Choosing an Interval Training Treadmill

Interval training is a way of training more efficiently, allowing you to work harder than you could applying non-stop effort. It consists of a series of intensive bouts of exercise interspersed with gentle recovery intervals. It is effective in improving your VO2 Max, and has benefits for both aerobic and anaerobic systems.
The result of this is that you should be able to maintain a high level of intensity for longer. Interval training can be particularly useful in preparing for sports such as football, tennis or rugby, where repeated high intensity bursts are needed over a significant period.

How can I Start Interval Training?

This technique is not ideal if you are new to exercise, as it can be quite demanding. Begin with steady, easy to moderate cardiovascular training, and then step up when you have attained a reasonable level of fitness. Always consult your doctor if you are in any doubt. A typical interval training session on a treadmill might begin with 4-5 minutes of gentle jogging, followed by 1-2 minutes of high intensity running. This would be followed in turn by around 3 minutes of easy jogging.

You might then complete three more high intensity bursts, each followed by a spell of jogging. Finally, a few minutes of walking as a cooldown would complete the session. There are of course many variations on this, depending upon what you are training for.

What Makes a Treadmill Good for Interval Training?

The key point is that you are going to be running at a high speed. Cheaper treadmills tend to have smaller motors and thus cannot attain sufficient speed. Even if a treadmill claims a top speed slightly in excess of what you plan to run at, bear in mind that if you stick to your training programme you are likely to get faster over time. You will need a treadmill that can run at a top speed significantly in excess of your own maximum. Other points to consider are that the treadmill needs to be stable, meaning that the lightest ones might not be suitable.

Lighter treadmills can also be noisy in operation. Cushioning would be useful, both to minimise noise and to protect your joints against impact. A large deck can be more suitable for sprinting, especially for taller users. Finally, a treadmill which is to be used for interval training needs to have controls which are easy to operate whilst you are running (allowing you to change the speed quickly), or programmes which can be set to automatically change speed at the times you choose.

Which Treadmill Should I Choose?

One of these five options, in ascending order of price, should suit most people, depending upon their training needs and stature.

Viavito LunaRun Fold Flat Treadmill

This is an excellent budget option. As its name suggests, it folds flat after use for easy storage, and can be placed vertically in a cupboard. It offers a top speed of 10 mph (16 kph), and an incline of up to 10%, with a maximum user weight of 90kg. The LunaRun is powered by a 1.25 HP motor, and offers a 49.2″ x 16.5″ running area.

It features quick speed and incline buttons which make interval training easier, plus a programme which can make the kind of speed variations needed automatically. In total, the LunaRun offers 19 different workouts. It even provides dual water-bottle holders and a tablet holder.

The advantages of the LunaRun are its range of features and ease of storage, combined with its competitive price. If you weigh under 90kg, are never likely to need to exceed 10 mph, and would prefer a machine that folds flat for storage, this treadmill could be perfect for you. Equally, many potential users will exceed 90kg, and some will want to run faster than this, while possibly preferring a heavier machine with a larger running area.

DKN EzRun Treadmill

The EzRun is a slightly larger, more powerful home treadmill. It features a 1.75 HP motor, providing a top speed of 12.5 mph (20 kph), and offers a maximum incline of 12%. Its running deck is 55″ long and 20.5″ wide, providing enough room for most users. The EzRun has Quick Keys to control speed and incline, making interval training easy.

It is well cushioned to protect against impact and reduce noise. It features 25 workouts including 15 pre-set programmes, one of which is designed for interval training. The EzRun has a 5″ display and Bluetooth connectivity, enabling it to be linked to an external heart rate monitor. The maximum user weight is a substantial 130kg.

The advantages of the EzRun are its size and solidity, allied to its power. For a home treadmill, it offers a very respectable top speed, and will be able to accommodate most larger users. Its cushioning and stability will be greater than those of the LunaRun, but equally it will be less easy to store. If you want something more powerful and sturdier than the LunaRun, with the capacity to allow you to run faster, the EzRun may be just what you need.

Reebok GT50 Treadmill

The GT50 contains a 2.25 HP motor, producing speeds of up to 11.2 mph (18 kph), in combination with 15 levels of incline. The maximum user weight is 120kg. Reebok’s 3 stage cushioning technology limits noise and protects your joints. The GT50 offers 34 fitness programmes, along with a 55.1″ x 18.9″ running area. A 7″ display provides excellent clarity, allowing you read it easily whilst training.

The GT50 also provides a tablet or mobile phone holder, enabling you to watch video while you train, and incorporates loudspeakers to which you can connect your device. Soft-drop technology makes the GT50 easy to fold for storage. There are quick controls for speed and incline to facilitate interval training.

The advantages of the GT50 are similar to those of the EzRun. It is a powerful home treadmill with a decent top speed, and is able to accommodate most potential users. It is an established design from a major brand, although on paper it is slightly outperformed by the similar EzRun. Most people planning to begin interval training would nonetheless find that the GT50 met their needs without breaking the bank. The largest or fastest would still need to look for something even more powerful.

DKN Road Runner Treadmill

A little further up the price range we find the DKN Road Runner. The Road Runner includes a 2.8 HP motor, producing a maximum speed of around 12 mph (20kph) in conjunction with 15 levels of incline. The maximum user weight is 130kg, similar to the EzRun. It has a 56″ x 21″ running area with a 3.3mm-thick belt, operating in conjunction with a progressive shock-absorbing system. 24 pre-programmed workouts are available, and two user-defined workouts can be saved, which could help with interval training.

If you buy a separate heart-rate monitor, it is possible to use your heart rate to control your workout, which again could contribute towards an effective interval training routine. As with the GT50, you can plug in your phone to listen to music through the built-in speakers, or attach your tablet to watch videos. The Road Runner offers the quick controls needed for interval workouts, and folds for storage.

The Road Runner is a powerful and well-specified home treadmill. It has a top speed and maximum weight that will accommodate most users, and its thick belt will help with quietness and cushioning. It does lack a pause control, and some users have questioned the build quality of the plastic console, but overall, if you want a home treadmill that can handle the demands of interval training, this is as good as any.

JTX Sprint-9 Commercial Treadmill

Spending a little more will bring you to machines which are designed for small gyms. The Sprint-9 is a little larger and more durable than the home treadmills reviewed above. It has a full-size running deck, measuring 60″ x 20″. The Sprint-9 contains a 3 HP motor, allowing a 12 mph (20 kph) top speed, in conjunction with 15 levels of incline. The maximum user weight is around 177kg, which should accommodate the vast majority of potential interval trainers. The Sprint-9 has a pro-gym quality variable shock absorbing system, and can be folded and wheeled away for storage. Its display is large and clear, and it features the possibility of heart-rate controlled training alongside the 24 programmes it offers. It is compatible with Polar monitors.

The advantages of the Sprint-9 are its sturdiness, durability and cushioning, allied to its power. It is similar to the type of machine you will encounter in the gym, and should be able to handle the demands of interval training for almost any user. It is bulkier and heavier than the other treadmills reviewed here, and more expensive, but it is still cheaper than most commercial machines.