Treadmills have turned over the last few decades into one of the most reliable cardio equipment out there.
And recently, a new type of treadmill has gathered a lot of steam in the fitness industry—the curved treadmill.
In fact, curved treadmills are fast becoming the go-to cardiovascular machine at both health clubs and CrossFit gyms all over the globe.
But what do you actually know about them? Have you ever used a curved treadmill before? And what sets them apart from classic models?
That’s where today’s post comes into the picture.
In this article, I’m sharing with you the full guide to curved treadmills.
By the end, you’ll learn more about:
- What is a curved treadmill?
- The benefits of curved treadmills
- The downsides
- How to train on a curved treadmill
- How to buy a Self-Propelled treadmill
- And so much more
Let’s lace up and dig in.
What is A Curved Treadmill?
In essence, a curved treadmill features a curved running deck that allows you to walk and run on it, with each foot strike propelling the belt behind you.
Curved treadmills have no motor and need no electricity. The belt is propelled by the motion of your own body.
Let’s check some of the research.
Research conducted at the University of Essex reported that running on a curved treadmill was associated with a drastic increase in perceived and physiological demands and effort. In fact, the subject reported feeling as if they were working about 25 percent harder on the curved treadmill.
That’s not the whole story. The research has also reported an increase of over 30 percent in oxygen consumption and 16 percent in heart rate and a 2.5 percent increase in cadence.
This, as you can already tell, is proof enough that hopping on a curved treadmill is the recipe for pushing yourself to the next level.
What Makes Curved Treadmills Unique
The reason curved treadmills are unique boils down to their unique U shape, which may limit joint stress while keeping your form in line.
A curved belt is designed to follow the arch of your feet travels throughout the running stride.
This shape may reduce joint impact and facilitate a more natural feel while you keep your running form efficient.
The Benefits of Curved Treadmill
Just like any other training equipment, curved treadmills have their own pros and cons.
Let’s discuss a few.
More Muscle Activation
One of the main advantages of using curved treadmills stems from using more muscles than the basic flat treadmill.
Compared to running on motorized treadmills, curved treadmills are designed to force your lower body to them from the get-go—engaging everything from your calves to your glutes to kickstart the machine. This means more energy expenditure and further fitness gains.
Run more Naturally
Thanks to the increased muscle engagement, running on a curved treadmill may help you adopt a more natural form compared to motorized flat treadmills.
The science is, you’ll be driving your feet into the belt to keep it moving instead of chasing the powered belt like with a standard treadmill. The U shape will also force you to land on the balls of your feet.
The form that is needed to keep your body propelling forward.
This mirrors outdoor running.
You might also be able to minimize vertical oscillation, which the amount of bounce while running. This, in turn, makes your training much more efficient
Lower Injury Risk
Since curved treadmills promote a more natural stride pattern while running by encouraging you to run on the balls of your feet, you may reduce the impact on your muscles and joints. This ultimately helps prevent pains and injuries.
Thanks to the rubber surface, a curved treadmill may help absorb the stress on your joint and tissue more effectively.
Increased Calorie Burn
Research has shown that subjects tend to run roughly 30 percent harder on a curved treadmill. That means burning a third or more calories than running on a traditional treadmill.
If your upcoming race takes place on hilly terrain and/or lives in a flat area, hopping on a curved treadmill is a great way to do some incline training.
Since you’ll be using your own body to propel the machine, this type of treadmill requires no electricity, thus, won’t add a dime to your electric bill.
Don’t worry about the built-in displays, as they’re battery-powered.
You also won’t need to look for an electrical outlet to plug your machine into nor get jumbled in miles of extension cords.
Longer Service Life
With a standard motorized treadmill, you’ll be definitely paying for maintenance fees as all models prone to breaking down and needing repair.
Curved manual treadmills, on the other hand, tend to require less upkeep than standard machines as they feature fewer moving parts—and the fewer moving part, the less repair you’ll have to do over the long haul.
Also, the slatted belt tends to much more durable than standard treadmill belts.
Here are some of the downsides of curved treadmills.
The main downside of purchasing a curved treadmill is the price tag.
That’s why budget might stand in your way of buying a curved treadmill unless you have a lot of money or managed to convince a family member or a friend into partnering up in exchange for being allowed to use it.
If you live in a big city, chances are you’ll find a gym nearby that has a curved treadmill, so you might not have to spend your money at all.
If you’re planning to add a curved treadmill to your home gym, size will matter.
Most curved treadmills tend to be bigger than compact flat-belt treadmills. They range in size from roughly five to six feet in length and about three feet in width.
Not Ideal For Slow Runs
Although there’s a myriad of workouts you can do on curved treadmills, sessions such as easy runs or long, slow runs are out of the realm of possibility.
As we’ll see later, a curved treadmill works well for interval-style workouts such as sprinting, just based on its design.
How To Run On A Curved Treadmill?
The answer is simple—just like you’d run outside, especially after you get used to the machine’s curvature.
In short, run as naturally as possible. Don’t try to tweak your running form.
When running on a curved treadmill, remember to:
- Proper posture. Gaze ahead, engage your core, pull your shoulder back, pump your arms and breathe deep.
- Stay in the center. Position yourself in the center of the machine—the further forward you put your feet, the faster belt goes.
- Stay relaxed. Although nervousness while using the machine for the first time is normal, the more tension your hold in your body, the harder it will be for you to move.
- Stay safe. Use the handrails as the belt grinds to a halt, especially if you’re panting for air.
How Fast Can you Run On A Curved Treadmill?
Other than the unique design, the most telling difference between a curved treadmill and a motorized treadmill is speed.
On traditional, motorized treadmills, you simply choose the speed/incline manually then get to work.
But when training on a curved treadmill, you’ll have to re-adjust your speed automatically according to the curves of the machine and your body.
In fact, there is practically no limit to how fast you can run on a curved treadmill.
As long as your legs can sustain the speed, you’ll keep going.
Elite runners have been reported to reach speeds of over 24 mph. That’ fast. Really fast.
Don’t believe me?
Check out this crazy video:
The Best Workout On Curved Treadmill
There are many different running workouts you can perform on a curved treadmill, depending on your running goals and fitness level.
Let’s discuss a few.
By far, the best workout you can perform on this machine is the good old’ sprints.
This is the case since a curved treadmill allows you to pick up the pace fast without having to wait for the belt to catch up with you. Just like when running outside, you can speed up and slow down easily. You really have complete control over your pace.
You’re also running on a more stable surface than when running outside.
How Much Does A Curved Treadmill Cost?
It’s going to cost a lot to buy a curved treadmill.
A high-quality motorized model will set you back roughly $1500-$1800. That said, curved models start at roughly $4,000 then go up. High-quality models max out at around $10,000.
But how would you justify such an expensive purchase?
There are many things that make curved treadmills so different from motorized models.
For starters, maintenance fees are pretty low on curved treadmills, so they should be operational for a while before they require any repair.
Additionally, the lack of electricity also adds to the equation.
But at the end of the day, it’s up to you.
How To Buy A Curved Treadmill
Have enough money to purchase a curved treadmill? Good.
However, just because you can afford it, avoid impulsive buying. Instead, take your time to find the model that best suits your individual needs and training goals.
Here are a few features to consider when choosing a curved treadmill.
- Price – Retailed at $4000 and over, curved treadmills vary widely in price depending on the brand. The more features you want, the more you pay.
- Weight limit – Choose a model with a max recommended limit that’s high enough to support you and keep you steady.
- Comfortable – The best curved treadmill is the one that best fits your running form and stride. Test out various models to determine which fits the best so that there is less risk for injury.
- Have enough space – Curved treadmills are big, thus require a lot of space in your living room—or wherever you plan to put them. You’ll also need a lot of space while using the machine, so there’s less risk of injury in case you fall off the machine.
- Quality – Make sure the handrails are strong enough to support your body: the better quality, the less money and time you’ll spend on maintenance later.
- Customer service – Just like any other piece of equipment, as you use the machine regularly, it will incur some wear and tear that needs to get serviced. That’s why you need to make sure the company offers great customer service.
- Warranty – Most companies offer warranties on their machine that range anywhere from one to five years.
A curved treadmill is a fantastic way to change up your running routine and/or take it to the next level.
It will help engage more muscle groups, improve your form, burn more calories, and upgrade your overall speed and conditioning.
What’s not to like, really!
That’s why I think it’s worth considering—if you have the money—to get your own curved treadmill for home use.
Or, at the very least, look for a health club or a CrossFit gym nearby that has them (chances you’ll if you live in a big city). Just make sure don’t spend over your budget and abandon it later.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
Keep training strong.