According to research, about 62.5 million people are signed up to gym membership, and about 53.2% of these individuals own some sort of home gym equipment. A treadmill is one of the most popular fitness equipment you’ll find in many homes with lots of innovations recorded in design and otherwise. If you intend to buy a treadmill, it’s very important to have basic knowledge of what to look out for, so that you don’t end up with the wrong choice. In this regard, this simple, yet comprehensive treadmill buying guide takes a look at all the vitals you should consider before parting ways with your money.
What’s a Treadmill?
Simply put, a treadmill is a type of fitness equipment that allows you to walk, jog, or run like you will outdoors. The difference is that instead of walking, running, or jogging outdoors, you can do the same from the comfort of your home.
Benefits of a Treadmill
There are many benefits that one can get with using a treadmill especially with innovations and steep competition that have forced manufacturers to make more sophisticated treadmills.
- One of the basic benefits of using a treadmill is the reduced impact on your joints compared to running outdoors on the coal tar or hilly topography. Most treadmills have decks that are cushioned to absolve shocks, thus reducing the impact on your joints.
- Secondly, with a treadmill and like other home gym equipment, you can be sure to avoid unpleasant weather that can cause you harm.
- Still on comfort, having a treadmill at home makes it a lot easier to hop in and burn some calories especially when you in endeared to the treadmill.
- Furthermore, modern treadmills are equipped with features that can help you get a comprehensive workout.
Types of Treadmill
- Treadmills can be classified into two; folding and non-folding treadmills. The folding treadmill which is getting more popular by the day is more compact and can help you save some space. This is why this type of treadmill is the best choice for anyone with very limited space.
- Non-folding treadmills on the other hand are mainly found in your nearby gym or other fitness centers. This type of treadmills mostly used for commercial purposes and as such have more advanced features which translate to the huge price tags on these type of treadmills.
Treadmill Buying Checklist
Before you decide to pay for a treadmill, it’s very important to be sure it ticks most of the factors in this checklist. This will help you avoid regrets that come with ignorant or misinformed decisions.
- How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
- How Much Space Can You Spare? What’s the Size of The Treadmill?
- What’s The Size of The Deck/Track Length
- Is The Running Surface/Deck Cushioned
- What’s The Speed?
- What’s The Incline?
- What’s The Horsepower?
What’s your budget? This is the first question you should ask yourself before commencing your search. You’ll find the price of high-end treadmills goes up to $3000 and above. High-end treadmills, like I said earlier have more features, yet there are cheaper alternatives in the range of $1000 – $2000 and even cheaper ones below these price tags.
For one, due to the demand for low budget treadmills, you’ll find many options below the $1000 mark. As long as you are ready to tradeoff some of the features seen on high-end treadmills, you can still get a top-quality treadmill that’s within budget.
One advantage of these lower-priced treadmills is that they’re more compact which is why these types of treadmills make the best choice for home use.
Still, on size, be sure to take into consideration the amount of space available. Can you accommodate the new machine? Is a very important question especially if you have limited space. On average, most treadmills measure 70L x 30W x 55H.
An alternative is foldable treadmills, there are many fine choices on the market that allow you to fold and put away the machine when not in use.
This will not matter so much to an individual with average body size and height, but if you’re over 6ft tall, then you should be sure to check the track length. The size of the deck matters so much because it’ll help you decide if a treadmill will fit for running, walking, or jogging. On average, most treadmills have a deck that measures 18W x 55L. This will be fine for most individuals, but not so great for a very tall person that intends to sprint and take longer strides.
A treadmill with track length measuring at least 20W x 55L inches should work fine for very tall individuals over 6ft. In the same vein, a very fat person might feel too confined in a 17 inches wide track length. A track length measuring 20W x 55L will be great for a fat individual.
One of the benefits of training on a treadmill is that it reduces most injuries encountered while running outdoors. These injuries are most times caused by the impact of your strides on your joint while running. However, a treadmill with a cushioned deck can reduce significantly the impact of your training on your joints, thereby reducing the chances of you getting injured.
So, it’s important to check if the deck of the treadmill is cushioned or not.
The speed of the treadmill is important for very active individuals who intend to cover a long distance by running. On average, you’ll find treadmills with a maximum speed of 8mph. This isn’t ideal for someone who wants to sprint, want to run mostly, or cover longer distances in a short time.
The recommended speed by experts remains 10mph which works fine for most individuals. You might want something higher, say 12mph. It depends on whether you want to run mostly on the treadmill.
In the same vein, very active individuals might want a treadmill with an incline. The incline feature in a treadmill allows you to increase your training intensity and also get the natural feel you get when walking/running outdoors.
You’ll find most treadmills with 8-10% incline will be great for most individuals. Professional athletes should go for a higher incline of 10% and above.
You should also check if the incline is manually or automatically controlled. Manually controlled incline can disrupt the moments as you’ll have to stop training to adjust the incline, unlike an automatically controlled incline that’s easy to adjust.
Also, check what the horsepower of the treadmill is specified. The horsepower (HP) or continuous horsepower (CHP) of a treadmill determines how much power the machine can continuously shell out as you train.
Experts recommend that a treadmill shouldn’t walk at full capacity as this will reduce the life-span of the machine and will help you enjoy a smoother and noiseless training experience. The ideal HP for you depends on your weight and if you’d be running, walking, or jogging on the treadmill. Below is the recommended HP by experts for individuals weighing up to 200lbs.
- Walking: 2.0HP or more
- Jogging: 2.5HP or more
- Running: 3.0HP or more
You can add at least 0.5HP to each of the recommendations above if you weigh over 200lbs.
The durability of the belt matters too. A durable belt will increase the lifespan of the treadmill significantly. The durability of the treadmill belt is dependent on its thickness, the diameter of the rollers, and the lubrication of the moving parts.
– As per the thickness of the treadmill, you’ll find most treadmill especially lower-priced model come with a 1-ply belt which is great for many individuals and less than 200lbs. Not too many manufacturers will mention the thickness of the belt, but it’s a custom for them to show it off when the thickness is high. I recommend a 2-ply belt for anyone weighing over 200lbs.
– The rollers that propel the movement of the treadmill also matters, the thicker the diameter of the rollers, the better. This will reduce work on the motor and help elongate the lifespan of the machine. Experts recommend a thickness of 2 inches for intense training, but most treadmills have 1.5-2.5 inches rollers which will work fine for many individuals, but the higher the better.
– Lubrication of the movable parts of the machine is the responsibility of the user, this is important for the smooth operation of the treadmill. Although these machines are lubricated upon sale, but as you use it, lubrication is a very important factor that can help extend the durability of the treadmill as it helps avoid wear and tear.
The console of a treadmill is particularly very important as it helps improve your training experience. The console houses most of the smart features inbuilt in a treadmill. The console should contain an LCD display as you’ll find on most treadmills. The display will show metrics such as distance, calories, speed, time, and other complications. The console should also be easy to access as well.
Also, check if there are any inbuilt sports programs. Most treadmills come with preloaded sport modes to choose from your preferred workout, some also feature fitness services such iFit like you’ll find on the NordickTrack’s T series.
You’ll find heart rate grips on most treadmills. This will allow you to get your heart rate as you train and will help you train within your optimal heart rate. I can’t really say how accurate these devices can be, but a smartwatch or heart rate vest is a better alternative.
Training can be fun for many of us when the music is playing, there’s water to refuel and fan to cool off. These are some of the features you’ll find on many treadmills and even more features on higher-end models. So, depending on your preferences, a treadmill with speakers, bottle water holder, and cooling fans can be great additions. You should check if these features are available.
The weight capacity of a treadmill is a very important factor to check out before buying one. Experts say that if for instance, the maximum weight capacity is specified 300lbs, then you should give at least 50lbs less, that’s 250lbs for the heaviest user. This will help extend the lifespan of the treadmill and also will result in a smoother and noiseless training experience.
What warranties are stated for the treadmill is another question you should find answers to. The warranty indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in the sturdiness of the machine.
Typically, the average treadmill has a warranty covering the frame, labor, motor, and parts.
- — Motor: Most treadmills will have a lifetime guarantee for the motor, but cheaper treadmills can vary from 2-25 years. You should check the warranty of the motor before buying it.
- — Frame: the frame of a treadmill consists of most of the body of the machine and the warranty of the frame is very important. Most treadmills come with a lifetime warranty for the frame. You should check to be sure.
- — Parts: it’s custom for cheaper treadmills to have a very short time or no warranty for the parts. But higher-end models can have the parts under a warranty of at least 5 years.
- — Labour: Not every treadmill has a labor warranty that covers the maintenance and fixing of parts. But some treadmill comes with a year or two labor warranty that covers maintenance for the stipulated time. Higher-end treadmills can have more than two years of labor warranties.
You should also check what the return policy says. No one wants to return the machine he or she just bought, but for one reason or the other, you may want to return a treadmill you just purchased. So it’s important to check what the return policy says. Some manufacturers will have return policies that are about half the cost of purchasing the treadmill, especially for gigantic treadmills. Be very sure the cost of returning the machine is very okay with you.
You shouldn’t buy a treadmill without reading what users are saying about this machine. Your first point of call is to check out the rating of the treadmill. If the rating is below 3 or 60% good, I wouldn’t buy such a treadmill.
Believe it or not, when the majority says its bad, then it’s bad. Don’t risk it.
Read reviews from users and experts alike who have used or studied the treadmill. This will help you know the pros and cons of the machine, weigh in your preferences if you can deal with the negative or not. This will help you make the right choice.
Choosing the right treadmill for you is easier when you know what factors to consider before buying, the above factors in this checklist will help you narrow down on what you want from a treadmill and off course make the ideal choice.