Many people consider the treadmill a boring machine, necessary only in bad weather or when time is limited. I think that this idea can be easily changed once you start training on a truly challenging treadmill. A treadmill becomes useful and interesting when it brings you closer to your goals.
From my point of view the preset workouts are very important when selecting a treadmill. They are the key to overcome the monotony many runners complaint about, and also the solution to reach your fitness targets without a personal trainer. Unfortunately even if there is a large variety of cardio equipment to choose from on the market, only some brands succeed to offer it all in one machine.
This article lists five best treadmills ranked by the preset workouts included in their consoles. The top is based on my experience with 19 different treadmill brands which I’ve had the opportunity to test and review for RunReviews.com.
My most impressive experience took place on the Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Inspire 7’’. This model includes 34 challenging preset workouts. What I find to be the most attractive options are:
- The Military Fitness tests (includes the Gerkin Protocol, the Physical Efficiency Battery test, the Army Physical Fitness test, the Navy Fitness Readiness test, the Air Force Physical Readiness test, and the Marines Physical Fitness test).
- The Fitness Tests built to measure the improvements of endurance every four to six weeks (very useful for advanced training). - The Around the World workout, an interval exercise with hills that recreates sceneries from different parts of the world.
- The Extreme Heart Rate workout dedicated to experienced runners. It is designed to increase and decrease your heart rate as fast as possible.
If you are a beginner you will also like the Virtual Trainer. The virtual trainer’s voice offers you details about the workout steps, updates you on your progress and encourages you on the way to the finish. What makes this treadmill one of the best options is that it allows each user to insert your personal weight (for accurate count of burned calories), age (for heart rate workouts to select the appropriate target heart rate) and sex (for proper fitness testing).
Another great option is the Landice L9 with the Executive Trainer Console. This console comes with all the tools required to follow a training program efficiently. The Executive Trainer console allows up to 5 users to save their personal information (age, gender, weight) and stores progress reports for the last 8 weeks, for each user. This is why you can efficiently follow a training program. Two of the preset options I especially like are:
- The Fitness tests (Balke VO2 Max test, Firefighter Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force test).
- The Race Mode workouts which place you against virtual competitors (5k and 10k are the most interesting exercises).
In this top it’s important to list the Pacemaster Gold Elite treadmill which also includes a considerable variation of preset treadmill workouts. For each workout users can select an intensity level, from 1 to 9, depending on each person fitness level. This model also allows inserting personal details about age and weight in the user profile. The most interesting programs you can try are:
- Four Fat Burn programs.
- The Fitness Evaluator workouts (it calculates the max VO2).
- The Personal Trainer workouts, fit to prepare you for Hill Intervals, Speed Intervals or Mixed Intervals
- The Virtual Reality programs that load a preset scenery in the workout (my favorite is the Appalachian Trail). During the exercise speed and intensity change automatically depending on the obstacles you run into (hills, mountains, valleys).
Another treadmill which offers a similar exquisite experience is Precor 966i. This model includes 29 preset workouts designed for beginners, intermediates and advanced athletes. The most attractive options are:
- The Military Fitness tests
- A cross country workout, simulating outside running
- Weight Loss workouts based on Target Heart Rate control.
This treadmill’s efficiency is increased by the -3 decline system which helps when simulating downhill running.
To have a complete list it’s important to mention also the Bodyguard T240C treadmill which includes 21 preset workouts. It’s a must to mention:
- The City Race and Cardiovascular Programs. Both can be done at 5 different intensity levels (5 is the hardest).
- The Runner Intervals Programs dedicated for advanced runners. With this program runners can set from the beginning the distance and pace they want to reach. This is very useful when preparing for a race.
All these treadmills have in common some specific features that make the preset workouts included valuable:
- All are robust treadmills, fit to take any type of challenge and stress.
- All consoles keep count of user specific information to offer feedback after the workout.
- All consoles have a report system installed so that users can overview progress made during last workouts. Usually up to 5 people can create their own profile and store their workouts results in the console. These details help with keeping the motivation up, but they are also useful to follow a training program all the way.
These models have in common another detail. All five treadmills have a price over $3000. Their value is justified by the price, but still not many can afford this money. The good news is that these brands can be found in gyms also, and most of the time manufacturers repeat the workouts on all their successful models.