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Last year brought an onslaught of at-home workout demands. Consumers ran themselves ragged online in search of the best treadmills and fitness equipment. I have personally unboxed, assembled, researched and tested countless running machines to bring you the best of what 2021 has to offer.
Whether you’re new to exercise or a seasoned runner, there is a treadmill on the market for you. For each of our nine machines below, I’ll let you know what I liked and what you should be aware of before you run head first toward such a sizable purchase.
My Top Pick: NordicTrack Commercial 1750
Best Curved Treadmill: TrueForm Trainer
Best Non-Motorized Treadmill: AssaultRunner Pro
Best Treadmill for Walkers: Horizon Fitness T101
Best Folding Treadmill: Echelon Fitness Stride
Best Value Treadmill: Bowflex Treadmill 10
Best User Experience: Peloton Tread+
Best Budget Treadmill: Horizon Fitness T202
Best Treadmill for Running: ProForm Pro 9000
Best Treadmill Under $1,000: Sole F63
Best Compact Treadmill: Lifepro Pacer Folding Treadmill
Good for: Runners and walkers looking for guided programming from a reputable manufacturer
My Favorite Things:
The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is a serious machine packed with extras that benefit walkers and runners. Right away, you’ll notice a 10-inch HD touchscreen loaded with iFit, which is NordicTrack’s interactive training program. It has walking and running programs that take you all over the country, which I enjoyed as a welcome distraction to the burning in my legs.
The iFit program also automatically adjusts the speed of the treadmill as well as the incline and decline. Yes, this treadmill has a decline function, which is another reason it took my top pick. If you want to get closer to simulating a run outside, then running both inclines and declines is a must. Decline running also strengthens your leg muscles in a way that incline and flat running does not, so there’s that added bonus as well.
Serious runners, listen up: The Commercial 1750 has cushioning options. You can actually turn on or off the cushioning on the running surface. You can mimic road running by turning it off, or get more cushion for the joint pushin’ by turning it on.
This is a big machine with a really intricate assembly. You need plenty of room for it, and you should carve out a few hours to put it together. Expert assembly for a NordicTrack treadmill isn’t currently available due to COVID-19 precautions.
Read my full NordicTrack Commercial 1750 review.
Good for: Runners looking to improve their form and performance
My Favorite Things:
The TrueForm Trainer is a non-motorized machine and is an industry-leader. TrueForm offers three models of curved treadmills. The Trainer is my favorite of the three for most home gym owners because it offers the sound ergonomics of its big sister, the Runner, but at about 60 percent of the cost.
Unlike a motorized treadmill, the Trainer relies on you to move the belt. As a study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport reports, this means you work harder - around 27 percent harder - than if you were on a treadmill that uses a motor for power. The curved belt on the Trainer also pretty much forces you into running with better form (TrueForm is its name, after all). When you run on the Trainer, you are prompted to strike the ground midfoot to better keep the belt moving. This is what sets the TrueForm apart from other motorized and curved treadmills. The angle of the belt, as well as the lack of a flywheel, really forces you to run with better form. Better form means less unnecessary stress on your joints and also helps with injury prevention.
The Trainer weighs 270 pounds and has a weight capacity of 400 pounds. Its frame is a very hard plastic, which could be prone to cracking over prolonged use. However, there isn’t much wobble when you’re on board thanks to pegged, adjustable feet. The wheels on the front of the machine make it pretty easy to move around your space.
Big downside time: The monitor. It makes an abacus look sexy. TrueForm put all the effort into the bottom half of the machine and left the monitor to simply report pace, speed, distance, time and heart rate.
Read my full TrueForm Trainer Review
Good for: An easy-to-use manual treadmill with some built-in workouts
My Favorite Things:
The AssaultRunner Pro (formerly known as the Assault Air Runner) is one of the most popular non-motorized treadmills in existence, and we have CrossFit to thank for that. It really got its start in the CrossFit world, and it is used in affiliates all over the world.
Just looking at it, it looks a lot like the TrueForm: curved deck, no frills, etc. But it has one of the better monitors – when compared to other manual treadmills, that is. Also, it’s a little easier to get started running on the AssaultRunner Pro than it is on the TrueForm. That’s basically because the TrueForm forces you to run with good form, and the AssaultRunner really doesn’t.
I personally like how long the deck on the AssaultRunner is at around 60 inches. That accommodates a long stride. The belt itself is very heavy, giving the running surface an almost flywheel effect. This is really useful if you’re into overspeed training.
You don’t have to plug in this machine to get it to work, as it is 100% athlete-powered. It weighs 289 pounds but I found it pretty easy to move, thanks to the bar on the back of the machine.
The plastic shrouds on the sides of the machine have been known to crack. And if you’re looking for fancy programming, it ain’t here. Although, the AssaultRunner does have several built-in workouts.
Good for: Anyone new to home cardio fitness who wants an easy-to-use machine
My Favorite Things:
The Horizon Fitness T101 is specifically designed for walkers or what I would call “light” joggers - someone who runs just a few miles a week. The motor is 2.5 continuous horsepower, which supports moderate amounts of running if you choose to do so, and is still powerful enough to give you a good workout.
The walking/running surface on the T101 is 55 inches long. This is ideal for shorter running strides, or most people’s walking strides (Taller folks would typically need a 60-inch deck for running). The deck is also 20 inches wide, which is an industry standard.
I like that the T101 is priced appropriately at just under $700. It may not have a lot of advanced features, but it is backed by a lifetime warranty and a 100 percent guarantee. Horizon Fitness states that if you don’t like the treadmill, you can return it in 30 days for a full refund.
The T101 has some of the cool perks like Bluetooth speakers and a rapid-charge USB port so you can stream shows on your own device. There are a number of preset workouts including jogging/running workouts - but be advised that the speed limit on this machine is 10 mph.
Good for: Someone looking for a space-saving design on high-powered treadmill
My Favorite Things:
Foldable treadmills aren’t really unique anymore, especially when it comes to equipment designed for consumers and not commercial gyms. Therefore, I can demand a lot from this category, where I feel the Echelon Fitness Stride takes the cake.
I first fell in love with the Stride because it comes assembled in its folded state. That’s an amazing perk compared to some of these machines that take hours to put together. Folded, the Stride is just 10 inches deep. Whereas other foldable treadmills require a 200-pound deadlift as you raise the deck, the Stride folds with just a few buttons. A lever auto-folds the handlebars, and the machine is flattened to a pancake. Once it’s folded, the Stride can be lifted into a vertical position, as there are wheels on the front of the machine so you can push it up against a wall or behind a door.
And those are just the folding benefits. The Stride uses Bluetooth connectivity for Echelon United, which is Echelon’s interactive programming app. Without the app, there are still eight preset workout programs to guide your exercise.
Now, for some downsides. The motor on the Stride peaks at 2.5 horsepower, so very frequent running and advanced speed work aren’t recommended. Also, the running deck is just 55 inches long, which may be a little short for taller users. Lastly, the warranty is just one year. One year! We would expect at least 10 years, especially given that it costs upward of $1,300.
Good for: People attracted to perks and a lower price point
My Favorite Things:
High-end, expensive treadmills are great if money is no object for you. But for those of us who keep an eye on the bottom line, quality can come in more affordable packages, like with the Bowflex Treadmill 10 released last year. It’s about half the price of the Peloton Tread+ (which starts around $4,000) but still has comparable perks.
With the Treadmill 10, you get interactive workout programs with the JRNY app (subscription required, but you get the first two months free). The app creates customized workouts tailored to your fitness, so they get harder as you get in better shape. The runs are scenic as the app takes you through destinations around the world, or you can do studio classes with a personal trainer. All of this is on a 10-inch adjustable HD touchscreen display (a 22-inch display available on the Bowflex Treadmill 22). You can also stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus right on the machine.
This is another treadmill with decline training available, with -5 percent decline to 15 percent incline settings. Speeds are standard at 0 to 12 mph, but the running deck is a spacious 22 inches by 60 inches. The Treadmill 10 has a soft-drop folding system, so you can lock it into place when you’re done, and push a button that will gently lower the deck on its own when you’re ready to run again.
As with a lot of these treadmills that have accompanying apps for programming, the Treadmill 10 doesn’t offer much if you don’t pay for the JRNY subscription. That cost is $149/year or $19.99/month. Also, while this is a fraction of the cost of high-end treadmills, it still clocks in around $2,000.
Good for: People who can afford the fully interactive experience
My Favorite Things:
It’s a Peloton. I don’t really need to say more, but I will.
The Peloton Tread+ (the big sister to the Peloton Tread) is an amazing machine. And it better be for $4,295 with an extra cost for the monthly subscription (the regular Tread is $2,495). How many times have I said, however, that you get what you pay for?
The biggest asset on the Tread+ is the Peloton overall user experience. Interactive personal training, live classes, on-demand workouts: it has everything. The screen on the Tread+ is a whopping 32 inches – it’s like nothing I have ever seen before! (The Tread still boats a 23.8-inch touchscreen). Aside from being large and bright, the screen is incredibly easy to use.
When I ran on the Tread, I noticed that the belt is similar to the Assault Runner’s belt: thick, rubberized slats. The Tread has some noticeable cushion and was extremely comfortable to run on.
One cool feature is that instead of buttons to adjust incline, the Tread and the Tread+ use knobs along the handlebars that roll. Obvious safety hazard aside, these knobs are intuitive to use, and I honestly preferred them to buttons. I noticed that if you don’t adjust the speed properly, the machine starts to vibrate a little.
Let’s talk downsides. If you can get past the cost, my other big concern with the Tread and Tread+ is how heavy these machines are. The Tread+ is 455 pounds, so it’s a good thing you can get home delivery and assembly. Make sure you set it up where you want it, because you won’t want to have to move it. Also, without the monthly subscription, the tread isn’t all that great. It’s comfortable to run on, but what you’re really paying for is that big, beautiful screen and all the classes on it.
Good for: People who want a mid-range treadmill at budget price point
My Favorite Things:
At under $800, the Horizon Fitness T202 treadmill is frills-free but doesn’t sacrifice quality. I really like the Horizon brand because the company produces budget equipment that isn’t cheap. If you want a gonna-fall-apart-after-10-miles-treadmill, I can point you to some on Amazon.
But if you want something affordable that works, you go to Horizon. The company’s T101 is my pick above for best walking treadmill, and its T202 is great for people on a budget. The 2.75 chp motor on the T202 supports most activity levels. It also has industry-standard speed levels at up to 12 mph, and incline levels up to 12 percent.
When it comes to tech, the T202 folds, has Bluetooth speakers and a USB charging port. The basic LCD windows are far from top-of-the-line, but they are appropriate for this price range. Be advised that the heart rate monitoring is via contact grips only, which is usually not quite as accurate as a Bluetooth-enabled chest strap.
Good for: People who want preset workouts and a durable machine
My Favorite Things:
ProForm has long been a respected name in the running game, as the company formerly manufactured the official treadmill of the Boston Marathon. Its best machine today, in my opinion, is the ProForm Pro 9000. The powerful, 3.6 continuous horsepower motor is ideal for high volume runners, as is the 20-inch by 60-inch running deck. Speeds go up to 12 miles per hour and the machine has both incline and decline settings.
There are two treadmills in ProForm’s Pro Series: The 9000 and the 2000. The 9000 is priced higher mostly due to its motor strength and its 22-inch HD touchscreen. ProForm is part of the ICON Health and Fitness family (just like NordicTrack), so the 9000 also comes with a full-year iFit membership. With iFit, you have access to countless running, interval, HIIT, speedwork and other trainer-led programs.
In testing, I really liked the Bluetooth speakers to blast my music, and the fan to blast my face with cool air. Running on it feels stable as there is no jostling. The assembly took me about an hour, and I only really needed a second person to help me attach the console.
At 236 pounds, this machine isn’t easy to move around and takes up quite a bit of room. It does have one-step folding to maximize your space. There are also wheels on the front so you can deadlift the deck and push the treadmill around if necessary.
Good for: People who want a cardio machine without breaking the bank
My Favorite Things:
I’ll be honest: I don’t expect much from treadmills that cost less than $1,000. The Sole F63 surprised me. It comes with a Bluetooth heart rate chest strap monitor (that actually works), it has Bluetooth speakers that rock, there is a large storage tray, a tablet holder and a USB port to charge your device.
The F63 has a steel frame backed by a lifetime warranty. It’s the base model from Sole but far from basic. The motor is 3.0 continuous horsepower, it has 15 incline levels and speed up to 12 mph. Programming-wise, this guy has six standard programs, two programs that are heart rate-based, and two that are customizable.
Keep in mind, this is a treadmill that costs less than $1,000. My runs on the F63 weren’t as smooth as workouts on higher priced machines. It’s the kind of jostling you would expect from a budget-friendly machine. While not a dealbreaker, it is something noteworthy. The LCD screen is pretty basic but still spits out all the metrics you’d want to know while exercising. Also, Sole notes that due to high demand, it could take up to 45 days to get your treadmill.
In my testing and research, I found many other budget-friendly treadmills, but few with all the features the F63 boasts. Its strong warranty, programming options and conveniences make it my pick if you want a quality machine without forking over too many Benjamins.
Good for: People in small spaces who want a home cardio machine
My Favorite Things:
By nature, treadmills are large machines. However, not all are heavy duty, steel monsters. The Lifepro Pacer Folding Treadmill is small and would work in even tight spaces like studio apartments. Its footprint is roughly 60 inches long and 27 inches wide. Folded, it basically cuts the length in half to just 32 inches long.
The Pacer’s weight is a super light 115 pounds. Combine that with the folding and the wheels on the back, and you have yourself a super portable running machine. There are more than 40 preset workouts like interval training and heart rate programs.
Now, with the good comes the considerations: A smaller treadmill typically doesn’t have the capacity of a larger machine. The Pacer has a small running surface at just 49 inches long and 16.5 inches wide. That’s tight! Doable, but tight. The user capacity is 220 pounds (most of today’s treadmills support 300 pounds or more).
The Pacer motor is 1.25 continuous horsepower (chp), and 1.75 peak power, which will support runners but isn’t suited for high frequency running. Also, the max speed on the Pacer is 9.9 mph, and there are 12 levels of incline.
All that said, this is about what you can expect from a compact treadmill. You have to make sacrifices to save space.
Before running all over the Internet to find the right treadmill for your home gym, get your priorities organized. Here are my tips for knowing which one is the right one:
What do you want to do with your treadmill? And be specific:
High-Volume Running: If you’re logging upward of 20 miles or more a week on a treadmill, you need a machine that performs. Look for a motor of at least 3.0 continuous horsepower and a running deck that’s 60 inches long.
Jogging: So, you want to take the treadmill for a spin a few times a week? You can look for a motor in the 1.75-2.5 horsepower range, as a more powerful motor will cost you more. Odds are you worry about your joints, so you might seek a cushioned deck.
Walking: Walkers have some freedom when it comes to treadmills, because you can walk on anything. If you want to save money, you can opt for small motors (1.75 horsepower or less) and a short and narrow running surface (smaller than 55 inches long and 20 inches wide).
You know you want to run, but what kind of running matters to you? Consider the following options to enhance your training:
If you’re training for an outdoor race on hills, I hope you pick a treadmill that can simulate those climbs. You can compare the grade of the hills you’ll be on with the maximum incline of the treadmill. Also, check out the speed settings on the treadmill. Some come with top speeds of just 9.9 mph - that’s a 6:04 mile pace. People doing speed intervals likely want something faster.
You can hop onto any quality treadmill and just start moving. That’s a given. But what if you are ready to push yourself? And what if you need help?
Many treadmills today come with preset programs. Some of these are built into the machine itself, and some of them are through a streaming app. In most cases, the apps that accompany these machines - like iFit, JRNY and Echelon United - come with an additional price tag. Not only that, but the machines themselves aren’t as attractive without the app.
Research your programming options with each machine well and factor the price of the app into the price of the treadmill.
The options seem endless, really, but here are a few items you might deem important to your workout experience:
Keep in mind that the more you want, the higher the price range of the treadmill.
Why not make your workout as enjoyable as it can be? Some things, like a water bottle holder, feel necessary, whereas other conveniences are just an added bonus. Here are a few options you might consider:
Lastly, a big thing to consider is space. What’s your place like? Do you have room for a huge, commercial-sized treadmill, or do you need something compact that folds? Technology today means you can push a button and the treadmill folds in half on its own.
You might also look at the portability of the machine. If you know you will be moving the treadmill often, then getting wheels and a lighter weight machine might be necessary.
A treadmill of any size is still a large purchase. My advice is to figure out what you need in terms of price, space and your fitness goals. Thoroughly research the products you like, and give them a test run if you need to (many machines come with a 30-day guarantee!). Good luck, and have a great run.
Which treadmill is best for home use?
The best treadmill for your home is going to largely depend on your goals. You need to find one that matches your budget, your fitness goals and your space demands, among other factors.
What is the best inexpensive treadmill?
First thing is first: Inexpensive shouldn’t mean cheap. You can find a lot of cheap treadmills out there, but they won’t last long.
In the treadmill world, inexpensive would be something under $1,000. I like both treadmill lines from Horizon Fitness because they offer a lot, like lifetime warranty, some nice tech features and decent durability.
Are cheap treadmills worth it?
If you’re looking to jog or run on a treadmill, paying a few hundred dollars for something off Amazon likely isn’t worth it. You need a motor, deck and frame to support your activity. Walkers can get away with lower-powered motors and a less durable frame simply because the machine doesn’t need to work as hard.
Even still, you get what you pay for. Budget-friendly motorized treadmills are notorious for having issues with motors that need to be replaced, belts wearing out and necessary adjustment to tension. There are good treadmills in the $700-$900 range that are friendlier to your wallet – and have financing options – and will last much longer than the $200-$300 options.
Is a home treadmill worth it?
There are countless benefits to using a home treadmill:
Yes, treadmills can be expensive, but most come with financing options to help allay the cost.
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