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Cross Training For Runners

How To Buy A Treadmill – The Smart Shopper’s Guide

9 Mins read

Looking to buy a home treadmill but don’t know how to choose the right model for your budget and training goals? Then you’ve come to the right place.

With a treadmill at home, you can keep running—and working toward your fitness goals—regardless of weather conditions and time restrictions.

The right home treadmill can help you improve running performance, shed weight, build the exercise habit, and enjoy exercise—all from the comfort of your home.

However, before you go out and purchase your first home treadmill, there are some key things that you need to definitely consider.

Treadmills come in various shapes, sizes, and price points, so you want to ensure you are choosing one that will fit your lifestyle perfectly.

Here’s the good news.

There is a treadmill that suits every budget and everyone—from the power walker to the serious marathoner.

In this article, I’ll look at some of the most important features to look for when looking for a residential treadmill as well as how to make sure you have the right one for the job.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

Your Space

How much room can you devote to a treadmill in your house, and where will you be putting it?

The first thing to consider is space. Unlike a set of free weights or resistance bands, a treadmill will take a lot of space.

To save the hassle, measure the floor space you intend to put treadmill on. Most treadmills have footprints similar in range, which is roughly six feet long and three feet wide.

Next, check the assembled treadmill dimensions before purchasing. These are usually published.

What’s more?

Make sure there are no obstacles directly behind the treadmill.  You should also have a lot of space all around the treadmill, so there’s less risk of injury if you fall off the machine.

You should also keep the machine away from children and pets as they can get easily injured by it.

Short on space, or don’t you want your treadmill permanently on display?

Consider getting a foldable treadmill that folds flat and can be stored under your bed or in a cupboard. Remember to measure storage pace too.

Set Your Budget

As I stated previously, buying a residential treadmill is an important financial decision.

That’s why budget is key—and the main factor that will help determine what model of a treadmill to get.

As a rule, get the best treadmill the money can buy, but it also has to be within your means. You don’t want to sacrifice your mortgage for a piece of training equipment.

Last time I check, a treadmill offers no roof.

Let me break down the price points.

Additional resource – Here’s your guide to buying a second hand treadmill.

Under $600

Dipping below the $600 mark usually means very limited features that even a beginner will tire of quickly. The quality is also less than subpar.

Sure, these treadmills can work fine for walking or running during adverse weather, but if you use them intensely or regularly, they could fall apart within a few months.

Lower-end machines often have 55” tracks, weak motors, small decks, and top speeds of 10 mph. That’s why they work best for walking and jogging, not running.

More downsides of low-end models include:

  • Noisy belts
  • Wobbly frames
  • Tiny running areas
  • Minimal workout programming
  • Flickering data screens
  • Short life span
  • And so much more

The $600 to $1000 Range

Low-to-Mid-range residential treadmills are often priced from around $600 to $1000.

Even though some models may have some limitations, you can find some feature-packed machines in this price range. Some of the models may be priced at roughly $1400 and have labor and parts coverage for at least 24 months.

There’s a definite jump in performance and cushioning quality on these machines, many of which are equipped with a stronger motor and come with patented cushioning technology.

These also can come with some great features such as classic LCD monitors, full track, decent power incline, and a good variety of workout programs.

Additional Resource  – Your guide to anti-gravity treadmills

The $1000 to $1500 Range

This is when you start getting good treadmills for your money.

In fact, some of the best home treadmills are fully priced at around $2000 and up, but you can snatch one for about $1500 during sales.

Compared with the previous categories, these machines have higher weight capacities, provide better workout variety, and some are even equipped with heart rate monitors.

These typically have speeds over 12 MPH and motorized inclines to simulate hill training.

They also have all-embracing warranties that cover parts, motor, electronics, among other things.

What’s more?

They might be designed with better features, such as a larger touch screen, steeper power incline, heart rate controlled exercise program, and so much more.

The $1500 to $2500 Range

Treadmills within this price range have more “extras.” Features like workout programs, touch screens, and incline ranges of 15 percent or more.

What’s more?

Typical models are highly durable and made with heavier frames, so the machine can last for years.

These also work great for serious runners and/or for households with more than one runner.

Additional resource – How to find affordable running gear

Over $2500

Expensive residential treadmills are priced over $2500. These are particularly sought after for their powerful motors, excellent shock absorption, and long 60” track.

Top-end treadmills are luxurious in every aspect. They’re designed to be used for many hours a day and by more than one user, and their warranties reflect that. They also have commercial quality motors that can run at over 12 mph.

What’s more?

Customization is what sets them apart. High-end machines will have customizable options for belts, decks, and so much more.

They also require less maintenance, unlike the cheaper versions that need regular lubricating to extend track like and will sooner or later need to be replaced.

Note – You should also factor in any potential shipping costs if you order online or delivery fees from a store.

buy a treadmill

Smiling sporty girl running on treadmill in fitness center.

Manual VS. Motorized Treadmills

While most modern models have a motor, some are manual.

Let’s explain the difference.

Manual Explained

User-powered treadmills are on an incline, and foot friction is what makes the belt move.  These tend to be cheaper and maybe more durable, as there are fewer moving parts. These are also more cost-effective and do not require electricity.

But manual models tend to be harder to use. Since you can only make the belt move by your own movement, they require more work on your part, which can be quite tiring.

What’s more?

Manual treadmills tend to be less sturdy, have fewer features, and you have to manually adjust the incline—all of which can be quite annoying.

Additional Resource- Your guide to curved treadmills

Motorized Explained

Motorized treadmills are equipped with motors powered electricity with continuous horsepower. These models are designed with a lot of features and suitable for runners of various backgrounds and training goals.

Motorized treadmills allow for a more varied session, come with different settings for speed and incline.

A high-quality motorized treadmill tends to be more expensive. The higher the horsepower, the higher the price.


Another thing to consider is the motor and the level of horsepower the treadmill has.

A lot of the treadmill’s price hinges on the quality, strength, and durability of its electric motor. This is why you shouldn’t get a cheap model as it won’t be equipped with a great motor and may not last long.

Horsepower refers to a unit of measurement for motor size. The larger the horsepower—usually 3hp or more—the higher the quality of the motor, lasting longer than a small motor size.

For example, if you’re a family of five runners, you’ll need a machine with a lot more horsepower than when you plan to use it alone to jog on occasion.

And of course, the higher the horsepower, the higher the price, so it’s something that you do want to define from the start.

Here’s how to make sense out of it.

To make the right choice choose, a treadmill with a motor of at least 1.5 continuous-duty horsepower

Plan on running more intensely and frequently? Choose a model with a 2.5 to 3.0 CHP. Your weight also impacts your motor choice—the heavier you’re, the more powerful the motor you’ll need.


Whether you’re looking to start running or train for a marathon, you’ll need to pick a treadmill that can power your training specifically to meet your goals.

Will you be walking, jogging, running, sprinting, or doing all four? How often will you walk or run?

In other words, get a machine that satisfies your needs. Not the other way around.

And these needs will vary depending on whether you plan to power walk at 4 miles per hour or sprint at 12 miles per hour.

For Walking

If you’re planning to solely use the treadmill for walking, choose a machine that boasts features that can support walking exercise specifically.

I’d recommend a model with a 2.0 continuous horsepower motor. You should also choose a machine designed with extended handrails for more balance and support.

For Jogging.

If you want to do more than walking on the treadmill, then a machine with a maximum speed under 8.0 miles should suit a jogging routine. Choose a machine designed with shock absorption for a more cushioned running experience.

For Running

Choose a treadmill with a strong motor—something with speed well past 6.0 miles per hour, or a model with at least a 3.0 continuous horsepower motor

For running, you should also choose machines with wider and longer tread decks to ensure that you have sufficient space to elongate your stride. For more safety and easier speed adjustment, you should also choose a machine with handrail controls and quick-select speed buttons.

You should also consider getting a treadmill with an AC motor if you want to run intervals. These motors tend to react to speed changes faster than DC motors.

Additional Resource – Your guide to treadmill running technique

The Deck Size

Look for a deck with some buoyance to offer cushioning and shock reduction to make it easier on your joints. And as a rule, make sure the belt is long enough for your stride.

Most residential treadmills are made with a single-ply blet that provides cushioning a shock absorption, while the two-ply belt is softer, thicker, and more quit.

What’s more?

If you’re taller, over six feet height, choose a belt size over 54 inches for comfortable walking and running. Remember, the taller you are, the longer your stride.

Keep in mind that a thicker belt is also more durable than a thinner one.

More Features To Consider When Buying A Treadmill

Here are more features to consider when choosing a home treadmill.


Some models are equipped with pre-loaded workout plans, but many allow you to come up with your own training routine to meet your specific needs.


Make sure the number and letters are big enough for you to see clearly during your workouts.

Easy-to-use Buttons

When training on the treadmill, you’ll want to be able to change up your speed and incline as you’re moving.


Some models are also equipped with speakers, docking stations, and even TV screens to help you stay motivated while working out.

Safety Keys

Safety keys have a magnet that attaches to your waist at one end, and the other attaches to the console. In the event of an accident, like a fall, the safety key of the console will turn off your treadmill automatically, bringing

Hand Rails

Another safety measure to consider is the handrails. These help ensure that a little stumble on the machine doesn’t turn into a serious injury. However, they shouldn’t interfere with your arms when walking or running because that might throw you off your balance. And you don’t want that.


A high-quality treadmill has a built-in TV screen that you can connect to cable TV with a cord or wirelessly.

Some also are equipped with a USB port so you can plug your smartphone or tablet into the treadmill and enjoy your shows or movies that way.

Additional Resource  – When to replace a treadmill belt

Heart Rate Training

Some models might also be compatible with heart rate monitors, so you can track your heart rate while exercising.

This may be very useful if you’re training for a certain goal or if you need to reach—or stay under—a specific heart rate on your doctor’s instructions.

The Warranty

Another significant factor that reflects the quality of the treadmill is the manufacturer’s warranty.

All in all, you should look for a lifetime warranty on the motor and the frame, or at least for ten years. Electronics should come with a five-year warranty, while labor and parts should have a two-year warranty.

You should also check the treadmill’s owner’s manual online to check for any hidden terms and conditions that are stated only there. Be a clever shopper.

Try Before You Buy The Treadmill

Treadmills, just like running shoes, are very subjective purchase and it has to feel right. That’s why you need to test a few before you make up your mind.

And here’s exactly how to do that.

Begin by making a list of the treadmills you’re interested in and are in your price range, then contact local sports stores and see if they’re available.

I’d recommend spending at least 10 minutes on each model. Make sure it’s reliable, suitable, and quiet and that it doesn’t shake, even when running.

Finally, once you find the right one, I’d recommend getting the machine online—that way, you can make sure to take advantage of special discounts sales tax, treadmill delivery and consumer protections.


There you have it!

Today’s article should guide you toward choosing and buying the right home treadmill. After all, you do want to make the right decision, don’t you? Otherwise, you are going to just waste your time and money. Ain’t nobody got time—nor money—for that.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

David D.

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