What to Look for in a Treadmill – A Buying Guide
Treadmills are very popular and have been a #1 selling fitness machines for many years. However, not everyone knows what to look for when buying one, hence the reason for this treadmill buyers guide.
Buying a treadmill is a significant investment and not something you’re going to do every year. If you’re feeling a bit lost and don’t know what to look out for, this buying guide will come to your rescue.
What is a Treadmill?
A treadmill is a cardio exercise device typically used for walking, running, or climbing exercise. The device consists of a moving treadmill belt that loops around, driven by a treadmill motor. This allows the user to walk, run, or climb in the same space.
Does it Matter What Treadmill You Use?
Yes, it does matter because not all treadmills are created equal. Knowing which option is best for you depends on your preferences. We’ll look at this aspect of buying a treadmill later. First, we’ll look at the different types of treadmills to choose from.
They’re not all designed to be used the same way. Features will vary. Some will be more suited for home use, while other models will be designed for more serious runners. Here are some of the most common types.
Manual Treadmills (Curved Treadmills)
Manual treadmills start to move when you start running on it. It gets its power from the energy you create. The faster you go, the faster the treadmill will go.
One benefit is that you don’t need to plug the treadmill in, so you can position it anywhere. They also tend to be cheaper. On the flip side, there are generally no treadmill workout programs and no emergency stop.
A motorized treadmill uses a motor. You control it via a monitor. This is the most popular type of treadmill and what most people consider first when looking to buy one.
Folding treadmills are becoming more popular because they take up less space. You fold down the treadmill using a release button or hatch. When your treadmill workouts are over, simply fold the treadmill back up again.
Something to consider if you’re looking at folding treadmills is how easy the folding process is.
A commercial treadmill will be big and sturdy. Most treadmills of this type are found in a commercial gym. Commercial treadmills are more expensive than a domestic model. However, they are well-built for durability and robustness.
Common features of a commercial treadmill include touchscreen monitors, WiFi, and TV streaming.
Many treadmills have an incline function, but some treadmills focus on incline training specifically. Inclines can be as much as a 40% grade. This type of treadmill is good for a low-impact, high-intensity workout.
Hybrid treadmills are usually a combination of other exercise equipment such as a treadmill with an elliptical or similar cardio machine.
These machines have a major drawback in that they’re not very common and typically underperform.
A treadmill desk, also known as a walking desk or treadmill workstation is a computer desk that’s been adapted. They are great for incorporating more movement into a sedentary job. It consists of a height-adjustable standing desk that’s combined with an under-desk office treadmill.
An interactive treadmill offers a variety of preset programs and fitness levels. Walking or running on a treadmill can get monotonous when you’re walking in the same setting, day after day.
An interactive treadmill goes some way toward making your exercise more enjoyable with different sets of functions, modes, features, and apps.
A house treadmill is a treadmill that’s been designed specifically for use in the home. They are a great way to get your family into a more healthy, fitness mindset.
Medical (rehabilitation) Treadmills
Medical treadmills are used in medical facilities and meet hospital requirements in terms of electronics and handrails. They are designed for people who are recovering from an injury, rehabilitating, or de-conditioned.
Should You Choose an Electric or Manual-Powered Treadmill?
Many people prefer manual-powered treadmills because they’re portable, energy-free, and often more affordable than a motorized treadmill. In addition, a manual treadmill will likely be cheaper to fix if it breaks down.
A manual treadmill has more potential for workout efficiency. A motorized model has a treadmill motor that does some of the work for you. You’ll likely expend more calories per mile if you use a manual treadmill.
Are Folding or Non-Folding Treadmills Better?
If space in your home or office is limited, foldable treadmills will be the best choice. You can fold it up and store it out of the way when you’re not using it.
Is an Incline or Flat Treadmill Better?
The answer to this question depends on what your goals are. You’re going to burn more calories if you use an incline treadmill. You can also increase your cardiovascular exercise with an incline treadmill compared to a flat walking treadmill.
The benefits of using an incline treadmill include:
- Your body has to work harder
- You burn more calories
- You increase the potential for weight loss
- Reduced risk of injury
New and Used Prices for the Different Types of Treadmill
- New Price: $300 – $3,000
- Used price: $30 – $3,000
- New Price: $3,000 – $7,500
- Used price: $60 – $5,000
- New Price: $200 – $3,399
- Used price: $30 – $3,000
- New Price: $3,500 – $10,000
- Used price: $300 – $3,000
- New Price: $180 – $10,000
- Used price: $145 – $7,000
- New Price: From $499
- Used price: $100 – $500
- New Price: From $459
- Used price: $100 – $500
- New Price: $219 – $1,999
- Used price: $100 – $700
- New Price: $500 – $1,000+
- Used price: $100 – $1,000
- New Price: $2,945 – $15,000
- Used price: $1,000 – $10,000
What Should You Pay Attention to When Buying a Treadmill?
If you want a treadmill that suits your needs and gives you the best value for money, there are some factors you must consider before making your purchase.
Before you start looking for your treadmill, set yourself a budget. Treadmills can cost several thousand dollars or as little as a few hundred.
With a set budget, you’ll limit your options and not feel so overwhelmed.
The level of horsepower directly affects how fast you’ll be able to go at maximum speed. The energy a machine produces is measured in continuous horsepower or CHP. You’ll also see it referred to as simply HP.
If you want a treadmill to be more durable and less likely to break, look for one that has at least a 2.5-horsepower motor.
A good indicator of whether a treadmill is up for the job is to check the HP. Here are some examples of different types of exercise:
- Walking: 2.0 CHP or higher
- Jogging: 2.5 CHP or higher
- Running: 3.0 CHP or higher
- Fast, Frequent Running: 4.0 CHP or higher
In a commercial gym or health club, the treadmills tend to be 5.0 CHP.
People often overlook shock absorption and then live to regret their purchase. Shock-absorbing systems reduce the impact your strides have on the machine. They also make your running experience more comfortable because they provide cushioning and extra support.
Systems can be either shock absorbers or springs. The latter reduces the impact when you run, but they don’t feel as natural as shock absorbers.
The space you have for a treadmill is another factor commonly overlooked. Treadmills can take up a considerable amount of space so it’s crucial to work out where you’re going to put it before you spend any money.
Don’t worry if space is an issue because there are plenty of folding treadmills on the market.
Running treadmills have an ideal running surface of at least 55 inches long and 20 inches wide. This should be enough to accommodate the average stride.
Cushioning can be an important asset. It reduces the impact your strides have on the treadmill and makes the whole experience more comfortable. Cushioning also limits the amount of impact your joints have to endure.
Adjustable cushioning may be an option along with three-zone cushioning systems. A three-zone system provides more cushioning where your foot strikes the treadmill belt. It’s also firmer in the back for when you push off.
A treadmill with an incline feature will offer a more challenging workout. Some models allow the user to raise the incline of the running surface by various degrees.
An incline will add variety to your exercise and help burn more calories.
If the treadmill has a control panel, look for one that’s easy to use. It should also have the features you consider important. These might include speed, heart rate monitor, incline, and a good selection of pre-programmed workout options.
If space is at a premium in your home, consider a folding treadmill. This type can be folded and stored easily.
Treadmills tend to have a weight capacity. The model you buy should be able to accommodate your weight. Your weight can also make a difference in how the treadmill runs. Weight capacity is also a good indicator of how robust a machine is. For example:
- Low durability- Less than 200 lbs.
- Medium durability- 200-300 lbs
- High durability- 300-500 lbs
- Premium durability- Over 500 lbs.
Overall Construction Design & Durability
One thing that makes a commercial treadmill stand out from a home treadmill is the quality of the construction and its durability overall.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find high-quality home treadmills. It just takes a little more searching and you might need to increase your spending parameters.
The more you plan to use your treadmill, or the more people that will use it, the more durable and rugged a treadmill you need to source.
If you’re only planning to use your treadmill occasionally, perhaps when the weather is bad or you’ve only got a small training window, you might not need such a robust treadmill.
In general, treadmills have two rollers that the tracks move over. One roller is at the back while one roller is at the front. The size of the rollers varies and depends on the treadmill. Nevertheless, they are an important factor.
When the rollers are larger, there is less wear on the treadmill motor, treadmill mat, and track. Rollers with large diameters also keep a better grip on the treadmill belt. A better grip means the belt stays tensioned, and centered, and requires less maintenance.
A good guide is as follows:
- Rollers that are 1-6” can run hot and result in hesitation
- Rollers that are 2.5” and above are an indication of good durability
The roller size is important. Also important is whether the rollers are hollow or solid. Solid rollers will be less likely to strip.
Treadmills can be quite noisy, depending on the model, and also depending on the components, engineering, and assembly. A poor-quality machine will be noisier. However, just because a treadmill is dead quiet, don’t assume it’s perfect.
It’s a good idea to check the construction of the machine before judging the treadmill by the noise it makes.
If you share your living space, the noise level of your machine is a key consideration to make.
The standard treadmill warranty period is a lifetime on the frame, 3 years on the parts, and 1 year on the labor. A standard warranty is generally more than adequate.
Look for a treadmill that comes with a solid warranty covering the motor, parts, and labor. Good treadmill warranties protects your investment and you get peace of mind.
Extended warranties will generally be offered, but they tend not to be worth the extra expense.
User Profile and Goals
Before you commit to buying a treadmill, consider the level of your fitness and what goals you want to achieve. For beginners, a basic model may be more suitable. However, more experienced runners might need a high-end model that comes with a good selection of advanced features.
When you’re using your treadmill, you don’t want it to wobble and shake. Therefore, look for a treadmill that’s sturdy and stable.
If the treadmill’s frame is poor quality, it will create a feeling of instability, so look for a treadmill with a strong and durable frame.
If you’re going to move your treadmill around a lot or need to store it in a different location, take into consideration its weight. If the treadmill also has wheels, this will make moving it around much easier.
The best treadmill brand is one that suits your needs and helps you meet your fitness goals.
What are the Best Treadmill Brands?
Ideally, you want to look for treadmill companies with a good reputation for quality products and excellent customer service.
You’ll find many treadmill brands to choose from. Each has its unique features and benefits. Here are some top treadmill brands you might want to consider:
- Horizon Fitness
Another good brand is Sole Fitness, particularly the F85 folding treadmill model.
Once you’ve decided on a treadmill you like and are ready to go shopping, the chances are that your treadmill will arrive in several big boxes. You might be lucky enough to buy a treadmill that’s pre-assembled, but it will likely require some assembly.
If you’re not that handy with tools or following assembly instructions, choose a model that’s easy to put together.
A good way to assess how good a treadmill is will be to check customer reviews. They are easy enough to find online and can be a good indicator of a product’s quality.
That being said, be aware that people are more likely to highlight bad experiences vs. positive ones. You should expect a handful of negative reviews, but if there is a substantial number, you might want to reconsider your choice.
Heart Rate Monitoring
You’re not going to find a heart rate monitoring feature on all treadmills, but some do have it built-in or the option to connect the treadmill to an external monitor.
A heart rate monitoring feature will come in handy if you want to track the intensity of your workouts and work on improving your fitness.
If a treadmill offers connectivity it means you can use Bluetooth, WiFi, a USB port, or a dock for your smartphone. This will allow you to track your workouts, connect with fitness apps, listen to music, or stream TV.
A golden rule when it comes to treadmill maintenance is to keep it clean. Other than that, you might need to keep it lubricated and periodically adjust the belt. Take into account whether you’re able and willing to undertake these tasks.
Even an average treadmill will have safety features that include a safety key, handrails, and an emergency stop option.
You attach a safety key to your clothing and if you get too close to the end of the running belt, the key ensures the machine stops. Handrails are for support should you lose your balance. While an emergency stop button allows you to push your limits, knowing that you can stop the machine when you have to.
It’s possible to enhance your basic treadmill experience with a variety of smart features.
Internet Connectivity and Mobile Compatibility
Mobile compatibility and internet connectivity will allow you to use streaming capabilities and sync with third-party apps.
Heart-Rate Monitoring and Workout Programs
Workout programs allow you to vary your workout. Most people will never use them, but they are a useful addition. You’ll likely try a few and stick with one that you like.
When you want to buy a treadmill look for one with HR hand grips as these are much better than the standard gizmo strap which tends to be uncomfortable for most people.
The speed of a treadmill is regulated by sensors. These can be digital or analog.
Digital Vs. Analog Speed Sensors – Which One is Better?
Digital speed sensors tend to be better than analog ones. This is because analog sensors create a continuous signal which delivers a slower response and requires the motor to react frequently. A digital sensor, on the other hand, creates non-continuous signals. These deliver a smoother running experience. In addition, they require less maintenance.
Always check a store’s returns policy and if you buy a treadmill online, find out how the company handles return shipping.
Types and Strength of Treadmill Frames
You should look at the treadmill frame closely before reaching your decision. The more expensive treadmills tend to have sturdier frames. A poor frame will feel very insatiable and usually be noisier when you use it.
Steel seems to be a popular material for most treadmills. It’s stronger than aluminum. However, aluminum is lighter and more flexible than steel. This means the machine won’t be as stiff and have more flex.
How to Choose the Right Treadmill?
When it comes to choosing your treadmill there are steps you should follow if you want to find the best one for your needs. Answer the following questions.
- What are your fitness goals: Do you want to lose weight, train for an event, or improve your cardiovascular health? When you know what your goals are, it helps you choose a treadmill that meets your needs.
- Where are you going to position the treadmill: Even a foldable treadmill will take up space in your home. You must check if the treadmill will fit. Take measurements that include the floor space and ceiling height. If you’re purchasing a motorized treadmill you should consider the position of electrical outlets.
- Can you take the treadmill for a test drive: If possible, try out the treadmill before you buy it. You’ll get an idea of how it feels and whether it meets your needs.
- What additional features would you like: Would you like a heart rate monitor, an incline feature, cushioning, a control panel, and connectivity?
- How often do you plan to use the treadmill: Durability is a key factor when buying a treadmill and what separates a poor-quality one from a more robust machine. However, if you’re not planning on using your treadmill often a more robust treadmill might not be necessary.
- Do you plan on running, walking, or jogging: If you’re only going to be using your treadmill for walking, a walking-specific treadmill will save you money and better meet your needs. Dedicated runners need a treadmill designed to withstand running and that supports higher speeds.
- How easy is it to use: Look for a treadmill with features you can use easily and safely. The speed buttons should be easy to use and allow you to change speed and incline safely, instantly, and easily. If the treadmill has a built-in screen, it should sit comfortably at eye level.
- Can you change the setting easily: If the treadmill has lots of exciting features, they should be easy to find and change.
- Is the size right for you: Treadmill dimensions vary and the size you need depends on whether you plan to run or walk. If you’re going to be running, a 20” treadmill belt that’s 50” in length should be right. If you’re running, you should look for a belt that’s a minimum of 22” wide and 60” in length.
More Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Treadmill
There are a few additional treadmill features you should keep in mind when choosing your treadmill.
Extra treadmill technology Features And Accessories
- Water Bottle Holders: This is an excellent feature if you’re planning to engage in high-intensity training. Keeping hydrated during exercise is crucial.
- Accessory Tray: You’ll be able to keep small items close and handy during your workout. For example, you might want a small snack or somewhere to place your watch.
- Device Holder: Do you plan on using a tablet or smartphone? Look for a treadmill that features a holder or space for your device. It should be somewhere that allows you to easily see the screen.
- Speakers: Many people enjoy listening to music while they exercise. It can also have a positive impact on your training. Many treadmills have built-in speakers so you don’t need to use headphones.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth connectivity means you can stream your favorite music or watch a popular movie while you exercise.
- USB Charging Port: If a treadmill has a USB charging port it means you can enjoy uninterrupted entertainment.
- Fan: You can get pretty hot when you work out which is why many models of treadmills now include built-in workout fans.
- Workout While You Work: There is now the option to work out while you work with a desk treadmill.
Things To Avoid When Buying A Treadmill?
So far, we’ve looked at all the things you should consider when buying a treadmill. Time to look at some of the things you should avoid.
- Overspending: Understandably, you want the best, but spending thousands of dollars on one piece of gym equipment might not fit your budget. Take streaming a cardio workout, for example. It might be a game changer for some, but not everyone is going to find this feature useful. Think hard about whether you’re going to benefit from virtual training because you could make significant savings if you choose a more basic model. The same applies to features such as incline and decline settings. If you’re unlikely to use these settings, there’s little point in spending the extra cash.
- Weak Treadmill Motor: If you’re going to be using your treadmill for taking a brisk walk, the strength of the treadmill motor won’t matter too much. However, if you’re an endurance runner that needs to get in some serious practice, the motor is going to make a big difference. For long-distance running, check out treadmills with a 3.0 CHP motor or higher.
- Low Top Speed: For someone looking to get their daily steps in, the speed settings on a treadmill hold little importance. However, runners need to pay attention to this feature. Basic walking treadmills are only built to reach speeds of up to 6 mph. If you’re looking to crank out impressive under five-minute miles, your treadmill needs to have a top speed of at least 12 mph. For interval training, you need a treadmill that hits 10mph.
- Poor Cushioning: People generally use treadmills because they are more forgiving on the joints than running on concrete. However, not all treadmills are built the same. A good quality treadmill will reduce the impact by between 15 and 45%. However, a lower-end treadmill may offer much less. Some treadmills have adjustable cushioning, while others use a three-zone cushion system. This system is unique and provides the best cushioning. If you’re an avid runner, look for ample cushioning. Not all companies provide cushioning information. Your best bet is to check customer reviews and avoid any models that have lots of negative comments regarding cushioning.
- Poor Warranty: Typically, you can expect a treadmill’s warranty to cover the motor, frame, parts, and labor. Most treadmills have a lifetime warranty on the motor and frame. However, cheaper treadmills might only have a two-year warranty. Warranty covering parts varies from brand to brand, however, more reliable treadmills will have a five-year parts warranty. Labor costs tend to be expensive, so a warranty typically only covers this for one year.
Which Treadmill Type is Best for Beginners?
If you’re a complete beginner, the best thing to do is consider a few options, such as your budget, fitness goals, and how much space you have in your home. Key features to look for include workout programs, speed settings, incline/decline settings, belt size, and folding options.
What is the Best Treadmill Type for Older Adults?
The perfect treadmill type for older adults is one that’s safe, comfortable, and easy to use. Safety features are critical because the risk of injury is higher in older people. Look for a treadmill that has handrails, an emergency stop button, and a low-speed setting.
Comfort is another essential element so make sure you choose a treadmill that’s got a flat, cushioned surface and plenty of room for jogging or walking comfortably.
Seniors should also look for treadmills that are easy to use and understand. It should have intuitive controls and an easy-to-read treadmill console and digital display.
What Type of Treadmill is Best for Home Use?
The type of treadmill that’s best for use in the home depends on several factors. The main factors to consider are whether you want to run, jog, sprint, or cross-train. In addition, your budget plays a big role along with where you plan to locate your treadmill.
Where Should You Look for a Used or New Treadmill?
You can purchase a treadmill at a retail store or buy it online. If you choose to buy at a retail store, one of the advantages is that you can try before you buy. However, you will be responsible for transporting and assembling the treadmill.
Buying online, from a company such as Best Used Gym Equipment means you don’t have to leave the house to make your purchase. It is one of the best gym equipment providers in the US. A bonus is that you can visit the company warehouse in Miami and inspect the equipment yourself before you make your purchase.
Check our treadmills for sale and choose the one that will best fit your home or commercial fitness.
Buying a new treadmill can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many different models to choose from and a wide variety of treadmill features as well. Whatever you’re looking for in a treadmill, there’s an option out there for you. When you’re weighing up the pros and cons of each, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- The amount of space you need
- Your budget
- The features which are essential for you
- The style of cardio you’re planning
1. What are the specifications of a good treadmill?
The minimum specifications of a good treadmill include:
- Belt size: For running – 48” long and 18” wide
- Control panel: Easy to reach and simple to use
- Cushioning: Sufficient to absorb shock
- Treadmill Incline: Up to 10% or higher
- Speed: For running, up to 10 mph or higher
- Stability: The treadmill should shake when you use it and the frame should be stable
2. Are cheap treadmills worth it?
A cheap treadmill is not worth it because it’s less likely to last than one that costs $1,000 or more. There are a few treadmills that cost just a few hundred dollars but they are very flimsy and won’t last very long. It’s also not going to be very comfortable to use.
3. How much should I spend on a good treadmill?
Treadmill prices for a good machine start at around $1,000.
4. What is good horsepower for a treadmill?
If you’re planning on using your treadmill for walking, look for treadmill motors with at least 1.5 CHP. If you’re planning to run, you’re better off choosing a motor with 2.5 to 3.0 CHP.