A treadmill doesn’t only give you the flexibility to train at your home but also guides and motivates you to smash your fitness goal fast.

Studies also proved that people get more effective workouts on a treadmill than any other fitness equipment because it is a natural movement as you do walking or running on the road. [1]

Let’s read the treadmill buying guide to learn everything about treadmills and their key features. I’ll also guide you to choose the best treadmill for your needs while saving some time and money.

Treadmill Buying Guide: Choose the Best One

The Ultimate Treadmill Buying Guide

Before checking out the treadmill features, we’ll know the things that help you understand your budget according to your training type or needs.

And then, we will head over to the features so that you can buy a top-quality treadmill that’s well worth your money.

1. Types of Treadmills

There’re two types of treadmills according to power — manual and electric (motorized) treadmills. And the other types are folding, non-folding, under-desk, and commercial.

Let’s know what these treadmill types mean.

Manual Treadmill

The manual treadmill is powered by the user itself, which means the movement of your feet against the deck helps the belt to run. The belt only moves if you move it.

Here, you increase or decrease the belt speed by adjusting the pressure you put through your legs, which requires more effort to move the belt, resulting in about 30% more calorie burn than the electric treadmill. [2]

However, to run on this type of treadmill, you need healthy functionality of your joints and knees. It is not recommended for seniors and people with joint pain.

Electric Treadmill

The motorized treadmill operates through a built-in motor with the help of electricity, which means you don’t need to make any effort to run the belt — easy on your joints.

It’s the most popular and go-to choice for most home users than the manual treadmill.

Related: Manual vs. Electric Treadmill: What is Best for You?

Okay, now you understand, there’re two types of treadmills according to the power supply.

Now, we’ll know the different designs of treadmills and try to figure out which one is best for you.

Folding and Non-Folding Treadmill

Folding treadmills basically fold the deck up and stays vertically, which is very convenient for small spaces.

And you should know that most home treadmills come in a folding design.

However, you may see some portable treadmills that fold completely, meaning you can fold the treadmill handles to the deck and store it under your bed. These types of treadmills are mostly for the light user, not for running.

Most non-folding treadmills fall in the manual, higher-end, or commercial side.

So, if you’re buying a treadmill for home use, a foldable machine can be a better option as it helps you save some space at your home.

Under-Desk Treadmill

If you want to walk while you work, you might want to go with an under-desk treadmill. These treadmills are mostly lightweight and compact, making them very convenient to place under the desk.

If you want a walking or light jogging desk treadmill for your office or home, an under-desk treadmill can be an excellent option.

Commercial Treadmill

The semi-commercial and commercial treadmills are loaded with high-performance and comfort features.

These treadmills typically build with a solid heavy-duty frame, large deck, excellent cushioning technology, powerful motor, high incline, and extended warranty coverage.

You may need to spend about $2000 or more to own a higher-end treadmill.

Summary

Manual and motorized treadmills both have pros and cons. The manual treadmill may suit people with healthy joints and are okay with their non-folding design, whereas motorized treadmills can give you easier workouts and interactive sessions and save some space. Both types of treadmills have entry-level to commercial-grade models. Choose the one according to your needs.

2. What Should be the Right Budget for You

There’re lots of treadmills available on the market that cost from $200 to $3,000 or more.

So, all you need to do is think about your core purpose in buying a treadmill.

Do you want to walk, jog, run, or want to do all of these?

Our general recommendation for treadmill price is for:

  • Walking: At least $300 or higher
  • Jogging: $800 or higher
  • Running: $1500 or higher

If you’re looking for a walking treadmill, you can find your perfect match within $300 to $700. Joggers need to spend about $800 to $1200 for a suitable machine, whereas runners may want to look for a $1500 or more higher-end model for smooth and powerful running.

However, if the budget allows, you can look for a high-end treadmill to get all the exciting and comfort features (like interactive training, speakers, cooling fan, etc.), which will give you a luxurious training experience.

We’ll know more about treadmill prices in the next section to make a better budget.

3. Compared the Treadmill Prices

Let’s dig deeper into the treadmill’s quality according to your price.

Under $500

Typically treadmills under $500 are not so powerful — suitable for walkers.

In the cheaper models, you’ll likely get a treadmill with a shorter deck, less powerful motor, basic design, and short warranty life — it’s reasonable.

So, if you want a basic treadmill for regular walking, an under $500 treadmill can be sufficient for your needs. Continue reading if you want a more powerful machine with some exciting features.

Under $1000

This is the range you’ll start seeing some treadmills with HD consoles, built-in programs, and slightly more powerful features.

Within about $600-$1000, you can get a good treadmill for walking and jogging. And surprisingly, there are a few models that are capable of running.

The bottom line is that if you want to jog and run (occasionally), the $1000 range can be perfect for you. Click the link to find the best treadmills under $1000.

To get a smooth and more stable running experience, we recommend (and you should!) looking for a higher-range treadmill.

Under $1500

The $1100 to $1500 category is the most popular among home users. Whether you’re a walker or runner, this treadmill category can meet your needs very well.

In these treadmills, you’ll get a heavy-duty frame, interactive console, many programming options, high-performance features, and an extended warranty, which can give you a smooth and enjoyable session.

You can check out the best $1500 treadmills here.

Under $2000

The top-rated treadmills in the market fall in the $1600 to $2000 range. In this price category, you’ll get the perfect piece of equipment for indoor running.

Okay, you can also run on an under $1500 treadmill. So, what’s the difference?

The stability and durability of a $2000 treadmill will be higher and give you a larger console, higher weight capacity, and a longer warranty period compared to a $1500 or lower priced machine.

You can get the top $2000 treadmills here.

Treadmills Over $2000

In the expensive category, most treadmills build with special features like a huge touchscreen, a higher weight limit (like 400+ lbs), a very high incline (like 20% or 40%), or commercial-grade built quality.

Here you’ll get all the comfort features, lots of programs, and entertainment options that will excite you to jump on the machine and hit a calorie-torching session.

Summary

A $500 price category can be sufficient for walkers. Whereas joggers need to spend about $800-$1000, and runners about $1500 or more to get a suitable treadmill. The quality of the machine will vary according to your budget.

4. Extra Features You’ll Get According to Your Budget

Most high-end treadmills offer many exciting (secondary) features, such as an HD console, built-in programs, Bluetooth functions, a USB port, a chest strap, and cooling fans.

Some of these features may break your rhythm, while others can motivate you in a long-lasting session.

Let’s know what features you’ll get according to your budget:

Console: Most cheaper models offer a basic digital monitor or LCD console to track your workout data. You’ll get a slightly larger LCD or HD touchscreen on about $1000 treadmill. Higher-end machines provide a more larger screen.

Programs: When you’re buying a cheaper or an expensive treadmill, you’ll get some preset programs on your machine. The running treadmills have a wide range of programs and may also provide popular subscriptions (like iFit) to enjoy interactive training with world-class personal trainers.

Bluetooth, USB Port, Chest-Strap, and Cooling Fan: Whether you’re getting these features mostly depends on your budget and the model you’re going with. You can find the Bluetooth function and USB port in all-priced machines, but you need to increase your budget to get a chest strap and integrated cooling fan.

The other performance features, such as motor capacity, belt size, incline, cushioning, and warranty, will depend on your budget and your chosen brand. We’ll know more about these features later in the article.

4. Choose Your Workout Space

How much space can you consider for a piece of equipment?

To make the best purchase, you can (and should) measure your workout space where you want to place the treadmill, especially when buying a large bulky machine.

Most treadmill brands offer a folding design that is convenient for people with small spaces. However, to make things clearer, you should measure the space at your home/office and match it with the treadmill’s dimensions (L x H x W).

As a general rule, keep a minimum 2′-3′ clearance on both sides and 6′-8′ on the backside of your machine so that you can walk or run comfortably and peacefully.

Some folding treadmills can easily fold upward or down, whereas some treadmills are challenging to fold or move. Hence, easy folding technology (like Easy Lift Assist) is great to have on a treadmill which helps you easily and safely fold and unfold the machine.

5. Try Before You Buy

It’s wise to take a test run of your chosen treadmill, which helps you better understand the machine and know whether it suits your needs.

You can do it in local sporting goods stores and gyms as well.

You should walk or run on the treadmill for at least 10 minutes and make sure it’s quiet and doesn’t shake while running.

After testing different treadmills and deciding your perfect match, it would be smart to buy the treadmill online.

The manufacturer’s website and some popular shopping sites (like Amazon) provide great deals on your purchase, such as discounts, free delivery, and machine protection — making online shopping more attractive.

Understand The Features of A Treadmill

Let’s learn about the treadmill features to choose the best treadmill for you.

Console

The treadmill’s console helps you see your workout progress, such as training time, walking distance, calories burned, speed, and pulse rate.

As I already mentioned, you’ll get either an LED, LCD, or HD touchscreen on a treadmill.

Most budget models have a digital monitor or LED console, and the higher-end models have LCD or large HD touchscreen. Which console type you’ll get may also vary on the brand you’re going with.

However, some cheaper and manual treadmills may don’t provide a console.

Related: 5 Best Treadmills with TV Screens

Trade Belt

The trade belt or running surface is one of the crucial features of a treadmill. Generally, treadmill belts are 40″ to 62″ in length and 16″ to 22″ in width.

Here’s our general recommendation for trade belt:

  • For walking: 16″ x 50″
  • For jogging: 20″ x 55″
  • For running: 20″ x 60″

If you’re a casual walker, then a 16″ x 50″ deck is sufficient for you. The power joggers need about 20″ x 55″ deck and runners 20″ x 60″ for comfortable training.

However, if you’re a smaller user, a slightly shorter deck can be acceptable, while tall users need a slightly larger one. If you have a wider running style, try to get a wider deck, like 20 inches.

Motor Capacity

Motor power is the primary factor responsible for how smoothly your treadmill will run. The motor power is measured in Horsepower (HP), and it ranges from 1.5 HP to 4.0 HP on most treadmills.

Here’s our general recommendation for motor capacity:

  • For walking: At least 2.0 HP
  •  For jogging: 2.5 HP or higher
  •  For running: 3.0 HP or higher

This recommendation is for average people. If you’re on the heavier side or have heavy people at home, try to get a slightly more powerful motor (e.g., for walking 2.5 HP, jogging 3.0 HP), which will help you get a more smooth experience in a long-lasting session.

Speed

The speed is basically how fast your treadmill can run, ranging from 4 miles per hour (MPH) to 12 MPH.

Here is our general treadmill speed recommendation for your needs:

  • For walking: 8 mph
  •  For jogging: 10 mph
  •  For running: 12 mph

However, a 4 mph motor can be fine for casual walking.

Incline

The incline is a great feature that adds variety and intensity to your training. It basically elevates the treadmill deck to make your workout more challenging than a flat surface — resulting in more calorie burn in less time.

There are two types of treadmill incline – manual and motorized incline.

A manual incline is where you step off the machine to adjust its incline manually. Whereas, motorized control gives you the luxury to increase or decrease the incline with the integrated buttons on the machine, so you can easily adjust the incline without interrupting your rhythm.

Most mid to higher-range treadmills offer a motorized incline control. However, you may find manual adjustments in cheaper models.

Typically the home treadmills provide about 15% incline, whereas some incline trainers may have up to 40%. However, some people may experience knee pain after running on an inclined treadmill for too long.

If you’re an indoor jogger or runner, 10% to 15% can be sufficient.

You may find another feature called “decline” in (few) higher-end treadmills, which decline the treadmill deck so you can enjoy the downhill walk in the comfort of your home.

Generally, most treadmills provide about a 3% to 5% decline.

Related: The Best Treadmills with High Incline

Cushioning

The treadmill cushioning is one of the crucial features that make the treadmill more appealing than outdoor running.

Compared to road running, treadmill cushioning helps reduce your stride impact by about 15% to 40%.

Cushioning technology has become more important to runners and people with bad knees. It absorbs the impact and helps make your workout more comfortable and easy for your joints.

Many treadmills have multiple ways of shock absorption within the deck itself (i.e., a multiple-layer belt) and with the polymers connecting the deck to the frame.

When choosing a treadmill, be sure that your machine has good cushioning/shock absorption technology (especially when buying a cheaper treadmill).

Weight Capacity

The manufacturer tests the treadmills and recommends a max user-weight limit for a model, which is the number we should check and follow when purchasing.

Typically the weight capacity of a treadmill can range from 200 pounds to 500 pounds.

The weight capacity can be a significant indicator of the machine’s built-in quality and the stability you’ll get during training.

The thumb rule is to get a treadmill with 30-50 pounds higher weight capacity than your current body weight, especially when you’re planning to run.

Getting a higher-capacity treadmill helps you get a smooth running experience without shaking.

Try to get a treadmill with at least 250 pounds or higher weight capacity. You can check out this article about the best treadmills for heavy people.

Extra Features

The secondary features aren’t necessary, but they add extra comfort and excitement to your training.

As I mentioned before, the features like Bluetooth functionality, speakers, chest strap, USB port, cooling fans, media trays, and bottle holders can make your workout comfortable, easy, and enjoyable.

Although you may get the Bluetooth functionality, speakers, USB port, media tray, and bottle holder in most treadmills, you may need to slightly increase your budget to get features like a heart rate chest strap and cooling fan.

Safety Feature

Safety-key is an important safety feature of a treadmill and is likely to be present in all the models.

The treadmill safety key is attached to the treadmill console through a string at one end, and you need to connect the other end to your body.

Its purpose is to provide the user with an emergency stop. So, when you’re exercising, the key is attached to your body with a string. And if you slip, the key will detach, and the treadmill will be off automatically. It’s highly recommended for beginners.

Warranty

How much coverage you get depends on the brand and the treadmill price.

Here’re the best warranties you can expect from a higher-end treadmill:

  • Frame: At least 10 years or lifetime coverage. The treadmill frames are typically made from steel, most of which are heavy-duty so that the manufacturer can give lifetime coverage.
  •  Motor: Lifetime or 10 years warranty. However, some models may have a slightly shorter warranty.
  •  Parts: Two to five years. If a treadmill costs $1000 or higher, you shouldn’t accept anything less than two years.
  •  Electronics: Two to five years. Some brands include electronics in their parts warranties, whereas others may not provide coverage at all.
  •  Labor: One to two years. Try to get at least one year warranty on the mid-range treadmills.

Remember, a budget treadmill can give as good a warranty as a higher-end model of different brands. The brands like Horizon, Sole, and LifeSpan generally provide longer coverage than NordicTrack and ProForm.

Treadmill Features’ Capacity According to the Price

Here’re the treadmill features’ capacities you can expect from different price models.

FeaturesUnder $500Under $1000Under $1500Under $2000
ConsoleSmall LED/LCD7″ HD or LCD10″ HD or LCD14″ HD or LCD
Trade Belt16″ x 50″20″ x 55″20″ x 60″20″ x 60″
Motor2.0 HP2.5 HP3.0 HP3.5 HP
Max Speed8 MPH10 MPH12 MPH12 MPH
Incline2-3 Levels Manual or 10% Auto0-10%0-15%0-15%
Weight Limit250 lbs or HigherAt least 300 lbsAt least 300 lbsAt least 300 lbs

You can use the above chart and match it with your chosen treadmill to see whether you’re getting the most of your money.

Final Word

I hope this treadmill buying guide helps you find the one that suits your needs and budget very well.

If you have a fixed budget or need a treadmill for a special purpose (like under-desk), you can head over to the “compared the treadmills” section above and go through the links to find your perfect match.

It’s wise to choose a treadmill with a good combination of features, a reputed brand with some positive real user reviews on the merchant’s website.

So… There we have it: How to choose a treadmill.

If you’ve any questions regarding selecting the right treadmill, feel free to contact us or comment below. We’d love to help you.

Happy treadmill shopping!

FAQs

What should I look for when buying a treadmill?

Before hitting the final buy button, you should check the treadmill’s key features (such as motor capacity, speed, deck size, incline, cushioning, weight capacity, and warranty) and make sure they’re perfect for your needs.

You can also check the manufacturer’s reputation and ratings/reviews of real users to make the most of your purchase.

How much does a good treadmill cost?

Generally, the treadmills cost about $200 to over $3,000. As the treadmill is a long-term investment, we consider around $1500 is an impressive range to get a good treadmill for indoor running.

However, walkers and joggers may find their perfect match in the $500 and $1000 range.

What are the best treadmill brands in the market?

After reviewing many popular brands and their hundreds of models, our top pick treadmills brands are NordicTrack, Sole, ProForm, Horizon, and LifeSpan.

Which is the best treadmill for home use?

We consider the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 as the overall best treadmill for home use in 2022.

The Commercial 1750 treadmill is packed with a good combination of performance and comfort features you need for an exciting indoor running session.

What time of year do treadmills go on sale?

Typically treadmills go on sale around Black Friday and from the end of the year to January. Also, brands might give special discounts on holidays like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, etc.