The Ultimate Treadmill Buying Guide
‘Not all treadmills are created equal’
If you are planning to buy a treadmill and looking for a treadmill buying guide, you are right in the place where you should be.
Do you know: 1.4 Billion in the world aren’t exercising at all!
First of all, congratulations for taking the initiative. You are already one step ahead of the ones who strictly ignore their physical health and are lazy enough to do nothing about it.
With everything going digital and home-based, treadmills are getting quite popular right now.
Moreover, during this pandemic, it is strictly not advised to leave our homes for our own safety. So, it makes sense why you should have a treadmill at your home.
Choosing the right treadmill can be a bit of a headache. Sure thing, why wouldn’t it be.
A treadmill should always be looked at as an investment rather than just machinery. It can fetch you priceless benefits in the long run.
Advantages of working out at home
There a lot of plus points of having a treadmill at your home. Let’s see a few of them.
Cheaper in the long run– A treadmill can be cheaper than your average gym membership considering if it is used for a long time. Also, it lasts more.
No time restriction– There’s no time restriction when using your own treadmill. You can choose to exercise whenever you feel and you won’t be asked to vacate it like in a gym.
Bad Weather, No problem- There’s nothing that can stop you and your treadmill from get going. You can ignore the weather outside, in fact, you can completely ignore the outside world and enjoy your own company.
Ease of Convenience- No need to get changed in your gym attire. Simple, get going in your comfortable clothes at home. Also, no more getting stuck in traffic jams, your workout station is right where you live.
Overcome the boredom- Many of you can feel bored when using a gym treadmill. Either you don’t like their music playlist or simply don’t like the aura.
With a treadmill at home, you can possibly make the best combination for yourself. You can place it in front of a TV, watch your favorite movies, news or maybe even sports. All this time you are engaged and you won’t even realize you’ve been working out!
Heck! That’s Genius.
With that said, let’s jump onto the buyer’s guide.
The Treadmill Buying Guide
We’ve divided this guide into various sections for better understanding and guidance. Since the usage of the treadmill will determine it’s specifications, we’ll decide the user and the usage first
Identify the User
When looking for a treadmill, the first thing to keep in mind is the user and the usage type.
If you buy a treadmill for yourself, you know your requirements. However, if a treadmill is to be used by everyone in the family, there are some factors that need concern.
Keep in the mind the healthiest person in the family or maybe the tallest. If that particular person is comfortable using it, eventually everyone else would be.
The thing is, a healthier person will require a treadmill of a bigger capacity in terms of motor power and the running area. Similarly, a taller person will require a longer running belt for comfortable use.
Always look for a treadmill that has a larger capacity (motor horsepower, running deck size) than you require. This will not only decrease the load on the treadmill but also on its lifespan.
Determine the usage pattern
How will you use your treadmill? What will be your usage pattern?
You need to determine what do you really want a treadmill for. Different usage patterns require different specifications.
For instance, if you want a treadmill for serious running sessions, you would generally require a more powerful motor. If you intend to use it for light walking or maybe even brisk walking like most senior citizens are advised, a light motor treadmill will suffice your need.
It has been observed that once an individual starts seeing results, he tries to push himself more. The usage pattern drastically changes as more capacity becomes a craving. Therefore, it is highly suggested to go for a treadmill with higher specifications than you require rather than buying a new one in the span of time.
Installing and Using the treadmill
Once that you’ve decided the users and usage patterns, now come the question where will you use it?
If you decide to buy a treadmill online which is a better option considering the discounts and services you get, most of the time the manufacturer arranges an installation team for your convenience.
However, in events when it’s not possible as the current pandemic, they arrange a video call facility or video tutorials for your ease.
You can also refer to the owner’s manual which comes inside the package and usually installing the treadmill is a 2-3 step process that can be easily done.
While installing the treadmill, it is highly advised that you place it near a window or in some area of good ventilation. This not only helps you and improve your performance, but good ventilation also prevents the treadmill from heating up. Excessive heat while using can also damage the motor and other internals.
Usually, all treadmills that are intended for personal use can fold up vertically to save space when they are not in use. You can store them away in a corner and this also helps in easier transportation.
The video below will give you an idea of how it works.
Also, while using the treadmill make sure to have proper clearance on the front as well as on the sides.
Decide what features you'll actually use
As technology gets better, more and more features get induced into machines. A treadmill is no exception.
Nowadays, treadmills come with a ton of features that nobody would’ve expected.
Sure thing, it’s good to have features but what about the ones that you actually want?
Treadmills come with various features like pulse rate sensors, multimedia support like in-built speakers which can be connected via AUX or USB or maybe even Bluetooth. Some of them also come with fans and massagers installed upfront mostly for massaging the lower back.
While it is good to have extra features but keep in mind that they would also cost you more for them. When choosing a treadmill, any extra features are good but make sure that you don’t miss out on the ones you actually require.
Choosing the right treadmill
Now that you have decided the major things like identifying the user and usage, installing and using the treadmill, and determining the features you’ll use, it is finally time that we look at the factors that differentiate treadmills from another one.
There are over 14 factors which will help you decide and choose the one that fits your need.
14 Factors to look for before purchasing a treadmill.
1) Motor Horsepower
The motor is the heart of the treadmill. It directly affects the load capacity and the price of the treadmill.
Usually, we see 2 different figures of power of the same motor. What are these?
The power on the motor is measured in 2 ways-
Continuous Horsepower (CHP)– This is a more accurate measure of the capacity of the motor. It is the power that is readily available at any time and at which the motor can operate for prolonged times.
Peak Horsepower– Peak power of a motor is the maximum power at which it can operate but only for a short surge time. A motor cannot operate at its peak power all the time.
CHP of a treadmill determines how much can you push it to the limits. As a result, lighter exercises will require low CHP whereas heavy usage will require more CHP. A treadmill should be prevented from using it at its peak because it greatly affects the motor life. Therefore, always look for CHP when choosing a treadmill.
As a general rule, a motor of
1.25 – 1.5 CHP is suitable for walking and brisk walking.
1.5 – 2.0 CHP is suitable for jogging and light running.
2.0 and above is suitable for intense running sessions.
Note- It is a common practice by manufacturers of only stating the peak horsepower of the product. Peak horsepower of the motor will always be greater than CHP but it is only available for a short duration of time and it is not safe to operate at peak power all the time. Don’t get fooled, always check for CHP before purchasing one.
2) Weight Capacity
It determines the maximum load which the treadmill can tolerate during the usage.
When selecting a treadmill, check for the maximum weight capacity. Also, keep in mind that while running the impact weight of the body becomes then the actual weight.
In short, choose a treadmill that has at least 15-20 kg more than your actual weight.
If you weigh 70 kg, go for a treadmill that has at least 85-90 kg weight capacity and so on.
Always use the treadmill within its limitations as pushing it harder will cause stress on the motor and it might even break down.
3) Speed Range
The speed range is basically at what speeds the treadmill can operate.
This will be very important for serious runners but not much for those who intend to use it for walking purposes.
For running, choose a treadmill that has at least a maximum speed of 14 km/hr.
For the ones who choose to walk, most treadmills offer at least 10 km/hr which is sufficient enough.
4) Running Area
It is the area of the running belt on which you can actually run.
It greatly affects the usage pattern and different purposes require belts of different sizes.
In general, for those who walk require lesser width and length whereas for running more width and length are required. Also, the height of an individual plays a big role.
For running, a belt size of 48 x 16 inches is reasonable enough. If you are above 6 feet tall, a slightly longer belt will fit you comfortably.
For walking, a shorter belt might suffice your needs but a minimum of 45-inch long belt should be there.
Remember that choosing the right belt size is extremely important and one of the major factors. Since a treadmill is to be used for a long time, we don’t want you to compromise on that and feel confined in a small walking area.
Whether you don’t want it initially, but with the time you will love using this feature.
Using the incline function is a great way to burn some extra calories and increasing the heartbeat. In fact, the higher the incline, the more our body has to push ourselves resulting in burning a few more calories.
Your first choice should be to opt for the ones that have an automatic incline. Most treadmills can be inclined up to 15 levels that too at the push of a button. You can also incline in between your program while walking or running no need to stop the treadmill.
However, treadmills that fall on the lower budget tend to offer manual incline to save prices. Usually, 2-3 levels are provided that have to be adjusted manually before or after using it. This would also require some labor and tools which are shipped with the package.
When getting started, a good practice is to keep the incline at 2-3%. You may increase it gradually as your body adapts to the routine.
6) Stability of the treadmill
Stability becomes a major factor since the treadmill has to be stable enough for proper and smooth usage.
When looking for a treadmill, make sure the treadmill is stable enough to withstand your weight. Ask for a trial run when at a store and this will give you an idea about the build quality.
Alternatively, when shopping online, look for the reviews left by the existing customers and you will know if there is anything wrong with the stability.
Look for the following in a treadmill-
Frame– An aluminum frame is recommended as it is lightweight and more durable. It directly enhances the stability
Treadmill rollers– Look for rollers that are used to run the belt. These rollers are very important and consistently increase the lifespan of the running belt.
Flywheel– A flywheel is a device that stores the rotating mass. It helps in maintaining the stability and prevents sudden jerks in case of a power cut. It is commonly attached to the motor itself.
Warranty is a major aspect that should be carefully looked upon. Look for the warranty periods when searching for treadmills.
It not only helps you in events of breakage but the duration of the warranty period also gives us an idea about the build quality. It clearly shows how confident the manufacturer is for his product.
While most treadmills offer a lifetime warranty on the frame itself, some don’t. Also, look for the warranty period on the motor.
A period of 2-3 years on the motor is ideal.
8) Control Panel
The control panel of the treadmill houses all the controls for its functionality. In general, it contains all the buttons and switches and the monitoring instruments which in this case is an LCD display.
Make sure that the controls are intuitive and easy to use. All the buttons should be easy to reach and touch/ operate.
You don’t want to try pushing them hard to distract you during your workout.
Generally, all treadmills offer pulse rate sensors on the handrails to provide a reading for the current heartbeat.
Also, look for the features that you actually require like any multimedia support, etc.
The display of a treadmill shows all the vital information about the ongoing program.
It shows everything like time elapsed, time remaining, usage pattern, calories burnt, pulse rate, and much more.
Most displays offered are LCD and if we go up in the price range, you might even get LED displays. The only consideration here is to have a display that is easily readable without much effort. An ideal size would be not below than 5 inches.
10) Programs and Presets
If you want some serious results, you don’t want to miss out on this one.
Treadmills offer many programs and preset which can be used. These are some predefined usage patterns that are different from each other. Some are based on burning high calories in a short time others may be opposite and so on.
Also, you can make your own target modes in terms of time, distance and, calories burnt and chase them accordingly. You can also make our own programs.
This is a really great feature and while all treadmills offer it, some don’t. Just to be on a safer side, look for this when buying a treadmill.
A treadmill can track your data and store it for your reference. This becomes really important to keep track of your activity.
Some high-end models even let you connect your phone and the treadmill will show all your usage statistics and data on your phone.
Now, this might not be useful for everyone out there but it becomes equally effective for serious users. You can analyze your statistics, improve your timings, and chase your targets all with the help from tracking.
As said by many physicians, it is not safe to run on hard surfaces like pavements or roads. Prolonged running on hard surfaces can cause severe injuries and strain on the body.
It is likely to cause pain in the back, hips and can even damage the knees.
That’s when cushioning comes into play.
All treadmills regardless of their price have some sort of cushioning methods in them. You just have to choose which one is better.
While lower-end treadmills provide flex in the running deck, as we go up in the price range, we see proper dedicated cushioning methods.
Dedicated gel pads and shock-absorbing springs being a few examples. They are highly effective in the long run.
We highly recommend buying a treadmill with cushioning support as a treadmill is intended to be used for a long time, you don’t want to get yourself injured.
All mechanical moving parts more or less require some sort of lubrication for their efficient running.
A treadmill is no exception since it has so many moving parts.
Coming to the point, lubricating the treadmill is very important for its functionality and increasing its life.
Now comes the question of what needs to be lubricated?
The belt sliding on the running deck needs lubrication for effortless running. Usually, a 100% silicone-based spray or liquid is recommended and it is the most common lubricant. Most of the time, manufacturers ship the lubricant along with the treadmill.
If you daily use the treadmill, it is advised to check for lubricant levels once in 2 weeks.
As we go up in the price range, we get to see treadmills that can auto-lubricate themselves, therefore, eliminating our work.
The video below will give you an idea of how lubrication is done, also check your owner’s manual as all treadmills are different in nature.
14) Power Usage
At last, comes the power usage.
Different motors have different power ratings. All of this depends on motor efficiency, how do you use the treadmill and the duration.
On a clear note, walking on a treadmill will consume less energy whereas running on it will consume more. Treadmills on average, can consume anywhere between 300 – 900 watts.
Many variables like speed, weight, incline, and the time duration directly affect the usage and add up to the final usage.
While choosing treadmills, ask the manufacturer about power usage and if a treadmill is to be used by every member of your family, you don’t want a treadmill with high power usage.
Above were the 14 factors and some good practices you should keep in mind when looking to purchase a treadmill.
Our suggestion is to test the treadmill yourself at a local store and then buy it from the manufacturer’s website or some e-commerce websites like Amazon since they offer more discounts than the store itself.
Also, make sure to check out our picks on the best treadmills available to buy right now.