The treadmill is one of the most popular types of fitness machines in the world for very good reason. Whether you want to lose weight, generally enhance your fitness, work on a rehab programme or tone up, a treadmill is a tried and tested tool that will help you to get the job done. With a myriad of running machines to choose from, at all sorts of prices, they can all start to look more or less the same after a while when trying to pick one! Knowing the difference between what’s right for you and what isn’t can often be the difference between achieving your fitness goals or not. The bottom line is that if the treadmill you buy makes you bored or can’t cope with the demands you place upon it, your chances of success and reaching your fitness goals are diminished. Thankfully help is at hand and our treadmill buying guide below will help you choose the right machine for you.
What are the benefits of treadmills?
Running on a treadmill burns an incredible number of calories so is an ideal choice for weight loss.
The ability to train flat out on a treadmill makes it one of the best options for improving your cardiovascular system.
While there are certainly better cardio options for reducing impact, if running is your preferred choice then a treadmill causes much less impact than running on the street, due to the cushioning as well as flex and bounce in its deck.
Undertaking such strenuous exercise will release a rush of endorphins into your body, which have been proven to relieve stress and improve your mental health.
Muscle building is by no means the primary goal of a treadmill, but it can still help you to develop the muscles in your legs.
Types Of Treadmill
There are essentially two categories of treadmill that all models fall into, folding and non-folding. Non-folding treadmills provide additional stability thanks to their fixed frame but take up more room when stored and for these reasons, they are usually found in commercial gyms. Folding treadmills are exactly what their name suggests, a treadmill that can be folded up. They are better suited for use in a domestic setting as they require less room to store than fixed models. In terms of their size while in use, they are comparable to fixed models delivering a virtually identical running experience and for this reason, almost all models intended for home use are of the folding variety.
The name medium treadmill can actually be a little deceiving, as these tend to be the treadmills on the smaller end of the spectrum, and even include compact models. They are a great choice for those with a limited amount of room and are also ideal for anyone on a budget, as they are often the cheapest option.
Standard treadmills are exactly that, a treadmill that is average in both size and style. These are perfect for the majority of users that don’t have concerns about the size, space, strength or power, etc.
Oversized treadmills are generally a little longer and wider than their counterparts, while also having a greater weight limit. This makes them ideal for larger users, whether you are taller, heavier or both.
Things To Consider
The average belt size will be suitable for most users. However, if you are particularly tall, you may want to consider choosing the longest, widest option available, in order to get the most comfortable experience from it.
Motor horsepower & speed
If you are a particularly heavy user or an experienced one planning to push the treadmill to its limits, make sure the motor is powerful enough for you to use it how you intend. Typically we’d recommend opting for a model with a motor no smaller than 2.5 CHP (continuous horsepower) for this purpose. Larger motors also typically mean higher top speeds. If you’re planning on using your treadmill for more general purposes then a 1.5 CHP motor is typically enough.
Incline range/number of programs
With such a wide range of options available when it comes to inclines and programs, ensuring your chosen treadmill offers enough variety is essential to its success, especially if you are a more experienced user. It’s always worth opting for the steepest maximum incline your budget allows regardless of your fitness levels. Classic treadmills have a fixed number of programs built into the console whereas many newer models feature internet connectivity and stream programs directly to the treadmill. While the latter type of treadmill requires an internet connection (and often a subscription) to take advantage of these features, the benefit is that the number of programs tends to provide a far greater range and variety of workouts.
For such a high impact exercise, the amount of cushioning is an important factor to consider, especially if you have any pre-existing joint issues. Make sure you get a model you will be comfortable using on a regular basis. All models will feature some sort of cushioning to reduce impacts but, some higher-end machines even featuring adjustable cushioning, enabling you to set the treadmill up to suit your individual needs.
While the weight limit on most treadmills is fairly generous if you are a larger user make sure you check the weight limit to confirm that you will be able to use it safely. It’s recommended that you choose a model with a maximum user weight at least 15% higher than the weight of the heaviest intended user. Remember, like any machine, a treadmill that is always operating near its maximum capacity will tend to have a shorter lifespan and be noisier than a machine that is always operating well within its limits.
Treadmills are exceptionally large pieces of equipment. If you are limited on space, make sure to check the dimensions and confirm that your chosen model will fit into the intended space before purchasing. Returning such large items can often be a tricky and expensive business.
Extra features can vary dramatically from treadmill to treadmill. If you are looking for something specific, ensure you check the key features section of your chosen products page.
All our products come with at least a 1-year warranty however some will also offer longer. A number of brands also offer free warranty extensions if you register your machine with them. Make sure your chosen model comes with a warranty that makes you feel comfortable and confident in your purchase. Check the product details page for full details of the warranty it comes with.
Treadmills can be expensive pieces of equipment but despite this, they tend to offer better value than many gym memberships. Ideally, you should make sure that your budget reflects the type of action your treadmill is likely to see. If you are a family of five with three teenage children and you are all keen runners, it’s unlikely that an entry-price point compact model will be suitable for your needs. On the other hand, if you are trying to improve your mobility and plan on walking for 20 minutes twice a week, a top of the range oversized fixed treadmill would be unnecessary. Consider your needs carefully before setting yourself a clear budget and choosing your model.
Treadmills will require a limited amount of maintenance. However, you will need to keep them clean and regularly check for any damage to the belt. Regularly, turn it on at its lowest speed and examine it through a full rotation so you can check the entire belt to make sure it’s in good condition.