The best treadmills for your home gym

by fitness journalist
  • A proper treadmill allows you to workout from the comfort of your home and is a great addition to any at-home gym setup
  • Though treadmill features vary depending on specific makes and models, the most important qualities are power and reliability

When building a home gym, you’ll find plenty of strange equipment on the market. There are at-home personal trainers masquerading as mirrors and interactive punching bags that turn your living room into a boxing gym. Some are even reminiscent of ancient torture devices rather than helpful weight-loss machines.

But few at-home options have endured the changing landscape of at-home fitness quite like the treadmill. It’s easy to see why, too. They’re great for maintaining cardio fitness, preparing for road races like 2-milers or 5Ks, or serving as a complement to your weekly workout routine — especially for anyone who doesn’t have time to always make it to a physical gym or run outside. 

Compared to other types of machines, treadmills are also just dead simple to use. You simply run or walk on the belt, and a motor moves the belt under your feet at whatever speed you select. But treadmills offer a whole host of different features that’ll help you gain exactly the kinds of training and health benefits you need. Some treadmills are advanced, offering high-tech features like touchscreen displays and live-streamed classes, while others are more basic.

We’ve included a variety of treadmill types at a number of price points to help you find the best option for your needs. Be aware, though, treadmills are expensive and cheaper models don’t always last as long or work as well in the long run.

Here are the best treadmills you can buy:

  • Best treadmill overall: NordicTrack C 990 Treadmill
  • Best treadmill for quiet workouts: 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill
  • Best treadmill for race training: ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill
  • Best budget treadmill: Horizon Fitness T101-04 Treadmill
  • Best shock-absorbing treadmill: LifeSpan TR3000i Folding Treadmill
  • Best high-end treadmill: Peloton Tread

SEE ALSO: The best dumbbells you can buy for your home gym

The best treadmill overall

The NordicTrack C 990 Treadmill isn’t a perfect treadmill, but its high-tech features and great running experience make it a great buy for less than $1,000

If you love to run, you’ll want a good-quality treadmill that doesn’t break the bank, and the NordicTrack C 990 Treadmill is a great option with its high-tech features, good motor, decent-sized running belt, and relatively affordable sub-$1,000 price tag.

The 7-inch screen can connect to your Wi-fi so you can watch Netflix while you run or view the metrics for your workout. You can even pretend you’re running outside with access to Google Maps. It even has a fan to cool you down. Top Fitness Magazine review says the touchscreen is a great addition that breaks up the monotony of running on a treadmill.

Nordic Track offers several pre-set workouts from the iFit library, which is something Amazon buyers love. USA Home Gym says this treadmill has plenty of accessories to make your workout more enjoyable, including a tablet shelf, a port for your music player, a smartphone tray, and a water bottle holder.

The treadmill has a belt size of 20 by 60 inches and a 3.0-horsepower motor, which should be adequate for most people. Considering its sub $1,000 price, the C 990 has some nice features for average runners, Fit Rated says.

The only downside is that several Amazon reviewers report longevity problems, as well as poor customer service. Nordic Track does offer a lifetime frame and motor warranty, a 3-year parts warranty, and a one-year labor warranty.

Pros: 7-inch screen, decent belt size, 3 horsepower motor, pre-set workouts, relatively affordable, entertainment features

Cons: Longevity of treadmill is questionable, may have customer service problems

The best treadmill for quiet workouts

The 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill delivers excellent performance and runs quieter than most treadmills.

Few treadmills made for use at home will deliver the kind of quiet performance that the 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill delivers. It’s made for tall or heavy runners looking a tough workout, but you’ll pay more than $3,000 for the kind of quality that this 3G Cardio unit delivers.

It has an Ortho Flex Shock suspension system to minimize the stress of impact for runners, and the 22 by 62-inch platform is perfect for running. Tall people will also love it, according to Home Treadmill Reviews. 

The 3G Cardio comes with many pre-programmed workouts and a fitness level test. You have access to speed and elevation settings, heart rate control, and workout customization.

The 3G Cardio treadmill has a 4.0 horsepower motor and 3-inch rollers for great performance. Treadmill Reviews says the strong motor and the sturdy design of the treadmill ensure that it runs quietly, which is a blessing in a home gym.

As you would expect with a treadmill with such a high price point, the 3G Cardio Elite consists of thick steel tubing in the frame. In its review, Best Fitness Equipment says both are key in providing longevity and good performance. If something should go wrong, 3G Cardio offers a 10-year parts warranty and two years of in-home repairs.

One Amazon buyer speaks for many, saying that the 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill compares favorably to the types of high-quality treadmills found in professional gyms. The only big downside is how big and heavy it is at 400 pounds. It’s also rather expensive, so this is really only for serious runners who want a treadmill that will last a lifetime.

Pros: Strong steel frame that will support a lot of weight, unit runs quieter than most treadmills, large treadmill belt area for tall runners, includes a large motor to compare favorably to gym treadmills

Cons: Extremely high price point, very heavy equipment that is difficult to move around

The best treadmill for race training

The ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill will help you train for your next road race indoors when the weather is bad.

Runners who are looking for a treadmill with good all-around training capabilities will like the reasonably-priced ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill.

It has a 3.5-horsepower motor, which allows it to stand up to daily use, and it boasts a belt deck that measures 22 by 60 inches, which is perfect for most runners. When you’re training for races with hills, you’ll appreciate this treadmill’s ability to reach a 15% incline and a 3% decline, which better simulates hills than most other treadmills, according to the Top Fitness Magazine review.

The ProForm treadmill also has a number of techy features, including a 7-inch screen that’s compatible with iFit workouts, a music port for iPods, and many workout apps. It also has ProShox Cushioning to lessen the impact for runners. 

Overall, reviewers like this treadmill for average runners. Fit Rated says the Pro 2000 delivers a strong level of features and performance for an entry-level treadmill, as long as you don’t need a heavy-duty cardio trainer. Treadmill Reviews agrees that it’s a good option for the price.

Buyers mostly praise the treadmill, and one Amazon reviewer says the ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill works well both for regular training runs as well as for interval training.

However, several Amazon customers express disappointment with the level of customer service they received after having problems with the unit.

Pros: Good motor, large running belt of 22 by 60 inches, includes both an incline and a decline setting, offers good interval training features

Cons: Customer service may be disappointing if you have problems, very heavy treadmill

The best budget treadmill

Compared to other budget fold-up treadmills, the Horizon Fitness T101-04 Treadmill has nice features and good performance.

Saving space with a fold-up treadmill is a great idea for a lot of people. However, most fold-up treadmills don’t offer a lot of power.

So understanding some of the natural limitations of fold-up treadmills, you’ll like the Horizon Fitness T101-04 Treadmill, which works well for walkers and people on a budget. However, this model really isn’t made for runners looking for high-end workouts.

It has a 55-inch belt length, a maximum 10 mph speed, and a 2.25-horsepower motor, which is good for walkers. Fit Rated says the T101-04 treadmill is easy to fold up for storage. It also delivers a good value for those who need basic features for walking or light running.

Although the Horizon treadmill doesn’t offer significant heart rate monitoring, Top Fitness Magazine says this model works great for general exercising needs.

Live Longer Running says this basic treadmill delivers good features for the price, and one Amazon buyer says it runs well without shifting or showing signs of weakness.

However, another Amazon reviewer says the treadmill required frequent repairs and may not last long.

Pros: Very good price point for an entry-level treadmill, will save space with a fold-up design, runs quieter than most budget-priced treadmills, works better for walkers and light runners

Cons: Only a 55-inch belt length, not really made for high-end running workouts, longevity is questionable

The best shock-absorbing treadmill

The LifeSpan TR3000i uses an extensive shock absorption system to take some pressure off your joints while running.

Some people dislike working out on a treadmill because of the pressure it places on their joints. The LifeSpan TR3000i attempts to alleviate some of this pressure by using a shock absorption system in the treadmill’s deck.

It has a 20 x 56-inch running surface, 15 incline levels, and a 6-inch LCD screen that shows your time, calories, distance, steps, heart rate, speed, and incline. The eight shock absorber elements in the deck ensure that it’s very stable and comfortable to run on. 

Beyond its shock-absorbing capabilities, the TR3000i has a number of fun features to give you variety in your workouts, according to Top Fitness Magazine. Meanwhile, Fit Rated likes the tech-friendly features of the LifeSpan TR3000i Folding Treadmill, which include a tablet holder, a USB charging port, and compatibility with iPods.

The Best Fitness Equipment says this treadmill’s steel frame makes it sturdy. Plus, the company offers a lifetime frame and motor warranty, 5-year parts warranty, and one year of labor, so you know you’re covered for a while.

One Amazon buyer likes that you can fold the treadmill up to save space, as well as the fact that the TR3000i runs quietly.

However, several Amazon reviewers say the build quality and longevity of this treadmill is questionable. That’s to be expected at this price point, though.

Pros: Good price for a mid-range treadmill, unit folds up to save storage space, extensive shock absorption system, good feature set versus other models in this price range

Cons: Not really designed for high-end workouts, build quality of treadmill is questionable

The best high-end treadmill

The Peloton Tread has a steep price tag but offers the same high-quality daily workout classes and a deep well of content fans of its popular stationary bike have come to expect.

Peloton’s made its name by peddling (and quite literally pedaling) its popular stationary bike and companion workout classes for the last several years. With the Tread, the company used that same tried-and-true formula to deliver a high-quality treadmill experience. 

Where the Tread differs from traditional treadmills is both with its intuitive design and built-in display. On either arm of the unit are two dials, one to increase or decrease speed and another to increase or decrease the incline angle. Each dial turns smoothly enough that you’re able to easily adjust either metric with the speed or incline quickly following suit. 

Peloton’s thoughtful design also extends to its low-impact slat belt that works well to absorb shock while also not being terribly loud as you run. This also means that it allows for a much smoother and comfortable run experience.

A Peloton workout unit wouldn’t be complete without a massive display sitting front and center, and the Tread is no different, sporting a gorgeous 32-inch touchscreen monitor. The display is where the Peloton magic happens, as it’s able to stream the live and pre-recorded classes, shows your in-class stats such as time and distance ran, and is your navigation tool for Peloton’s content library. There’s even a 20-watt built-in soundbar that flanks the bottom of the screen capable of pumping out impressive quality sound. 

Then there’s the price. Starting at $4,295 for the basic package, the Tread is no drop in the bucket. Factor in the recurring $39 subscription package for access to Peloton’s content and you end up with quite the investment. Still, if you’re able to afford it, the quality of the Tread, as well as the benefit of its workout and wide range of content, make it one of our favorite treadmills on the market. 

Pros: Intuitive design, easy-to-use speed and incline dials, beautiful 32-inch touchscreen display with built-in soundbar, and access to Peloton’s deep library of workout content

Cons: Expensive initial investment and recurring subscription fee

How to choose the right treadmill for you

Types of treadmills

According to Consumer Reports, treadmills will fit into three basic categories, based on the type of workouts they can handle.

  • Basic: The most basic type of treadmill only works for walkers. They will have simple tracking features, such as speed, distance, and time. Most basic units will have a short bed that works better for a walker’s stride than for running. And you’ll find limited shock absorption features here, which isn’t great for runners. Such treadmills will fold up for easy storage (although some more expensive treadmills also can fold up for storage).
  • Mid-range: These treadmills will work for walkers or runners. For walkers, a mid-range treadmill should have longer support arms, allowing you to balance yourself easier. The belt bed will be a bit longer than the basic treadmill, but those with long running strides may still struggle. You’ll see better tech features in this price range, including a heart rate monitor worn on the chest or pre-set training programs.
  • Top-end: The highest quality of treadmills will contain long belt beds with good shock absorption, making them perfect for runners. To gain these features, such treadmills rarely will fold up for storage, meaning they require a lot of free space. They will deliver greater maximum speed levels and greater levels of incline, too. These treadmills will consist of the highest-quality materials. You’ll receive Wi-Fi connectivity and extensive pre-set exercise programs with these models.

Key features of treadmills

As treadmills have evolved, companies have added many high-tech features. However, don’t let yourself focus only on the bells and whistles on expensive treadmills. Pay attention to the physical parts of the treadmill to find the best possible unit for your needs.

  • Exercise programs: Treadmills may have pre-programmed workouts that can help you with weight loss, cardiovascular performance, speed workouts, or hills training. These programs will allow you to set the length of exercise time, but they will automatically change the speed of the treadmill and the incline to match the parameters of the pre-programmed workout.
  • Incline and Decline: To help with training for running on hills or for additional calorie burn, the treadmill needs to offer an incline. Most treadmills can reach at least a 12% incline grade. Some treadmills even give you a simulation of running downhill with a decline grade of around 3%.
  • Length: Runners need a treadmill belt bed of roughly 55-60 inches long, while walkers can use one closer to 45-50 inches long. Taller people will need an even longer belt bed. Remember that the length of the treadmill isn’t the same as the length of the bed. The treadmill length (and width, for that matter) must accommodate the base portion of the unit that doesn’t move, as well as the bed’s motor housing at the front of the unit.
  • Safety line: Treadmills will contain a safety line that hooks into the unit. You’ll clip the safety line to your shirt. Should you stumble, the safety line will disconnect from the treadmill, causing it to shut down immediately. This is a nice safety feature, and it prevents those common TV and movie gags where the person using the treadmill falls and gets launched into a wall. Trust us, this gag looks funny, but it also really, really hurts, so the safety line will save you some pain.
  • Speed: The speed with which the bed rotates on the treadmill is measured in miles per hour. Most people don’t need anything over 10 mph, but those seeking heavy-duty interval workouts can find speeds up to 15 mph in a top-end treadmill.
  • Support rails: A treadmill made for walkers, especially elderly walkers, should have long support rails on the sides that you can grip while using the treadmill to steady yourself.
  • Touch screen controls: You should be able to adjust the incline, speed, and program in use through the touchscreen monitor. The screen also gives you information on the time elapsed, calories burned, distanced traveled, your heart rate, and more. 
  • Weight limit: Based on the size of the motor and on the shock absorption capabilities, a treadmill may give you a maximum user weight recommendation. 
  • Wi-Fi connection: Through a Wi-Fi connection, you can gain access to simulated video workouts. Or you can play streaming movies on the display screen, giving you some entertainment as you’re workout out on the treadmill.

This content was originally published here.

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