Buying a Treadmill

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Since you have landed on this page it is safe to presume that you have already thought about purchasing a treadmill and we can skip the part where I list the obvious reasons why people buy treadmills and go on with some helpful tips.

Before you go out to buy a treadmill there a few things that you should consider.

 

Space 

The first step before making any decisions on what to buy and how much to invest is to determine how much space you need and are willing to sacrifice. The less space you have the smaller your options.

A solid treadmill for running would need something like 88 inches (2.23m) length and 41 inches (1.04m) width. This includes the recommended clearance around the device. Whereas there are foldable treadmills made only for walking that can be stowed under the bed.

Budget

Treadmills can cost anything from $130 for a very simple mechanical treadmill, up to $5000 for a state of the art machine with a lot of bells and whistles.If you have set yourself a limit on how much you want to spend, then it is important to prioritize what you really need in a treadmill and know what you could save on if necessary.  

Features

A treadmill is practically two fixed rolls with a belt around them. All the features you get are just enhancements of this simple concept. How much treadmill you need depends primarily on your size and ambitions.

First you have to decide what you want the treadmill for, if it is only for walking and no one in the family is over 100 lbs, then you can practically use any treadmill. 

But it is a completely different story if you are a 6 ft 6”, 220 lbs athlete, who has to train a few hours a day on the treadmill. 

What you should pay attention to.

Belt and deck size.

The belt size determines the area that  you will be exercising on. The smaller the belt the more limited your movement is. This is especially important if you plan to use your treadmill for running because your strides get longer the faster you walk or run.

 

Motor strength.

The faster you plan on running and the more you weigh, the stronger the motor has to be. Treadmill motors are usually measured in CHP, continuous-duty horsepower, because they have to deliver the power steadily for longer periods. Most average treadmills have 2- 2.5 CHP motors, that is necessary for the average user. Anything lower could reach its limits quite fast.

How many degrees they can incline.

Inclining the running deck simulates an uphill climb, that is part of most people’s workout routine to burn more calories and strengthen the muscles. A good treadmill should at least manage a 10 % incline, higher end models also have a decline mode that puts a lot of pressure on the knees and is not recommended for the non-professional. There are special models that can incline up to 40%, these are mainly  for professionals and not worth the investment for a casual runner.   

Padding

Imagine the difference between running barefoot on grass and a cement parking lot, that is the difference between good padding and no padding. When running, the impact on your feet can be up to three times your body weight, and that with every step. Good treadmill padding, or cushioning, is crucial for your health and comfort. Here is a guide to treadmill cushioning that can help you get an overview of the different systems. 

Extras

Some things like heartbeat monitors or pre-programmed workouts can be quite useful for better training, others like big screens and loudspeakers won’t make you fitter but can be fun to have. When it comes to these kind of extras it is a matter of taste and how much money you want to spend.

 

To help better understand what features you should be looking for we’ll compare a few treadmills from simplest to high end and who they are meant for.

The casual walker

If you just need something to walk on a few minutes to get the blood flowing a little, maybe at work or at home before breakfast, then you don’t have to invest that much. A simple mechanical treadmill, without a motor might do the job. They also have the advantage of being lighter and easier to stow away, in case you don’t want to dedicate half your living room to a treadmill.

ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill

  • Max user weight: 230 lbs
  • Incline: Manual 6 or 10 %
  • Treadmill belt size: 43” x 13 ¼”
  • No electric outlet required
  • Some assembly required
Budget
4.3/5
Size
4.7/5
Features
1/5
Extras
0.5/5
Price $130
3.9/5
Runner's delight
5%

The ambitious jogger

If you regularly go to the gym or jog around the block and now want to continue training at home, then you need to invest a little more money and room in your house. There are a wide range of reasonably good treadmills available under $1000. Important is not to get distracted by flashy extras at the cost of quality. 

Provided you are of average weight and height then you shouldn’t encounter any problems, checking reviews and opting for the more experienced brands should be good enough. In case you are above average then pay extra attention to belt size and motor strength.

NordicTrackT6.5

  • Max user weight: 300 lbs
  • Incline: Automatic 0-10 %
  • Treadmill belt size: 55” x 20”
  • FlexSelect™ Cushioning
  • 0-10 MPH LIVE Speed Control
  • 5” Backlit iFit Display
  • 2.6 CHP DurX™ Commercial Motor
  • Dual 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers

iFit subscription for on-demand workouts cost extra

Budget
3.5/5
Size
3.7/5
Features
4/5
Extras
4/5
Price $599
4.4/5
Runner's delight
82%

The athlete

I suppose a real athlete doesn’t need any advice from me on what they need. For all the others who want to be on the safe side and buy something that will keep up with their future achievements the sky’s the limit but $2000-$3000 can bring you a long way.



Sole TT9

  • Max user weight: 450 lbs
  • Incline: Automatic 0.5- 15 %
  • Decline: up to 6%
  • Treadmill belt size: 60” x 22”
  • Extra-large CushionFlex
  • 0-12 MPH Speed Control
  • 10” TFT LCD Display
  • 4.0 CHP Motor
  • Pulse grips
  • Bluetooth speakers

The Sole is a monster, high quality treadmill that needs a lot of space and has a lifetime warranty on its frame, motor and deck.  

Budget
2.6/5
Size
3.5/5
Features
5/5
Extras
4.8/5
Price $3,499
3.6/5
Runner's delight
95%

Final Word

It is never too early to start sport and thinking about your well-being. As far as treadmills are concerned think of your safety too, falling on a treadmill can be dangerous. Make sure your treadmill has the necessary emergency stop switches to avoid any accidents. 

When purchasing, transportation and assembly can become a headache, so keep those in mind in addition to price and warranty.

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