Curved Treadmills vs. Flat Treadmills: Which One is Better

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Treadmills have been around seemingly forever and are one of the most used cardio machines in every gym in the world. Many people prefer them either for a daily run or as a way to warm up before starting a weightlifting session. With that said, over the years, the technology used for treadmills has greatly improved, and now we can safely say that there are several different kinds, depending on what you need them for. 

There are walking treadmills created for people with sedentary lifestyles so that they can get some daily exercise in; there are also foldable treadmills for running, which can be useful for busy professionals who want to be able to get a running session in the comfort of their homes and additionally, there are new and more modern treadmills for athletes – some with an air bubble around them, so that they can decrease the stress on the joints and muscles, some curved that provide new kinds of challenges and finally there are those, submerged in water – another tool for better active recovery. 

Out of all of these options, the one that should pique your interest as an athlete is the curved treadmill. If you’re tired of running on the good old flat one that is available in every gym, you may want to consider switching to the curved one, as it provides a different set of challenges and forces your body to adapt to a new kind of physical activity.

In this article, we’re going to talk more about curved treadmills, the challenges they present, and how they compare to standard flat treadmills. So, if that sounds like something that’s up your alley, please continue reading. 

What is a Curved Treadmill? 

Similar to the standard treadmill, the curved one is also designed for indoor running, and its primary goal is to provide the user with an experience similar to what you would get on an outdoor curved path. Essentially, the idea behind it is to imitate running on a track but indoors.

Most curved treadmills are manual, which means they require the muscles of your legs to power the running belt, as there are no electricity or start buttons involved. Instead, when you step on the treadmill, you have to start pushing with the soles of your feet, making sure your foot strike lands forward in order to give the treadmill an incentive to start moving.

What Are the Main Differences Between the Flat and the Curved Treadmill? 

We’re all pretty familiar with what the flat treadmill is, as that’s the cardio machine you will typically find in any commercial gym. Essentially, it’s a walking path with no curve, inclination, or tilt involved in any way. It imitates walking on a completely flat surface, where you face no ups or downs on your way, and so you’re able to maintain a similar pace for a prolonged period of time. 

Flat treadmills are generally recommended for people who want to get some extra movement but work a sedentary job or for people that have suffered serious injuries and have muscle or joint limitations and can’t do intense workouts. 

Furthermore, in the last few years, flat treadmills have become popular as walking pads for under the desk, as they require no extra movement and don’t hinder your work process. For many people who are now working from home, this has become their main source of activity throughout the day. 

Another major difference between curved and flat treadmills is the source of power. Most, if not all, flat treadmills are powered either electrically or by a battery, so you have a head start on the movement. On the other hand, most curved treadmills are manual, which means that they solely rely on the power of your muscles to get started and to keep moving. 

Some of the Benefits of Curved Treadmills 

As you’ve probably guessed, there are some pretty incredible benefits to using a curbed treadmill over a flatter one. In recent years, the rising popularity of the manual, curved treadmill has led to some interesting concerns being voiced regarding the equipment’s features, the running technique it requires, and the contrasts between jogging on the road and on this type of treadmill. Let’s take a look at the discourse in the next paragraphs. 

No Electricity Required 

Unlike flat treadmills that require the use of electricity or a powered battery, most curved ones are manual and don’t require anything other than your muscles to get going. This makes them more environmentally friendly, and it can also lower your monthly expenses, especially if you plan on using the machine often. 

Burns More Calories 

According to manufacturers of curved treadmills, your calorie burn increases by around 30% when you use them compared to the standard ones. This feature makes them particularly useful for sprinting sessions and for HIIT exercise as a whole. 

Increased Engagement of Lower Body Muscles 

As we mentioned, unlike the flat treadmill that’s electrically powered, this one relies entirely on your own strength to start moving and to keep going. That’s why it uses more muscles when you’re running on it, and it specifically targets the hamstrings and the glutes. 

Easy to Use 

Curved treadmills are extremely easy to use – you just hop on them and start moving. There are no buttons that you have to press and no specific settings that you have to know about; they’re completely user-driven, so they follow your movement pattern. As soon as you step on one, lean forward and start jogging, running, or walking – it will follow your tempo and decrease/increase according to how you push. With that said, we recommend that you start by walking, and then once you hit your stride, you can begin with a light jog and finally move on to a full-on sprint.

Experts from also add – ‘Although they initially have a steeper learning curve and are more physically demanding to work out on, they’re well worth diving into, especially for athletes with wide experience using treadmills.’ 

Which One is Better – The Curved or the Flat Treadmill? 

Both of these machines have their specific use cases, and which one suits you better depends on the results you want to achieve and the kind of training sessions that you want to be able to do. For people who are older, who work sedentary jobs, or have suffered previous serious injuries, flat treadmills offer a terrific way to get some exercise in without putting a ton of stress on the muscles and joints. They’re also a fantastic option for stay-at-home moms or people working from home, as they enable them to get some activity while doing other types of work. 

On the other hand, if you’re an active athlete or just someone who wants to perform better, curved treadmills challenge the muscles more; they’re also more similar to the real experience of running/sprinting and are a terrific way to get some sprinting/ high-intensity work done, while you’re indoors. 

In Conclusion

We hope that by the end of this article, you’ve learned all that you wanted about the differences between curved and flat treadmills. As you can see, which one you choose to use or buy for your home gym depends entirely on your personal needs and the goals you have related to health and fitness. However, if there’s one thing that’s certain, both of these machines are a fantastic way to stay active and to get your regular cardio session in. 

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