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How To Run On A Treadmill Correctly

How To Run On A Treadmill

There’s a reason why, despite the introduction of all sorts of cardio machines, the treadmill remains the biggest selling and most popular piece of cardio equipment in the world. It’s because running is the most natural, effective and simple way to get fit and lose weight. And the treadmill is the most effective way to run in bad weather and at any time of day – but only if you do it with proper form. In this article, I’ll show you how to run on a treadmill the right way.

Why choose a treadmill for your training session over running outdoors.

Why Run On A Treadmill


Running on a treadmill is the most effective cardio choice you can make in the gym. Unlike the elliptical and the stair stepper, which reduce your overall workload, the treadmill doesn’t water down the running experience. Running on a treadmill provides you with a flat surface that features shock resistant technology to reduce the impact on your ankles and knees.

All-Weather Exercise

Treadmill runs can be done in all sorts of weather and at any time of the day or night. Many treadmills will also feature inbuilt running courses from all over the world. This allows you to complete a virtual marathon in Rome or wind your way through the trails of Yosemite National Park. Find out how long it takes to walk 3 miles.

Tracking And Monitoring

When you are treadmill running, you are able to get immediate feedback on your running form, pace and calorie burn. If your treadmill is in front of a mirror, you will also be able to check how upright you are and what your running gait looks like; something you can’t do with outdoor running. ‘ Wondering which one is best for you: Air Walker Vs Elliptical Vs Treadmill? Click to find out.

Getting Set Up

Proper treadmill running form starts with the set up.

Getting Set Up
  1. Make sure that your shoelaces are tied, then start by straddling the treadmill with your feet on the sides of the running belt. Never have your feet on the running belt before you start.
  2. Now take hold of the treadmill safety clip and attach it to your collar or belt. Then press the start button. As the belt begins to move, step onto it and begin to walk as you hold the side or front handle bars. Walk naturally with an even toe to heel stride, and let go of the side rails and handle bars once you are comfortably moving. Make sure you look straight ahead.
  3. Do a proper warm up, with a few minutes at a slow steady pace before you step it up to a treadmill run.
  4. Begin to increase the speed in gradual increments, starting with walking pace. However, as you do so, wait to feel the speed increase before going up to the next level. Be sure to keep your feet and your body to the front of the treadmill to maintain proper running form.

Do not hold the speed button down as it will produce a rapid speed increase that could be dangerous.

If you have your own treadmill, click here to check how to clean it properly.

The Right Footwear

The first point to make here is that you should never run on a treadmill in bare feet. The slick surface of the running belt makes it quite likely that you will slip if you start sweating and that sweat drips down to the running belt. Neither should you do your treadmill runs in socks only.

If you are a casual as opposed to a dedicated runner (recreational rather than marathon training), then you will probably be running at a max speed of about 8 miles per hour. In this case, you really don’t need any special running shoes for your treadmill workout. Your everyday runners will probably do the job fine.

If you are a person who runs outside as well as on the treadmill, you do not need a separate pair of shoes for your treadmill sessions. However, if you are going to buy a pair of running shoes for your treadmill training, look out for extra cushioning in the heel, as well as flexibility. The shoe, though, should not bend in the arch.

Don’t forget to check out our best treadmill mats for reducing noise!

Top Tips For Treadmill Running Form

How to run properly with good form.

Top Tips For Treadmill Running Form


For proper running form, do not hold onto the side rails or handle bars when you are walking or running on the treadmill. This will allow you to maintain a natural, upright posture without having to lean forward. You should also walk towards the front of the running belt. The further back you are, the more hunched over you will be. To make sure that you are not drifting back, never stop moving when the running belt is going.

Keep your upper body upright, avoiding the tendency to look down or lean forward when you are treadmill running. This will compromise your posture while also negatively affecting your balance. Neither should you slouch as you are walking. Simply walk naturally with your shoulders back, lower back in a neutral position and your chest out and up.


Good running form will see your arms moving naturally when you are on the treadmill. Pump them alongside your body if you are power walking and allow them to go up and down naturally if you are running. However, you should avoid exaggerated arm movements while on the treadmill as this may throw you off balance. Avoid the temptation to multi-task by doing an arm workout while you’re getting in your treadmill cardio.

Feet And Toes

Whether you are walking or running on the treadmill, your point of foot impact should be the heel. You then naturally roll through the foot to push off from the toe. This is a natural process which you have been doing all your life – it should be no different on the treadmill!

Avoid the tendency to increase your stride length as you speed up your treadmill running pace.


You should position yourself in the center of the running belt. Get focused on running in a straight line, being aware of a tendency to drift to either side and correcting as necessary. Position yourself at the front of the treadmill where you can easily see the readouts on the monitor while maintaining an upright posture. If you find yourself drifting back on the running belt, correct so that you are again at the front of the machine.

Safety On The Treadmill

Safety On The Treadmill

Keep moving: When the treadmill belt is moving do not stop either walking or running. If you do, you will move to the back of the running belt, which will compromise your stance and running gait.

Pay attention: Do not allow yourself to get distracted while you are on the treadmill. This can be a dangerous machine if you lose your balance or muck up your running gait. Losing focus is how those things happen.

Appropriate incline: Do not set the treadmill on an incline that forces you to the back of the treadmill. This will make you hunch over as you are exercising, which may cause lower back pain. Either reduce the incline or slow the speed down to allow for a better posture.

Right attire: In addition to ensuring that your shoes are properly laced up, you should be wearing clothes that wont get caught up in the machine. That means no loose fitting clothes. On the other hand, you don’t want your clothes to be too tight as this may restrict your blood flow.

Activities On The Treadmill

If you don’t want to do the same workout each time, see below to help you switch up your training plan.

Interval Running

Interval running on a treadmill is an extremely effective way to burn calories, improve aerobic fitness and lose weight. Interval running involves interspersing fast and slow bouts of running. There are many interval running protocols out there but one of the best for fat loss is high intensity interval training (HIIT). With HIIT you do short sprints followed by even shorter rest periods.

Here is what a HIIT interval session treadmill running looks like:

  • Run for 2 minutes at a warm up pace
  • Sprint for 30 seconds
  • Jog for 10 seconds
  • Repeat anther 7 times
  • Do a 2 minute warm down at a slow pace

If you are looking for other types of fitness equipment, check out our reviews of the Best Elliptical Bike Combos to pick the best kit for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

A beginner should run on a treadmill with a slow cautious speed. Hold onto the hand rails until you are completely comfortable. Running on a treadmill takes some getting used to so you need to go slow and only run unaided when your form feels comfortable and you are confident to let go.

The speed you run on a treadmill depends on what your running goal and level of experience is. For fat loss your average speed should be 6-8 miles per hour, going up to 10 miles per hour when you are doing HIIT sprints. Waking speeds should be between 3 and 6 miles per hour.

Yes, anyone can learn to run on a treadmill. However, running on a treadmill is different from outdoor runs on the road so new runners in particular need to take it slowly and cautiously. Follow the running tips in this article to become a confident treadmill runner – and start working on your running goals.

Yes, you can train on a treadmill every day. Running on a treadmill is a great cardiovascular workout that improves your heart and lung health while also burning calories. Giving your body 24 hours to recover between your treadmill workouts is usually sufficient for maximum benefit – and let you build up more energy for the next one!

If your goal is to lose weight, the amount of time you should run on a treadmill to see results depends on your daily caloric balance. If you are running at 5 miles per hour, you will burn around 400 calories in an hour. So long as you are maintaining a daily caloric deficit through your food intake, you will lose about a pound of fat per week.


Treadmill running is one of the best things you can do to get in top shape and transform your body. After digesting the tips and guidelines in this article, you now know how to run a treadmill the right way. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with walking and running on a treadmill, try the HIIT interval training workout described above to take your calorie burn to the next level.