The Ultimate 3 Step Guide to Buying a Treadmill

A great time to buy a treadmill

So you have decided that you would like to buy a treadmill, congratulations, you are on course to a much healthier lifestyle!

The good news is that it’s a great time to buy a treadmill as the industry has come such a long way in a short period of time. As recent as 10-15 years ago, the thought of owning your very own treadmill was reserved for the very rich. Even if you were lucky enough to own a treadmill it would often poor quality and of a limited design with minimal features.

A typical gym treadmill – a gym wholesales charges around £7,500 plus an annual maintenance fee for a typical gym quality treadmill.

Thanks to a boom in people wanting to live healthier lifestyles, the humble treadmill has gone through a fairly recent transformation. Manufacturers are benefiting from economised of scale, cheaper production costs and advances in technology. All this combined has meant that the gap between a high-quality gym treadmill and the personal home treadmill has been massively reduced.

What I personally like best is that I can get home from work and complete a 30 minute run in around 45 minutes. This includes changing clothes twice and a shower, it’s so much more time efficient. Plus I get to listen to my own choice of music!

STEP 1 – Choosing between manual and powered treadmill

The main two types of treadmills available are manual and powered, although this seems quite self-explanatory you would be surprised at the number of people who make the wrong decision very early on in their buying process.

manual vs po

Our advice – Buy a powered treadmill.

Search around for a treadmill that will suit your needs before you even start to budget. Many people have been attracted to manual treadmills for their reduced costs for them only to be put off any long term home use.

Mains powered treadmills are far superior in almost all areas, you are much more likely to continue to use them as part of your daily routine.

The full pros and cons of both can be read below.

Manual treadmills

This type of treadmill requires force from the user to turn the running belt on a series of casters. The treadmill often needs to be on an incline so that the user is always able to generate momentum.


Space – A manual treadmill is ideal for those with very limited space requirements, they are much smaller in overall size, weight and have a much greater ability to be stored away in a small space after use.

Cost – As they are fairly simple in design this is also reflected in the price that is charged by the retailers. Manual treadmills are often a very inexpensive way for many to own a treadmill at home.

Weight – Manual treadmills do not contain a motor or any other components associated with a powered treadmill. This means that they are much lighter and easier to move as required by the user. It would not take long to take a manual treadmill out of storage for use and put back again at the end of the workout.


Features – Manual treadmills lack in almost every area when it comes to additional features. It’s rare that they will have anything other than the most basic LCD display and would not contain a heart rate monitor for example.

Speed – This is entirely set by the user, this means that anything other than running at your own desired pace is very difficult. Running to a set program is not an option.

Incline – Manual treadmills always have a fixed incline, this is so that the user is always going slightly up hill and is used to gain momentum as they run. This does greatly limit your options if altering the incline is part of your regular routine.

Mains powered treadmills

The second type of treadmill is mains powered and is your more typical choice of treadmill in today’s market. Typically we see a complete reversal of the pros and cons of a manual treadmill above.


Quality – The build quality of a powered treadmill is often superior to that of a manual treadmill. Manufacturers are trying as quickly as possible to close the gap between gym and home.

Features – Todays powered running machines come equipped with many features including specific built-in programmes to match your workout requirements. Want to practise hill running? Not a problem. Others include a heart rate monitor, mp3 player and even cooling fans.

Speed – Motor included with mains powered treadmills are becoming lighter, more powerful and better quality. Some manufacturers are offering a 10-year warranty on the motor alone.

Incline – Most powered treadmills come with the ability to set in the incline via the control panel. This means that you can now set this as part of your training routine quickly and easily.


Space – Mains powered treadmills are bigger and heavier and so require more fixed space than a manual treadmill.

Weight – Powered treadmills are much heavier due to their built in motor and bigger and better quality frames.

Cost – The price of a mains powered treadmill is higher due to a more complex manufacturing process and that simply more parts go into making it.

STEP 2 – Read the reviews, 5 key points to look for

1. The Motor – One of the most important and often overlooked areas of a powered treadmill. Our advice is that you look for one with at least a 1.5 horse power motor. This is the drive for your treadmill and anything less and you will start to notice a difference.

Many good workout routines require adjusting speeds to higher intensity, a good motor is required for this.

2.Incline – As a regular machine user the option to adjust the incline of the treadmill from the control panel is an essential requirement. Many powered treadmills come with this option and they are to only exclusive to the premium price category.

It’s so nice to be able to adjust the incline at a touch of a button and run for one minute on a higher incline. It adds great variation to your workout and we would always recommend buying a treadmill with this option.

3.User programmes – Many powered treadmills come with the ability to set a specific workout programme. The one I reviewed recently let you chose between 24 pre-set options. These range from a fat burning walking pace right through to high-intensity cardio session.

They are a great addition to your routine and many treadmills come with little diagrams around the LCD screen to help you see the various intensity levels.

4.Your workout space – This applies to both manual and powered treadmill users. Ask yourself the serious question, do I have space for a full-sized treadmill? Let’s do this right now, typically I would advise that you need at least 240 x 100cm of space available at all times for a powered treadmill.

Powered treadmills are advertised as being folding and on wheels but I can guarantee that you will not be moving these 60kg+ machines once they are in place. If you don’t have the available space then you will have to look at a manual treadmill.

5.Feature specific to you – Today, treadmills comes with many features that some people may see as essential and others as a more of a nice to have. This is entirely down to you and what you need from a treadmill.

Is your treadmill going in a spare room like mine? If so then you may not have access to a sound system and so MP3 playback is a requirement. I have known some people to put their treadmill in a conservatory, in which case they chose a treadmill that had a fan that would blow air at them to keep them cool. Always check the additional features and try and tailor the treadmill to your individual needs.

STEP 3 – Saving and buying your treadmill

The final step is choosing the right time to buy your treadmill. New treadmills come onto the market all the time lowering the price of older models. Treadmills are also bulky items that take up vital warehouse space for many manufacturers. When stock has been there for a specific time they will release items at a marked down price to free up space. Regularly we see genuine discounts of up to 65% off the price of treadmills.

Our advice

Time – Give yourself lots of time to look around the market, ideally 1-2 months before you buy, this gives you a chance to see what pricing is like in the market. We aren’t saying you need to dedicate lots of effort, but the odd check every now and again on a few websites will give you a good idea.

Compare – We may be a little biased here at, but we compare 26 of the leading fitness suppliers in the UK every week for their cheapest price. These include big name providers including John Lewis, Argos, Tesco, Sweatband and many more. Check our website for regular updates.

We hope this helps you in your quest for whatever fitness goals you hope to achieve.

Danny Foxton

GymTechReview are not paid to write any of the reviews contained on this domain. We can also not guarantee the accuracy or content written above. Manufacturers can change the specification or vary design depending on time and location. Please check with your supplier prior to purchase for any specific details.


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