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 my suggest you’re running at 15kpm when in fact you are simply jumping off the belt and landing and jumping and landing to ensure the belt can move at 15kph 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.
Using a treadmill for beep test training has its benefits as long as we have all of the information and we’re using the treadmill for a specific reason.
Enjoy your beep test training!