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Why Cheap Treadmills are Not a Bargain!

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The majority of treadmill buyers are individuals who are out of shape, and often overweight. They are looking for a machine that can get them back to their glory days.  Of course, the benefit of owning a treadmill is that you can exercise at your convenience. In addition, you avoid the costs of a health club membership, which can add up over the years.

However, many first time treadmill buyers are looking for a bargain.  In many cases they may not be completely committed to a regular exercise regimen and do not want to invest too much money in a machine that may end up being a costly clothes hangar.  So they end up buying a cheap treadmill that is readily available at various mass merchant retail outlets.   They initially feel good about their purchase, but then come to realize that the machine is not suited to their fitness needs, and that what initially was a bargain can be costly to maintain in the long run.

What do I define as a cheap/bargain treadmill?  Typically it is a machine under $500.  Below is a list of reasons why you should avoid buying a cheap treadmill.

Light Weight – Inexpensive treadmills do not weigh much.  They use light weight components that result in light weight machines.  This means the treadmill tends to be rather unstable, especially if you try to use it for jogging or running, or if you are excessively overweight.  In fact, many of the user weight limits suggested on these machines are wildly over exaggerated. For example, the Exerpertic Fitness Walking Treadmill weighs 100 lbs, and the user weight limit is rated at 350 lbs.  That is absolutely absurd to think a 100 lbs. treadmill can accommodate a user that weighs 3.5 times more than a machine.  I recommend to my readers that if they are going to limit their spending on a treadmill to under $500 they need to weigh less than 200 lbs.

Cheap Components – It makes sense that a cheap treadmill utilizes cheap components.  The parts are not engineered to the exact specifications that you will find on more expensive machines.  To reach bargain price points companies make compromises on the parts. For example, these treadmills have small motors that strain with even moderate use.

Lack of Durability – Obviously, when you use cheap components in a treadmill it is not going to be very durable. The machine cannot take the abuse that more expensive treadmills are capable of.  And inherently treadmills take a lot of abuse.  The constant impact that comes with walking or running takes its toll on a treadmill.  If you have a malfunction the cost to replace the parts and the service can be very expensive.  Your treadmill may be initially cheap, but replacement parts and service will not.

Short Warranty – To gauge how confident the manufacturers are in the durability of their cheap treadmill, you just have to check out the warranties.  You will find that typical coverage is 90 days parts and labor.  After that you are on your own.

Poor Shock Absorption – One of the main advantages of exercising on a treadmill is the reduced impact to your joints in comparison to walking or running on concrete or asphalt.  Unfortunately, you will find that shock absorption is compromised on a bargain treadmill.  And in fact, the design of their shock absorption systems can often be detrimental your joints.

Small Treadbelt – One of the biggest drawbacks to an inexpensive treadmill is the small walking area.  For example, the Exerpertic Fitness Walking Treadmill has a walking surface of only 36” x 16”.  You need to “exercise” caution when exercising or you can easily step off the belt and injure yourself.  In comparison, the Smooth 6.75 has a roomy 20” x 60” running surface.

If you are in the market for a treadmill it is important to evaluate your needs and fitness goals and find a machine that can accommodate both.  You do not want to compromise on the purchase and end up with a treadmill that cannot handle the long haul and will result in a less than satisfactory workout.  For those that solicit my advice on a good walking/jogging treadmill, I typically suggest the Smooth 5.65, which has a 55” x 20” surface, superior shock absorption, an excellent service record, and comes with an industry leading lifetime motor, 5-year parts and 2-year labor warranty. 

Fred Waters has worked in the fitness equipment industry for over 17 years and reviews fitness equipment as a full-time occupation.  At www.Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com you can get his treadmill “Best Buy” recommendations that include the Smooth 5.65.

Why Cheap Treadmills are Not a Bargain!

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The majority of treadmill buyers are individuals who are out of shape, and often overweight. They are looking for a machine that can get them back to their glory days.  Of course, the benefit of owning a treadmill is that you can exercise at your convenience. In addition, you avoid the costs of a health club membership, which can add up over the years.

However, many first time treadmill buyers are looking for a bargain.  In many cases they may not be completely committed to a regular exercise regimen and do not want to invest too much money in a machine that may end up being a costly clothes hangar.  So they end up buying a cheap treadmill that is readily available at various mass merchant retail outlets.   They initially feel good about their purchase, but then come to realize that the machine is not suited to their fitness needs, and that what initially was a bargain can be costly to maintain in the long run.

What do I define as a cheap/bargain treadmill?  Typically it is a machine under $500.  Below is a list of reasons why you should avoid buying a cheap treadmill.

Light Weight – Inexpensive treadmills do not weigh much.  They use light weight components that result in light weight machines.  This means the treadmill tends to be rather unstable, especially if you try to use it for jogging or running, or if you are excessively overweight.  In fact, many of the user weight limits suggested on these machines are wildly over exaggerated. For example, the Exerpertic Fitness Walking Treadmill weighs 100 lbs, and the user weight limit is rated at 350 lbs.  That is absolutely absurd to think a 100 lbs. treadmill can accommodate a user that weighs 3.5 times more than a machine.  I recommend to my readers that if they are going to limit their spending on a treadmill to under $500 they need to weigh less than 200 lbs.

Cheap Components – It makes sense that a cheap treadmill utilizes cheap components.  The parts are not engineered to the exact specifications that you will find on more expensive machines.  To reach bargain price points companies make compromises on the parts. For example, these treadmills have small motors that strain with even moderate use.

Lack of Durability – Obviously, when you use cheap components in a treadmill it is not going to be very durable. The machine cannot take the abuse that more expensive treadmills are capable of.  And inherently treadmills take a lot of abuse.  The constant impact that comes with walking or running takes its toll on a treadmill.  If you have a malfunction the cost to replace the parts and the service can be very expensive.  Your treadmill may be initially cheap, but replacement parts and service will not.

Short Warranty – To gauge how confident the manufacturers are in the durability of their cheap treadmill, you just have to check out the warranties.  You will find that typical coverage is 90 days parts and labor.  After that you are on your own.

Poor Shock Absorption – One of the main advantages of exercising on a treadmill is the reduced impact to your joints in comparison to walking or running on concrete or asphalt.  Unfortunately, you will find that shock absorption is compromised on a bargain treadmill.  And in fact, the design of their shock absorption systems can often be detrimental your joints.

Small Treadbelt – One of the biggest drawbacks to an inexpensive treadmill is the small walking area.  For example, the Exerpertic Fitness Walking Treadmill has a walking surface of only 36” x 16”.  You need to “exercise” caution when exercising or you can easily step off the belt and injure yourself.  In comparison, the Smooth 6.75 has a roomy 20” x 60” running surface.

If you are in the market for a treadmill it is important to evaluate your needs and fitness goals and find a machine that can accommodate both.  You do not want to compromise on the purchase and end up with a treadmill that cannot handle the long haul and will result in a less than satisfactory workout.  For those that solicit my advice on a good walking/jogging treadmill, I typically suggest the Smooth 5.65, which has a 55” x 20” surface, superior shock absorption, an excellent service record, and comes with an industry leading lifetime motor, 5-year parts and 2-year labor warranty. 

Fred Waters has worked in the fitness equipment industry for over 17 years and reviews fitness equipment as a full-time occupation.  At www.Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com you can get his treadmill “Best Buy” recommendations that include the Smooth 5.65.

Have You Broken Your New Year’s Resolution?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

As the first month of 2013 has come and gone, how are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you saved any money, lost any weight, been ferociously sending out resumes? Or is the better question – have you broken your New Year’s Resolutions? (more…)

Your Best Investment: Investing In Your Health

Friday, January 25th, 2013

What if someone told you they have an investment where you can’t lose? What if this person is your most trusted friend in the world that you would trust with your life, would you listen? What if there is overwhelming evidence that backs up your friends claim? Now that your friend has your attention they proceed to tell you that this investment opportunity could cost you nothing, will change your life forever, and will even make you live longer. Your anticipation is growing ready to hear this great investment opportunity, your friend finally tells you…. “Invest in your Health!!” (more…)

The Importance of A Healthy Community

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Have you ever heard the expression “Do as I say, not as I do?” In order for a community to be as healthy as possible, leaders, parents and role models need to set a good example. Different cultures and different areas across the nation have different ideas on what a healthy community is. (more…)

The Advantages of Rear Drive Elliptical Trainers

Monday, December 17th, 2012

You will notice that all of the Smooth elliptical trainers are rear drive.  That is in comparison to front drive machines.  There are certain ergonomic and mechanical advantages to a rear drive machine.  And in fact, the original elliptical trainers were rear drive.  The front drive machines came into play in order to get around certain patents.  And in many cases the front drive machines were a poor substitute of the original concept.

Mechanical Benefits

The major benefit of a rear drive elliptical trainer is that there are fewer moving parts and consequently there tends to be fewer service issues and less maintenance.   With most front drive ellipticals you have pedals that sit on rollers that run along tracks.  There are two problems with this design.  First, with continual use you may have problems with the stability of the pedals.  There are more joints that can potential loosen.  Second, the tracks tend to gather dust and grime and require regular cleaning and lubrication.  In fact, without proper cleaning the rails can get pitted and dirt can accumulate giving a bumpy feeling.

Ergonomic Benefits

Rear drive elliptical trainers do a better job of positioning the user over the mechanics.  One of the biggest complaints with front drive machines is that the user tends to have to lean forward during the elliptical motion.  When you have to lean you are more likely to have heal lift, resulting in numbness in your foot. 

In addition, the rear design offers a superior elliptical stride. You tend to have more inertia with a rear drive machine.  Precor, the originator of the elliptical trainer built their machines with rear drives specifically for this reason.  You get a smooth and natural elliptical motion that makes the user feel like they are running in the air.  With front drive machines the elliptical motion gets distorted and consequently does not mimic the natural motion of the body. 

Stability

You will find in general, and there are some exceptions, rear drive machines tend to be more stable and provide a more solid feel.  That is because they are often longer in length and the weight of the machine is better distributed between the front and the back.  The disadvantage is they tend to take up more space than front drive ellipticals. 

 Of course, this does not mean a cheap rear drive elliptical trainer is going to be superior to a high-end front drive elliptical.  There are a number of factors that come into play in building a superior elliptical trainer including the overall engineering and quality components.  However, when it comes to comparing rear drive to front drive ellipticals at comparable prices, the rear drive machines often hold the advantage.  

About the Author

Fred Waters has made his career helping individuals find fitness equipment that is right for their body and their budget.  You can check out his elliptical reviews at Fitness Equipment Source, where he praises many of the Smooth rear drive elliptical trainers.

Timing Your Cardio Training for Exercise-Induced Weight Control

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

While there is no conclusive evidence that fasted cardio is the best method for maximizing fat loss there is quite a bit of scientific literature that supports the theory that performing cardio exercise prior to breakfast will yield a higher rate of fat oxidation. But is performing cardio in a fasted state the best method for exercise induced weight control?

A substantial portion of energy production during prolonged light or moderate exercise comes from fat oxidation (Gollnick 1985; Romijn et al. 1993). The increased use of lipid fuel induced by such exercise is largely the result of increased fat mobilization from lipid stores and results in an increased extraction of fatty acids from the blood by working muscles (Groop et al.1991).

Fat is also the main oxidative substrate in energy balanced individuals after an overnight fast. However, after a carbohydrate-rich meal (Acheson et al. 1984) glucose becomes the principal oxidative substrate. And there is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that fat oxidation is inhibited during exercise following carbohydrate ingestion.

Research has shown that total fat oxidized in a fasting condition is 23% greater than under pre-fed conditions. An individual will oxidize significantly more fat during exercise when the exercise is performed prior to either a low or high glycemic index meal. Further, the total amount of fat oxidized during exercise AND the 2 hours post training is also significantly greater in the fasted state.[i]

Based on the literature, it would appear that individuals wishing to maximize their efforts for exercise-induced weight control could benefit from cardio exercise if it is performed soon after waking in the morning, before breakfast.

However, one could argue that benefits of performing cardio in a pre-fed condition are insignificant and may be negated by the catabolic effects of exercise in a fasted state.

Performing cardio in a fasted state has been shown to have a catabolic effect on muscle. Studies show that training in a glycogen-depleted state substantially increases the amount of tissue proteins burned for energy during exercise[ii]. Protein losses may exceed 10 percent of the total calories burned over the course of a one-hour cardio session –which is more than double that of training in a pre-fed state[iii]. Since lean muscle mass is the major determinant of metabolism, contributing anywhere from 60% to 80% of BMR (Muller et al., 2009), sacrificing lean tissue would be detrimental to overall BMR and total caloric expenditure.

Additionally, the benefits of fasted cardio may not be as significant as they first appear in the literature. In a 1999 study, trained subjects who exercised at 50 percent of their max heart rate, demonstrated no difference in the amount of fat oxidized–regardless of whether the subjects had eaten. Only after 90 minutes of exercise did fasted subjects begin to yield a favorable result in the amount of fat oxidation. What this means is you would need to exercise for a minimum of 90 minutes to provide an additional fat-burning benefit. [iv]

Based on the evidence, it appears to be true that performing cardio exercise in a fasted state does result in higher rates of fat oxidation. However, in order to improve body composition, spare lean tissue, and maximize total daily caloric expenditure, performing exercise after a meal may be more beneficial.

Train Smart and Good Luck
Vic
www.teamvic.com


[i] A Bennard, Patrick Doucet, Éric..Acute effects of exercise timing and breakfast meal glycemic index on exercise-induced fat oxidation Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism Oct 2006, Vol. 31 Issue 5, p502

 [ii] Blomstrand E, Saltin B.  Effect of muscle glycogen on glucose, lactate and amino acid metabolism during exercise and recovery in human subjects. Journal of Physiology. 514:293-302, 1999

[iii] Lemon PW and Mullin JP. Effect of initial muscle glycogen levels on protein catabolism during exercise. J Appl Physiol 48: 624-629, 1980. 

[iv] Horowitz JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO,and Coyle EF. Substrate metabolism when subjects are fed carbohydrate during exercise. Am J Physiol 276(5 Pt 1): E828-E835, 1999.

 Other References:

Shoenfeld, Brad The Myth Of Cardio Before Breakfast—Debunked! 2011

The Importance of Stretching

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

How many times have you seen someone not stretch before they work out? Maybe you’ve jumped on the treadmill yourself once or twice without loosening your muscles first. There are many benefits of stretching you might want to consider before skipping and hopping directly in to your exercise routine.

The first and most important benefit to gain from stretching is relieving of pain! Most of the stiffness and tightness you feel in your muscles after a workout can be prevented by stretching. Another important benefit of stretching is that it releases a lubricating substance from the cartilage within your joints; which allows your joints to move more smoothly, preserving the cartilage in your joints and keeping your bones from scraping. Stretching is also known to improve the circulation of water and nutrients through your body, which slows the aging process. Studies have also shown that stretching can lengthen muscles and, by doing so, can improve your posture.

Here’s the kicker. All these benefits are achievable, even if you don’t regularly work out. You can experience a healthier, more comfortable day, just by stretching.

In order for stretching to be effective, you’ll need to warm up your muscles first. A simple ten minute walk or jog will make a huge difference. Remember, cold muscles are tighter, and will make you have a harder and more uncomfortable time stretching.

However, there are times when stretching should be avoided. Don’t stretch before intense workout sessions like sprinting or other high-intensity cardio training. Also, some chronic health issues can be exacerbated by stretching. Consult a Doctor if you have an injury or other health issues that may cause problems.

Optimal use of your HIT protocol (part 4 of 4)

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Victor Tringali M.S. CSCS
www.teamvic.com

In parts 2 and 3 of this series I introduced you to Interval training and outlined a model for High Intensity Intervals for intermediate and advanced clients. While this type of training has shown to be a critical component in the training of successful endurance athletes, it is important to understand how to incorporate this protocol for long-term and continued benefits without causing excessive stress.

A short term period (six to eight sessions over 2–4 weeks) of high intensity interval training (consisting of repeated exercise bouts performed close to or well above the maximal oxygen uptake intensity, interspersed with low-intensity exercise or complete rest) can elicit increases in intense exercise performance of 2–4% in well-trained athletes.  However, the influence of high-volume low-intensity training training should not be downplayed, as it also induces important metabolic adaptations. [i]

HIT should be a part of the training program of all exercisers and endurance athletes. However, about two training sessions per week using this mode of training seems to be sufficient for achieving performance gains without causing excessive stress. And while the effects of HIT on performance are fairly rapid plateau effects are seen as well. Therefore, in order to avoid stagnation and ensure long-term development, training should be adjusted systematically. It appears that an 80:20 ratio of training is ideal without causing excessive stress , meaning about 80 % of training sessions should be performed completely at lower intensities while the remaining 20 % of sessions should distributed between training with intervals at or near the 90-100 %VO2max range- which was described as (Zone 3) in part 3 of this series. At the same time, increases in total training volume should also be implemented in order to elicit improvements in endurance performance.[ii]

High Intensity Interval Training can be an effective training modality at any level. By using it correctly and sparingly you’ll continue to reap the benefits without stagnation or overtraining.

Train Smart and Good Luck!


[i] P. B. Laursen1,2,3 Training for intense exercise performance: high-intensity or high-volume training?: Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010: 20 (Suppl. 2): 1–10 & 2010

[ii] Seiler, Stephen; Tønnessen, Espen :Intervals, Thresholds, and Long Slow Distance: the Role of Intensity and Duration in Endurance Training; http://www.sportsci.org/2009/ss.htm

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Cardio Training Series–High Intensity Cardio (Part 3 of 4)

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Victor Tringali M.S. CSCS, PES, CPT
www.teamvic.com

 This phase of training is intended for individuals who are more advanced and have already built a very strong cardiorespiratory base. This style of training should not be used by beginners or intermediates.

In part two of this series, I described cycling training through two zones- Low intensity (65-75% max Heart Rate) and higher intensity (80-85% Max Heart rate). In this phase of training, a 3rd zone will be added that we will call a PEAK intensity zone (85-90% Max Heart Rate)

The focus on this stage will be to adjust the workload of the workout by adjusting the speed, elevation, or tension level of your cardio equipment.  This will help you alter your heart rate in and out of each training zone.

Begin the workout with a 10 minute warm-up at low intensity (65-75% max Heart rate). Then increase your workload every 60 seconds until you reach 85-90% max heart rate (Peak Intensity Zone). This may take several minutes.

Remain in the Peak zone for one minute before decreasing your workload until your heart rate returns to zone two (80-85% MHR).  If your heart rate has not returned to zone two within one minute you should remain at lower intensity for the rest of the workout to avoid overtraining. If heart rate does drop, increase your workload again and train in zone 3 for another minute.

Then reduce your workload again and return to zone 1 (65-75%). Remain in zone 1 for 10 minutes before starting over. The rotation looks like this:

zone

heart rate

duration

1

65-75%

10 minutes

2

80-85%

2 minutes or  more

3

85-90%

1 minute

2

80-85%

1 minute

3

85-90%

1 minute

1

65-75%

10 minutes

 

This type of High Intensity Training has shown to be a critical component in the training of successful endurance athletes. However, two High Intensity Training sessions per week seems to be sufficient for inducing physiological adaptations and performance gains without causing excessive stress long term.[i] Therefore, use this training protocol sparingly to avoid overtraining.

 

Train Smart and Good Luck!

 

[i] Stephen Seiler: What is Best Practice for Training Intensity and Duration Distribution in Endurance Athletes?; International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2010, 5, 276-291

 

Other References:

Michael A Clarke, Scott Lucett, Rodney Corn ; NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 3rd Edition 2008 


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