Shopping for a treadmill can be a slow process given the variety of machines available through different manufacturers with a range of features at different price points. Depending on what you want out of your machine and workout, you may be able to get by with an inexpensive manual treadmill. Conversely, you may require need a top of the line, machine equipped with the latest high tech features. Knowing the differences between the various available treadmills is really an asset when making such a big, and possibly expensive, decision. Fortunately, we’ve drafted a helpful treadmill buyer’s guide below which lays out all the essentials you need to know.
Horizon Fitness T202 Treadmill
Merit Fitness 725T Plus Treadmill
F60 SOLE Treadmill
Pro-Form Performance 600C Treadmill
NordicTrack C 600 Elite Series Electronic 2.6CHP Foldup Treadmill
Cory Everson Jamz Fitness Manual Treadmill
Stamina Products InMotion II Manual Treadmill
Stamina Products AVARI Magnetic Treadmill
Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill
Sunny Health & Fitness Manual Treadmill
Precor TRM 885 Treadmill
Life Fitness Discover SE Treadmill
Sole Fitness TT8 Light Commercial Non-Folding Treadmill
ProForm Boston Marathon Exercise Treadmill
Landice L9 Club Treadmill
Epic A42T Treadmill
Precor TRM 445 Treadmill
Sole F85 Treadmill 2011
NordicTrack X9i Incline Electronic Treadmill
TRUE PS100 Commercial Treadmill
Horizon Fitness T202 Treadmill
Horizon fitness is not always known for the quality of their products but their line of budget friendly treadmills is the exception to the rule and the T202 is the best of their offerings. It provides a large movement space at 20 inches x 55 inches and a solid frame with a belt which folds to save space when not in use. The belt is run by a 2.5 continuous horsepower motor for smooth and consistent speeds and offers 3-zone variable cushioning for the perfect shock protection for each individual’s joints.
Like other top tier treadmills the T202 offers an incline up to 12 percent and speed up to 12 miles per hour (MPH) and as low as 0.5 MPH with easy push button selection. The console is impressive in every way imaginable with a large brightly lit screen and simple push button navigation; you can easily read all key information and choose from an impressive number of 30 preset programs. This treadmill also comes with a fan, magazine rack, water bottle holder, mp3 jack, heart rate monitor, and workout tracking software.
The Merit Fitness 725t-Plus is the perfect treadmill for the beginning runner or the seasoned pro because of its simplistic, yet functional design. The 2.5 horsepower motor offers a steady and smooth belt rotation all the way up to 10 MPH. The belt inclines up to 10 percent for an increased challenge and boasts AEROsoft technology to cushion the joints from continuous impact while running.
When you’re not using the 725t-Plus, the 18 inch by 50 inch belt folds up for some simple space saving. The console on this device is simple in function, yet impressive because of features like a dual window to keep track of time and key metrics, seven preset programs, and incline and speed setting changes at the push of a button. Other notable features on this budget model include a separate heart rate handle and dual water bottle holders.
F60 SOLE Treadmill
Sole Fitness creates treadmills for all budgets and while the F60 is a budget model Sole’s integrity and quality still shine in this product. The F60’s belt has cushion flex technology reducing the impact of running on the joints while keeping the machine quite. It is fitted with a 2.75 continuous horsepower motor which keeps steady speed without faults and when you are not using the F60, the belt conveniently folds up for space saving and storage. This machine can hit 10 MPH and up to 12 percent incline, excellent for a budget model.
The steel frame is coated with an epoxy making it durable and scuff resistant, important in the home setting. The buttons are large and perfectly placed making it easy to control your incline, speed, and choose one of the 10 preset programs that come on this device without having to break your stride. Other notable features for this model include a 3 speed fan, water bottle holders, separate heart rate handles, a speaker, and an emergency stop button. The console is perfect with the minor issue being that the screen is a little on the smaller side.
The ProForm 600C does not look like a budget treadmill, but then again you wouldn’t expect anything less from one of the leading cardio machine manufacturers in the world. This treadmill is large with a rock solid frame and a 20 inch by 60 inch belt which folds up when not in use. The belt is run by a powerful 2.75 continuous horsepower motor and the ProShox cushioning under the belt protects your joints from constant impact during your workouts.
You’ll be hard pressed to find another treadmill at this price range offering 12 percent incline along with the ability to run up to 12 MPH. The console is super easy to navigate with over sized buttons for incline and speed along with colorful buttons to navigate other features including choosing one of the 22 built in programs. Another great feature to this budget treadmill is the ability to purchase an iFit module to access all of the awesome features of iFit technology. Other stand-out features include a powerful fan, EKG Grip Pulse, and iPod compatible speakers.
NordicTrack C 600 Elite Series Electronic 2.6CHP Foldup Treadmill
NordicTrack is a name well known in the fitness community for years of experience delivering some of the most innovative products on the market. The C600 Elite body is solid and the 20 inch by 50 inch belt offers plenty of room for walking or running. The DurX 2.6 continuous horsepower motor offers a smooth and consistent belt rotation up to 10 MPH while the FlexSelect cushioning protects the joints and the belt from the impact caused by running. The belt can be elevated all the way up to a 10 percent incline and when it isn’t being used it bends in the opposite way to fold up for a smaller footprint.
The console on this machine is a thing of beauty with a perfectly sized backlit screen displaying multiple statistics at the same time. The incline and speed are easy to increase or decrease with the single push of a button and it is nearly as simple to choose from one of the 20 preset workouts. Other notable features with this machine include iFit compatibility, iPod ready sound system, dual water bottle holders, and a separate heart rate monitor handle.
Cory Everson Jamz Fitness Manual Treadmill
When you take everything into consideration, it’s hard not to see the Cory Everson treadmill as the best because of all of its features. The console on this machine is navigated in a push button manner but the screen is much larger offering key metrics like heart rate info which you won’t find with any other manual treadmill.
The Cory Everson Manual treadmill comes with a water bottle, water bottle holder, and bands which are unprecedented for a unit offered way under $200. The only thing this treadmill doesn’t have is multiple levels of resistance which is made up for by the 3 levels of incline and it also folds up small for easy transportation and storage.
This treadmill has a pretty solid base and while it takes a small amount of effort to get the track rolling it’s smooth and quiet once you do. The track stops on its own just seconds after you step off even at a decent jogging speed. This model takes up very little room in its folded position and could easily be placed in a corner when not being used. The one downside to this machine is the very small console which is supposed to monitor distance, time, speed, and calories; you could probably do more and see better with a standard wristwatch. The InMotion II offers two incline settings for variation.
Just because your treadmill is manual does not mean it can’t have resistance; just ask the Avari magnetic treadmill which offers eight levels of it. As if multiple levels of magnetic resistance weren’t enough, Avari also offers eight levels of incline to really personalize your workout. While the incline must be adjusted by hand and can’t be switched mid stride, the resistance can be changed mid run with a convenient knob on the side of the handle.
The Avari treadmill it folds up nicely and locks into place so you don’t have to worry about accidental injury or property damage due to opening unexpectedly. The console is simple which you would expect from a device offered under $300 but it reads all of your key information and easy to scan through mid-stride.
Phoenix is a company well known for their budget friendly products and their Easy Up treadmill may be their crowning achievement. The belt only has one resistance level you control through your own movement while the belt is controlled by a big external flywheel; uncommon in most fitness equipment and a pretty cool touch. When it is not in use, it folds up easily and a pull pin locking system lets you know that it is safe and secure for storage or transport.
The console is similar to others in this class with a tiny screen which can be scrolled through with a single button to read all of your key information. What really sets the Phoenix console apart is the dual water bottle holder surrounding the console, a feature extremely uncommon in a budget device. At under $200 this treadmill is full of small but impressive surprises.
Sunny has always offered quality budget exercise equipment and their manual treadmill is no exception. It’s a basic model without a lot of extra features but the ones it does have make this the safest manual treadmill available. It has comfortable padded handles for balance stability, anti-slip stickers on either side for balance, and stability getting on an off the treadmill; it’s the perfect treadmill for aging and special population segments. This treadmill doesn’t offer incline options which in this case could be viewed as another safety precaution.
When you’re not using the Sunny manual treadmill, it’s easy to fold up and lock in place for storage or transport. The console displays all of your key metrics with a simple to use single button navigation system. It’s offered under $200 in most places which is an acceptable price for a bare bones manual treadmill meant for walking and light jogging only.
Precor TRM 885 Treadmill
Precor is well known for offering luxury level treadmills but their TRM 885 takes the cake because of its durability and gym specific features. Just by looking at the treadmill there’s a solid body combined with impressive deck technology supporting users up to 400 pounds.
The belt itself is multi-ply and comes pre-lubricated giving it a longer life. If the belt ever does begin to wear down, it’s simple to replace and the deck can be flipped over, not something you’ll find in just any treadmill. Additionally, the belt features foot plant technology to match the users stride to reduce joint stress. The Ground Effect Impact Control System also absorbs the shock of high impact movements protecting both the runner and the machine.
Users can control the speed of the belt up to 16 MPH provided by the four horsepower motor and move the belt anywhere from a 3 percent decline all the way up to a 15 percent incline. The screen on this machine is a 15 inch touch screen, larger than a tablet and just as easy to use. The oversized window shows you all of your necessary statistics (along with ones you didn’t even know that you wanted) in both U.S. Standard and Metric in 9 different languages.
You can choose from 28 workout options ranging from fat burning to strength training using the simple to navigate software on the touch screen. It also boasts a large red stop button and a magnetic stop clip for fall safety and notable extras like iPod docking, USB port, and headphone jack.
Life Fitness Discover SE Treadmill
Life Fitness is a staple in gyms all over the country which should be enough to tell you that these treadmills are serious business. They are built like tanks from durable metal and plastic, feature epoxy coating and comes in 4 different color options; a nice touch for the gym environment. The 22-inch by 60-inch belt runs smoothly because of the lubricant infused belt with an advanced tracking system and Lifespring shock absorbers help protect the joints from the impact of running.
The four horsepower motor allows you to hit speeds of up to 14 MPH and the belt can be raised up to 15 percent incline. The console on this machine makes every other console look like child’s play. It can, of course give you all of your statistics but the amount of exercise programs is basically infinite. The internet-ready console provides the option to find your own workout while allowing you the option to check Facebook, watch YouTube videos and much more. If you want a more direct approach to preset workouts, this console is leaps and bounds above others with landscape programs moving at the pace of the runner. Of course with all of these functions you also get a reading rack, cup holder, and iPod compatibility.
Soles TT8 treadmill features an expertly welded frame solid enough to support up to 400 pounds. The machine is coated with a durable plastic and an epoxy powder coat protecting both the treadmill and the user. The 2 ply, 37-inch by 80-inch deck is run by a quiet, continuous four horsepower motor with whisper flex technology which reduces joint impact by up to 40 percent.
The console has a beautiful, brightly lit 9-inch blue screen displaying everything you need to know about your workout in one place without a lot of scrolling and button pushing. You can easily adjust the treadmill up to 12 miles per hour and 15 percent incline with oversized buttons or convenient up and downs buttons located on the handles. It is a little light on built in programs (only 10 available) but they are intense and promise to keep your workout fresh and challenging.
For heart rate monitoring this machine offers the traditional grip monitors as well as chest strap compatibility. When it comes to safety this treadmill offers a quick stop button and a magnetic clip in case of a fall. The TT8 comes with cup holders, speakers, and fan with the latter two options definitely of a higher quality than what you would find in traditional home gym.
This treadmill is perfect for the serious marathoner or sport specific gym. Along with a bright yellow base, the structure of this ProForm treadmill features thick steel parts supporting up to 400 pounds and a damage resistant epoxy coating perfect for a gym setting. The 2 Ply belt measures 20-inches by 62-inches for a wide open running space making it feel more like road running. The Runners Flex impact control helps to cushion the joints but this technology can be turned off for a more road-like feel.
Since this is the official Boston Marathon treadmill, it goes the extra mile with an incline up to 20 percent and decline to 6 percent along with a 4.24 continuous horse power motor keeping the belt rolling smoothly up to 15 MPH. The incline and speed can be controlled easily from the console, however speed is also controllable by an innovative index finger ring; users can increase or decrease the speed by 1/10 of a MPH with a simple thumb tap.
The console screen is a full color HD 10-inch screen displaying all of your statistics. It can be used on street view when running the Boston Marathon program to actually see the marathon path. If you are not ready to run the Boston Marathon route right away, this machine offers multiple marathon training programs built in to get you marathon ready.
This machine comes with iFit compatibility to add in other cardio workout and not get you pigeon-holed into only doing marathon type runs. Other notable features on this device include 3-inch speakers for clear iPod compatible sound, two core cooling fans, a water bottle holder, and a cadence coach to help keep your stride in time.
The Landice L9 is unlike any other treadmill on the market starting with its sturdy aluminum frame supporting user weights up to 500 pounds. The 4-Ply treadmill belt sits on a deck lubricated on both sides for smooth rotation with no friction. The deck uses a six point guided shock absorption system preventing the deck belt from sliding in any direction which protects the joints from impact and jostling.
A 4 horsepower motor allows this machine to run up to 11 MPH and their second elevation motor is rated to give 1000 pounds of thrust quickly raising the incline up to 15 degrees.
This treadmill comes with a choice of 4 different consoles. The Executive Console has a 9-inch screen for entertainment purposes which can be controlled with the swipe of a finger and tapping the home screen will show you all of your options and settings. The Executive console comes with five preset programs and another six fitness tests to meet your fitness needs.
The Cardio console is the runner’s dream with a large statistics display and large buttons that are easy to use mid-stride. It comes with five preset workouts, three fitness tests, and five user defined programs, all are meant to enhance your running.
The Pro Sports console is a simplified version of the Cardio console with the same overall feel and button display as well as the five preset workouts and five user defined workouts, the major difference between the two is how your statistics are displayed on the LCD Screen.
The Pro Trainer version of the console is the most simplified and straight forward console available not only for this machine but all gym quality machines. It only displays a single LED window to scan through your statistics and another small screen dedicated solely to speed. This console comes with five preset programs and two more user defined programs proving that sometimes simpler is better.
Each of the consoles comes with the option to sync a wireless chest strap and every L9 comes complete with fans, cup holders, and speakers with the option to add a 15-inch monitor, tablet bracket, medical hand rails, and an amp isolation leakage kit.
Epic A42T Treadmill
The Epic A42 has a sturdy, solid steel frame with a sleek powder-coated finish and a curved console casing which make this treadmill look futuristic. The 2-Ply belt measures 20 inches by 60 inches and is run by a 4.2 continuous horsepower motor. The A42 has a maximum speed of 12 MPH and can adjust to a 15 percent incline or a decline of 3 percent. The belt also folds up for easy storage to add space to your gym when you are not using the treadmill.
Energy Returning Cushioning protects the joints from impact and also has rear motion sensors that will alert you of movement behind the treadmill and even shut the treadmill off if necessary protecting family and pets. The A42 has a 10 inch, full-color touchscreen offering full web connectivity to surf the internet while you run and Google street views for real time running views. Buttons on either side of the screen allow you to quickly jump to your favorite speed and incline while the buttons underneath the screen allow you to navigate through the 45 preset workout apps along with iFit.
This treadmill comes equipped with fans, speakers, heart rate monitors, and water bottle holders. It also has a unique console feature allowing you to adjust the perfect height and angle for each individual user. At around $3,000 this machine offers the best value for your money.
Precor TRM 445 Treadmill
Precor is well known for their luxury treadmills, but with great luxury comes great quality which is apparent in the machines solid frame. The multi-ply belt is thick, durable, and when combined with the dry lubricated and reversible deck, this treadmill will last a lifetime. The deck is a spacious 56 by 22 inches and a Ground Effects Impact Control System combined with Footplant Technology offer superior joint protection.
A three continuous horsepower motor lets you run at speeds up to 12 miles per hour and a second thrust motor generates up to 1000 pounds of thrust in order to fluctuate between a two percent decline and 15 percent incline. The seven inch Acrylic LCD console screen is absolutely beautiful to look at and easy to read. Backlit touch buttons make for easy navigation of the 23 preset workouts while unique and convenient lever-style buttons allow easy change in the belt speed and incline mid-stride.
The console displays 27 workout metrics and it’s even capable of tracking your workout and the workouts of up to three other users. Other notable features of this device include a tablet holder/port, oversized cup holders, and hand and chest strap heart rate monitors. At around $6,000 this isn’t exactly an impulse buy, but definitely a treadmill that will serve your entire family for a long time.
Sole always delivers quality and the F85’s 400 pound weight capacity demonstrates this frame is solid. The 2-Ply, 22 inch by 60 inch belt offers plenty of room to run and the deck folds up when not in use to save space. The belt is run by a four continuous horsepower motor letting it run up to 12 MPH and a rack and pinion gear design allowing you to adjust between .5 and 15 percent elevation. Even at its highest levels, the belt on the F85 is super quiet and its Cushion Flex technology protects your joints from harsh impact.
Sole really knows how to make their consoles stand out and the brightly lit nine inch screen on the F85 is one of their best. The easy-to-read screen displays your key metrics and also has a scrolling message board that helps you through your workouts and treadmill set up. On either side of the screen are single push buttons letting you jump to the speed and incline that suits you while below the screen are buttons allowing you to control the rest of your settings, including eight preset workouts and two custom programs.
The F85 will make you feel like it belongs in a gym with a host of extra features including fans, speakers, water bottle holders, heart rate monitors, and a safety lanyard or emergency purposes. At around $3,000, it’s a fair price to pay for a treadmill offering so many features combined with steadfast reliability.
NordicTrack X9i Incline Electronic Treadmill
The Nordic Track X9i has a solid steel frame that is built to last, and it has to be when you see just what this machine can do. The belt is a fairly standard 22 inches by 60 inches with Reflex cushioning protecting the joints from major impact. The X9i can reach speeds of 12 MPH with its reliable three continuous horsepower motor and the incline on this device is unlike any home treadmill that you will find. This treadmill offers an incline of 40 percent and a decline of six percent which not only opens up your workout options, it also helps to burn more calories.
The console of this machine is loaded with a 10 inch, web-enabled touch screen and buttons galore. On either side of the screen you’ll find quick set buttons allowing you to quickly jump to your favorite speed and incline. Below the screen you’ll find buttons to start/stop the machine as well as controlling the endless iFit enabled workouts. The screen displays all of your key metrics in an easy-to-read manner, along with an Android powered web browser so you can surf the web during a workout to keep your mind entertained while your body works.
If the web browser wasn’t enough, this machine also comes with an iPod port and tablet holder as well as dual fans, great speakers, dual cup holders, as well as handle and chest strap heart rate monitors. With the options that come standard on this machine, the price tag of around $3,000 is almost a steal.
At first glance the PS100 looks like your average treadmill, but its commercial-grade materials and precision construction make it all the more impressive. The 2-Ply, 22 inch by 60 inch belt offers ample running room and is powered by a three continuous horsepower motor allowing for smooth running up to 12 MPH. A separate thrust motor allows you to elevate the belt up to 15 percent and both speed and incline can be easily adjusted with the touch of a button underneath the console screen.
At seven inches the screen could be a little bigger and the console itself is pretty simple but your key metrics are quickly and easily read during your workout. Buttons on either side of the screen allow you to quickly select one of the nine preset programs on this device. The PS100 comes with features you’d expect on a device in this class like wireless heart rate monitor compatibility, a safety lanyard, water bottle holders and other item holders.
Treadmill Buyer's Guide
Deciding which treadmill is right for you shouldn’t be taken lightly given the range of choices on the market. With so much competition among manufacturers, you may find the price point or added perks of a certain machine are what sets it apart from other available options. Your primary considerations should include assessing the amount of space a machine uses or safely it’s constructed. Also take a look at the type of console a machine has; whether it’s simple readout to an WiFi-enabled tablet, you want something which compliments your particular workout style. Of course your experience wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t get few extra features to seal the deal such as cooling fans, utility trays, and audio speakers.
Track size counts for both length and width, but length is a bigger defining factor. If you’re a tall person or have a particularly long stride length, ensure sure your track is long enough because otherwise you could end up stepping right off the back of your treadmill resulting in serious injury.
Always check a machines weight capacity to make sure a particular machine can support your weight. With most machines the average person really doesn’t have much to worry about considering even the flimsiest of treadmills can support over 250 pounds.
Figure out where your treadmill will go and then take measurements to make sure it will fit the space. Decks can be more than a foot further out than the track, so ensure you have clearance. Some treadmills come with the option of a folding deck which we’ll discuss in detail below.
Modern treadmills aren’t like the old-school options where every time your foot hit the track it was jarring experience. Today’s options come with varying degrees of cushioning under the belt which protect your joints and your treadmill. If your budget permits, look to treadmills which feature adjustable cushioning to compliment different exercise programs.
Not all treadmills offer an incline, but you should definitely look for one that does. Inclines works by raising the deck, adding to the overall resistance of your treadmill workout; this feature adds years worth of usability to any machine. While high-end models have programs which automatically adjust the incline, you can find cheaper treadmills offering at least two manual incline levels.
A folding treadmill deck is great for saving space in smaller rooms and commonly found lower to mid-level models. With premium home models and gym-grade treadmills you’re less likely to see this option.
Motors can vary a lot depending on the size and of the treadmill and the speed requirements. Most treadmill motors range between .5 and 3 horsepower with the former being a basic motorized model and the latter found on higher end models. More horsepower means a faster treadmill as well as less wear and tear on the motor when it’s operating at high speeds.
You need a track motor for your treadmill to work, but an incline motor is the one that puts in the real work. Treadmills which provide automatic incline offer a wide range of workout options but this also places a lot of stress on a motor since it’s the combines weight of the deck and user. While are many benefits to owning a treadmill with an incline motor but it also increases the cost of ownership.
Even if you own a manual treadmill it will come with a simple console which provides the most basic features including the time, distance ran, and calories burned. These consoles are usually battery operated with only a few buttons to control functions.
More advanced consoles can do everything a simple console does and much more. These LED consoles provide all the key exercise metrics you need as well as pre-programmed workouts. LED consoles will almost always include a USB port for plugging in your smartphone, MP3 player, or other personal electronic device.
Tablets offer all the functions of a simple/LED console along with so much more. Besides setting workouts and monitoring your progress, high-end tablet displays offer laptop functionality allowing online access, watch movies or TV series, or tune into your favorite streaming radio station. Make sure you're comfortable with this technology or you may be overwhelmed by all the options.
Almost every motorized treadmill has a magnetic or Velcro safety clip that will automatically kill the motor if it becomes detached from the treadmill. Some mid to higher level models also pause the second you step off the treadmill which is great for a bathroom break but even greater for a safe restart of your workout. This is an essential feature so avoid options which don’t include this feature.
Who hasn’t tripped once or twice on a treadmill? The hand bars are there for exactly that reason, providing a place to catch a hold of if you trip; they’re also a great place to lean when you start getting tired. Taller individuals will want to measure the hand bars to make sure they extend far enough out for grabbing onto.
Any treadmill worth its weight will have a utility tray on it. Tray designs vary from one treadmill to the other but at the very least it should have a water bottle holder and space for placing things like your keys, smartphone, or MP3 player.
Audio speakers typically come standard with mid-level to higher end machines; they allow you to listen to music, online radio, podcasts without the need for headphones. Fans obviously keep you cool so you can work out longer but they can be a hit or miss performance-wise depending on the manufacturer.
There's a lot of moving parts on a treadmill and so look for a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty to cover them for as long as possible. The best warranties out there have a lifetime on the frame and at least five years on the console. A treadmill is a big investment which you want to protect so beware any options which have weak or non-existent warranties.