Can You Run on a Bowflex Treadclimber?

Woman in the gym

With a maximum speed of just 4.5 mph on the highest-end model, the Bowflex TreadClimber really isn't set up to accommodate a run. But that doesn't mean you can't get a great workout on it. All TreadClimbers have three workout settings to choose from -- stepper, treadmill and "elliptical." When locked in treadmill mode, the TreadClimber's treadles are set at a permanent incline, which is much more challenging than walking on a flat surface.

Three Models All Told

The three models of Bowflex TreadClimber include the TC20 and TC5, which have a 4.5 mph maximum speed; and the TC10, which has a maximum speed of just 4 mph. They all have simplistic console displays. None of the TreadClimbers offer the type of preprogrammed workouts you'll find on a treadmill, elliptical or even an exercise bike, although the TC10 and TC20 offer a "G.O. Coach" function to track your progress toward a fitness goal. The G.O. Coach automatically resets every week.

Three Workout Modes, Too

Each Bowflex TreadClimber has two mini-treadbelts called treadles -- one for each of your feet. In treadmill mode, the treadles are locked at a fixed incline so you can simply walk on the moving belts. In stepper mode, the belts are stationary but the treadles themselves move up and down, much like the foot pedals on a stair stepping machine. And in the so-called "elliptical" mode, the treadles move up and down while the belts are moving.

The "elliptical" mode gets mixed reviews, with some users saying the motion isn't as fluid -- or automatic -- as advertised. The treadles don't move up and down by themselves, but instead sink beneath your weight on every step. Still, a few still say the TreadClimber offers a challenging workout -- even without breaking into a run.

Sometimes Size Matters

In addition to the TreadClimber's low maximum speed, its treadles are too short to run on. In fact, they may even be too short for some users to walk on. With the TC10, you risk getting your shoes caught between the backs of the treadles and the foot bar at the back of the machine. The TC5 and TC20 have no foot bar, so with them you're more likely to zip right off the back of the machine if you miss a step or your stride is just too long.

Watch Your Head

There's another reason you shouldn't run on a TreadClimber. When in treadmill mode, the treadles are fixed at their maximum height -- 14 inches from the floor for the TC10, and 17 inches from the floor for the TC5 and TC20. If you don't have enough ceiling clearance, the extra up-and-down motion of running could end with your head meeting ceiling -- especially since you have to stay right at the top of the treadles to keep from sliding off the back of the machine.