Treadmill Training for the Beep Test
I’m still surprised at how many people are very attached to their beloved treadmills.
When I’m speaking with people about the best methods for improving their beep test scores the discussion often ends up being about how they can incorporate a treadmill into their beep test training program.
There are many issues that could be discussed in great depth in relation to using a treadmill for running training, let alone beep test training, but, let’s take a quick look at just 4 of the benefits of using a treadmill for improving beep test performance.
There are certainly some benefits to using a treadmill in your training program for improving your cardiovascular fitness. Let’s outline some of those below:
1. Poor weather conditions
One of the challenges for anyone wanting to maintain consistency in their training is how to do so when it is wet and raining outside or even just very cold. A treadmill really is a good option for someone who needs to be incorporating running into their beep test training program without having to freeze whilst doing it.
2. Safe running surface
One of the advantages of a treadmill for running training is that you can confidently predict the surface beneath your feet. This allows you to concentrate on your running technique without second guessing when the next pot hole is going to get in your way.
Being able to control your pacing when running is an important skill for anyone wanting to improve their beep test score. The treadmill gives you full control of this and allows you to incorporate specific drills which address the various paces required during the beep test.
4. Personal safety
Running on a treadmill means you don’t find yourself in an area where you might become the target of some creep with ill intensions. You can use a treadmill at your favorite gym or even in the comfort of your own home. From a personal safety perspective, when compared with running outdoors, it’s a very good option, especially at night.
Now it’s not all good, there are some disadvantages that need to be considered when using a treadmill to improve your beep test performance, but, when used in the right context, a treadmill can have some nice benefits.
The golden rule of training in my opinion is the rule of specificity. This simply means that your training should be as specific as possible to your training goal.
One of the issues preparing for a beep test using a treadmill is the lack of ability to simulate turning 180 degrees. This is not the end of the world if you compensate for this by ensuring you allocate additional time to develop technique and conditioning in the area of turns. You’ll notice in our beep test training program there are regular sessions that specifically address turning.
The other issue in relation to specificity is forward momentum. In simple terms when you are running on the ground you must propel your body weight forward along the surface. When you run on a treadmill it’s not actually you that is moving forward it is the belt on the treadmill that is moving backwards.
The treadmill’s display may suggest you’re running at 15 kph when in fact you are simply jumping off the belt and landing and jumping and landing to ensure the belt can move at 15 kph without throwing you through the back wall of the spare room!
Having said that, of course you’re not simply jumping on and off the belt, I say this to emphasize the point. You are of course “jumping” off the belt in the form of a running stride, which is a good way to develop your running technique.
It brings me back to the second part of my concern in relation to specificity, that is, you are not propelling your body weight forward along a stationary surface. There is a difference in what the muscles and the body need to do in order to propel your weight forward compared with what is required to simply get off the belt by effectively doing what accounts to jogging on the spot.
We can overcome this problem, to some degree. By adding an incline of just 2 to 2.5 you would have the force gravity to contend with. This requires more pushing forward from the body than just jumping on the spot.
This situation is better but it’s still not specific enough for my liking as the incline, which creates better resistance, now causes a change in the angles which are not the same angles involved in running back and forth between two cones 20 meters apart on a flat, smooth basketball court.
Enjoy your beep test training!