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Fitness Equipment

Understanding Treadmill Motors
by Scott Rayner - Fitness Consultant, Quantum Fitness

When discussing treadmills with a sales representative, the topic of motors will inevitably arise. During this discussion, you will hear some engineering-type terminology, including AC, DC, and continuous and peak horsepower. A basic understanding of these terms will help you to ask the right questions and make the right purchase.

Defining Treadmill Terms

1) Fixed Speed Alternating Current (AC) Motors:
Uses a transmission to regulate the speed of the treadmill, while the motor runs at a constant speed.

What you need to know: Running at a constant speed puts less stress on the motor, but the transmission introduces extra parts.

2) Direct Current (DC) Motors:
Regulates speed directly (using variable voltage and not a transmission), meaning the motor itself changes speeds as the user makes adjustments.

What you need to know: No transmission (so fewer moving parts), but does require a motor control board. It also contains brushes that wear down over time. DC motors are used in a majority of treadmills on the market.

3) Variable Speed AC Motors
Also regulates speed directly and connects directly to the drive belt.

What you need to know: Like DC motors, these AC motors have no transmission, but they also do not use brushes. Usually higher quality.

4) Peak Horsepower:
The maximum horsepower a motor is capable of reaching before stalling out.

What you need to know: In actual use, peak horsepower is never achieved and is not particularly relevant. Usually found in lower priced treadmills.

5) Continuous Horsepower:
The actual horsepower being used when someone is using the treadmill.

What you need to know: The maximum power the treadmill can provide when used continuously.

How Much Horsepower Is Enough?
Horsepower is an indication of how much load a motor can pull at a given speed. However, a motor can only pull as much as the power coming out of your wall will allow. For instance, a 120 volt, 15 amp wall outlet will allow a motor no more than 1.8 horsepower. A 220 volt, 20 amp wall outlet will allow no more than 3.8 horse-power. Many other minor variables can lower these figures, but doing a lot of math is not important. It is important to understand what a motor can and cannot do in your situation. It is also important to understand that horsepower should not be your primary consideration in choosing a treadmill. Two motors with the same horsepower will perform differently in different treadmills.

Keep in mind, when thinking about the performance of the motor, AC, DC, and horsepower, you are thinking about the performance of the motor not the treadmill. The pros and cons of different motors is much more of a maintenance and cost consideration than of how the treadmill feels beneath your feet.

Contact Scott at Quantum Fitness in Houston at 281.495.3003 or scottr@quantumfitness.com. Scott can help if you need more information on purchasing home or commercial fitness equipment.

View Scott's Bio




Weight Training
Lat Pulldowns
Pulldowns are a great exercise for the back muscles but avoid pulling the bar behind the head. Pull the bar down in front of the body toward the collar bone and with the bar just below your chin. Pulling the bar behind the head puts undue stress on the shoulders and rotator cuff.
Running
Avoiding Shin Splints
Do you have lower leg pain or shin splints from running? Running on hard surfaces, worn out running shoes and weak calf muscles could be the culprit. Try running on soft trails, buying a new pair of running shoes or adding calf exercises to your weight training routine.
Walking
The Talk Test
A great way to make sure you are staying in your aerobic fat-burning range is the talk test. If you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation with your walking partner you probably need to bring down the intensity to assure yourself that you are burning fat.
Fat Burning
Your Anaerobic Threshold
A great way to make sure you are burning fat during cardio sessions is knowing your anaerobic threshold or where your heart rate zone needs to be to burn fat stores. Find a gym or fitness center that offers anaerobic/VO2 testing. Merlino Fitness offers anaerobic threshold testing every month. Check out the link below for more details.
Merlino Fitness Metabolic Testing
Nutrition
Keys to Weight Loss
If you are trying to drop weight make sure you incorporate the following to get you on your way. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals (especially breakfast), do not eat late night meals or snacks after 7 or 8 pm and build as much activity into your everyday life as you can. Michael also recommends joining weight watchers to anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Nutritional Supplements
Stay Away From Ephedra!
The weight loss/energy supplement is in the news again. Supplement companies that market this controversial supplement claim it is safe although many have died from this dangerous supplement. Make sure you check the labels of your nutritional supplements as many are laced with ephedra, also known as ephedrine or ma huang (the actual herbal).
Quick Tip Archives
Our archived collection of fitness and nutrition tips to help you stay focused and fit.
Tip Archives

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Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
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Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
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Grocery Store Archives
Our latest collection of on-line articles to help you stay focuses and fit.
Grocery Archives
 
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Pamela from Chihuahua, MexicoI work out 5 days a week and can't loose weight. I do spinning, tae bo and many types of cardio. Where am I going wrong?
Answer
Nutrition
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