Interested in setting up a place to work out in your home so that you can keep yourself moving without having to deal with the crowd at your local gym? You may want a treadmill. Treadmills are an easy to use, effective tool toward achieving your cardio goals, losing weight, and improving your mobility. They can be set to a variety of automated workout programs or operated manually at a pace that challenges you, but does not overwhelm you.
The best treadmill for your home gym will depend on available space in your home, the type of workouts you prefer, and whether you would rather have a motorized treadmill or a manual treadmill. You could also look for added features like WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity, or built-in speakers. Take a look at some of the top products below that have been selected based on product efficacy and overall value.
- BEST OVERALL: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 Smart Treadmill
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: MaxKare Folding Treadmill
- UPGRADE PICK: Nautilus Treadmill Series
- BEST FOLDING: XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill
- BEST FOR GUIDED WORKOUTS: NordicTrack T Series Treadmill
- BEST COMPACT: Goplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill
- BEST MANUAL: ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill
Types of Treadmills
Treadmills can be separated into two main types based on whether they are manually operated or if they are motorized.
Manual treadmills are not plugged into an electrical outlet, which means you won’t have to worry about tripping over a power cord. However, it also means that the belt is completely powered by you. Due to this manual driving force, you will actually expend more energy on a manual treadmill than you do on a motorized treadmill.
Manual treadmills are less expensive and also safer than motorized treadmills because they stop when you stop. The drawback to manual treadmills is that you miss out on a lot of automatic features that can set your incline or decline, control your speed, connect to WiFi or Bluetooth, and even display an interactive guided workout on an electronic screen. Manual treadmills are also typically less sturdy, making them a poor choice for heavier users and runners who put a lot of force into the frame of the treadmill.
Motorized treadmills are the most commonly used version of this exercise tool because they are made with a number of conveniences to help make your workout more enjoyable and effective, though they do have a higher price tag. These treadmills operate on electricity, so once you have it plugged in and turned on you can use the electronic controls to choose an exercise program, set a speed, or set an incline.
Depending on the machine, there can be relatively few or many different workout customization choices, giving you the ability to set a unique workout every time you step on the treadmill. Despite these benefits, motorized treadmills do have safety concerns because the belt does not stop when you stop. This means that it could propel you off of the surface at a high speed. However, most treadmills have a safety line, also known as a safety key or safety cord. It simply attaches from the machine to your clothing and if you move too far away, it will pull out of the machine turning it off, keeping you safe. It is important to follow all of the safety guidelines recommended by the treadmill manufacturer.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Treadmill
Before choosing the best treadmill for your home gym, take a few minutes to educate yourself on the most important shopping considerations.
The amount of available space you have in your home is an important factor that you need to determine before beginning to look for a new treadmill. You will want to use a tape measure to get the exact length, width, and height of the space where you intend to set up your treadmill.
Typically, a treadmill will measure about 7 feet long and 3 feet wide, but compact treadmills reduce the overall size of the machine and can be as small as 4 1/2 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide. Folding treadmills fold the length of the machine up and out of the way when not in use, so you don’t have to dedicate that floor space at all times, only when in use. Folding treadmills can also reduce the size of the machine by allowing you to fold down the controls for storage, or even for a more open running experience.
The majority of motorized treadmills come with a range of preset workout programs that are designed to target areas of improvement by increasing or decreasing the speed, resistance, and incline of the treadmill while you exercise. This mimics the natural resistance runners face when their path takes them over hilly terrain.
Beginners may want to use a basic cardio program, but as your level of experience increases you can get a great benefit from using some of the more advanced features that allow you to work on specific muscle groups using targeted movements.
Some treadmills even offer a guided workout program with a pre-recorded or live trainer leading you through a series of challenges to ensure that you get the best result from your time on the treadmill.
A motorized treadmill has an internal motor that provides energy to move the belt. This may seem like a small power output, considering you could move the belt along with your hands or feet, like you would on a manual treadmill. However, this motor must also move your weight as you stand, walk, jog, or run on top of the belt.
The power output from the motor is typically measured in horsepower (HP), with an average range of 2-HP to 4-HP. You can use the type of movement you will be doing as a general framework for deciding on a power output. If a 200-pound individual is primarily using the treadmill for walking, then they will be fine with a 2-HP motor, for jogging they should increase to at least a 2.5-HP motor, and if they will be running more than any other type of movement then they need a 3-HP motor.
However, keep in mind that as the weight on the treadmill decreases, the motor does not need to work as hard, so smaller individuals may not need 3-HP to run all the time. The inverse is also true, meaning that a 300-pound person will require a higher horsepower motor to experience the same belt movement speed and resistance as a 200-pound person.
Speed and Incline
On a manual treadmill the speed is set by your pace, so if you slow down or speed up then the pace belt will increase or decrease in speed to match your efforts. These treadmills may also have an incline option that allows you to raise the angle of the belt to simulate moving up an incline. However, manual treadmills with this option must have the incline manually set by getting off the treadmill and lifting it up into the proper position and locking it in place.
Motorized treadmills frequently have an incline control on the electronic control panel that can be set before your workout, during, or even programmed to automatically adjust so that you get a unique experience every time you work out. Speed on a motorized treadmill is set at the control panel or automatically controlled by a preselected exercise program. The average maximum speed ranges from 8-MPH up to 12-MPH, with most users only needing a max of 8-MPH.
Treadmills are designed to support a lot of weight and impact as your entire body weight comes down hard on the flat surface while you run. To ensure that users are being safe while they work out, manufacturers list a maximum recommended weight capacity to inform you of the capabilities of the product. If you know that you or another person that will regularly use the machine is heavier than the weight capacity of the treadmill, do not choose that product as it will break or wear out much faster than an appropriate model.
On average, treadmill weight capacities will range from about 200 pounds to 400 pounds, with the price increasing as the weight capacity increases. To ensure that you get a treadmill that is right for your weight you should look for a product that can handle about 50 pounds more than you weigh. Not only does this give you a little space if you put on five pounds at Thanksgiving, but it also puts less strain on the motor, which extends the life of the machine.
Manual treadmills don’t normally come with many safety features, though the manually driven belt can be considered a safety feature on its own. When you work out with a manual treadmill and slip or fall, the belt won’t propel you down onto your backside. Instead, the belt stops relatively quickly without your momentum to push it backwards, allowing you to regain your footing.
Motorized treadmills do have powered belts that can throw you if you slip or fall, so consider choosing a model with a safety line or support rails. A safety line is your emergency stop button. One side attaches to your clothing and the other connects to the treadmill. If you slip or fall, causing the safety line to detach from the machine, the power to the belt is turned off and it comes to a stop so that you are not thrown. Support rails can also help you keep your footing if you slip while running or jogging, though these may impede the swing of your arms. Due to this drawback, support rails are a better option for walkers who may need the rail to maintain their balance.
Treadmills have developed alongside the other technological advances in the world, allowing them to be built with a wide array of additional features that make your workout more effective and enjoyable. Many models have digital displays, guided workouts, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, headphone inputs, and cup holders.
- Digital displays can range from simple touch screens that allow you to set your parameters for your workout, to fully integrated tablet devices with a high-definition display, internet connectivity, and video output.
- Guided workouts are typically prerecorded in the treadmill or you must sign up for a monthly subscription that allows you to choose from a variety of live trainer sessions. This option is great if you feel like you lack the motivation to work out on your own.
- Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity is necessary for a guided workout feature and it is a great option if you enjoy listening to music while you work out or if you have a screen that can display shows from your favorite streaming site. You may also want to use this connectivity feature to find guided workouts that may not be part of a subscription.
- Headphone ports have become a must-have feature for many fitness enthusiasts who enjoy listening to music, podcasts, or even audiobooks while they work out.
- Cup holders are helpful for holding your water bottle while you run.
Our Top Picks
The products below were chosen for quality, price, and features to help you find the best treadmill for your home gym.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Smart Treadmill is a great option for your home gym with built-in speakers, a device holder for your phone or tablet, and Bluetooth connectivity. The motorized treadmill also has a media port that you can use to play MP3s, talk on the phone, or connect your headphones. It has a top speed of 8-MPH, a horsepower of 2.2, and a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds.
The treadmill measures 64.5 inches by 28 inches by 50.5 inches and it can be folded up and transported on a pair of wheels for easier mobility. The electronic control panel has a digital display to show time, speed, distance, calories burned, and even your heart rate if you are holding the hand pulse sensor handles. It also gives you the option to choose between 12 workout programs and 12 incline levels and comes with a safety line so that you can set the difficulty of your workout to meet your current abilities without worrying about danger if you fall.
If you want to outfit your home with a new motorized treadmill, but you don’t need a premium model, this treadmill comes with many amazing features at an affordable price, like 15 workout programs, a phone or tablet holder, and a white LED display. The display gives you up-to-date information on your calories burned, distance, time, speed, and heart rate, which is tracked with pulse sensors in the handles.
The treadmill can be folded up and moved on the built-in transportation wheels so that you can store it when it is not in use. The entire treadmill measures 54 inches by 28 inches by 45 inches and it has a 2.5-HP motor with a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds and a max speed of 8.5-MPH. The incline can be adjusted manually to one of three different levels, but it is the control buttons on the safety handles and the emergency stop that make this treadmill ideal for safety-conscious individuals.
This Nautilus motorized treadmill has a high price, but what you get may be worth the extra cost. The electronic control panel on the treadmill has 26 customized training programs including interval training. When you want to train on your own you can use the heart rate monitoring and weight management features. When you want to connect, it can sync with multiple fitness apps including the Nautilus Trainer and Run Social app so you can train with many different people from across the world in real time.
The treadmill comes with Bluetooth connectivity and a blue backlit LCD display so you can reference your speed, calories, and other fitness information while you work out. This machine has a powerful 3.5-HP motor, a max speed of 12-MPH, and a weight limit of 350 pounds. It measures 78 inches by 37.6 inches by 62.8 inches and has a motorized incline that can be set up to a 15-degree incline, to really challenge your limits.
Setting up a home gym can take up a lot of room, but with a folding treadmill like the XTERRA Fitness Folding Treadmill, you can quickly regain some floor space by folding it when you are done working out. Unfolded, the motorized treadmill measures 63.4 inches by 28.8 inches by 51.4 inches, but when it is folded you only need to worry about storing a machine that is 28.5 inches by 28.8 inches by 61 inches. The built-in wheels allow you to move it to a nearby closet or any other storage space.
The treadmill has a 2.25-HP motor, a 250-pound weight capacity, and a maximum speed setting of 10-MPH. The handles have speed controls so you don’t have to let go to reduce or increase your speed. There are also pulse sensors in the handles to track your heart rate. With this treadmill, you get an LCD display with 12 workout programs and real-time information on your speed, time, distance, calories, and your current incline which can be manually set to one of three levels for a customized workout.
Deciding to hop on the treadmill every day to get your workout can be challenging when you exercise on your own, but with the NordicTrack T Series Treadmill you get the iFit Coach program free for a 30-day trial, but to continue with this customized feature you need to pay a monthly subscription fee. With this program, you get a trainer-led workout that is set and controlled in real time by the iFit trainer to adjust your incline and your speed up to 10-MPH.
The five-inch backlit screen on the control panel displays your prominent workout information like speed, plus heart rate if you are holding the pulse sensor handles. The motorized treadmill measures 73.5 inches by 36 inches by 54 inches, and it has a 2.6-HP motor and a 300-pound weight capacity. When you are done working out, just fold up the treadmill for simple storage.
Apartment and dorm living can leave you with a very small amount of space to exercise at home, but with the Goplus motorized treadmill, you can fold the LED display down to the sides for a completely flat running surface that doesn’t take up vertical space. You can still control your workout with the included remote that fits easily in your hand while you walk, jog, or run. The treadmill measures just 52 inches by 27 inches by 5 inches when it is folded or 49 inches by 27 inches by 42 inches when unfolded.
When the treadmill is folded it only operates in walking mode, preventing you from going higher than 2.5-MPH. It has built-in speakers and Bluetooth connectivity to listen to your music hands-free while you work out. The treadmill has a 2.25 HP motor, with a top speed setting of 8 MPH and a maximum weight capacity of 265 pounds, making it a great choice for small spaces, and ideal for larger individuals.
The ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill gives you the opportunity to work hard by relying on your own physical power to drive the treadmill belt, instead of using electricity. The manual treadmill has long safety handles that are padded with easy-to-hold foam grips, and because there is no electricity you won’t have to worry about being thrown from a motorized belt if you stumble.
The treadmill has a weight capacity of 230 pounds, folds up for convenient storage to a size of 21 inches by 23 inches by 51 inches, and measures 47 inches by 23 inches by 51 inches when unfolded. Even without a power cord you can track your workout time, distance, calories burned, and speed with the battery-powered LCD display, and you can manually set the treadmill to one of two incline levels to change your workout.
FAQs About Your New Treadmill
Before investing in a new treadmill, take a look at these frequently asked questions and their answers below.
Q. How long should I run on a treadmill daily?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest running for 75 minutes per week is beneficial for most healthy people. However, if you engage in regular exercise then you understand the importance of rest days to allow your body to recuperate. This means you could run for 15 minutes per day, five days a week to hit this goal while also taking two necessary rest days. Healthy individuals can engage in more exercise than this, however, those with pre-existing conditions need to take caution. When in doubt, consult a medical professional.
Q. How many minutes a day should you walk on a treadmill?
The CDC suggests that if you are walking instead of running for aerobic activity, then you should walk for about 150 minutes every week. This allows you to separate your workout goal into a 30-minute interval per day, for five days each week.
Q. Are treadmills bad for your knees?
Treadmills can be bad for your knees, but only if you are not using them properly. While the recumbent exercise bike is recommended for people with bad knees, the padded surface and built-in weight absorption of a treadmill is much better for your knees than hard concrete. However, running on any type of a hard surface will cause some strain to your joints, so ensure that you move at an appropriate pace for your experience and health level, taking breaks when necessary.
Q. How do you fix a treadmill belt?
If the belt on your treadmill is sticking or out of place then there are a few different things you can try to fix the belt yourself, before you should call in a repair technician.
- Vacuum the interior of the treadmill to remove stuck dirt and debris, and clean the surface of the belt with soap and water, ensuring that it is dry before use.
- Center the treadmill belt on the machine. Belts can stretch and begin to pull to one side over time and may need to be corrected to run effectively.
- Lubricate the space between the belt and the treadmill with a treadmill lubricant or a suitable silicone lubricant to ensure that it does not stick when you try to run on it.
If these fixes do not work, then you may need to hire a repair technician to replace the belt or to address issues that could be occurring with the speed sensor.
Q. How do you clean a treadmill?
Keep your treadmill clean by following these easy steps.
- Vacuum around, under, and inside the interior of the treadmill to collect dust, debris, and anything else that could get under the belt or into the electrical components.
- Wipe down the entire treadmill using a damp cloth, soap, and warm water, ensuring that you do not use too much water, especially on the sensitive electronic control panels.
- To clean the belt, use one hand to wash the belt, and the other to pull the belt towards you so that you can clean the entire surface.
- Dry the treadmill with a towel or a rag to remove excess water.