Best Treadmills On The Market Today

Treadmills Editorial Team | Last Updated - Jul 31, 2020

man and woman running on treadmills

Shopping for a new treadmill? With such a huge selection of machines on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Fortunately, our experts have pulled together a list of today’s best treadmills to make your search a little easier.

The selection below is comprised of innovative models from both established and up-and-coming fitness brands. We cover everything you need to know before you buy. This includes the key specifications of each treadmill, from the motor (performance, quality, and speed), to the workout options, warranty, price range and beyond. And if you’re looking for a specific type of treadmill–like the top model for interactive streaming or the most budget-friendly buy–we’ve picked out the top machine in that category to help further streamline your search.

Discover the best treadmills on the market below. Want to get to grips with the basics before you start your search? Scroll down to our Essential Treadmill Features section to learn more about what to look out for when shopping for a new treadmill.

Top by Category

1. Best Overall Treadmill – NordicTrack 1750

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NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill

The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 has been crowned our best overall treadmill year after year. This is because it truly is an all-rounder in terms of value, durability, and features. Its stellar combination of functionality and performance appeals to a wide variety of walkers and runners, making it a perfect fit for most trainees. At its $1,799 web price, it’s hard to beat.

From a quiet 3.75 CHP motor to a 10″ iFit-enabled touchscreen, the NordicTrack 1750 is a powerful, connected treadmill that’s priced right. Highlights include: Bluetooth audio; a 10″ HD iFit-enabled touchscreen (with a free 1-year iFit membership included) for interactive training and stats tracking; and incline/decline to tone your lower body (15% and 3% respectively).

The 1750 is the cheapest model in NordicTrack’s current Commercial Series, but that doesn’t detract from its quality. It can handle any type of training, from gentle walking to long-distance running. If you want a high quality commercial-grade treadmill, the Commercial 1750 is an excellent choice that will keep you motivated for many years to come.

See our in-depth review of the NordicTrack Commercial 1750.

ProsCons
  • Powerful Motor
  • iFit-enabled Touchscreen
  • Easy Folding
  • Assembly

Key Specs

Motor3.75 CHP
Incline-3 — 15%
Running Area22″ x 60″
FoldingYes
Top Speed12 MPH
Weight Capacity300 LBS
Dimensions78.8″ L x 39.2″ W x 63″ H
Screen10″ Smart HD Touchscreen
Warranty 10-Year Frame, 2-Year Parts, 1-Year Labor

2. Runner-Up – Sole F80

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Sole F80 Treadmill

The runner-up for the best overall treadmill has to be the Sole F80. If you want a powerful, durable machine with commercial-grade components, the F80 is the model for you. The F80 folds easily too, allowing you to reclaim your floor space after workouts.

The treadmill has a whole host of impressive specs, including a roomy 22″ x 60″ running deck, a commercial-standard 3.5 HP motor, and a power incline up to 15%. Other highlights include: a 9″ LCD display with 10 preset programs; a built-in tablet holder; and Bluetooth connectivity for audio and stats tracking. The Sole F80 lets you track your stats easily and efficiently. The free Sole Fitness app can even sync your workout data to your favorite fitness app like Fitbit, Record, or Apple Health so you can monitor your progress on your own terms.

Whatever your fitness ability or training preference, the Sole F80 will be a fantastic choice. It’s a good mid-range option between the brand’s entry-level F63 treadmill and their elite F85 model. It delivers club-quality components and a host of modern features for an impressive price.

See our detailed review of the Sole F80.

ProsCons
  • High-Quality Parts
  • Easy Folding
  • Low Impact
  • Limited Workout Variety
  • Short Side Rails

Key Specs

Motor3.5 HP
Incline0 — 15%
Running Area22″ x 60″
FoldingYes
Top Speed12 MPH
Weight Capacity375 LBS
Dimensions82″ L x 37″ W x 57″ H
Screen9″ LCD
WarrantyLifetime Frame, Motor, Deck; 5 Years Electronics, Parts; 2 Years Labor

3. Best for Streaming Classes – NordicTrack X22i

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NordicTrack Commercial X22i

Interactive training has taken the fitness world by storm. These days it’s an important thing to consider when shopping for a new treadmill because it’s something that can keep you motivated for years to come. The X22i will do just that.

Its impressive 22″ touchscreen fully immerses you in iFit workouts, and its dramatic 40% incline allows for a sort of hybrid workout that’s much like using a treadmill and stepper all at once. This in combination with the basically unlimited streamed iFit programs–which you get free for a whole year–allows you to diversify your training, so you’ll never get bored. And with your iFit trainer automatically adjusting your incline and speed within workouts, it’s much like having a personal trainer in your living room.

It’s worth noting that the NordicTrack X32i has an even bigger screen (32″). But you will be paying a whole thousand bucks more for the privilege, as well as a few other extras (such as slightly higher motor power). The X22i will deliver basically the same experience for a much lower price.

Other highlights which enhance the interactive training experience include: a powerful 4.0 CHP motor that can keep pace with a streamed workout’s changes in speed and incline; a 22″ Smart HD touchscreen; and a free iFit Bluetooth chest strap so you can monitor your stats on-screen.

If you’re looking for a machine that can keep pace with streamed workouts as well as provide an entertaining experience, the Commercial X22i is the model for you. Its tech-ready features in combination with the chic HD screen will open the doors to a fully connected fitness experience.

If interactive streaming is your top priority but the X22i is out of your budget, you should consider the Horizon 7.8 AT. This is an exceptional treadmill for streaming classes. Just dock your tablet and use the treadmill with nearly any training app. It won’t auto-adjust your incline or speed within interactive programs like the X22i would, but if you have a smaller budget, it’s still packed with tons of features designed to support connected fitness.

See our in-depth review of the NordicTrack Commercial X22i.

ProsCons
  • Dramatic Incline
  • 22″ Touchscreen for iFit Training
  • Powerful Motor
  • Full Retail Price
  • Cushioning

Key Specs

Motor4.0 CHP
Incline-6 — 40%
Running Area22″ x 60″
FoldingNo
Top Speed12 MPH
Weight Capacity300 LBS
Dimensions70.2″ L x 39.6″ W x 71.6″ H
Screen22″ Smart HD Touchscreen
Warranty 10-Year Frame, 2-Year Parts, 1-Year Labor

4. Budget Friendly Treadmill – Horizon T202

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A fit man in athletic attire running on the Horizon T202 Treadmill

Horizon have a fantastic range of budget-friendly treadmills. The T202–the second model in their entry-level series–offers a good combination of features and affordability. For just $799, it offers a 2.75 CHP motor that supports a 12% incline, 9 built-in workout programming options, and a very respectable warranty. Even at this budget price, the T202 is covered with a lifetime frame and motor warranty as well as a year of coverage on parts and labor.

Other features include an audio jack and Bluetooth speakers, as well as a fan to keep you cool and tablet holder for you to dock your device. The Bluetooth connectivity means that you can sync your device to the built-in speakers to listen to your favorite workout playlists. You can also connect your own Bluetooth heart rate monitor using the free Sport app, and push your workout data to your favorite fitness apps such as Fitbit or MyFitnessPal. The T202 can also accommodate taller runners due to its 60″ belt.

See our detailed review of the Horizon T202.

ProsCons
  • Long 20″ x 60″ track
  • Warranty
  • Easy Folding and Storage
  • Budget belt

Key Specs

Motor2.75 HP
Incline0 – 12%
Running Area20″ x 60″
FoldingYes
Top Speed12 MPH
Weight Capacity325 LBS
Dimensions75″ x 34″ x 58″
ScreenLED Windows & Backlit LCD Screen
WarrantyLifetime Frame & Motor; 1-Year Parts & Labor

5. Best for Walkers – Sole F63

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Sole F63 Treadmill

If you want a high-quality walking treadmill under $1,000 with a competitive warranty, the Sole F63 is a solid choice.

At just $999, the Sole F63 offers commercial-grade treadmill components such as a durable 2-ply belt, advanced deck cushioning, 2.5″ track rollers and a heavy-duty motor (with heavy-duty flywheels). It’s all about high-quality foundations on the Sole F63. You won’t find any flashy high-tech extras on the F63, but you are guaranteed durability, quality, and enough workout programming and stats tracking capabilities to keep you motivated.

Other highlights include: a 3.0 CHP motor that supports up to 15% incline; a roomy 60″ running surface; wireless heart-rate monitoring capability; and 10 training programs. The 6.5″ LCD works with Sole’s Fitness app for stats tracking and data sharing. Its competitive warranty offers lifetime coverage on the frame and motor; three years on the parts, deck, and electronics; and one year on labor.

The F63 continues to be one of Sole’s most popular treadmills, and we aren’t surprised. At just $999 with a competitive warranty, it’s the perfect treadmill choice for walkers.

See our detailed review of the Sole F63.

ProsCons
  • High-Quality Parts
  • Cushioning
  • Easy Folding
  • Entry Level
  • Slower Acceleration

Key Specs

Motor3.0 HP
Incline0 — 15%
Running Area20″ X 60″
FoldingYes
Top Speed12 MPH
Weight Capacity325 LBS
Dimensions82″ L x 35″ W x 57″ H
Screen6.5″ LCD
WarrantyLifetime Frame & Motor; 3 Years Deck, Electronics, Parts; 1 Year Labor

6. Best Compact Treadmill – Horizon T101

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Horizon T101 TreadmillAt just 70″ long by 34″ wide (and 55″ high), the Horizon T101 is our top compact treadmill. It boasts a compact, easily foldable design with transport wheels, making it the perfect match for most home gym spaces. It folds to 46″ by 34″ by 61″. At just $599, it’s an affordable machine that doesn’t sacrifice on durability or quality. What’s more, it has a respectable warranty to match, offering lifetime coverage on the frame and motor, and a year of coverage on parts and labor.

The T101 is best suited to light to moderate training routines, so it’s best for walkers and gentle joggers. Due to its compact footprint, its running track is on the smaller side (20″ x 55″) so just keep in mind that it won’t work for the tallest runners out there. Key features include: an incline grade up to 10%; 9 built-in workout programming options; and as mentioned, a really impressive warranty for the price point. Other entertainment and comfort perks include Bluetooth speakers, a cooling fan, a tablet holder, and a USB charging port. It’s the best compact model on the market for cost-conscious shoppers who are new to fitness, or those who prefer light to moderate workouts. You won’t have to sacrifice too much space or cash for this machine.

See our detailed review of the Horizon T101.

ProsCons
  • Compact Footprint
  • Stellar Warranty
  • Easy Folding & Storage
  • Short Track
  • Weak Motor
  • Average Cushioning

Key Specs

Motor2.5 CHP
Incline0 — 10%
Running Area20″ x 55″
FoldingYes
Top Speed10 MPH
Weight Capacity300 LBS
Dimensions70″ L x 34″ W x 55″ H
Screen3 LED Windows
WarrantyLifetime Frame & Motor; 1-Year Parts & Labor

7. Best for Marathon Training – Sole TT8

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Sole TT8 Treadmill

Looking for a treadmill that can handle intense marathon training? The Sole TT8 is a solid bet. Its extra-wide 22″ by 60″ track will let you run freely without constantly focusing on your position on the treadmill.

Highlights that enhance your marathon training experience include: a powerful 4.0 HP motor; an incline range of -6% to 15% to simulate downhill and uphill running; advanced deck cushioning; and convenient incline adjustments on the hand rests as to not disrupt your running stride. There’s also a high-quality 2-ply belt and 3″ rollers, both of which contribute to years of trouble-free performance.

And as you’ll need to monitor your progress, the TT8 works with the Sole Fitness app to track all your stats interactively. You can push your data to your favorite fitness apps like FitBit or Apple Health, so all your workout history is in one location. This in combination with the wireless heart-rate monitoring capability means you can stay on top of all your essential stats as you work towards the marathon.

As well as 9 preset workout programs, entertainment extras include an integrated tablet holder, Bluetooth audio speakers, and a USB charging port.

See our detailed review of the Sole TT8.

ProsCons
  • High-Quality Parts
  • Track Size
  • Incline & Decline
  • Large Footprint

Key Specs

Motor4.0 HP
Incline0 — 15%
Running Area22″ X 60″
FoldingNo
Top Speed12 MPH
Weight Capacity400 LBS
Dimensions82″ L x 36″ W x 58″ H
Screen10.1″ TFT LCD
Warranty Lifetime Frame, Motor, Deck; 5 Years Electronics; 2 Years Labor

8. Best Treadmill Desk – LifeSpan TR1200-DT5

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TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk

Our favorite treadmill desk currently on the market is the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5. It fuses a sound-absorbing 20″ x 50″ walking area with an adjustable-height desktop (from 33.5″ to 52.5″) so you can find a comfortable stride. If you’re between 4’10” and 6’8″ tall, this machine is a perfect solution to avoid a sedentary work style.

You can customize the look to go with your office too; there are various desktop and frame colors to choose from. You can also choose between a 38″ or 48″ desktop width, depending on how much room you prefer when working.

The updated treadmill desk features a console which delivers all your essential workout feedback, including steps, distance, walking time, calories and speed. What’s more, the integrated Bluetooth will let you save the results of your walking workout and track your progress.

The machine also offers lifetime protection on the frame, 3 years on the motor, 2 years on parts, and one year on labor. This is a good warranty for the $1,299 price tag. We’d be more than happy to welcome this desk treadmill into any home or commercial office.

ProsCons
  • Adjustable Height
  • Quiet Motor
  • Bluetooth Integration
  • Plastic Components
  • Not Maintenance Free
  • No Incline

Key Specs

Motor2.25 HP
InclineN/A
Running Area20″ x 50″
FoldingNo
Top Speed4.0 MPH
Weight Capacity350 LBS
Dimensions68.5″ D x 38″/48″ W
ScreenLCD
WarrantyLifetime Frame; 3 Years Motor; 2 Years Parts; 1 Year Labor

9. Best Incline Trainer – NordicTrack X22i

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NordicTrack Commercial X22i

The NordicTrack X22i gets another placement here as the best incline trainer of the moment. It combines an extremely impressive incline ability (up to 40%) with a good balance of value, performance, comfort and entertainment features.

Using this dramatic incline (and 6% decline) with the 22″ HD touchscreen delivers a motivating and immersive workout every time. It’s much like having a treadmill and stepper in one. Exploring your library of iFit programs –which you get free for a whole year–with this steep an incline allows for a truly diverse training experience. As with other NordicTrack machines, your iFit trainer can automatically adjust your incline and speed within workouts, pushing you to the limit as you progress.

As mentioned, the NordicTrack X32i has an even bigger screen (32″). For users that want a huge screen, this could be a better choice. But it is a whole thousand bucks extra. There are some other differences between the machines (such as slightly higher motor power on the X32i), but you will have basically the same experience on the X22i and save $1,000.

The powerful 4.0 CHP motor allows you to keep pace with speedy incline changes during an incline training routine. Like to keep on top of your workout stats? There’s a free iFit Bluetooth chest strap included for you to track your stats on-screen.

The Commercial X22i will bring your incline training to new heights (literally) while keeping you entertained and motivated for years to come.

See our in-depth review of the NordicTrack X22i.

ProsCons
  • Dramatic Incline
  • 22″ Touchscreen for iFit Training
  • Powerful Motor
  • Full Retail Price
  • Cushioning

Key Specs

Motor4.0 CHP
Incline-6 — 40%
Running Area22″ x 60″
FoldingNo
Top Speed12 MPH
Weight Capacity300 LBS
Dimensions70.2″ L x 39.6″ W x 71.6″ H
Screen22″ Smart HD Touchscreen
Warranty 10-Year Frame, 2-Year Parts, 1-Year Labor

10. Best Treadmill Alternative – NordicTrack FS7i

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Whether you’re looking for a low-impact workout, or just want the option to mix up your training routine, shopping for a treadmill alternative is your best best. Our favorite model that fits the bill is the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i. The center drive machine serves as a stair stepper, elliptical trainer, and low-impact treadmill all at once.

The FS7i moves with ultra smooth motion, protecting your joints as you move. Highlights include: a smooth 32-inch stride path that can support up to 375 pounds; 24 levels of silent magnetic resistance (digitally controlled); and a 10% incline grade.

As for entertainment, the FS7i features: a 7″ HD touchscreen for iFit workouts (which you get free for a whole year); 35 onboard workouts; a pivoting tablet holder; and a set of speakers if you want to listen to your own shows or music as you work out. It’s easy to keep on top of your stats as there’s a free iFit Bluetooth chest strap included with your purchase.

The NordicTrack FS7i is a stellar choice for low-impact cardio exercise and introductory cross training at home. It’s a multi-purpose machine that will offer something for everyone in your home gym.

See our in-depth review of the NordicTrack FS7i.

ProsCons
  • Low Impact
  • iFit Enabled
  • Three-In-One Machine
  • Resistance
  • Price

Key Specs

MotorN/A
Incline0 — 10%
Running Area32″ Auto-Adjustable Stride
FoldingNo
Top SpeedN/A
Weight Capacity375 LBS
Dimensions58.5″ L x 29.5″ W x 74″ H
Screen7″ Smart HD Touchscreen
Warranty10-Year Frame, 2-Year Parts, 1-Year Labor

Learn more about what to look for when shopping for a new treadmill below.

Essential Treadmill Features

Just started your fitness journey? These days, treadmill companies are making their machines more user-friendly and interactive than ever, so it’s easy to kickstart your fitness routine and stay motivated to exercise. Designers are achieving this by adding features like built-in speakers so you can stream music, and interactive training programs that make it feel like you’re exercising in different landscapes around the world. With features such as these, you’ll never be able to use boredom as an excuse to avoid exercise again.

Novelty features aside, when selecting a treadmill it’s important to consider the machine’s key physical features. These include horsepower, belt thickness and belt size; these aspects will dramatically impact how enjoyable your workout feels.

To help make your treadmill search a little easier, here’s our complete treadmill features guide with expert tips, tricks, and advice to guide your research.

Part I: Set Your Basic Standards

Let’s begin by examining the core treadmill necessities for a satisfying workout session. First, you’ll want to ensure the treadmill is motorized (unless you’re seeking a very basic, non-motorized unit of course). You will then want to look for three key features: the belt size, the motor’s capabilities, and whether or not it’s a folding model.

To Fold Or Not To Fold?

woman folding up a NordicTrack treadmill

Many first-time treadmill buyers wonder whether a folding treadmill is a wise investment. In theory, the compact size seems enticing. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that if you select a folding model you will sacrifice some features along the way.

A typical treadmill sold for home use measures roughly seven feet long and three feet wide. If you have the space for a machine of that size, then go for it. If not, folding models are an ideal alternative.

However, just because a treadmill is foldable doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easily movable. Even though they have wheels, the machines are still extremely heavy and difficult to move. So once your unit is in place, you’ll want to fold it up and leave it there. Sure, moving a treadmill can feel like a workout, but that’s not why you bought the machine, is it?

The good news is, if you’re in the market for a folding treadmill, you can find them in a variety of price ranges. In the past, folding treadmills were either cheaply made or extremely expensive, without a middle ground. These days there are more mid-range foldable treadmills that are suitable for most homes.

Sole Fitness is the top rated brand for this design, and their best-selling model is the F80. You can find it for around $1500 and it’ll give you fantastic horsepower, speed, track size, and performance for your buck.

If you want to compare some more options, see our chart of the top folding treadmills for other space-saving models from Sole, NordicTrack and other leading brands.

Treadmill Workout Belts

The next thing to take into account is the treadmill belt. Each treadmill has a different width and length of belt that impacts how you’ll feel on the machine. Belt thickness can determine how much noise the treadmill emits during use, and how often the belt will require maintenance work. Note that if the belt is very thin, it will wear down easily, so this is something to keep in mind when purchasing.

Width: The most common width of a treadmill belt is set to 20 inches wide, so anything that is wider than that is considered extra large. A wider belt is good for larger users or for those who tend to feel trapped in during their sessions. Extra wide belts are 22 inches wide; that’s the widest you’ll see in the industry.

Length: Likewise, length also comes into play. For best results, you’ll want to choose a treadmill belt that’s longer if you plan to do a lot of running as that ensures that your stride length will be higher.

The normal length for walking and jogging treadmills is 55 inches, while treadmills designed for running purposes can range up to 60 inches in length. Do keep in mind that your own height is also a factor. If you are over 6 feet tall but plan to walk on your treadmill, you may be better off simply going with a 60 inch belt length for comfort. Tall runners on the other hand will want to seek out treadmills with a longer stride length (up to 62 or 63 inches).

Thickness: If you are purchasing a treadmill with a belt thickness of just one-ply, it may stretch or rip during running. For walking, that thickness may be fine, but more vigorous workouts require a belt thickness of two-ply or more. This type of belt can go for many, many miles without replacement. Most people also find that the thicker the belt, the quieter the treadmill (even as you approach higher speeds).

Maintenance: Belt thickness also determines how much maintenance your treadmill requires. Some belts only require occasional lubricating or waxing and are very easy to uphold. Other belts require far more regular maintenance. This is time and energy that most owners don’t expect, and can be a real pain in the long term. Generally speaking, the thicker the belt, the less maintenance is required.

Home Treadmill Motors

Another important consideration in home treadmill ownership is the motor. The motor is a huge component of what makes a treadmill run, so you don’t want to cut corners here. If you do, the treadmill won’t run properly for very long.

The main motor in any treadmill helps to push the belt forward. So the faster you plan to run on that treadmill and the heavier your body weighs, the more power you’ll need. This is a factor that too many people overlook. A motor running near its full capacity at all times will begin to fatigue and sputter out faster than a motor that has plenty of power to spare.

Horsepower: The first thing to look for in a treadmill motor is the horsepower. Usually you’ll see this referred to as continuous horsepower (CHP) rather than plain horsepower. This indicates how much total power that treadmill can put out over the entire time that you are exercising. HP only indicates how much power the machine generates in an instant, which is no good if you plan to exercise for an hour at a time.

Horsepower is one of the factors that greatly influences cost, so keep that in mind when you are doing price comparisons. It’s not something that you’ll want to cheap out on, so do try to look for the highest possible horsepower within your budget.

Typically you’ll see today’s treadmill models coming in with a CHP rating of 2.25 to 4.25. The higher the CHP, the more you can do with the treadmill.

For those who weigh 200 lbs. or less, you’ll generally want:

  • At least 2.0 CHP for walking
  • At least 2.5 CHP for jogging
  • At least 3.0 CHP for running

If you are training for a marathon or you have two or more people in the family who plan to use the treadmill on a daily basis, opt for 4.0 CHP.

Also keep in mind that if you are a heavier individual weighing over 200 pounds, you’ll want to add an additional half rating of CHP to give the treadmill a bit more of a push.

Warranty: Most home treadmill warranties include a lifetime motor warranty. Obviously, you won’t keep your cardio trainer for the next 80 years, but do insist on a lifetime warranty if you can afford it. When a treadmill lacks this guarantee, it’s an indication of poor construction and the machine will breakdown. You’ll lose everything you saved purchasing the treadmill on maintenance.

Part II: Don’t Be Shocked! Cushion & Tilt Your Run

It’s no secret that jogging and running are high impact activities that are hard on the joints. If you want a very low impact exercise machine, you’d be better off reading an elliptical guide right now instead.

Walking makes less of an impact, but it’s still a higher impact activity than swimming, cycling, or elliptical training. So paying attention to the shock absorption qualities of your treadmill is important.

You want to ensure that whatever treadmill you are considering offers protection for your joints, tendons, and ligaments. Otherwise, your treadmill will quickly become just another piece of furniture. Think of it this way: you are far better off spending $2000 on a treadmill that you use 200 days of the year than you are spending $1500 on a treadmill that you use only 50 times because it hurts your joints and causes injury. It’s always worth spending a bit more to get a model that is more comfortable to use in both the short and long term.

When a treadmill is well made, it’s often able to nearly completely deflect the shock that you experience while using it, changing your running game forever.

About Treadmill Cushioning

You’ve heard the saying before that for every action, there’s an opposite reaction; we all learned this back in grade school. Whenever your feet are hitting the deck of the treadmill, forces are acting upwards and exerting pressure on your joints.

You might think that this force equates to your body weight, but you would be wrong. The forces you feel coming back up at you are magnified by gravity pushing forces upwards as you land with each step. This is why jogging has more impact than walking. With walking, one foot is always on the ground. When running, your feet completely clear the ground for a brief moment.

Treadmills that offer strong shock absorption are usually much quieter as well; an added benefit to keep in mind.

The shock absorption for your treadmill consists of three parts:

  • The belt, which you can see laying flat against the top.
  • The deck, which is a wood or wood-like synthetic material laying beneath the belt. Running on this alone would be very hard on your joints.
  • The steel frame with shock absorbers, which line the deck and help it move in and out as it adapts and cushions your body weight. Think of these shock absorbers like springs. As the deck pushes down on them, they give only to eventually push back up and provide cushioning.

Here are a few additional things to keep in mind:

  • If you are a serious road runner, you may want to deactivate your cushioning system so that it feels more like you are actually running on flat ground. NordicTrack and ProForm make this possible by allowing users to turn the shock absorption on and off.
  • Some treadmills come with what’s referred to as ‘variable cushioning’, which is firmest at the push-off zone and softest where you land at the top. This is an advanced system and is only available on higher specification treadmills.
  • Of all the treadmill companies, Sole tends to offer the best overall cushioning support system for their price range. The impact on joints can be reduced by up to 40% on Sole treadmills when compared to the impact that you’d get running outdoors. Most treadmills in this price range only deflect about 30% of the total impact you’ll experience.
  • If you go with a high-end brand such as Landice, you’ll get cushioning that is rated as five times softer than grass. This will make your joints feel like you are running on a cloud. Landice’s top-of-the-line treadmill offers cushioning that is seven times softer than grass, which will make your joints feel like you are running on a cloud in marshmallow shoes. For those with chronic joint pain, this is the ideal choice.

About Treadmill Incline

running on incline treadmill

Another factor to take into account is the incline abilities of a treadmill. This feature gives you another element to add to your workout routine, and also ensures that you are fully challenging your body at all times.

The tilt that comes along with incline helps reduce the impact of exercise on your joints. When using a proper incline, you’ll also receive other benefits such as burning more calories and strengthening your muscles. Walking or jogging uphill is always more strenuous than walking or jogging on flat ground.

Here’s what you need to know about incline.

  • Manual or electric? You can find inclines in both styles but manual is very hard to come by these days. If incline is manual, you’ll have to get off the treadmill and bend down to adjust the deck. If it’s electronic, you simply press a button and the treadmill inclines. This type of incline, often referred to as power incline, is also important for pre-programmed workout options.
  • Higher end treadmills now offer augmented reality workouts which use apps such as iFit Coach or Google Maps to formulate walking and running routes across various landscapes and terrains. As you explore the locations on a tablet or console, your treadmill incline changes in real time, simulating changes in the topography you are discovering. Imagine feeling like you’re running through Rome or Tokyo without ever leaving your basement! This feature is available on machines from both NordicTrack and ProForm.
  • Usually you’ll find treadmill inclines that range from 10-20%, with price being the biggest factor determining how high they go. The cheaper treadmills will typically only offer about 10% incline, while more expensive ones will go up to 20%. Most people find that they are satisfied with an incline that tops out at 15%. However if you are someone who is in serious training, having that additional 5% incline can make a big difference on your performance abilities. You might also want to look at incline trainers, which are treadmill hybrid machines that can tilt up to 40%. These machines are like a cross between a treadmill and a stepper and are ideal for burning high amounts of calories.
  • Higher inclines should be considered by anyone who can’t run, and instead wants to exercise through walking. Walking on a high incline can burn just as many calories (if not more) than running.
  • Some treadmills that have incline capacities also have decline capacities, and can move into a downhill slant. Do keep in mind though that this can be even harder on the joints than flat walking or running and should be used with care.

Part III: Listen To Your Heart… Wirelessly

With visions of weight loss and gorgeous muscle tone, people forget that treadmills are cardio trainers. Most of these machines have heart rate monitors, and using the data from these can help maximize your progress. You can ensure that your effort isn’t too low and also that you don’t work too intensely and risk injury or burnout.

About Heart Rate Zones

To benefit from a monitor, you need to know your heart rate zones. Each zone covers a certain percentage of your maximum theoretical heart rate. You’ll be aiming to train within a specific zone. Here are the zones commonly recognized in health and fitness.

Zone 1: 60% to 70% – This zone is used for warm-ups and cool-downs. It could also be used for the majority of your workout if you’re just starting to get into shape.

Zone 2: 71% to 80% – This zone is most common for treadmill training. In this zone, you can hold a conversation without gasping for breath. Exercising in this zone can help your body use oxygen more efficiently.

Zone 3: 81% to 93% – Exercise in this zone is intense. You can say short sentences but holding a normal conversation isn’t an option.

Zone 4: 94% and Up – The top heart rate zone is of course for your hardest effort, like when a racer speeds to the finish line. As for the “talk test,” you might be able to utter a few words at a time.

How to Calculate Heart Rate Zones

What are your heart rate zones exactly? The conventional formula is to start with 220, then subtract your age. For example, if you are 40 years old, then 180 beats per minute is your theoretical maximum heart rate. From here you can calculate the percentages noted above.

This doesn’t reflect individual differences in resting heart rate though, so we suggest the Karvonen formula. For this, you start off with the same 220 minus your age. Then subtract your resting heart rate. The resulting number is your heart rate reserve. Multiply that number by the percentage at which you want to train to get your target beats per minute.

Types of Treadmill Heart Rate Monitors

Heart rate can be measured with touch sensors or wirelessly. Wireless monitoring is significantly more accurate.

These days, most treadmills are equipped with touch sensors, regardless of the price. Typically these sensors are built into the handlebars. On cheap treadmills, these heart rate monitors tend to be inaccurate and not so useful. With better models, you can have more confidence in the data, and use it to your advantage.

Wireless heart rate monitoring is the most accurate. It isn’t compromised by a sweaty grip and the reading is accurate whether you’re standing still or moving at top speed. Mid-quality and high-quality treadmills tend to provide touch sensors. Plus they work with wireless chest straps by Bluetooth. Sometimes the cardio monitoring strap is included with purchase.

More Treadmill Choices to Consider

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