Treadmill buyers guide
If you are looking to get in shape and improve your fitness levels from the comfort of your own home, a treadmill can be a great choice for cardiovascular exercise without needing to take a step outside. They are also great for regular runners, to squeeze in a few extras miles when time is tight or the weather isn’t great. Choosing the right treadmill for you can make all the difference, so it’s important to do your research prior to jumping at the sight of the first treadmill you see.
Not only do you need to take into consideration the key features of the treadmill, the size of the treadmill, along with the quality and durability of the treadmill, you must also ensure that the treadmill you identify as “the one” will easily fit the space in which you plan on placing it. Beyond that, you must also not forget about your budget! This will be the key in defining the type of treadmill (or treadmills) you will have access to.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into the ultimate guide to the best treadmills for home use!back to menu ↑
What are the best treadmills?
Here we will take a look at our best treadmills from the hundreds of treadmill reviews that we have researched and analysed in great detail.back to menu ↑
How to choose the best treadmill for you
It is important to do your research first! If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how do you expect to get what you want?
The majority of treadmills on the market today come equipped with some pretty special features. Call it competition, or toss it up to it being the technology era, but the standard in the fitness equipment industry just keeps getting raised higher and higher.
Here we will help you on your search for a suitable treadmill by covering some of the key features to look for and what to consider when finding the best treadmill for your individual requirements.back to menu ↑
Treadmills come in all different shapes and sizes. Thus, the treadmill size is an important factor to be aware of. You should check the overall dimensions to be sure that the treadmill will fit within the space you have allocated for it.
There are treadmills that are designed specifically for tighter spaces. You can choose between non-folding and folding treadmills along with those that have frames or no frame.
The portability is also worth considering. Some treadmills come with wheels which makes them easy to move around and some are compact which makes them easier to store away when not in use.
How often you plan on using the treadmill is also worth considering when it comes to the space that it will take up and how easy it is to relocate.back to menu ↑
The majority of treadmills will be suitable for people of all shapes and sizes. However, it is worth checking to make sure that the treadmill can comfortably take your weight without causing any damage to the running deck.
The treadmills that can hold more weight are likely to be more stable. This is important as you wouldn’t want the treadmill feeling unsteady when running at higher speeds.back to menu ↑
The treadmill height is important as you want to make sure there is ample space when it is on a full incline and your height is accounted for. Check what the maximum treadmill incline is, add your height and then make sure there is at least 1 to 2 feet for headroom.back to menu ↑
If you have physical limitations such as back or knee problems, you will want to be sure that the treadmill can be adjusted accordingly so that you will feel comfortable and safe whilst doing your cardio activity.
There are some treadmills that are specifically designed for injury recovery. They allow you to run without putting you at risk for more pain that could delay recovery. These are usually more specialist and thus you will need to shop around and be prepared to pay accordingly.back to menu ↑
You need to think about how fast you are expecting to run on your treadmill. Although many fitness enthusiasts will never be running at the maximum speed that a treadmill can reach, some may be more limited than others. There are treadmills that have a top speed of around 16 km/h or 10 mph which would be the equivalent of running a 6-minute mile!
How the speed is adjusted is also worth considering. Automated speed variations can be useful if you want to “get in the zone” and not worry about manually upping or lowering the speed. You will find some treadmills come with a variety of built-in programmes that will automatically adjust speed according to the programme selected.
Running at different speeds is a good way to train your body to get fitter as it has to adapt to the different conditions. It helps to build up endurance and burn calories.back to menu ↑
The safety features of a treadmill are usually limited to a safety clip that will attach to your clothes and plugs into the machine. In the case you are being outpaced by the treadmill, the clip will be pulled out of the machine and it will shut itself off. This is to prevent you falling and should be a must have in the best treadmills.back to menu ↑
Motor Power / Horsepower
Another important factor when choosing a treadmill is the motor that it has. You want to look out for the continuous duty power rating as this measures the minimum horsepower delivered at all points during a workout. Continuous duty motors are the highest quality available. They are more powerful, durable, and deliver a smooth performance.
You’ll see other ratings such as peak duty and treadmill duty but the continuous duty power rating is a more accurate measure of the motor power and this kind of motor will typically give you better performance with longer life.
The majority of treadmills will have a motor range from 1.5 HP to 3.0 HP. The 2.0 HP continuous duty motor should be adequate for most user needs. If you plan on running a lot on the treadmill, you may wish to consider at least a 2.5 HP motor.
Home treadmills will usually have an AC or DC motor. The majority use a DC motor because they make less noise. However, commercial grade treadmills often use an AC motor as they require more power due to the demand of continuous use. AC motors require a dedicated power line and give out more noise.
If the treadmill is for home use, you may want to keep an eye out for a DC motor that has at least 1 year’s warranty. This will give you an efficient yet quite workout and peace of mind. If you plan on watching tv shows or listening to music as you go for a run on your treadmill, you don’t want a noisy motor to disturb you.back to menu ↑
It is a good idea to check the size of the treadmills running deck, which is basically the surface that you are running on. This is important because a taller person may need a longer deck in order to accommodate a greater stride. Don’t forget that whilst larger decks will be more spacious for running on, they will take up more room in your house.
Users who have any joint problems may want to look for treadmills that have a cushioned deck which will help to ease the pressure on your feet, ankles and knees.
In addition to the treadmills deck, you will want to think about the surface on which you plan on using the treadmill. Make sure it is secure and flat, this will help prevent the treadmill from moving and protect your floors.back to menu ↑
The quality of the materials used on the treadmill can impact how comfortable it will be. If the treadmill uses cheap rubber or poorly manufactured materials, it may feel great to begin with but is more likely to wear down quickly. The main materials for treadmill belts are;
- Single Ply: The treadmill belt itself is one single piece of rubber and has no additional reinforcement. These are often cheaper treadmills that provide minimal shock absorbance and wear down quickly.
- 2-Ply: Commercial treadmills tend to prefer this type of material as it provides a good balance between cost and maintenance. The top side of the belt is usually rubber with the bottom consisting of various mono-filaments. This setup can offer more durability and extra comfort via shock absorbance.
- 3-Ply: The best treadmills will have extra rubber or mono-filament layers for additional shock absorbance and durability. These treadmills would be ideal for users who have had previous injuries and need maximum comfort. However, they can require more maintenance due to the extra friction and weight that can cause more wear on the belt.
Shock Absorption Technology
Often treadmills will have proper shock absorbers present under the area of the deck where the belt rests. They are super effective in helping to reduce the impact of running on your body. Some manufacturers use springs while others utilize rubber absorbers.
If one of the primary reasons you’re looking to purchase a treadmill is because you want to find a low-impact form of cardio exercise, you should certainly be paying very close attention to what the shock absorption features are.
The best treadmills will have top-of-the-line shock absorption technology. In general, softer belts are usually better for lowering impact forces than the harder belts.back to menu ↑
Incline / Decline
Another important treadmill feature you need to consider is the incline / decline that it is capable of achieving. Having these features can make the treadmill more like an outdoor run, which many runners seek when it comes to an indoor workout.
Most treadmills will give you at least 10 degrees of incline, but you’ll pay more for 15, 20 or 30%. Some will even go up to a 40% incline, as well as decline down to 6% or more. As a comparison, outside terrain is said to have a normal grade of 6% excluding hills and rough terrain.
Even if your treadmill had zero incline capability, you could still get a good workout in by walking, jogging or running at various speeds for different lengths of time and burn calories, get your heart rate going and tone up your leg muscles.back to menu ↑
The majority of treadmills on the market will have a user-friendly computer monitor that will display all of the information from your exercise session. These can help track your performance, motivate you and ensure that you reach your goals. You will want to identify a display that you would feel comfortable using whilst running.
The best treadmills should display all of the important performance data which includes your time, distance, calories burned, speed, heart rate, etc. They will also have preprogramed workouts at different difficulty levels for you to follow or allow you to walk or run at your own pace.
From the console you should be able to select the speed, incline and programmes, set up and select a user profile, and then choose what’s displayed on the screen. Many machines offer quick controls for speed and incline which is great for those wanting to do interval training.
Some models will even have controls on the hand rails so you can modify the speed and incline without needing to reach forwards towards the console, which is particularly useful and safer for those who plan on running at high speeds.
Tablet holders and water bottles are usually included as standard. Other options include colour screens, touchscreens, LCD screens or a built-in web browser.back to menu ↑
When comparing your options, it’s important to first define your budget. While it can be an exciting purchase, you don’t want to begin analysing treadmills outside of your budget, only to be disappointed in the end.
The best treadmills can run you a pretty hefty bill. It shouldn’t be a shock if you see premium treadmills priced in the thousands. These pieces of exercise equipment typically include all of the standard features we’ve come to expect from a treadmill, while also providing top of the line specs that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience.
Again, even at the upper-limit of pricing, features and specifications will vary. Whether you can afford them or not, it’s worth taking the time to first identify what features matter to you and what features don’t. This will allow you to get the best bang for your buck!back to menu ↑
Other Key Features
Here are some other key features to keep an eye out for when shopping for your new treadmill;
- Does it have Bluetooth compatible technology for connecting with external devices/apps?
- Can it be hooked up to a smartphone or tablet?
- Is there a stand to place your smart device to watch whilst running?
- Does it have motion sensor technologies?
- Is it compatible with wireless heart rate monitors?
- Does it have built-in speaker for surround sound entertainment?
- Does the treadmill have self-propelling technology which makes it more energy efficient, and environmentally friendly?
- Feet protection (to stop you damaging the floor underneath)
- Are there pulse grip sensors to track your heart rate?
- If the treadmill battery or mains operated? You will need to consider where your nearest plug socket is in some instances.
- Does it have an automated start function?
- Are there safety rails?
- Assembly – does it come assembled and if not, how difficult is it to put together?
Types of treadmill
So, we’ve discussed a number of options regarding quality, price, feature capability, and size. However, there’s more! Not all treadmills are alike.
When one thinks of a treadmill, they typically think of a standard motorized treadmill that sets the pace for the workout. The majority of commercial treadmills on the market today come in the form of said motorized treadmill.
But thanks to innovation, creation, and technology, we’ve been blessed with more options than ever! If you haven’t heard of any other treadmill outside the traditional version we’ve come to expect, get ready to have your mind blown.
- Motorized/Electric treadmills
- Foldable treadmills (these are also typically electric*)
- Manual Treadmills (These can also be curved)
- Curved Treadmills (these are typically manual)
All of the above treadmill types are great in their own respect. Depending on your needs and desires, either treadmill type could end up being the “best treadmill” option for YOU.
For example, if you’re working with a compact space, a foldable treadmill would be ideal. Looking to burn more calories and put in extra work? A manual treadmill may be the one for you. Or are you simply looking to emulate the treadmills you see at commercial gyms? A motorized treadmill would be your choice.back to menu ↑
Benefits of Treadmills
To bring it full circle, choosing the best treadmill means choosing the treadmill that will provide the most benefit. What does that mean exactly?
Well, for example, purchasing a poor-quality treadmill with little to no shock absorption technology will wreak havoc on your ankles and knees over time. In turn, this option would certainly not be the best treadmill of your choice.
Conversely, if you can find a treadmill that covers most, if not all, of the benefits you are seeking to achieve, then boom! Congrats, you’ve just found the best option for you.
So, what are some important benefits to keep in mind when looking for what defines a “good” or “great” treadmill option? Let’s get into it:
- A treadmill that will effectively and efficiently improve fitness
- A treadmill that will burn a sufficient amount of calories
- A treadmill that is easy on the joints
- A treadmill that is safe
- A treadmill that will motivate you to use it
- A treadmill that is cost-effective, relative to your budget
- A treadmill that is quiet (this is a sign of quality engineering…)
Tips for using your treadmill
A treadmill is a great way to introduce yourself to running from the comfort and privacy of your own home. If you start slowly and gradually build at your own pace, eventually you can really start to make big strides and run with confidence.
Once you have finally purchased the best treadmill for your needs, you have made a great choice to improve your overall health and fitness! Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to get the most out of it;
- Walk before you run
- Try interval training
- Adjust the incline
- Use running headphones
- Stay hydrated throughout
- Don’t step on or off whilst the treadmill is moving
- Put the treadmill in a location where you will use it
There you have it! There’s a home treadmill out there for every class of user. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete, a student or doctor, a wealthy or middle-class individual, you name it!
With that being said, one important note. While much of this article is focused around finding the best treadmills for you, there are still some important factors that are non-negotiable. In other words, if the treadmill doesn’t have it, don’t get it!
When it comes to the bells and whistles, it can often be an enticing purchase. However, remember – Identify your needs and desires, as well as your budget prior to going on the oh so anticipated shopping spree for the best treadmills on the market.
If you’re a professional athlete, competitive marathon runner, or are simply keen on the newest and most advanced technologies on the market, if it’s within your budget, be my guest!
However, often times, you can save a pretty penny if you simply sift out the unnecessary features of the most premium treadmills and still end up with one of the highest quality pieces of equipment out there.
Simply put, we want to remain strong and healthy long into our health and fitness journeys. If an exercise, or piece of equipment, or an outside factor of any kind gets in the way of that, it is not the best option for you – even if it does save you some money in the interim.
Keep that in mind and you should do just fine in your treadmill hunt.
Stay healthy, stay motivated, and get out there and find the BEST treadmill for YOU! Good luck!