Holding Treadmill Handles


I noticed on Biggest Loser that the trainers don't want people to hold on when they're on the treadmill. is that so important?

I constantly lose my balance on the treadmill, even with no slope, and also on the elliptical. Why is it so crucial not to hold on?

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken


The Reasons why Treadmills have Handles is for Safety

The rails/handles are there for people like yourself who lose balance and/or have trouble running in a straight line for various reasons.

In your case losing balance on a treadmill can make not holding on a dangerous proposition. You may want to start off not holding the handles on the treadmill to help develop your balance so eventually you can do it w/out holding on.

You also probably want to attach the emergency stop cord to your shorts/shirt so if you do lose balance you will not get thrown off the back of the treadmill.

The Reason whyHolding Treadmill Handles Personal Trainers do not Want their Clients Holding Treadmill Handles

In order to get results in any aerobic exercise program it is crucial to increase intensity (sustained heart rate) over time.

Treadmills have 2 different ways to increase intensity. You can 1. increase the speed and 2. increase the incline.

Holding on the handles will reduce the intensity of the exercise.

It will slightly reduce the effect of increasing speed but significantly reduce or nullify the effect of incline.

Just using the handles for balance is one thing, but you will more than likely (like the majority of people) hold on for dear life, leaning back supporting your weight.

It is just like climbing up a hill by using a rope like in the picture which is the reason why trainers don't like their clients holding on. It could start as just supporting the weight for balance then progress as the client is trying to increase intensity levels which they're not ready for simply for beating the machine.

Holding on the handles will also effect the information provided by the machine such as calories burned.

Final Word

If your safety is in question, hold on the the handles as needed. Use the safety strap so you don't get seriously injured. Try to hold the handles lifhgtly using them for balance rather than support.

Do not set a high incline, hang on the handles and lean back as it defeats the purpose of the exercise.

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