Curved Manual Treadmills

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    My new gym has several Curved Manual Treadmills. The gym’s powered treadmills require several button pushes that makes running intervals awkward; my old gym treadmills could change pace and incline with a single button push which made things safe and efficient.

    Today was my first experience using a Curved Manual Treadmill. There is a definite learning curve; I ran an 80/20 RF2 pace workout to get familiar with the machine. No difficulty executing the paces according to my Garmin, but heart rate was somewhat high. I’m pretty sure that the heart rate increase is the product of my lack of familiarity with the machine and the corresponding diminished running efficiency.

    I followed the workout with a couple of stride intervals in order to introduce a few faster paces an recoveries to see how they might be executed on the machine. Again, clumsy, but I was able to execute with little difficulty.

    My initial impression is that the Curved Manual Treadmill is a good fit for 80/20 training when you have to take it indoors. But, it is awkward, and I will need a couple of weeks before I become confident enough to take the hard workouts to a manual treadmill.

    It’s nice to have the luxury of these alternatives. I don’t know if this is the best plan, but I will probably follow the following priorities: 1. Run outdoors, 2. Powered Treadmills for recovery runs when indoors training is dictated by the weather or I need not quite a day off, 3. Curved Manual Treadmill for indoors running, all zones.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Thanks for the post, Charles. I’ve never tried a curved treadmill myself, but I imagine it would be awkward initially. I would also expect your HR to come down as you gain familiarity with it. And, like you, I would choose a regular powered treadmill over a curved treadmill whenever possible.


    There is a bunch of documentation online which indicates that a curved treadmill is around the same as 5-7% incline of a powered treadmill. This is due to the curve and the fact that you need to push the weight of the belt itself. In most instances the research I have read has said that there is roughly a 20% decrease in performance as would be expected outdoors for the same effort.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Thanks for following up with this. If interest in curved treadmills continues to grow, I’m going to have to learn more about them!


    Hi guys,

    I just pruchased an assault air runner. It is really great, feels almost like outdoors, best treadmill I have ever used. After about 8k on it, it felt natural. I really like how you can change the pace instantly and without the need for a button.

    It has bluetooth build in so I use it in combination with zwift.

    But as stated above, I can second that it will reduce your pace by about 20%. And initially it is really hard on your calfs and hamstrings. If you are used to ruinning on flat ground, I would recommend to start slow loadwise.

    I would not go back to a “normal” treadmill, I never used incline before anyway.

    Cheers Jay


    I now have about six weeks experience with the CMT; not exclusively, but enough to know how I will use it when I start my my next training segment.

    I’m inclined to believe that some reports about the CMT vs Powered Treadmills are misleading. My experience is very different.

    As reported there is some initial stress on the lower legs and glutes, but it disappears in short time. Also, the pace penalty disappears, I now find that a I get a roughly equivalent effort to pace as on a powered treadmill at 2% incline. Likewise for outdoor running – I run lightly rolling hills and the CMT appears to be an equivalent effort for the same paces.

    As recommended by 80/20 Endurance Stride Academy I find that the powered treadmill is the better choice for Cadence Runs – not to say it cannot be done on the CMT, but the shorter/quicker stride is something I haven’t been able to duplicate on the CMT consistently (yet).

    Zone 4 & 5 intervals and strides are much easier to control on the CMT. If they cannot be done outdoors, CMT is the way to go if you can get access to one.

    I feel the CMT does enforce good form. With equal credit to Stride Academy and the CMT I run much more comfortably at all paces – the very slow paces geared to the slowest runner on the social runs to the hardest intervals.

    Now I am looking forward to building to a race and see if it all translates to faster running…

    Matt Fitzgerald

    I need to try one of these bad boys!

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