What to Look for (and what to avoid) When Buying a Treadmill (Used and New) – A Beginner-friendly Guide

A treadmill is a necessary supplement for anyone who takes up exercise. It can be used for weight loss, muscle gain, and cardiovascular health. However, it comes with many risks, so you must understand the features of a treadmill before you buy one.

When it comes to fitness machines for home use, treadmills are one of the most popular. With more than 9 million units sold each year, it’s clear that this is an excellent option for many individuals. But which treadmill is right for you? No two people are the same, with different needs and budgets. There are three main types of treadmills: traditional, folding, and vertical.

What to Look for When Buying a Treadmill

Identify what you want

Apples and oranges, it’s likely, that not everybody is looking for the same thing. For example, someone looking for a running machine for HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) does not end up with a cardio or manual one. So, identifying what you want will make your selection process for the perfect running machine a whole lot easier.

So, try to find out what you want out of your workout machine; you want to lose weight or do cardio exercise. Then, depending on many situations, you can put running machines into different categories.

  • Beginner-friendly treadmill- Easy to operate, easy to control, budget-friendly
  • Folding treadmill- A running machine that you can fold up when you are done with your workout
  • Manual treadmill- A running machine that does not come with a motor; instead, it’s powered by gravity and manual power.
  • Commercial-quality treadmill- Top quality machine you might see in a gym, ready for max grinding
  • Cardiovascular treadmill- A machine for cardio exercises, light workouts, including walking, jogging, sprinting, and more
what to look for when buying a treadmill

These are basically some terms that you can apply to find out what you want. And if you are looking for something else, please let us know; we’ll be more than happy to hear from you!

What are the requirements for your situation?

As mentioned earlier, all machines might not meet your requirements. For example, you might have limited space in your house (as we all do), and you might be looking for a treadmill that’s small in size. Or you might want to lose some weight and get in perfect shape, and you’ll be looking for a heavy-duty one. You have to buy a workout machine that can get you the results you want, or it might end up in the basement collecting dust.

  • Weight capacity- Most workout machines have their weight capacity mentioned in the description in pounds. Your weight must be under the machine’s weight capacity, or it might get a bit dangerous.
  • Size of the treadmill- The treadmill’s dimensions also matter; look out if the machine you are buying fits the place you want to put it in. There are also folding running machines that you can store when you are done with your exercise.
  • The footprint of the treadmill- Measure the length and width of the place you’ve selected and see if the machine fits. You should leave a minimum of 1-foot free space around the running machine as safety measurements.
  • Other features- You can look out for other features like display, console, water bottle holder, fan, tablet holder, or even USB point on a treadmill.

What is your budget

Now comes the obvious and important question, what’s the budget? Well, it’s true that depending on the brand and model, the more you pay, the better quality you get. Of course, there are some exceptions, but it’s the same in most cases.

However, it’s okay to go with the budget-friendly option, as there are some pretty decent ones in even the lowest price range. So let’s put this in some categories and see what you can expect in what price range.

Treadmill under $500

Running machines under five hundred dollars are considered budget-friendly. These will get you what you need without burning your pocket. And there are even some treadmills that are under $300 and offer amazing quality and features. Check out our list of the Best Treadmill under $500 to find out more about these workout machines.

Treadmill Under $1000

This is kind of a middle zone for running machine budgets. They are not too expensive but offer some of the coolest and premium features. But, on the other hand, this is the budget most people are comfortable spending on fitment equipment. To put it simply, these are quality stuff; check out our Best Treadmill under $1000 post to find out the details.

Treadmill under $1500

Well, any investment in your health is a good investment. And if you want quality more than anything, this category is for you. Treadmills around this budget usually offer best-in-class features and quality (most of the time). These are the heavy-duty machines you see in the gyms. A quality running machine is a must if you want to make the best out of your workout session. Also, check out our top-quality Treadmill selection in the Best Treadmill under $1500 post.

What are the features you should look for when buying a treadmill

First of all, there are several types and models of running machines out there. The most expensive ones usually offer the best quality workout experience. So price is definitely something to consider. Simultaneously, it doesn’t mean that only the most expensive treadmills are good. Many budget-friendly workout machines can give you quality features.

If you are buying one for the first time, you will probably be better off with something in between. It will give you all the primary features that you need and will still be a good investment.

Some important features are mentioned below that you can look for in a treadmill.

Features and programs

Most mid-range to premium treadmills come with built-in programs. That means they have a set number of workout programs preset or pre-programmed. They can be various combinations of different speed and incline levels. In addition, many of them come with clear and straightforward step-by-step instructions.

What’s more, many fitness subscriptions like iFit have live classes from fitness experts. The speed and incline of the treadmill sync with the instructor, and you can see him doing the same thing as you on display; how cool is that!

There’s also the open-world exploration feature that lets you experience running through places. Basically, it shows you videos of running through many landscapes and places available for the particular model.

What you want to do here is look for treadmill reviews and find out about what are the features you want.

Motor Capacity

Electric running machines are powered by a motor that is often located on the front of the deck. There are many types of treadmills, and they are made for different purposes. And a motor of a cardio-only treadmill might not give you the performance or speed of a high-intensity one. So, depending on what you want, you can look for how much power you need out of your motor. I’ll try to give you an idea about how much motor power you need for your treadmill.

  • 2 HP or less- Walking, jogging, cardiovascular exercise
  • 2-3 HP- Jogging, running
  • 3 HP or more- Running, sprinting, high-intensity workouts
    (Here, HP stands for Horsepower)

In the case of a manual treadmill, there’s no motor. Instead, the belt moves with the help of gravity and manual power. You can check out our Best Manual Treadmills post to find out some of the coolest treadmills without motors.

Incline adjustment

In most of the treadmills, you’ll find an option to incline the running surface or deck. Some older models might not come with incline features. But most modern running machines have adjustable incline features. Depending on the budget and the model of the machine, it either can be-

  • Automatic incline control or
  • Manual incline control

Usually, premium treadmills have automatic incline control. It allows you to change the incline level without stopping. And for the level of incline, these machine offers incline adjustment anywhere between -3% to 15% incline.

Top Speed

The top speed of the running machines can go up to 25mph, which is for the pro athletes, though. However, a typical treadmill machine will have a top speed anywhere between 8mph to 12mph. I’ll give you a speed chart for running and walking to help you pick the right speed for you.

  • Walking speed range: 3-4 mph
  • Jogging speed range: 4-6 mph
  • Running speed range: 6-12 mph
  • Sprint: 12mph or more

Tread belt And Running area

A tread belt is a belt that keeps spinning on the deck. Depending on the producer, the quality of the tread belt varies, but budget belts are good enough. And for the premium belts, you’ll get some additional bonus, such as the cushioning belt. It’s a feature that absorbs your footstep impact and avoids joint injuries, great for elders and someone with knee pain. You can even adjust the belt cushioning in some treadmills.

And here comes another important specification to check, the running surface. A treadmill should have a minimum running length and width for you to run or walk comfortably. Any less than that can be dangerous and cause a fall from the machine, which can be painful.

So, make sure the treadmill you are getting for running has at least a minimum amount of length and width. It depends on the user’s height, but the typical measurements are-

  • For running: 22 inches wide and 60 inches long
  • For walking: 20 inches wide and 55 inches long

A lot of treadmills come with less than the measurements mentioned above. You can go with a bit less than that, but you have to be very aware of your footing and movement. Never go with a treadmill with a running surface of fewer than 50×18 inches; it’s best if you can go with over 55×20 inches.

Storage and Movability

A treadmill is an amazing device to lose weight, stay in shape, and exercise. However, this machine is huge and takes a large space in your house most of the time. And if you have a storage shortage in your house like most of us, it might be a pain.

But not all running machines are huge, at least all the time. For example, there are many foldable treadmills available that you can put aside when you are done with your exercise. And many of them come with built-in transportation wheels that make it super easy for a single person to move.

So, you can enjoy the best quality workout session and also save some space in your house. Try looking for the folding treadmill with the best features.

Safety features

When buying a treadmill, one should look for these safety features to ensure that the product is worth the investment.

  • The treadmill should have an emergency stop button (should be easy to find and press)
  • The treadmill should have a manual override switch (the switch should be located on or near the motor housing)
  • The treadmill should meet or exceed all current safety standards set by industry associations
  • The treadmill should have a handrail that you can grab while running
  • The treadmill should have a large enough footrest on both sides of the belt

While doing workouts on a treadmill, you should be able to stop the machine if necessary. In addition, you should have a manual override switch in case the machine fails to work properly.

Durability

When you buy a treadmill, you had better watch out for a couple of things. One of them is the treadmills’ durability, and that’s important. Your treadmill can become less durable with time, and this can lead to higher costs in repairs and replacements. Consider a treadmill with a stronger frame and powerful motor if you plan to use it in hardcore mode.

Item Weight

It’s important to consider the machine’s weight as treadmills tend to be huge and hefty. A heavier machine will be more difficult to move, but it will also provide better stability and resistance. A treadmill with a weight capacity of 400 pounds or less is ideal for most people.

The weight is related to storage and portability as moving heavy things takes more effort and time. So, make sure you have transportation wheels attached if you plan to get a heavier machine. And try to find out a balance between how stable a workout machine you want and how much heavy machine you can move later on.

Warranty and Customer Service

This is a common question that most people ask when they are planning to buy a treadmill. To be honest, there is no upfront answer to this question. The warranty and customer service of the treadmill depends on many factors like manufacturer, type of the machine, and usage of it. The warranty period can range from 1 year to 10 years, depending on how long you plan to use it.

The warranty period is the length of time your product is covered for. It also includes what happens if you need to replace it or have any damage done to it (terms and conditions applied). When buying a product, you will see some of this information on the packaging or in the item description.

Check out the warranty section of the product description section and go with the one that suits your needs. And try to find out a bit about the customer support about the brand you are choosing. Unfortunately, many gym equipment makers do not have such a good reputation for their after-sales support.

A step-by-step guide you can follow while buying a brand new (or used) treadmill
  • Find out what you want or why you want
  • Find out your current requirements for the treadmill
  • Fix your minimum and maximum budget range
  • Check out treadmill reviews
  • Try out treadmills you like (if applicable)
  • Compare treadmills you like and select the one that fits all mentioned above

Conclusion

Treadmill exercise, or walking on a treadmill, is a fantastic way to add exercise to your busy schedule. In addition, a treadmill can be an effective device for people with walking difficulties. People with physical limitations or who are in wheelchairs can also use these workout tools safely. They can reduce the risks of falls and increase mobility and independence when used correctly.

However, buying a treadmill is a big investment. So you should watch out for some of the cool features and also pay attention to other factors when buying fitness equipment. This concludes our detailed breakdown of what you should look for when getting a treadmill. And if there’s anything you want to know about this topic, then be sure to let us know, we’ll be happy to answer them!

Have a great day!

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