Downhill running on a treadmill, on the down-lo.
February 21, 2018 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Wanted: Temporary, reversible, quick-to-apply methods to make my building's treadmill go more downhill.

Idea source: Fellrnr's Treadmill Descent page.

Constraints:
1. It's not my treadmill. It's one in my building's exercise room.
2. Treadmill is similar to a Precor commercial 932i, weighs 200+ lbs, non foldable.
3. There is 4 inches of clearance below the metal bar.
4. I want "quick to apply, quick to remove".
5. Treadmill goes down to -3%. I want it to be -6% – -10%. This is between 1-4 inches of lift at the back end while it's on -3% setting.

Ideas:
1. Low profile hydralic car-jack? Seems weird to carry around a 30 lb car jack.
2. Put weight plates under the feet? Make a little wooden strip?
3. Use a prybar / lever?
4. (???)
posted by gregglind to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
While the treadmill weighs 200lbs most of that weight tends to be at the head end. You'll probably find that you can managably lift the tail end. If so I'd just place a length of 4x4 (actually only 3.5 inches high) the full width of the treadmill under the tail end legs as needed.
posted by Mitheral at 8:16 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I agree with the above comment, and I also think you don't need to raise the back of it much to get the slope you're looking for. I would make sure it's secure and won't slip when you start running because treadmills tend to vibrant and shake when you go fast on them.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:21 AM on February 21, 2018


(The back end was plenty heavy. I should have mentioned that I tried that, and I couldn't both lift it and slide anything under it at the same time. I actually pulled something in my shoulder trying!)
posted by gregglind at 9:44 AM on February 21, 2018


What about a wedged block? If there's a space you can put the small end of a shim* into, you can tap the block forward to get elevation, without having to actually lift the machine vertically.

*note, when I say "shim" I don't mean the hardware store kind that goes from 1/32" to 3/8", I mean maybe you cut a piece of 4x4 but taper the end so it's easier to fit underneath.
posted by aimedwander at 9:57 AM on February 21, 2018


I couldn't both lift it and slide anything under it at the same time. I actually pulled something in my shoulder trying!

Key there is leverage. You want a bit of 2x4 maybe six foot long with an end shaved down if necessary to fit under the back of the machine, another bit of 2x4 maybe a foot long to act as a fulcrum for the first one, and a collection of 12"x12"x2" plates: paver-sized but made out of pine so they're light enough to handle. Making those plates much wider than they're high will mean that you can easily kick them along the floor without having them tumble, and they will be nice and stable when weight goes on them.

Stick the end of the long bar under the back of the machine to a depth of about six inches, and lift the far end just enough that you can lay the fulcrum bar crossways underneath it; kick the fulcrum bar as close to the back of the machine as you can get it; then step on the long bar, and the back of the machine should lift up enough to let you kick one of your plates under one of the back feet. Repeat for the second plate. If that's not enough raise, slide a third plate under the fulcrum bar and repeat the whole process to get a second set of plates stacked under the back feet.

If you want to get fancy, you could improve the ergonomics by engineering a lifting lever in a long skinny L shape, so that instead of using a separate fulcrum bar and standing on your lever you just stick the short end of the L under the back of the machine and pull the upright part backwards. Something based on pine 2x4s with a finger joint at the corner of the L should be easily strong enough.
posted by flabdablet at 10:05 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't trust a simple wedged block-- that's fine for when it's sitting on its own, but I assume that OP plans on getting on top of the treadmill and running, and that sort of pounding weight is going to cause a wedged block to eject itself unless it's mounted in place. And of course, one side will eject before the other, resulting in OP getting flipped off the side.

Whatever goes under the treadmill needs to be put in place so that it has nowhere to go. I get that OP can't permanently bolt things in place, but it needs to be framed so it is blocked by nearby walls or other equipment that can't go anywhere.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:24 AM on February 21, 2018


gregglind: " I should have mentioned that I tried that, and I couldn't both lift it and slide anything under it at the same time."

Some sort of lever is in order then as flabdablet describes. Though 6' is a lot of leverage. Pushing down on a 3' lever with 6" of counter lever (IE:42" total length and leverage point 6" from the end) gives you a 6:1 advantage. 50lbs of force down gives you 300lbs up. Screwing a short length of say 2" half round dowelling to the lever at the fulcrum (basically a cheap DIY lever dolly) makes it more efficient and easier to control because you only have a single piece tool to worry about. Once the treadmill is levered up you'll probably find you can hold the lever down with a foot while positioning the blocks.

Sunburnt: "Whatever goes under the treadmill needs to be put in place so that it has nowhere to go. I get that OP can't permanently bolt things in place, but it needs to be framed so it is blocked by nearby walls or other equipment that can't go anywhere."

Alternatively, because the linked mill shows round legs, one can attach a 1x piece of material to the top of the lift blocks that has a hole drilled in the centre larger than the legs. Set the leg in the hole and the block can't slide around. One can do a similar thing by nailing an empty tuna can to the centre of the lift block.
posted by Mitheral at 12:09 PM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not sure a tuna can would last very long. I like the central hole idea much better.

I specified 12"x12" lift plates because that size strikes me as big enough that you'd easily notice any tendency of the machine to drift off them before it had got anywhere near the edges. I agree that making the lift plates wedge-shaped instead of properly flat is asking for trouble.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 PM on February 21, 2018


The shape of the thing actually gives it an inbuilt lifting dolly to some extent. How much lift can you get at a side rail after rocking the whole machine sideways by leaning on the riser that supports the hand grips? Do you think you could get enough to kick a 2" plate under one of the back legs?
posted by flabdablet at 4:20 AM on February 22, 2018


My solution was to:
- lift using a cheap scissors jack (from my car), using a cordless drill to turn the shaft
- use thick barbell plates as the platforms. The feet from the treadmill fit into the holes in the plates.

This takes < 1 minute to set up or disassemble. If I want to go 'even more downhill' I might have to have a better platform system. The whole system seems stable right now at an extra 2-3% downhill.
posted by gregglind at 11:25 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


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