Our top pick for the best treadmill is the ProForm Pro 2000. This machine clinches the top position owing to its powerful motor, quality build and design, multiple supported workout apps, web connected touchscreen console and multiple heart rate monitors.
Our step up pick is the Sole F80 Folding Treadmill. This is a sturdily built and well-designed machine that offers excellent performance and comes with a ton of impressive features and functions to ensure your attain your fitness goals.
Our budget pick is the Proform 505 CST Treadmill, which is a reasonably priced and compact yet high quality machine that delivers a fairly good level of performance without compromising on comfort or durability.
- Little Background
- Should You Get A Treadmill?
- How Is Treadmill Running Different From Running Outside?
- Benefits of Running On A Treadmill
- How We Picked
- Other Treadmill Considerations
- The Competition
- Other Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping It Up
If you are looking for fitness equipment that allows you to workout whenever you want, regardless of the weather or time of day, you should consider purchasing a treadmill. Treadmills are a good choice and one of the most popular cardio equipment for use both in a gym and within the home. Running on the cushioned decks is also safer and easier on your joints than running on hard pavement.
Treadmills come in a wide range of varieties, ranging from smaller, cheaper models to advanced models for commercial use. As such, choosing the best treadmill for your needs can be a bit challenging. To make the choice easer for you, we reviewed a number of treadmills and put together this guide to help you choose the best treadmill for your budget and exercising needs.
Should You Get A Treadmill?
To get a treadmill or not to? This is an important thing to consider before you decide to splash some money on one. If you have a regular walking or running habit, buying a treadmill will make your workout routine easier, more fun and more convenient. For instance, if you regularly use one at the gym, buying your own could save you the commute to the gym. It would also allow you to work out while you watch TV or listen to your favorite music without the risk of being run over by a careless driver while running outdoors. Having your own home treadmill also allows you to walk or run even when there’s bad weather.
However, if you do not have a regular walking or running habit, you should not be in a rush to buy a treadmill. You should first consider running outside or using the one at the gym to see if you like these kind of workouts. Else, you might spend a large sum of money on one and end up not using it at all.
How Is Treadmill Running Different From Running Outside?
Running or walking on the treadmill is different from running outside in three key ways:
Zero wind resistance: Unlike running outside, your body does not move in space when you are running on a treadmill, therefore you do not have to overcome any air resistance. This makes running on the machine a tad less strenuous than running outside. To make up for this, the conventional wisdom is to slightly increase the incline of the running deck. However, this works when you are running at a fast pace.
Moving belt: Unlike running outside, running on the treadmill requires you to keep up with a moving belt. According to research, people tend to use shorter strides when running on the machine. This in turn means that you will have a higher stride frequency at any pace. This will make you feel like you are expending more effort to maintain the pace.
Stationary scene: When running outside, we use visual cues of moving past scenery to guess our speed. When running on the treadmill, the scenery is not changing. This makes you feel like you are running much faster than you actually are. The stationary scenery might also lead to boredom, though there are several ways to overcome this boredom, such as having a TV in front of you.
Benefits of Running On A Treadmill
Running on a treadmill has several benefits. Some of these include:
Burning calories: Running is one of the best workouts for burning calories. Running on a treadmill takes that a notch higher. Here, you can follow specific workouts that are specifically designed to help you efficiently calories in little time. In addition, you can conveniently and accurately measure your progress and results, unlike with running outdoors.
Lower impact: When running outside, the impact of your legs on concrete or pavement can lead to joint pains or some types of leg injuries. Since most treadmills have springy decks, there’s less impact, which can help prevents these pains and injuries.
Controlled environment: A treadmill allows you to run or walk in a controlled environment, without having to worry about changing road conditions, passing cars and other people.
Mood boosts: When you run, endorphins are released into your brain. This leaves you feeling good after a workout. A treadmill allows you to experience this natural ‘feel-good’ response from the comfort of your home or the gym.
How We Picked
To find the best treadmill, we spent several days working out on a wide range of brands to get a feel of each of them. We familiarized ourselves with the most popular workout programs and thoroughly checked how different parameters and factors affected the performance of each machine. Some of the factors we considered when making the choice of the best treadmill include:
Running Surface Size
This is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing a treadmill. A good machine should comfortably accommodate your full running stride. While a shorter running surface size might help you save some space, it is not the best option. If the running surface size is too short, you’ll either find yourself coming off the back or tripping on the front of the machine. The best treadmills allow you to work out without having to artificially shorten your stride.
Most of the machines we tested range between 55 to 60 inches in length and 20-22 inches in width. Ideally, you should not go for one that is shorter than 55 inches if you intend to use it for running. If you are 6 feet or taller, you should go for a 60 inch treadmill to accommodate your longer stride. You can go with a shorter one if you are a walker, but it’s not recommended since a family member might use the machine for running. For runners, you should go with the 22 inch wide treadmills, while walkers can get away with 20 inch wide machines.
A good treadmill should give you the option of changing the degree of incline. This allows you to mimic running uphill, therefore making your workout more challenging. This is especially a good option for those who want to lose weight, since the incline makes the workout more strenuous and therefore helps you burn more calories. It is advisable to go for a machine that has electronic incline adjustability. This allows you to increase or decrease the degree of incline without having to stop your workout to manually adjust the incline. You should also consider the degree of incline supported by the treadmill. Most of the machines we tested are capable of up to 12 percent incline, with a few inclining up to 15 percent.
A few of the treadmills we tested were also capable of declining by up to 3 percent. This mimics walking or running downhill, allowing you to work on parts of your leg that are usually left out during flat or inclined workouts.
Another factor we considered when coming up with the list of the best treadmills is how fast they can go. While speed is not usually an important consideration when walking, it is an important factor when you are running, and especially so if you are preparing for a race. Most of the treadmills we tested had a top speed of between 10 and 12 mph, which is much faster than the average human running speed of between 6 and 9 mph. A speed of 10 mph is equivalent to a six minute mile. This is a speed most of us are not capable of sustaining for over a minute or two.
Different machines have varying levels of deck springiness. This is usually advertised as “cushioning” or “flexdeck”. This means that the running deck has a bounciness which acts as a shock absorber, thus helping to prevent injuries. While some people claim that running on a springy treadmill is less challenging, most people find springy decks to be more comfortable.
Another important factor we kept in mind are the included workout features. Some treadmills come with preprogrammed workouts that automatically switch the speed and incline during your workout. For instance, some workouts may start with a brisk walking pace and gradually advance into a jog or run without you having to make the adjustments yourself. Others will adjust the speed and incline to mimic cross-country running over changing terrain, thus keeping your workout challenging and interesting. The more the preprogrammed workouts, the more versatile the machine.
Heart Rate Monitoring
While most treadmills have this feature, it is an important thing to consider nonetheless, especially its accuracy. Monitoring your heart rate helps you ensure that you remain within healthy ranges throughout your workout. Different offerings have different ways of monitoring your heart rate. These include thumb sensors, chest straps and grip contact sensors. Chest straps are by far the most accurate and convenient way of monitoring your heart rate, since they allow you to concentrate on your workout instead of interrupting your workout to grab anything while your heart rate is measured.
A good treadmill should come with holders for water bottles as well as a media shelf where you can place your smartphone, tablet or a magazine. Some of the best treadmills even come with extras such as touch screens and web browsers that allow you to share your workout results with your friends online. Others allow you to fold the running deck and lock it in place. This utilizes less storage space and prevents curious children from using the machine without your supervision and getting into accidents. Some high end machines also come with “creature comforts” such as TVs, sound systems and fans. However, we didn’t consider these extras as must-haves since they can be bought separately.
Finally, we checked that all the machines that made it into this list of the best treadmills are durable and have a superior quality build. The treadmill should be able to comfortably handle the rigors of lots of workouts. Durability and build quality go beyond the brand name. They are determined by factors such as the type of belt, the size and number of rollers and the size of the motor. Always compare all these factors before making a buying decision.
Our top pick for the best treadmill is the ProForm Pro 2000. This treadmill comes equipped with a powerful continuous-duty 4 horsepower Mach Z commercial motor. This provides a lot more power compared to the 3 horsepower motors which you find on most other machines. With such a powerful motor, the ProForm 2000 can get to speeds of up to 12 mph. Even the most serious and experienced runners will struggle to keep up with such speeds. The running deck on the ProForm Pro 2000 measures 60 x 22 inches. This is quite sizable, and will allow even people over 6 feet tall to reach their full strides without worrying about tripping over the front or coming off the back.
The ProForm Pro 2000 allows you to incline the running deck by up to 15 percent. You can also decline it down to 3 percent. This way, you can adjust your workouts to simulate running on different terrains, allowing you to work out different leg muscles. The ProForm Pro 2000 has a maximum weight of 300 pounds.
One thing we liked about the ProForm Pro 2000 is that it supports an unlimited number of user profiles. This is quite convenient for the whole family since every member can create their own customized workouts based on their preferences and fitness goals. This treadmill provides two options for monitoring your heart rate: grip contact sensors and a wireless chest strap. The running deck is cushioned, which lessens the risk of joint pains and injuries. The ProForm Pro 2000 also has a quiet motor, which you will appreciate when you want to enjoy your morning workout without waking up the rest of the family.
The ProForm Pro 2000 comes with an inbuilt touch screen console that allows you to view exercise videos as well as keep track of your workout statistics. One of the most innovative features on this machine is the inbuilt iFit technology, which allows you to work out on customized routes from all over the world. The iFit technology integrates with Google Maps, adjusting the incline or decline of the running deck to match the actual terrain on your chosen route. The ProForm Pro 2000 also comes with 32 preprogrammed workouts that you can use for guidance. At the top of the interface is a small media shelf where you can place a book, magazine or tablet.
Being a high end machine, the ProForm Pro 2000 comes with an audio port and integrated speakers. This comes in handy when you want to listen to your favorite music or catch up on an audiobook as you work out. It also comes with an integrated fan to keep you cool during your workout. Another good thing you will like about the ProForm Pro 2000 is that it is foldable, allowing you to save storage room after your workout.
The ProForm Pro 2000 comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame. The parts and electronics are covered by a five year warranty while the workmanship is covered by a 2 year warranty. As such, you have the satisfaction of knowing you won’t shell over a thousand bucks for a machine that might get spoilt within a year. In case you have any questions or concerns over its use, ProForm’s friendly and helpful customer support will quickly help you out. You can reach them via telephone, email or live chat.
ProForm Pro 2000 SPecifications
4 horsepower Mach Z
60” x 22”
7” Backlit LCD
Yes (Grip Contact Sensors & Wireless Chest Strap)
-3 to 15%
Flaws but Not Deal Breakers
Despite being a foldable treadmill, the ProForm Pro 2000 is still somewhat big, measuring 77.16 x 39.5 x 70 inches when folded. It also weighs 230 pounds, which is a little heavier than most other you will find in the market. However, the size is not really a deal breaker, unless you have a very small apartment.
Step Up Pick
Our step up pick is the Sole F80 Treadmill, which is a powerful, durable and user-friendly machine. The Sole F80 is powered by a 3.5 horsepower motor that can reach speeds of up to 12 mph. The running deck can be inclined by up to 15 percent, with a hydraulic lift-and-drop system that automatically adjusts the incline level as you work out. Unfortunately, the Sole F80 does not allow you to decline the running deck. The running deck measures 60 x 22 inches, which is enough even for runners with longer strides. The deck is cushioned to absorb much of the running impact, thus lessening the risk of injuries and joint pains. The Sole F80 supports a maximum weight of 375 pounds.
The Sole F80 comes with a number of one-touch controls that allows you to easily adjust the speed and incline levels as you work out. The hand grips are fitted with sensors to monitor your heart rate. While this treadmill does not come with a wireless chest strap to monitor your heart rate, you can purchase one separately. The Sole F80 comes with 10 pre-programmed workouts, which is quite few compared to 32 on the ProForm Pro 2000. The Sole F80 does not support multiple user IDs either, making it inconvenient for sharing with the whole family.
The Sole F80 comes with an inbuilt LCD to help you keep track of your workout stats. It comes with an audio port and integrated speakers, allowing you to play music from your favorite device as you work out. It also comes with two integrated fans to keep you cool during your workout. When not in use, you can easily fold up the Sole F80 for storage. The Sole F80 motor, frame and deck are covered by a lifetime warranty. The parts are covered by a five-year warranty while in-home labor is covered by a two-year warranty.
If you want the convenience of exercising from the comfort of your own home but don’t want to spend a lot of money on a high-end machine, you should consider purchasing the ProForm 505 CST. This is an entry-level treadmill that is reasonably priced while maintaining a fairly high level of convenience and durability. The ProForm 505 CST utilizes the SpaceSaver design and comes with the EasyLift folding mechanism. This allows you to easily and quickly fold it for storage whenever it is not in use. Despite the compact design, it still doesn’t compromise on user comfort.
The running deck on the ProForm 505 CST is designed using ProForm’s ProShox cushioning, which absorbs the impact and protects your joints from the demands of running. Being a budget treadmill, it doesn’t have a very huge motor. It is driven by a 2.5 horsepower CHP motor that can reach speeds of up to 10 mph and supports incline levels of up to 10 percent. Being a compact machine, the running deck measures 55 x 20 inches. This is comfortable enough for most people, though people over 6 feet tall may be forced to shorten their strides when running.
The console area is functionally, without any flashy components. Workout stats can be accessed on the 6 inch backlit LCD screen. The ProForm 505 CST comes with 18 pre-programmed workouts developed by certified trainers. Some of these workouts even make automatic adjustments based on your individual heart rate. This model does not have any wireless heart rate monitoring option. Instead, it depends on sensors fitted on the hand grips. The treadmill has a small reading rack and holders for your water bottles. It also comes with an audio port and two integrated speakers. The ProForm 505 CST frame is covered by a lifetime warranty. The motor is covered by a 25 year warranty while parts are covered by a 1 year warranty.
Best Treadmill for Walkers
Our top pick for the best treadmill for walking is the Exerpeutic TF1000 Walk To Fitness Electric Treadmill. Since it is not meant for running, this machine is powered by a 1.5 horsepower motor that can get it to speeds of up to 4 mph. The machine is sturdily built and has a weight capacity of up to 400 pounds. The speeds are easily adjustable with 0.1 mph increments. This is more fine-tuned, since most other walking machines only allow 0.5 mph increments. The motor is extremely quiet, therefore you don’t have to worry about disturbing the whole family as you work out.
The Exerpeutic TF1000 allows either 3 or 6 percent inclines if you want to make your workout a bit more challenging. The walking deck measures 40 x 20 inches. While this might be small for runners, it is more than enough for walking, even for people with the longest strides. The short belt also reduces its footprint, thus conserving space. For extra space conservation, the Exerpeutic TF1000 can be easily folded when not in use. It comes with a fairly sized display that allows you to keep track of your workout statistics. The sensors on the handlebars will constantly monitor your heart rate as you work out. On top of that, the motor is covered by a five year warranty.
Best Treadmill Desk
If you want to combine your daily exercise routine with your work, you should consider purchasing the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5, which topped our list as the best treadmill desk. This machine is exactly what it sounds like: a treadmill combined with a desk. The LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 comes with a large laminate desktop that will comfortably hold a 17-inch laptop and leave you enough room for your other desktop paraphernalia. The desktop is height adjustable, so you don’t have to worry about it being too short or tall for you. It comes with firm, padded armrests for maximum comfort as you work.
The LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 is powered by a 2.25 horsepower motor, which gets it to speeds of up to 4 mph. A treadmill desk is meant for walking as you work, not running, hence the fairly low speeds. The motor is fairly quiet, which makes the machine suitable for the office. The deck measures 56 x 20 inches. While it is difficult to work on tasks that require lots of focus while walking on the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5, it is a good way of adding some movement into your day as you check your emails, read news, catch up on social media, and so on.
Best Manual Treadmill
If you are on a budget and do not want to splurge on an expensive motorized treadmill, you should consider getting the Exerpeutic 100XL, which clinched the top position as our best manual treadmill. Since it’s a manual, it’s fairly pocket friendly and within the reach of most people. It has a pretty sturdy and is capable of handling people weighing up to 325 pounds. Unlike most manual treadmills, the Exerpeutic 100XL comes with handle grip sensors for monitoring your heart rate as you work out.
Owing to its low price, it misses some comforts such as built-in touchscreens, entertainment options and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, it has a small LCD screen that allows you to keep track of your workout stats. The Exerpeutic 100XL also allows you to adjust the deck incline to one of three different levels. However, being a manual machine, you cannot do this in the middle of your workout. The Exerpeutic 100XL is foldable, which makes storage easy.
Best Treadmill For Seniors
If you are a senior and want to keep yourself fit, or if you are looking for a treadmill for an older relative, you should consider going for the ProGear HCXL 4000 Electric Treadmill. What makes the ProGear HCXL 4000 a good choice for seniors is that is has a considerably wider belt measuring 20 inches that ensures maximum comfort. This is particularly important for seniors because they are less steady on their feet. The walking deck is also heavily cushioned, which is another important feature for senior users.
The ProGear HCXL 4000 has a maximum capacity of 400 pounds. The machine is powered by a 1.5 horsepower motor that is capable of reaching speeds of up to 4 mph. Such speeds are adequately suited for most seniors. If you want an extra challenge, the ProGear HCXL 4000 allows you to manually incline the belt.
For extra safety, the ProGear HCXL 4000 has a key lock system that keeps the belt secure until you are ready to start your workout. The controls are also thoughtfully located on the 18 inch safety handles.
Best Treadmill for Cross-training
For those looking for a cross-training machine, the Bowflex TreadClimber TC100 is a very good option. The TreadClimber TC100 has a unique 3-in-1 design which combines a treadmill, an elliptical trainer and a stair climber in one machine. Instead of having one belt, the TreadClimber TC100 has two moving belts around two separate treadles. The treadles also move in up and down stair-climbing motion. This cross-training treadmill has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 4 mph.
The TreadClimber TC100 comes with an interactive backlit LCD display where you can keep track of your workout stats and choose workout routines. The machine also has a medial shelf and two large cup holders. The console also has a USB port that comes in handy when you want to charge your devices as you work out. The heart monitoring sensors are located on the handlebar grips. While it is not foldable, the TreadClimber TC100 has a small footprint, therefore it doesn’t consume a lot of space.
Other Treadmill Considerations
Care and Maintenance
Despite the fact that most treadmills are covered by solid warranties, proper care and maintenance is still vital if you want to keep your machine in tip-top condition. While it could be the last thing on your mind after an intense workout, always remember to wipe down your treadmill once you are done working out. To run smoothly over the deck, the belt needs some form of lubrication. Some high end machines comes pre-lubed, therefore you do not need to add any more lubricant. Others might need you to add the lubricant every few months. Check your owner’s manual to find out if and how often you need to add lubricant to yours.
Your treadmill’s electronics are sensitive to extreme temperatures, heat and humidity, therefore you should always keep your machine indoors in a controlled environment. If you feel some horizontal back and forth movements when working out, check and tighten the belt. Sometimes, the accuracy of the time and distance measurements might be off. In this case, you can follow the instructions in the owner’s manual to re-calibrate the machine.
Running Shoes and Gear
When running on the treadmill, always ensure you have good running shoes. Most runners prefer lower-profile shoes when using the treadmill. This is because there’s much less need for traction and impact absorption as compared to when running on pavements and road surfaces. Always make sure your laces are well tied to avoid tripping on them and injuring yourself.
Since there’s no wind when you run on a treadmill, you’ll heat up more quickly. Therefore, you should consider lighter dressing. Since you are running indoors, it will be difficult for most of the sweat on your head to evaporate. To keep it from getting into your eyes, consider getting a headband with good wicking material.
Instead of just getting on the treadmill and working up a sweat, you need to consider what you actually what to achieve. What are your fitness goals? Do you want to shed some weight? Are you preparing for a marathon? By choosing workouts based on your desired goals, you are more likely to get the most out of your machine.
When not used carefully, treadmills can easily lead to accidents. To avoid this, there are some general rules you should adhere to. You should always ensure that there’s a clearance of at least four feet behind the treadmill. If your machine comes with a safety key, attach it to your clothing. This way, the belt will automatically stop in case you slip. When starting your workout, stand on the stationary belt and increase your pace gradually so that your legs can get accustomed to the speed. Jumping on an already-moving belt is not a very good idea. Finally, don’t let things like the TV distract you, especially when you are training hard. Always focus on your workout.
While there are many other options in the market, they didn’t make it into the list of the best treadmills because of a number of factors. These include small design defects, slow wait times before getting to jogging speeds, too soft or short running decks, poorly designed display consoles, and so on.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which is more strenuous, running on a treadmill or running outdoors?
A: While treadmill running may feel more physically exerting, it is slightly easier than running outdoors. This is because unlike running outdoors, there’s no wind resistance when running on a treadmill. Additionally, instead of having to push yourself, the moving belt is doing some of the work for you.
Q: Can I use a treadmill to prepare for a road race?
A: Yes, you can use a treadmill to train for a road race. However, it is advisable to train with the running deck inclined to ensure you exert the same effort as you would when running outdoors. Since the running deck is cushioned, do exercises that will prepare your legs for road racing as well. You should also mix your treadmill running with some little bit of outdoor running.
Q: Sometimes I experience static shocks when on the treadmill. Why does this happen?
A: When running on the treadmill, the friction between the belt and the deck generates some static electricity. This electricity can build up in your body, especially when the air in the room is dry. To prevent this, use a humidifier to raise the humidity in your home gym or use an anti-static spray on your clothes before you start running. Wearing clothes made of natural materials like cotton can also prevent this.
Q: Will the heart rate monitor affect my pacemaker?
A: If you have a pacemaker, always consult your physician before you use any kind of heart rate monitor.
Q: What’s the difference between a commercial and a home machine?
A: Home machines are built for lighter use, by fewer people and for fewer hours per day. Commercial machines, on the other hand are designed for use in gyms and fitness institutions. As such, they can handle heavy use and can be comfortably throughout the day without the chance of getting spoilt.
Q: What’s the difference between electric and manual machines?
A: Electric or motorized treadmills are powered by an electric motor. Manual machines, on the other hand, are powered by the runner’s footsteps. Manual treadmills are generally cheaper than electric ones. However, if you want to get the most out of your treadmill, you should opt for an electric treadmill.
Wrapping It Up
If you want to purchase a treadmill to take advantage of the convenience of being able to make your runs whenever you want, you should consider buying the ProForm Pro 2000, which topped our list of the best treadmills. This machine provides you with great performance owing to its powerful motor. It also has a solid build and design and provides multiple pre-programmed workouts to help you achieve your fitness goals.