Treadmills That Train You for Military Fitness Tests

Military police officer runs on a treadmill.
Cpl. Kelsey Marvel, military police, Provost Marshal’s Office, runs on a treadmill at the West Gym cardio room at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, May 21, 2014. (Cpl. Charles Santamaria/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Many runners refer to treadmills as "dreadmills," but there is a known fact about this type of cardio equipment that no one can deny. Professional treadmills have the technology required to prepare you for athletic performances, without needing a coach by your side during every workout session. And anyone training to enter a military academy can take advantage of this feature.

Although those interested in attending a military academy may know this information already, I want to highlight that every military test also includes a running test, among other requirements.

To enter the United States Army, you have to complete a two-mile run test, part of the Army Physical Fitness Test. For the United States Navy, you must pass the Navy Physical Readiness Test, which includes a 1.5-mile run. For the United States Air Force, you are required to complete a 1.5-mile test, part of the Air Force Physical Readiness Test.

The United States Marine Corps demands passing the Marines Physical Fitness Test, which includes a three-mile run. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers will put you through a 1.5-mile run test that is part of the Physical Efficiency Battery test.

The International Association of Fire Fighters demands passing the Gerkin Protocol test. The Gerkin Protocol is mostly done on treadmills because they include the functions and the heart-rate reading systems required to predict correctly the peak of VO2. VO2 is the maximum amount of oxygen in milliliters you can use during an intensive workout, more specifically in one minute per kilogram of body weight. The treadmill calculates the VO2 value when you reach the target heart rate, and you stay in that zone for at least 15 seconds.

Many of you know the military test requirements, but few may be aware that there are treadmills with preset military running workouts included in their consoles. These treadmills allow you to prepare on your own for the test you're interested in passing. The most important detail is that right at the end of the workout you know your score in points, based on your age, sex and your finish time. How easy is that?

I have had the opportunity to test these preset workouts on some impressive treadmills. In this article, I want to talk about three treadmills that include military workouts and how they can help you prepare for your biggest test.

The first treadmill on my list is the Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Inspire 7''. This model comes with 34 preset workouts, among which you will find the Gerkin Protocol, the Physical Efficiency Battery test, the Army Physical Fitness Test, the Navy Physical Readiness Test, the Air Force Physical Readiness Test and the Marines Physical Fitness Test.

Another great treadmill is the Landice L9 (or L7) with the executive trainer console. This specific console includes the following running tests: the Gerkin fitness test, the Navy test, the Army test, the Marine test and the Air Force test.

The third model is the Precor 966i. It comes with 29 preset workouts, including the Gerkin fitness test, the Air Force test, the Navy test, the Army test, the Marine test and the Federal Law Enforcement Physical Efficiency Battery test.

What do these treadmills have in common so you can complete the military workouts as efficiently as possible?

  • On all models, you can insert your personal information (age and gender) before the test. This will allow the consoles to calculate your points based on the military standards accurately.
  • On all treadmills, the incline is preset by the console and you can't change it during the test. You only have control over the speed. And remember: The faster you finish, the better you score.
  • All cost more than $5,000. The most expensive is the Life Fitness Club Premium model ($7,000) and from a personal point of view, it's also the most amazing of all.

What will you find different on these treadmills?

  • On the Life Fitness treadmill and the Precor 966i model, you also have altitude options. For the Navy test, you can choose between 5,000 feet above or below sea level. For the Marine test, your options are 4,500 feet above or below sea level. Each option has a different difficulty level.
  • On the Life Fitness model, you will be asked to enter your speed goal at the beginning of the test only. The other models allow you to control speed throughout the workout.
  • The Landice model shows you a projected score on the console during the exercise. This will motivate you to change the speed during the workout so you can reach your goal faster. But remember that you don't need to score "excellent" from your first attempt. Proper training will get you there.
  • Precor workouts come with a three-minute warmup period. The test begins when you reach your target heart rate or after three minutes of warming up.

No matter what treadmill you choose or what workout you engage in, make sure you warm up correctly and finish with a cooldown session. If you don't, you may get injured.

After the workout is complete and the console shows you the points made, compare your results with the military test standards so you know how well you did and how far you are from your targeted score. Write down your daily results so you can keep track of your progress.

As I mentioned above, these are expensive treadmills so not everyone can buy their own treadmill to train at home. The good news is that you can find these models in gyms, too. Once you find the right training equipment, all you have to do is stay motivated and be consistent until you get the passing scores for which you aim. Happy training.

This is an article written by Anna Ursu from RunReviews, a site dedicated to treadmills.

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