Looking to buy a treadmill but don’t know where to get started? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
Finding the right treadmill might seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve got years of experience in the fitness industry and have used our expertise to put together a buying guide to help you choose the right one for you. At Sweatband.com our focus is very much on making sure you get the right treadmill to suit you and your needs. So have a browse through the guide below and then head to our Treadmills Department where you can check out our range of running machines.
Before you buy
Before you buy a treadmill, you need to ask yourself a few questions to help you on your way to finding the perfect one. There are 4 main things to consider when searching for a perfect treadmill:
What’s your aim?
If you know your aims then this will help match you with the most suitable machine. Do you plan on using the treadmill a couple of times per week for walking or gentle jogging, or you will be training more intensively? More serious usage will demand a stronger machine with a more powerful motor compared to walkers or joggers who won’t need high top speeds but might like a good range of incline levels.
How much space do you have?
If you have a large room with plenty of space then that’s great. If space is an issue then you’ll be pleased to hear that nearly all treadmills can be folded up after use. Although treadmills have transport wheels, they are heavy and moving one isn’t easy. Consider which room you’ll put it in and where you want it to go – near a window is a good idea so you don’t get bored staring at a wall or facing a mirror so you can check your technique! If space is really tight there are a number of space-saving treadmills designed specifically for use in tight spaces. Some are even thin enough to fold up vertically or fold down completely flat.
What’s your budget?
If you know your budget then that will also help reduce the number to choose from. Prices for standard machines prices start around the £450-£500 mark (some self-powered ones may be cheaper) and range between £1000-2000 for full-featured, top-quality home treadmills. For those looking for commercial grade machines, you can spend over £5000! In general, as price increases so do the overall specifications, the quality, the range of features and functions and the performance, but that’s not to say that you have to spend more to get a good machine. Think again about what the essential features are for your treadmill to have and which are the most important to you.
Do you need extra features?
Treadmills can come with a range of extra features so it’s worth considering what you’ll want. If you need entertainment, motivation or cool features then go for a treadmill that offers more than just a water bottle holder! Some will work with apps to heighten your exercise experience and turn your tablet or smartphone into a fully-fledged fitness accessory. Others boast built-in speakers, mp3 audio inputs and cooling fans to help make workouts more interesting and enjoyable. As a general rule if two different models are the same price and one is packed full of features while the other has only the most basic functions then usually (though not always!) the more basic model will tend to be more robust as the focus will be on the quality of the components rather than the ‘bells and whistles’. So it’s worth considering which is more important to you.
Once you’ve got a general idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to go into a bit more detail on some of the most critical parts of a treadmill.
The motor powers the running belt and in general, most treadmill motors have between 2 and 4 continuous horsepower (CHP). CHP is the regular level of power that the motor delivers and is more important than peak power, as CHP is the regular amount of power the motor produces when you’re working out. The peak is the maximum output that the motor can deliver if needed.
Between 2 and 4 CHP should suit all users, although those wanting to run at higher speeds may want a motor closer to 4 CHP than 2. It’s worth noting that bigger isn’t always better. Motors with lower CHP can be just as effective. The quality of the parts used is as important as the power output. A strong motor built using high-quality parts will last for longer and work more efficiently and quietly.
The size of the deck is very important to keep in mind when choosing a treadmill. Larger decks will be more spacious for running on, but will take up more room in your house. The categories of deck sizes are Extra small, Small, Medium, Standard and Oversized.
We do not sell treadmills with extra small decks (measuring less than 40cm in width by 120cm in length). They are dangerous for running on because of their size and many often don’t meet European safety standards.
40cm wide by 120cm long is average for a small deck, which is fine for walking and jogging comfortably and even running for people up to 155cm tall.
Medium decks measure 45cm by 125-130cm.
Standard size decks are the most popular for running on and usually measure 50cm by 140cm. All users should be able to sprint safely and comfortably on one.
Beyond standard size are oversized decks which can be 56cm by 160cm and offer extra space and comfort.
As space can be an issue when buying a home treadmill, the vast majority of them have a folding system which means they take up less space when not in use. Typically the deck lifts upwards towards the console and hydraulic assist systems ensure you don’t have to be a weightlifter to do it! However, some models go further, such as the DKN AiRun X with its revolutionary design that folds completely flat and can be stored upright.
Treadmills are all designed to be very user-friendly, but finding the right button and control layouts or console features will make using the treadmill even easier for you. From the console you can select the speed, incline and programmes, set up and select a user profile, and then choose what’s displayed on the screen. Many machines offer quick controls for speed and incline which is great for those wanting to do interval training.
Some models will even have controls on the hand rails so you can alter the speed and incline without having to reach forwards towards the console, particularly useful and safer for those who plan on running.
Water bottle and tablet holders are fairly standard and other options include colour screens, touchscreens, LCD screens or a built-in web browser.
Additional things to consider
There are other aspects to take into account which are listed below. Click or tap on the titles below to expand them and read more about each point.
Speed ranges vary according to brand, price and, obviously, the power of the motor. However, most will go up to at least 10mph (16kph) and many have top speeds over 14mph (22.5kph). Some higher end machines will be faster still, but unless you’re a serious runner wanting to train at the highest speeds then this really won’t be necessary.
Incline raises the angle of the deck to simulate walking uphill and it’s a great way to add intensity to your running, jogging and walking. Adding 1-2% incline to your workout will compensate for the lack of wind resistance compared with running outdoors. Exercising on different inclines will engage different muscles in your legs as you have to work forwards and up, so consider that incline button as your friend and not a foe! Most machines will have an incline range of 0 to 10-15%, and some higher spec ones will even offer decline which is great for mixing your sessions up a bit more and working muscles differently.
If you like to vary your sessions or want to be motivated by a challenge then a treadmill with different workout programmes is for you. The majority of pre-set workout programmes work towards a target of time, distance or calories, or come in categories such as fat burning, interval training and heart control.
There are fitness apps that link your smartphone or tablet to treadmills via Bluetooth to heighten your workout experience. Record and save stats, analyse your progress over time and share workouts on social media. Try out more running programmes, fitness tests and user profiles that let multiple people customise feedback and save their data.
Some apps let you run in cool places around the world using Google Maps and Streetview, even matching the local terrain by changing the incline on your treadmill. You can also browse the internet, watch TV, listen to music and much more whilst your data records in the background.
Treadmills themselves can have a range of features built into them such as speakers, mp3 audio inputs, cooling fans and tablet and bottle holders.
The cushioning system is a critical part of your exercise experience as it absorbs and dissipates the constant impact of every stride to protect your joints. It also provides the underfoot feel which should be firm but have some give. Ensure that it’s not too soft and spongey as this can lead to injuries. Decks with varied levels of cushioning are great as they will have extra cushioning in the front area of the deck where your feet land to reduce impacts, a middle ‘transition’ zone and a firmer back area for a more solid push off. Cushioning systems increase the comfort of running, making treadmill running kinder on your joints than road running.
Heart rate monitoring
Most treadmills have sensors on the handlebars which you hold to get a heart rate reading. However, since they require being held in order to work, hand pulse sensors are not a suitable way for runners to measure heart rate during exercise. For this, you need a treadmill with a built-in wireless heart rate receiver and to wear a compatible chest belt that transmits your HR wirelessly. This keeps your hands free for safer running and gives a more accurate reading than hand pulse sensors.
Rollers & Belt Thickness
A thicker belt will be more durable than a thinner one and also quieter as it goes round and you run on it. So 2 and 4-ply belts will be better than a 1-ply one and more comfortable underfoot. Orthopaedic belts further increase comfort and can provide greater levels of grip.
The size of the rollers that the belt whizzes over is also important. Generally, the bigger the rollers the better as they have to rotate fewer times compared to smaller ones to deliver the same speed, meaning the motor doesn’t have to work so hard.
Warranties depend on each brand and normally have different lengths for different parts of the machine. A 1 year warranty on all parts is a minimum. Some brands offer up to 10 years for the motor or the frame and 2 years for parts and labour. Check before you buy so you know what you are covered for and for how long. Some manufacturers require registering the product within a certain timeframe after purchasing it to get an extended warranty, otherwise you will only be covered for a shorter period of time.
Why buy from Sweatband?
We have been selling treadmills and other sports and fitness equipment for over a decade and our experience and expertise are unrivalled. We know what makes a good piece of equipment and, therefore, only sell products that we think customers will love and get great use out of. We stock a great range of treadmills from top brands such as Reebok, NordicTrack, Proform, DKN, Sole and many more, giving you the best choice range from amongst the best machines. What’s more, we offer them at fantastic, competitive prices!
We are a Google Certified shop, which means Google have confirmed that you can buy in confidence from us, with reliable dispatches, excellent customer service and they’ll even protect your purchases up to £1000. But we’re not just an online shop – we have a fitness showroom in North Manchester where you can come and try out a selection of treadmills and talk to one of our specialist advisors. We also have a store in the heart of London selling running and racket sports gear. Our advisors have a wealth of experience and will give you a tailor-made recommendation suited to your needs, and certainly won’t push a particular brand or model on you.
We also have a dedicated team of customer service agents ready to help you out with any issues, before, during and after sales. Whether it’s a question about the machine itself, the payment or delivery process or what to do if something goes wrong then we are here to help. Our after sales team has great warranties expertise and is there to help you if there’s a problem with your treadmill. Whilst many companies leave customers to deal with suppliers, our team will be your first point of contact and will make sure you’re taken care of properly.