Everything you Need to Know Before You Buy a Treadmill
So, you’re thinking of buying a treadmill but don’t know which one to get or why?
This is a common question that we get asked all the time here at GymTechReview and we are going to give you a quick and straightforward guide of what you need to know before you buy your perfect treadmill.
We have listed features in order of importance and mentioned our top picks along the way.
Size and space
Firstly and most importantly on our list we have size and space, typically your circumstances will fit into one of three categories, each with their own pros and cons.
I have space for a permanent treadmill setup: Consider yourself very lucky. This gives you lots of options straight out of the gate. We would recommend you look for a good set of floor mats such these Opti Locking floor pieces. Not only will they perform their primary purpose of protecting your floor, but also give you extra cushioning while running and noise reduction.
Looking at treadmills specifically, this gives you the most options to choose form and we would recommend a treadmill that sacrifices portability for additional features. This will typically mean a heavier treadmill that has a good cushioning system and lots of built in features.
Great example – Reebok Jet 300
I have a fair amount of space, but would like the option to fold away my treadmill while not in use: Options in today’s market are good, lots of treadmill manufacturers offer a number of features on treadmills that are foldable and can be moved with a built in set of wheels.
Example – Reebok iRun 4
I have very little space and need to always fold away my treadmill while not in use: In this scenario we would recommend a lightweight treadmill. Yes most treadmills are advertised as portable but your treadmill will be stored most of the time so size and accessibility should be high up on your list. From experience, if a treadmill is not quick and easy to move and setup then it will remain in storage until you decide to sell it on a second-hand site (and we don’t want that to happen).
Pick a treadmill that is light and manageable over one that is advertised as portable but requires a longer setup.
Our example – Opti non-motorised
Mains vs Manual power
This is quite obvious but a very important point, do you have easy access to a power point? Running a treadmill from the mains power will allow you to buy one with lots more features. Our recommendation is that you even consider running it from an extension cable if that is possible.
Not an obvious factor that people consider when choosing a treadmill but one of the first points you should. After all, this is the driving force behind what the machine is built to do.
Benefits of having a high HP motor vs low HP motor:
- Better running experience, will feel more natural when you run, will not slow down or stick each time your foot hits the running track.
- A high HP motor will typically mean better build quality, this is because that the motor is under less continuous pressure and will easily cope with regular workouts.
- Gives you the ability to run sprints and more advanced running workouts.
- If you are on the heavier side then a strong motor is required, examples can be found below:
Our top pick of treadmills based on motor size:
Opti folding treadmill – 0.8hp, 1.5hp peak (100kg max)
Reebok GT40s – 2hp, 2hp peak (110kg max)
Reebok Jet 300+ – 2.5hp, 2.5hp peak (140kg max)
Size and quality of the running deck
Since manufacturers have built home treadmills, they have been getting closer to gym quality every year. One way in particular are the cushioning systems they have included to help aid joint fatigue and give an overall better quality of workout.
It’s quite a tricky topic as you won’t be able to know the feel until you have tried it out. What we can say is that typically most major brands have their own systems, Reebok has its Z Cushion system and Opti, ProForm and Roger Black all offer similar solutions.
Bear in mind that manual and more mobile treadmills have less of an impact system due to them adding weight and more features to the treadmill. Once again, it’s a feature vs mobility issue that we have seen multiple times in this guide.
The size of the treadmill running deck is again user preference, if we look at three different categories, we can break this down:
Manual / Lower budget – Opti manual treadmill – 104cm
Mid range – Reebok GT40s – 130cm
High budget – Reebok Jet 300+ – 140cm
We would recommend that if you are over 6ft or more than 12st that you look to get a treadmill with a longer running track of at least 120cm. Anything less than this will give you a slight claustrophobic feeling (in my opinion), and may mean you have to concentrate more than you want on simply not straying too far forward, back, left or right on the treadmill.
Programmes and features
I appreciate that having programmes and features at the end of our list may be a little strange. But in fact these are all just additional bells and whistles, it’s the quality of the run that we recommend that you choose “in the long run”! However, we appreciate that there are lots of features that are nice to have.
Once again, without having to go into too much detail here, treadmills have come on very quickly in the last few years. As you may already guess, the high budget machines come with more features and manual and non mains powered treadmills have less.
If we look at a mid-range and very reasonable Reebok GT40s, I have broken it down into essential points to look for:
12 levels of incline – as you become an experienced runner you can vary the incline and add it to a programme to make your workouts all that more exciting and beneficial.
Display console –this depends on what you think looks nice, check to see that you like the display. You will be looking at it quite a lot.
Built in speakers – Do you want to listen to music as you run? Headphones and a portable mp3 player are possible, but you may want to look at this as an option. Firstly check that you have the right setup, most use an older Aux port.
Hand grip heart rate monitor – A feature that is on almost all treadmills that we have tested, most people are just curious to see what their heart rate is when they run fast (we all do it). It’s an important tool that can be used to make sure that you are either in the fat burning or cardio workout range.
Running programmes – Everybody usually skips these in the instruction manual, when you get 10 minutes I would recommend that you give it a read. They allow you to choose a workout program that will make your runs more enjoyable or challenging. As you progress you may start to add incline settings (running up hills) and also make them longer.
I hope that our run through of picking the perfect treadmill has helped. There really is more than meets the eye, especially if you have a specific set of circumstances. We have a wide range of reviews on site that can help you choose if you feel a little stuck. Right now there are some amazing offers to be had, so make sure that you check them out!
To read about more of our treadmill reviews check out the most popular:
Reebok Jet 300 – Score 9.4 – Rated best high budget treadmill
Reebok Jet 200 – Score 9.2 – Rated best mid budget treadmill
Reebok GT40s – Score 8.9 – Rated best low budget treadmill