How to Choose the Best Home Treadmill
When you're in the market for a new treadmill, you'll soon notice that there are hundreds of different treadmills for sale. Looking throught the Best Home Treadmill Reviews, It soon becomes apparant that it's not going to be easy to find the best one to match your specific needs. There are some key things you need to look out for, such as your fitness goals, required space and your budget for your new running machine.
This post is going to be your cheatsheet to finding the best treadmill for you, as I'm going to fully explain everything that you could possibly need to know. I'm here to serve all budgets too, I've found a great £300 option but I've also spotted a £1,700 masterpiece.
The key things that we are going to look at today is:
- The Costs: In-depth doesn't do this justice. We are going to find the best treadmills in all price ranges, as I understand that cost is the biggest factor when building a home gym.
- Fitness Goals & Targets: Not all treadmills are created equally. If you're training for a marathon for example, there's a specific type of treadmill that you'd require. If you're targeting general fat loss, you'll want a machine with lots of fun built-in programs.
- Features & Specification: In 2021, the most-wanted features tend to be live workout classes where you compete on leaderboards. I will discuss all features & spec options, such as Incline Levels, Maximum Speed & discuss what type of Running Belts are best for a quiet experience. (Quite a lot of people have a jog whilst watching television, so this is important!).
- Warranty & Service: It's important to check with warranty when buying anything brand new. It's no different for treadmills & the higher end ones have specific service plans, alongside longer warranty periods.
The first treadmills you will find below, are those for beginners who are looking to start working out more. Don't be fooled by the ‘beginner' tag, as these are still going to be high quality treadmills. The lower end of the budget is £300 and these will still be fantastic treadmills for a home gym.
I will also show some of the top tier models, such as the NordicTrack S45i. The higher end ones are going to start at £700, resembling the type of treadmill that you'll find in a commercial gym.
The Best Home Treadmills: The Most Popular Treadmills for 2021
Treadmill Prices & Comparison
A premium home treadmill will set you back over £1,000, but there's a very good chance that you won't need to spend this much to find a machine capable of matching your needs. If you've only got a budget of around £500 to £600, you're still able to get a top treadmill.
One word of advice is to stick to known brands when purchasing your treadmill. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't use Amazon, as lots of great manufacturers sell on there. Be wary of treadmills in the sub £300 price range, with few reviews & a questionable brand name. During the lockdown, treadmills have increased massively in demand, due to the gyms being closed and it appears there are individuals trying to take advantage of this.
You'll find lots of well respected brands on Amazon such as JLL, SportsTech, BlueFin & Nero. I've missed some off here too, but I'm sure you get my point.
What to Expect from a Basic Treadmill
In this guide, I've classified Basic Treadmills as ones that cost less than £399. These tend to have no motor & will be classified as a Manual Treadmill. Instead of selecting a speed and then matching the pace of the belt, you will be the one powering the treadmill, running on the belt.
They aren't very feature heavy, but they are quite popular with individuals that want to keep their fitness up without having to leave their homes. You can easily walk on this whilst watching television, which is still valuable exercise.
You can get motorised treadmills for around £300, which tend to be foldable for easy storage. You should also expect an LCD display offering basic functions, telling you how many calories you've burnt etc. The maximum speed that you'll most likely find is around 7 miles per hour, which isn't super-fast running. Another thing I've noticed is that there's no automatic incline, you have to step off the device and set the incline using the hinge on the base of the treadmill. Pre-set programs won't be available on every basic treadmill, but there's a few towards the higher end of the budget that will meet those requirements.
There are some great budget treadmills, with the SportsTech F10 one of my personal favourites…albeit at the higher end of the budget range.
What to Expect from a Mid Range Treadmill
You're looking at spending some serious money now, so it's only right to expect some specific features and functions too. There's no denying that the treadmills in this bracket are significantly higher quality. You can expect faster speeds of around 12 miles per hour, which is going to suit everyone except people training for sprints, or generally really fast runners. Automatic Incline will be a feature, meaning no more getting off the treadmill to adjust it. You may even find a treadmill with variable incline which automatically adjusts on a pre-set program (simulating real life running). Alongside the programs, your LCD computer console is also upgraded, showing distance travelled, heart rate & it allows for app integration via specific apps.
The Research & Development of these treadmills are increased by a few notches too and you'll find running belts with extra layers of cushioning, pulse-rate monitors on the handrails & a cool blowing fan which will stop you overheating during your workout. They may not seem like things that you need at first, but they will certainly give you the advantage. For example, where you would previously have to stop to regain your energy, the little blast of fresh air will give you that much needed second-wind.
A cushioned running belt speaks for itself, as it will ensure that you can run for longer, without getting any injuries or feeling uncomfortable.
Some of the mid-range treadmills do fold away for easy storage, but they are generally fixed frame in order to maintain a higher build quality. It's completely your decision which treadmill you go for, as they both have their advantages.
What to Expect from a High End Treadmill
It's at the higher end of the price range where all of the fancy features start to be attached to every single treadmill that you look at. Obviously that's why their priced significantly higher. You can really find some great treadmills which offer the highest build quality, most advanced technology and comfort which elongates your workout time. If you're comfy, you're less likely to quit!
Treadmills around the £1,000 mark are quite bulky, with thicker handrails, a larger area required for the motor and wider running belts. It's important to check the width of the running belt, especially if you're fitting this into a compact home gym.
Auto-Incline Adjustment will be a standard feature of a treadmill in this price range, alongside a running belt which is designed for ultra-quiet use. You shouldn't hear the running belt in action, which is the ultimate running experience.
High End Treadmills have also been given further upgrades recently, with the popularity of online fitness classes rising. Brands such as Peloton and Echelon have their respected apps & we are also seeing NordicTrack offer their iFIT integration.
These online fitness classes are quite revolutionary, especially as it makes it harder to shy away from hard work. I have first hand experience of this, having sometimes worked out a little lighter than I should have, or cut my workout short. Online classes come with virtual leaderboards, so you can really see who's putting the effort in too.
The workout trainers also motivate you on your workout, and you'll hear their voice bellowing through the in-built speakers of the treadmill. That's right, you even get those.
To Summarise each price range, I've decided to pick my favourite treadmill from each price range & explain why they're my pick.
The Recommended Budget Model
It's no shock to see the SportsTech F10 listed as the best budget model. It's at the higher end of the beginner budget, but it's totally feature rich & it matches the quality that you would find in a commercial gym.
With manual incline adjustment to 18 degrees, 13 inbuilt programs and whisper-quiet running belt it offers quite a lot of features for a lower range treadmill.
There's an LCD display which shows the time you've worked out, calories burnt & the distance that you've covered on that workout. Your joints will also thank you, as there's a multi-layered belt to allow for comfortable exercise, alongside near-silent sound from the motor itself.
If you want those in-demand virtual fitness classes, you can connect your Tablet to this treadmill and have the full experience for a fraction of the cost. This is achieved through Kinomap which is the budget-friendly way to have ‘smart' exercise classes.
Once you've finished with this treadmill, it also folds away and can be stored with ease. This is a must for most homes, where storage space is crucial. If you want to work out but you don't have the space, this treadmill is perfect.
Recommended Mid-Range Model
There was no competition for the mid-range, with the JLL T350 taking centre stage with ease. I know JLL machines as they're built pretty local to me, and the T350 is one advancement on their successful S300. If you aren't too sure who JLL are, they're a UK Manufacturer that make commercial quality gym equipment, especially cardio equipment for home gyms.
One look at this treadmill and you'll immediately notice it's not a budget model. For starters, it weighs in at 59 kilograms, contains a 4.5 horse power engine & reaches speeds of 11.2 miles per hour. That's something which would be sufficient for an athlete.
It contains all of the features that you'd expect such as High Powered Speakers, Usb connectivity & bluetooth wireless connection. This is ideal if you want to blast your favourite tunes, whilst out running. In addition to this, there are 20 levels of incline alongside 20 pre-set programs to choose from.
The LCD console will tell you all of the figures you require such as calories burnt etc & you can adjust the Speed, Incline & Audio levels with the touch sensitive console.
The running belt features a 16 point cushion deck, which again will pay dividends to your joints over time. This is made of advanced silicon rubber which provides greater shock absorption. In addition to helping your joints, it's also much quieter as each step on the treadmill is cushioned.
This also folds away using a Soft Drop System, which allows for easy movement and even easier storage. To give you further peace of mine, the frame has lifetime warranty, the Motor has 5 years & you get two years parts and labour included.
JLL make some great mid-range models, with the S300 and S400 their other impressive models. There's no denying though, the T350 has the better specification.
HGR's Favourite High End Model
Now it's time to reveal my favourite high-end model & I'll admit it was really hard not to get carried away. I want to make this guide useful, so listing the most expensive model I've found is kind of counter-productive. I had a serious word with myself and then I decided to announce the NordicTrack S25i as my favourite high end model.
At first, it's still an eye-watering amount at £1,099. However, we have devised the perfect plan for building your home gym and base our equipment around a £25/£30 monthly gym membership. So, after three years of owning this treadmill, it will have paid for itself. That's actually really good.
I had to include NordicTrack in this list & any other guide that doesn't honestly isn't doing treadmills any justice. Note, this link takes you direct to NordicTrack, not to a lesser known brand trading on Amazon. NordicTrack are serious about working out & they are taking on Peloton & Echelon with their cardio equipment.
The truth is, NordicTrack shouldn't be ‘taking on' Peloton or Echelon, they should be miles ahead. They have been in operation since 1975, albeit in the Ski equipment gear. They actually created the first Workout VR exercise bike, which later gave birth to the workout classes that we see today.
The S25i costs over £1,000 but it's not their most expensive item. The X32i claims this throne, with a whopping £3,499 fee. This isn't targeted towards home gym users though, it's recommended for users who are building a commercial gym. Most of their treadmills are around the £1,200 – £1,800 range.
The S25i is a cheaper model, but it packs an almighty punch. It's important not to be put off because it's not their flagship. Would you refuse a Lamborghini because it's not the Aventador SVJ?
You can achieve speeds of upto 13.7 miles per hour with this treadmill, although unless you're super-fit you won't be at that pace for long! The incline is automatic, ranging from 0-12%. You also get access to their much-loved iFIT membership, with 12 months membership included upon purchased. This tracks all of your personal workouts & delivers the results straight to your tablet.
If you're in a workout class with a trainer, they can automatically adjust your treadmill speed & incline, so it's going to be really hard to slack off early!
Your Personal Checklist
I'll be honest and state that I'd love to snap up that S25i, or even better yet their X32i Commercial Treadmill. However, I don't have £3,000 to spend on a treadmill. We have to compromise on our equipment and that's why I've provided machines for varied budgets. It's not all about your treadmill budget though.
I've also listed the key features below, which are crucial to help you finding your treadmill. I highly recommend that you look through these, working out which features you definitely want. There's 10 features, so try and pick Three that you need, three that you'd like, four that aren't desired. This will help you to narrow down your list & start to draft a shortlist on your next home treadmill. Remember, the Best Home Treadmill is not guaranteed to be a perfect match for yourself, so this checklist really helps you understand what you need, helping you to make an informed decision.
Choosing a Treadmill: The Criteria
- Foldable Design: Do you need to make use of your workout space, when not working out? Can the Treadmill be transported easily? (Transport wheels?)
- Maximum Speed: Is the Treadmill fast enough to match your requirements? Remember, most budget treadmills are limited to 7/8mph.
- Pre-set Programs: The lower end treadmills won't have any pre-set programs, due to having no on-board trip computer. If it's important to have pre-set programs and workouts, ensure you look for this. They are extremely effective for motivation when training alone.
- App Connectivity: Modern treadmills are being manufactured with App Compatibility, to be able to go on Virtual jogs, fitness classes or simply to track your performance via your phone. KinoMap is one of the most popular options due it's cost effectiveness.
- Incline: Lower end treadmills will have a manual incline, but you should expect the mid and higher range to offer automatic incline. This makes a huge difference on your workout, with just 1% incline making the workout around 10% harder.
- Workout Tracking: All models should offer some form of workout tracking, with the more expensive models able to measure your pulse via contacts on the treadmill hand rail.
- Entertainment: Whilst the higher end models have physical screens for an immersive workout or fitness class, some models are limited to speakers. These can connect via USB or Bluetooth.
- Cushioned Belt: Basic Treadmills will offer little support to your joints, but the mid-range treadmills should feature at least 8 points of shock absorption to help aid your workouts.
- Noise: A cushioned belt will also make running quieter. In addition to this, you should look for a Motor which offers less than 70db of noise. Not all treadmill manufacturers note this figure.
- Style & Design: The physical design of the treadmill may be important, as you want your equipment to be easy on the eye. I've seen some bright yellow treadmills in my time, which doesn't look as pleasing as a slick black treadmill with minimal decals.
Targetting Specific Goals
We receive regular emails from our community which are requesting assistance for specific goals. Keep them coming, as I love helping you out! To save you time waiting for a response, I've also decided to save you time, so you don't have to wait for my response. I'll mention a few treadmills which are ideal for specific requirements.
Learning the Ropes?
If it's the first time you'll be using a treadmill properly, it's also ideal to plan for the future. Ensure that the spec that you are working with will still be useful when you're a little bit fitter or you may see yourself having to upgrade your treadmill sooner than you think!
Short of Space & Need to Store Away?
I think we'd all love a Home Gym the size of a small commercial one. The reality is that we are juggling our home with our workout space. Fortunately, there are some fantastic folding treadmills that will allow you to workout at home, then simply fold and store away your treadmill. One of the most popular folding treadmills is the SportsTech F10, which I reviewed just above in this post. If you were looking for a foldable treadmill on a higher budget, the JTX Sprint 3 offers a great experience.
On a Strict Budget?
Just like we'd love a huge gym area, I'm pretty sure we'd all like to splash the cash on a pro level treadmill. Budget is an important consideration when making your purchase & you need to find the perfect blend features and cost. It's important to get all of the features that you'd like, without spending too much money. There are certainly some fantastic value treadmill in the lower end market, with Sportstech & JLL leading the way.
Need for Speed?
The maximum speed on a treadmill is very important. I have noticed that quite a few of the lower-end models seem to max out at around 7mph. This might not be a struggle for you to run at this pace, which means you'll be on the lookout for a treadmill that can handle much faster pace, probablt around 10-14mph.
Ready for Everest?
The Incline level is also very important. The first decision that you have to make is Manual or Automatic incline, with the latter costing significantly more. The next thing to assess is the degree incline that the treadmill can achieve. Treadmill Incline is important, and experts suggest you need to run on at least 2 degree incline to simulate running outside.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between a Buget and a Professional Treadmill?
I would lean towards not comparing a budget against a professional model, as it's like a heavyweight boxing against a lightweight… cellotaped to a lamp-post! Instead of this, treadmills are categorised into Four Main Classes:
- Budget Model: A Budget model would typically cost under £300. Most of these are manual treadmills, which means they have no motor. There won't be an LCD display, but in some cases you can expect a little console which tells you how far you've ran during that workout. More or less all of these models will fold away.
- Beginner Range Model: Your Mid-Range models will cost no more than £400. There's quite a lot of value in the mid-range market. Here, you get access to Incline support, a better running belt & a sturdier frame on your treadmill.
- Mid-Range Model: A Mid-range treamill can cost you upto £800. This is where the built quality starts to get serious, with automatic incline & faster top speeds allowed due to better designed treadmills. These will resemble treadmills that you find in your local gym.
- High End Model: We've already shown you some treadmills that cost over £3,000. Although these can be used in your homes, they're typically made for gyms. A High end home treadmill can still cost anywhere upto £2,000. These will have much better Consoles, Even Faster Speeds & Higher Incline Levels. Brands like NordicTrack are the household name for these, alongside their iFIT membership.
What maximum speed does my Treadmill need?
There's quite a few factors to discuss here, including your current fitness levels. If you're just getting into fitness, you'll be ok to start with a treadmill that caters for 7-10mph. However, a fitness fanatic may need between 12-16mph, as they're used to running really fast.
Another thing which impacts the speed requirement is your height. Shorter runners generally have lower top speed requirements than a taller tunner. This doesn't mean they're a better runner, it just means that they take less strides.
The typical treadmill speeds are measure in kilometers & are:
- 5-8 km/h: This is the typical warming up zone, offering a really light jog.
- 8-10 km/h: This is a little faster, but not quite breaking into spring
- 12-14 km/h: This is starting to pick up pace now, if you can run at this pace you're definitely getting into your training!
- 16+ km/h: You'll most likely be hitting these speeds during HIIT training, but only for 10 to 15 seconds. This is flat out running at max intensity, but it won't be available on the lower spec treadmills.
Do I need Incline on a Home Treadmill?
Incline is very useful for your Treadmill. This is where your Treadmill belt will be delivered on a slight angle, offering you an experience similar to running uphill. Just as it sounds it, it's more difficult than running on a zero incline. However, some running enthusiasts advise against zero incline, due to this simulating running downhill (which has very little positive effects).
There are two types of Incline that you need to look for:
- Automatic Incline: The angle is set electrically, using the touch buttons on the treadmill centre console. This can be adjusted mid-run, to immerse yourself. It's the better type of incline, but does come with it's increased costs.
- Manual Incline: To Manually adjust your treadmill, you're required to get off the machine & adjust a lever at the front base. It's a bit of a pain as it breaks up your workout, but it's less of a pain on your wallet.
Are Treadmills Noisy?
Treadmills can certainly be noisy. The constant sound of your feet whacking off a Running Belt is going to be louder than other forms of exercise. It's something that manufacturers are aware of & they're making advancements in turning them down. You'll find some treadmills with extra cushioned running belts, quieter motors and also speakers. Whilst the two are active in helping to stop the noise, speakers may have been added to drown out the clip-clap of your feet, with your favourite album.
How many Calories will I burn on a Treadmill?
This depends on the workout that you're doing & how long you're active! There are so many factors, but I'll explain them below.
- Exercise Intensity: You will burn more calories on a high intensity training plan. Although this sounds obvious, you actually burn calories for a longer period once you've finished HIIT training. It's known as a cheat code for fast weight loss.
- Avoiding the Handrails: Leave those handrails alone! I've seen so many people running super-fast, but holding onto these like their life depends on it. This is going to have an adverse effect on your gains & probably lead to injury.
- Incline: Running at Incline will burn more calories as there is increased resistance which you're battling.
- Speed: The faster that you run, the more calories you should burn.
- Body Weight: Are Treadmills good for weight loss? The more you weigh, the higher calories you will burn. This is because your muscles use energy to carry your body over a longer distance.
The typical exercise on a treadmill will see around 500 calories burnt, per hour.
What Safety Features are on a Treadmill
The usual safety feature that you'll find on your treadmill is the Emergency Stop System. This either consists of a Big Red Button, a tether with a clip or both of those.
It's probably a good idea to ensure you're working out safe at home, because we don't want any unnecessary accidents!
What's the best Treadmill for Shorter / Taller People?
I wasn't actually aware that this was a question until I received 4 emails in one week, so it's definitely important. After initially dismissing there was a treadmill for short or tall people, I've now changed my mind.
The thing is, Taller people are actually going to have a harder time on a budget treadmill. The running belts are a little narrower, alongside the frame of a budget treadmill. This could lead to definite awkwardness when running, so I'd definitely say that shorter people have the advantage when shopping around!
Will a Treadmill Damage my Home Floor?
If you place the treadmill directly onto carpet, it's likely to leave those indents that we see all too often when moving heavy furniture around. There's also a chance that you could scratch your laminate or wood flooring. Fortunately, you can overcome this quite easily & cost-effectively. They're the rubber mats which are used in quite a lot of gyms. You will be able to get a pack of 12 for around £20, which is going to be much cheaper in the long-run. They also give your Home Gym that professional edge, too. There;s a few extra benefits of these mats, as they also help to soften any noise… but they also keep the heat in. Perfect if you're working out of a cold garage, like myself!
What's the Best Treadmill Fitness App?
I absolutely love iFit, which is offered by NordicTrack. However, I can't afford this myself. So as a budget pick, I definitely recommend the KinoMap Fitness integration, which will elevate your workout.
Alongside Live Classes, you get access to Multiplayer sessions with Live Leaderboards… who doesn't want to compete for top spot? Even if you don't win the session, you know that you've worked damn hard during that workout.
Do I need Running Trainers on a Treadmill?
When starting out with your treadmill, I wouldn't recommend spending extra money on bespoke running shoes. The trainers that you use outside, walking the dog, will be fine. As long as they aren't really bulky trainers, try them out on your treadmill. You will soon be able to see if they're appropriate.
As you start to take things seriously, it would definitely give you that small boost you need to improve further, in addition to avoiding injury as you're wearing gear that's fit for purpose.