Saturday, 22 April 2017

Treadmill Buying Tips

Treadmill buying tips
Treadmills offer a great way to get fit in the comfort of your own home, but with so many different models on the market today, how do you decide which is the best treadmill for you?

In this article, we’re going to look at the different factors you need to consider before buying a treadmill to make sure you get the best one for your needs and your budget!

It’s easy to be fooled by manufacturer’s jargon and blinded by “features” but build-quality should not be overlooked when it comes to treadmills.  The most important things to consider when buying a treadmill include the motor power, size of the running deck, thickness of the belt and cushioning, speed and incline range, and user weight capacity.
We’re going to look at each of these important factors in detail to help you decide what’s important for your exercise needs, whether you’re looking to walk, jog or run.  We’ll also look at other features that add to your overall experience on a treadmill workout.

Do you want a Treadmill for Walking or Running Exercise?

Different treadmills are designed for different usage.  Think about what you want out of your treadmill - are you going to be using it mainly for walking exercise or running exercise?

The lower-priced treadmills tend to have a smaller footprint and a lower-powered motor (see below) which is fine for walking exercise but no good for running.

If you expect to be using the treadmill for running exercise, then you need to opt for a higher-range treadmill with a longer running deck and more powerful motor that is capable of holding up to taking more of a pounding.

Motor HP Size

It stands to reason that a higher HP (horsepower) motor does not have to work as hard as a lower HP motor to achieve the same results.  So generally speaking, the bigger the HP motor size is on a treadmill, the more reliable the motor should be and the more able it should be to cope with more heavy-duty use.

If you’re just looking for light walking exercise, then a low-powered motor should be fine but otherwise you’ll need a bigger motor for running exercise, intensive use or the heavier person.

Let me explain a little bit about how motor sizes on treadmills are rated.  In the manufacturer’s description, you may see the motor rated as either HP or CHP as follows:

·         HP = Peak horsepower
The top output limit that the motor will reach
·         CHP = Continuous horsepower
What the motor can comfortably sustain over a prolonged period of continuous use

Therefore the rating for HP or CHP on a treadmill will not be the same.  For example, a motor rated at 6 HP (peak horsepower) would typically have a lower CHP rating of around 4 CHP (continuous horsepower).

The cheaper treadmills tend to have a lower HP rating (around 1-2 hp) and are best suited for walking exercise.  The more intensive training you intend to do on a treadmill, the higher HP rating you should be looking for.

Size of Running Surface

Check that the size of the treadmill’s running deck (width and length) is suitable for your stride length.

Bear in mind that a smaller running surface is more suited to walking exercise.  For running exercise you will need a longer running deck combined with a more powerful motor.

Check running belt size, thickness & cushioning system. Image, example on Treadmill Buying Tips
Check running belt size, thickness
& cushioning system
Running Belt Thickness & Cushioning

The cheaper treadmills tend to have a thinner running belt of 1 or 2 ply whereas the higher-range ones may have 3 ply or more thickness.

Also the higher-range treadmills tend to have better cushioning systems which help to absorb the impact of your running, making it easier on your joints and allowing you to workout for longer with less discomfort.


If you’re serious about running, you may want to check the treadmill’s speed range as different treadmills offer different speed ranges, for example some treadmills may only be able to operate at a maximum of 6 or 7 mph while other treadmills may go up to 10 or 12 mph or more.

Also check at what speed level the treadmill starts off at and the increments at which you can change the speed to pace yourself, for example some treadmills may offer speed change increments of 0.5 mph while others may have increments of 1 mph etc.


Some of the cheaper treadmills may not have an incline feature at all, but most treadmills do offer an incline feature, simulating running uphill to add extra challenge to your workouts and enabling you to work more muscle groups.

However, the lower-range treadmills are more likely to feature a manual-adjustable incline whereas the higher-range treadmills generally have electronic-controlled inclines where you can easily adjust the incline with a simple touch of a button.

User Weight Capacity

Different treadmills come with different user weight capacity limits.  The lower-range or smaller treadmills typically come with a lower user weight limit than the higher-range treadmills.

Make sure you’re under the user weight limit specified for a treadmill otherwise you will be putting the machine under undue strain and it’s likely to become squeaky, jolty or even break.  If you’re close to the edge of the user weight limit on a treadmill, it may be wise to upgrade to a higher-range treadmill.

Programs & Features

Basic treadmills may not come with many programs or other features but are simple and straightforward to use with no complicated gimmicks.

If you’re likely to get bored easily then you may want a treadmill that offers lots of variety in programs to keep you motivated.  Different treadmills offer a different variety of programs and may include workouts such as calorie burn, intervals, heart-rate programs and more.  More advanced treadmills may even offer the ability to customize your own workout programs.

Higher-range treadmills may offer a variety of additional features such as Bluetooth connectivity for online fitness tracking, sound system with MP3 input, cooling fan, iFit technology (for additional workouts and simulated training routes on Google Maps [subscription may be required]), and more.

Console Display
Treadmill console with blue backlit LCD display, image, example on Treadmill Buying Tips
Treadmill console with
blue backlit LCD display

Most treadmills come with a workout console that displays motivating workout stats such as time, speed, distance, calories burned, and heart rate.

However, different consoles may feature different displays.  Most displays are LCD but the lower-priced treadmills typically feature a black/grey/white display while the higher-range treadmills may feature a clearer blue backlit display that’s easier to read.

Heart-rate Monitor

Not all treadmills offer heart-rate monitoring, but generally the lower priced treadmills tend to have pulse grip sensors built into the handrails while the higher range treadmills may offer wireless chest heart-rate strap compatibility for more accurate heart-rate monitoring.

Quick-touch Buttons

Treadmills in the higher-range categories are more likely to have Quick-touch buttons built into the handrails or easily accessible on the console for quick and easy control and changing of things like speeds and incline levels.

Overall Size

Think carefully about the space you have in your home to place a treadmill.  Treadmills can look much smaller in a store than they really are and will take up more space in your home than you think!  Make sure you get the measurements of a treadmill before you buy it and check that it will fit into the free space you have in your home.

When measuring the space you have in your home, remember to allow enough space around the treadmill to use it safely.

Bear in mind that generally speaking, the smaller or more compact the treadmill is, the less heavy-duty it tends to be which will affect its long-lasting durability.

Treadmill with folding dock, image, example, on Treadmill Buying Tips
Treadmill with folding dock
Folding Deck

If space in your home is a premium, look for a treadmill with a folding deck.  Many treadmills in both the low-end and high-end categories have this feature and allow the deck to be folded upwards to save space when not in use.

Manual or Electric

The higher-range treadmills tend to be electric-powered but if you’re looking for a low- or mid-range treadmill there’s plenty of buying choice and although generally electric-powered treadmills tend to offer more fluid motion, you may want to consider a manual treadmill if you can’t find the space to place a treadmill next to a power socket.


Your treadmill may require a little maintenance, such as lubricating, from time to time to keep it in good working order.  Follow the instructions given by the manufacturer to keep your treadmill in tip-top condition.

It’s wise to place the treadmill in an area that is free from high amounts of dirt, dust or damp.  Moisture and debris from garages for example could get into the treadmill’s electronics and affect its workings.

N.B.:  It’s advisable to consult your doctor or health care professional before undertaking any new exercise regime.

*Prices/discounts indicated correct at time of writing/publishing and may be subject to change anytime.  E&OE.

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