How To Turn On Your Treadmill and Use It for the First Time

If you have never used a treadmill before, chances are you have always preferred walking, jogging, or running outdoors or skipped the treadmill whenever you exercise at the gym. You then realized how handy a treadmill could be, so you bought one, but you don’t know how to operate it. Turning on a treadmill is so easy it only takes less than a minute.

If you’re using your treadmill for the first time, follow these basic rules to turn it on:

  1. Plug the power cord in and unlock your treadmill.
  2. Make sure you have your safety key or clip in place.
  3. Flip the Power Switch.
  4. Press the start button.
  5. Select your parameters.
  6. Walk, jog, or run at your desired pace.
  7. Stop the treadmill when you’re done exercising.

You must operate your treadmill carefully to prevent unwanted injuries. This article will teach you how to turn on your treadmill and use it for the first time safely. There are also tips for turning on a treadmill that will not power up, so keep reading.

How To Turn On and Use Your Treadmill

Before you can use your treadmill, you must first read the manual book that comes with your treadmill. The machine manual will show you how to operate your treadmill. Most modern treadmills work the same way, so refer to this guide on how to turn on a treadmill for the absolute beginner.

1. Pick the right spot

Before you even plug in your treadmill, you should make sure it’s in the right spot and stable. Treadmills should be placed on a stable surface that prevents the treadmill from moving around.

Find a place in your house where you have enough space to place the treadmill and there isn’t too much traffic that can interfere. you don’t want to have people squeezing past the treadmill when it’s in use. This can cause you to lose balance or the passers-by can be caught by the moving belt.

For more information about how much space you need, read this post: How big is a treadmill and how much floor space does it need?

After picking the right spot for your treadmill, take a look at the flooring that’s there. The treadmill can actually damage your flooring and many types are too slippery to keep the treadmill in place when running on it. This isn’t good for your flooring but also bad for the treadmill and doesn’t give you the best workout experience.

In most cases, you should place the treadmill on a good-quality equipment mat. Treadmill mats protect your flooring, and your treadmill, prevent it from moving around, and even dampen noise. For the price they cost compared to a treadmill, it’s a no-brainer to get one.

Suggested: Do you really need a mat under your treadmill?

2. Plug the Power Cord and Unlock Your Treadmill

Image of an extension cord.

After you put the treadmill in the correct spot, plug in the power cord. Choose an appropriate outlet that can handle the power draw of a treadmill. Outlets with 20-amp breakers are much less likely to be overloaded by a treadmill than a 15-amp one.

After it’s plugged in, flip the power switch. Usually, it’s near the motor or on the back of the console.

Then, press the Power or start button for a few seconds to turn on the treadmill. You might hear a beeping sound upon turning on the treadmill. If you see numbers on your treadmill screen, that means the machine is on.

Some treadmills will automatically be on “demo mode.” If your treadmill does the same, you should turn off the demo mode by pressing the Stop button for a few seconds. If the mill turns off, then press start again and you should be good to go.

Suggested: Can you plug a treadmill safely into an extension cord?

3. Make Sure That You Have Your Treadmill Safety Key

Before you can start using your treadmill, make sure your Safety key is already in place, as it is necessary to turn on the treadmill. It won’t turn on if it isn’t in place properly. And if it turns on, it will certainly not move without it.

If the safety key is not installed, you’ll have to do it yourself. One side plugs into the machine, usually under the console. The other side of the key usually has a clip that allows you to attach the key to your workout clothes for safety purposes. If you were to trip, it pulls the key out and the belt stops immediately.

If a treadmill doesn’t turn on or doesn’t want to start moving, this is the first place to check.

Also, you want to test the key and make sure that it would come off if you fell off. Do this by letting the treadmill run while standing next to it and pulling on the cord. The treadmill should stop as soon as you pull the cord.

4. Select Your Parameters

Once your Safety key is in the console, all you have to do now is choose how fast you want to go on your treadmill. You will see lights and numbers displayed on your console. 

Different treadmill models have their buttons placed in other places. Some treadmills have their buttons on the console, while some have theirs on the machine’s arms. 

Other treadmills also have motion sensors that allow the user to adjust their speed or incline. You must explore your treadmill buttons and get familiar with them for a safe and smooth workout experience.

Image of a treadmill control panel.
Find the start button (green) and the speed control to get started.

5. Start Walking/Running

To start walking, all you have to do is press the Start/Go button or the speed buttons, depending on the treadmill model you have. You can use these buttons to adjust the speed of your treadmill. 

Start slow first before moving faster.

If you want to start running, you can easily increase your speed using the Speed buttons on the consoles. When you feel a little tired and want to slow down, you can also reduce your speed using the Speed buttons. 

Suggested: Can you walk on a treadmill without shoes?

You can increase or decrease your speed manually as you exercise, or choose the speed numbers displayed on your console. 

The speed numbers represent your speed in miles or kilometers per hour, which will increase gradually. 

Some treadmills have Speed buttons on the arms, making it easier for the user, especially during a fast run. For inclines, you’ll also use the Speed buttons, except this time, the numbers you’re choosing represent the percent of the gradient.

Suggested: Is 30 minutes on a treadmill enough to see results?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Is a great way to burn more calories in a short period of time. A good interval timer is going to make HIIT workouts much more enjoyable. Check out the GymNext Flex timer. It’s super easy to set up and control contrary to most other interval timers making the set up for any workout a breeze.

6. Stop the Treadmill

Whenever you need to stop the treadmill, you should push the Stop button, typically found on the console. 

Wait for the treadmill to stop before getting off the machine completely. If you need to take a quick break but don’t want the treadmill to stop completely, you can grab the treadmill arms and hop onto the side rails.

Make sure each foot is standing on each side. When you are ready to get back onto the treadmill, grab the treadmill arms and hop onto the conveyor belt. 

Let go of the treadmill arms and continue running. Make sure you can match the speed of the belt instantaneously otherwise, you could fall. Slowing down the belt before getting back on is a good idea if you’re not sure.

Image of a treadmill control panel.
When you’re done or want to stop for any other reason, just push the red ‘stop’ button.

7. Unplug the treadmill

After you’re done with your workout, it’s a good idea to unplug your treadmill from the power outlet. It’s not absolutely necessary but it’s a small action that can prolong the life of your treadmill.

Suggested post: Should you turn off and/or unplug your treadmill after use?

The post linked above will go in-depth about why you should unplug your treadmill. If you stop the belt and just don’t touch any buttons on the console, the treadmill will turn off after a few minutes. It does go into a standby mode however and doesn’t really turn off.

Unplugging after every use will save energy and protect the sensitive electronics in modern treadmills from power surges and lightning strikes.

8. Wipe down

After every use, a treadmill should be wiped down with a damp cloth. This is just to get rid of any sweat, dirt, and grime that got on to the treadmill.

Sweat can build up and cause all the contact points very grimy over time. It’s easier to wipe off when it’s fresh. Don’t forget the belt either. Sweat is pretty corrosive and can degrade many materials quicker than they should.

Suggested: How much does a treadmill belt replacement cost?

It’s also a good idea to keep dust and dirt away from the treadmill by cleaning it regularly. Dust and dirt get into the moving parts and clog them up after a while. This can cause the motor to overheat and the bearings in the rollers to run less smoothly than they should. Cleaning is necessary and after a workout is the best time to do it.

Suggested: Treadmill maintenance guide

Summary Treadmill

Image of a man running on a treadmill.

What’s great about the treadmill is that it is simple to operate and takes only seconds to turn on. 

Plug the power cord into a power outlet and flip the power switch if there is one. Not all treadmills have a switch. Once the treadmill has power, the console will probably light up. That means it’s ready for use. If that’s not the case, tap the increase speed button and your treadmill will come to life.

Once turned on, you want to decide how fast you want the machine to go. If you are a beginner, you will want to spend some time getting familiarized with the treadmill.

Getting used to your treadmill will not take long once you know your way around. Most treadmill models today have pretty straightforward buttons. However, you want to make sure that you follow the manual book your treadmill provider gave you.

Treadmills are generally safe to use. However, treadmills can cause injuries if you use them carelessly. That is why you must know exactly how to turn on and use your treadmill safely, especially if you’re going to use it for the first time.

Treadmill Safety Key

Treadmill models today typically come with a safety key, which is designed to provide the user with an emergency stop. You will find the safety key on your treadmill’s front panel. 

Usually, you cannot run a treadmill without the safety key, although some people have figured out how to hack this. If you lose your treadmill’s safety key, you may need to buy a new one or have a professional reprogram the machine. 

You should always keep an eye on your treadmill safety key, especially when there are children around.

Treadmills can be dangerous when run at a higher speed, which is why a safety key is necessary. If you feel like you are losing your balance on the treadmill, you can use the safety key to stop the machine immediately. 

Using a treadmill without a safety key can increase your chances of falling and getting injured.

What To Do if Your Treadmill Won’t Power Up?

If you happen to buy a second-hand treadmill, chances are it might not work by the time you receive it or bring it home. Even if your treadmill is new, it might not power up. Different reasons could cause a treadmill not to power up. 

Some of the reasons are:

  • The power cord is broken.
  • The circuit breaker switch broke. 
  • Your treadmill motor control is poorly designed.
  • The treadmill console display does not work.
  • The power switch is bad.
  • The circuit breaker switch is tripped.

Make sure you plug in your treadmill power cords correctly. You want to check first if the power outlet is working. Run the test using the home appliances you have sitting around the house. 

Suggested: How much does a treadmill motor replacement cost?

Check your power cord to see if it’s damaged because if it is, have it replaced. 

If the power cord is okay, you want to check your power outlet if it’s working because you need to repair it if it isn’t. In the meantime, plug your power cord into a different outlet instead. 

If the power cord and the power outlet are okay, check the circuit breaker to see if it has been tripped. When this happens, you want to check for a dead short in the treadmill outlet cord or input wires. 

Tips on Using the Treadmill

As discussed earlier, the treadmill is generally safe to use, but it can cause injuries if not used correctly. That’s why you must know how to turn it on safely. For example, you don’t want to be standing on the conveyor belt while trying to turn on the treadmill for the first time.

Follow these tips for a safer, smoother, and more fun treadmill experience:

  • Do not stand on the conveyor belt while you’re trying to operate the machine for the first time. Even if it is not your first time using the treadmill, it is always safer to stand on the side rails first when starting the machine. Following this rule will reduce the risk of you falling on the treadmill.
  • Make sure you know where the Stop button is. Running on a treadmill can be more challenging than running outside because it requires more focus. The Stop button is crucial to your safety, especially during an emergency.
  • Start slowly. It’s best to start with a walking speed first — something between 3 and 6 MPH is good. Increase slowly in 1 MPH increments until you’re at the desired speed.
  • Increase incline slowly: Just like with speed, start off with a low incline. As a complete beginner, increase speed first and then incline. Once you get used to it, increasing both speed and incline at the same time is OK.
  • Always have the Safety key in place. If you suddenly cannot cope with your running speed and need to stop immediately, that’s when you want to pull out the key attached to your console. That way, you don’t risk getting thrown off the treadmill.
  • Get off the treadmill safely. You can reduce the treadmill speed until the machine stops, or you can hop onto the side rails if you need to take a quick break. For safety reasons, always grab the treadmill arms when jumping onto or off the side rails.
  • Maintain a stable posture while running. You want to watch your body position when running on the treadmill — are your hips sitting back, or are you pushing them forward? Make sure your arms are relaxed and swinging correctly while also aiding you some power while running, and that your body is straight, not leaning forward.
  • Create a treadmill workout that suits your needs. You can break your running forms so that you can do them at different times. For example, maybe today, you only want to work on your arm swing or keeping your legs straight while running.
  • Bring your music with you. What’s great about running on the treadmill is you don’t have to worry too much about your surroundings, so you can conveniently plug your earphones and listen to music on the go. Songs will make your running experience better.
  • Wear appropriate shoes. Do not run barefoot on the treadmill. It will be helpful to invest in reliable running shoes, something you would also wear when running outside.

How Is a Treadmill Better Than Outdoor Walking?

Image of a woman after losing weight.

A treadmill is better than outdoor walking because it is convenient and serves the same purpose as walking. Whenever you don’t have time to go to the gym or when the weather outside is too cold, you can hop on the treadmill and start walking. 

Suggested: Can you lose belly fat by using a treadmill?

However, not everyone has a treadmill at home.

Most people who work out at the gym use a treadmill, but some would rather walk outside, which is understandable. Generally, outdoor walking is more fun than a treadmill because it allows you to change your environment and enjoy the fresh air. 

However, the air is not always safe to breathe, especially with the recent and ongoing pandemic.

When businesses (such as gyms) were temporarily forced to close and people had to stay indoors, working out indoors became trendier than ever before. For those who love getting their daily walks, not being able to go out was indeed frustrating, but, not if they had a treadmill.

There was a home-fitness boom in 2020, and the trend is not going away anytime soon. 

People who are used to exercising at the gym or jogging outside had to exercise indoors instead. Today, people continue to do so with equipment like treadmills, dumbbells, and more.

Final Thoughts

Turning on your treadmill is easy, and in just a couple of minutes, you can start using it. You want to make sure that:

  • Your power cord is plugged in properly.
  • The treadmill Safety key is in place.
  • You use suitable parameters, be it for walking, running, or inclines.
  • You know where the Stop button is and how to hop on and off the treadmill.

By following these basic rules, you can use your treadmill safely. If, for some reason, your treadmill won’t power up, check for possible issues and get them fixed. Otherwise, contact your treadmill provider for assistance.

Favorite Cardio Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high-quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.



Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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