control panel telling you to perform lubrication.
The other thing you should know is also related to current draw. While not always required, it is recommended that any treadmill be plugged in to a dedicated, 20 amp, grounded circuit. Other electric devices on the same circuit will compete with your treadmill for power. They can also disrupt the voltage coming in to your treadmill. Since the power requirements change with each foot plant and push off, if the incoming power is not smooth it can stress the power regulation components and once again you could end up with overheating and a failed circuit board.
In summary, for the longest life and best performance of your treadmill, put it on a dedicated, 20 amp grounded circuit, lubricate the deck on schedule and also, by the way, keep it clean.