Treadmills are one of the most common items in both commercial gyms and home gyms and have played a huge part in exercise and fitness success stories for years. However, simply picking any treadmill can be an expensive mistake – this is a big investment and one that has to suit you and meet your requirements.
Here is a handy treadmill buying guide to make sure that you don’t just buy the best treadmill in the market, but to ensure that you buy the best treadmill for your individual requirements, too. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that is ultimately better than the rest, although there are certainly worse options on the market that aren’t worth your time. Here at UK Gym Equipment, you will only find high-quality treadmills that meet our high standards.
There are many elements to selecting the perfect machine for you; from the space you have available, the way you intend to use the machine and, of course, your budget being just some of the things you will have to consider. This guide will take you step by step through what to consider and how to select a treadmill that suits you.
Treadmills aren’t small pieces of equipment and the size of the machine is one of the biggest things to consider when researching the perfect machine for you. Whilst the lightest home use treadmills might only take up around 120cm x 60cm of floor space when in use, better quality and commercial grade treadmills can be up to 210cm x 90cm. It’s also worth remembering that you need a clear space behind the running area to access the machine and for your own safety.
Whilst small, home-use treadmills can save you some space, there is a trade-off in other areas. The build quality is often quite light which reduces the life expectancy of these machines, the running area can be small and problematic for taller users, top speeds are often quite low, and the max user weight is also reduced.
A popular compromise is opting for a treadmill that folds away after use. This means that, while an area of the room will have to be able to accommodate the treadmill while it is in use, once the user is finished it can be folded up and stored away. Therefore, the area where the treadmill was in use can be utilised for other needs. Of course, this may mean constantly having to clear away space before unfolding the treadmill prior to use, which may become an annoyance for the user, potentially causing a lack of motivation.
Larger and better-quality treadmills will need more space and are a lot heavier to move around, but will be suitable for a much wider range of uses. The top speeds can be as high at 15mph/24kpm, the build quality means users up to 200kg/440lbs are often catered for, and the running area is designed for even the tallest runners. Commercial quality treadmills are suitable for all intended uses, from light duty walking right through to professional training. Some of the smallest treadmills on the market will only be suitable for light walking by relatively light users, so make sure you check the specification carefully.
Motor Power and Top Speeds
Just as it helps determine the size of your treadmill, your intended workout will also help decide the motor power and top speed that you will require. The more intense your workout, the more you will need to invest in a better-quality machine with a more powerful motor and higher top speed. The power of a treadmill motor is measured in horsepower (HP) and continuous horsepower (CHP). It is best to mainly focus on the CHP as this will tell you how much horsepower the treadmill can put out and sustain, rather than HP which just gives you what the treadmill can achieve at its peak. Be wary of any machines which only quote peak HP as a treadmill with a peak 3HP motor might only generate 1.5CHP–2CHP in actual use.
Typically, treadmills have between 2.25 and 4.25 CHP but they can peak at around 5 CHP and some can be as low as 1.5 CHP. A machine which produces 2 CHP is the minimum recommendation for walking (1–4mph as a guide), joggers (5mph–9mph) will want something more powerful with a minimum of 2.5 CHP, and amateur runners through to professionals (10mph–15mph) should increase this by at least a further 0.5 CHP to 3CHP as a minimum. There are an abundance of new and used treadmills that can all provide the required minimum CHP for all types of users, so finding the treadmill that meets your needs should not be an issue.
Remember, whether you are buying one of the best treadmills on an extravagant budget or are opting for a cheaper alternative such as a used treadmill, one thing you will need to make sure you get right is the top speed. It is hard to train when you are running at or beyond the limits of your treadmill. It’s also worth remembering that just because a treadmill states a high top speed, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s built to operate at that level for a long period of time. Constantly using a treadmill at its maximum capacity will reduce the life span of a machine. We would recommend buying a machine which can comfortably handle your expected workout without running to its maximum. Top speeds of 10mph are usually fast enough, but people who are looking at a five-minute mile pace and below should seek out treadmills with a higher top speed. Twelve mph treadmills are becoming increasingly available for people whose budgets cap out at £1000, especially if you are willing to look at the refurbished treadmill options.
Build Quality and Belt Durability
Belt durability is often overlooked when making a treadmill purchasing decision, but it is a vital aspect of making sure your treadmill is right for you. Thickness plays a large part in running belt durability and, as such, you will often find suppliers boast about two and four-ply belts. If there is no mention of belt thickness in the specifications, then there is a chance the supplier is omitting it because it is only one-ply. One-ply belts are much thinner and a lot less durable, so the life-expectancy is considerably shortened. If you are making the decision to purchase a treadmill then you probably intend on using it and want it to last well into the future, therefore you should avoid treadmills with poor quality, one-ply belts. All the larger commercial grade treadmills from the likes of Life Fitness, Technogym, Precor, Matrix, Cybex and Star Trac will feature hard-wearing, commercial standard, two-ply belts as a minimum.
Belt thickness is not the only thing that determines durability, another feature is lubrication. For optimum performance and durability, treadmills should be lubricated. This can be down to the owner, but many treadmill belts are infused with lubricants such as silicon, making them ‘maintenance-free’.
The final variable that determines a belt’s durability is the roller diameter. The belt is propelled by metal rollers and rollers with a larger diameter put less stress on the belt than their smaller counterparts. Some of the cheapest treadmills on the market will feature rollers as small as 5cm in diameter; these put a lot of strain on what tends to be a poor-quality belt and should be avoided. Some of the best quality treadmills in the market will have rollers with a 15cm diameter and premium quality bearings, which are designed to last for thousands of miles of usage.
With a limited budget of £1,000 or less, it may seem that a good quality treadmill is not an option. Budget options are available, however, and you can find high-quality used treadmills within this price range, sometimes closer to £500 if you’re willing to consider slightly older models. Creeping past the £1,000 mark, there is a huge selection of new, light-duty treadmills available. A £2,000 budget will likely get you a new treadmill suitable for a serious walker or light jogger. Treadmill prices can climb up past £10,000 for the best-quality and heavy-duty models from new. It is worth remembering that the treadmill you may have seen in a hotel or gym will be a commercial-grade treadmill, and the starting point for this type of machine is around £5,000 from new. If you want to replicate the gym experience at home, then refurbished treadmills can be a great way to get the machine that you want within your budget. They are often available at between 10% and 20% of the new price and can come complete with long warranties, too.
Price is not always representative of quality, however, and even in cases where it is, you can often find yourself paying extra for features that you will never use. If you don’t need steeper inclines or built-in entertainment features, then there is no need to pay for them.
However, one feature worth paying for is extended warranties. You should always look at the warranty that comes with your treadmill and keep in mind that warranties are not always available with used and/or refurbished treadmills from some sellers.
When shopping for a new treadmill, you should consider how much usage you are realistically going to get out of the apparatus. If you are a devoted runner who is searching for an indoor solution to maintain your regime, then you should consider budgeting for a top-end treadmill. If, though, you would not classify yourself as much of a runner and are simply looking to invest in a treadmill which you can walk and/or jog on as part of a varied workout regime, you will easily be able to find a viable treadmill for under £1,000.
There is simply no point in paying for a leading treadmill when the amount of use you are likely to have for it will not be providing you value for money. If you harbour ambitions of eventually achieving a level of fitness where you can make full use of a top-end treadmill, then this may be the best choice for you, even if in the short to mid-term the treadmill’s capabilities exceed your own.
These are just some of the many things to consider when looking to purchase a treadmill for the first time, but they should be your top priority. Whether you are looking for the best treadmill on the market or a used treadmill that just meets your needs, you can view our range of new, used & refurbished treadmills here.