Buying a Treadmill? Read Our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide First!

Before buying any piece of equipment for your home gym, there a few things to keep in mind so that you end up with the best machine for you.  The more research you do upfront, the greater your chances of satisfaction with the product.  The end result will be a successful workout program that will help you reach your fitness goals.

Choosing a treadmill can be overwhelming.  Did you know there are more treadmills sold every year than any other gym machine? It’s no wonder there are so many brands and models out there!  The following considerations will help you narrow down the choices quickly and confidently make an informed decision.


What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Treadmill?

Deck Size

The deck is the surface for walking or running.  Every machine will list a length and width for the deck.  If you are using the treadmill for running, are taller or have long legs this may be the most important consideration for you.  Look for a deck length of at least 55” for running, or 60″ if you are over 5’7″.

Mid-priced treadmills or higher will have a cushioning system to soften the impact on your joints.  Running treadmills will offer more cushioning than those designed for walking.

Weight Limit

All treadmills have an upper weight limit.  Pay close attention to this, because exceeding the upper limit means the belt will not move as it should when you walk or run.

The smaller and cheaper treadmills will have lower weight limits, usually between 200 and 300 pounds.  For weight limits above 300 pounds, look for higher end consumer models or commercial treadmills.

Folding Vs. Stationary

A folding treadmill will take up less space when not in use, and some are even portable.

However, stationary treadmills are sturdier and can offer more cushioning on the deck.

Furthermore, stationary treadmills have consoles and handlebars that can move up and down with incline changes, making them more convenient and safer.


Higher quality treadmills use a continuous duty horsepower rating, or CHP.  Treadmills using “peak” or “treadmill duty” ratings are not able to sustain the listed horsepower continuously over time.  Generally, a CHP of 2.5 is considered suitable.  A CHP rating higher than 2.5 is considered extra power and not usually necessary.

Check the RPM rating of the motor as well.  Some manufacturers use RPM to boost horsepower, however a higher RPM means greater wear and tear on the motor.  Look for an RPM below 5000.


For running, look for a machine that offers a max speed of at least 10 MPH.  Top of the line treadmills may exceed 12 MPH.


Again, price usually determines the length of the warranty, with cheaper models offering as little as 90 days.  The highest priced treadmills should come with a limited lifetime warranty, some as long as 7 years.  If the motor is not covered under a lifetime warranty, we recommend buying an extended warranty when possible.

How Do I Choose the Right Treadmill for Me?

Determine your goals

The most important consideration when researching treadmills is what you will be using the treadmill for.  Your goals will determine the best size and type of treadmill for you.

Consider whether you will be walking, jogging, or running.  Walkers can get away with a lower priced machine.

Are you trying to lose weight, gain cardiovascular fitness, or train for an event? There are a multitude of features on the market to help you reach your goals.

How often will you be using the treadmill – occasionally, a few times per week? Every day?  Choosing a more expensive treadmill will give you a machine with greater longevity.

Will anyone else be using the treadmill?  Consider the needs of everyone using the machine and the wear and tear that will occur with multiple users.

How large is the space you will be using the treadmill in?  Will you need to store it in between uses or can it remain in place?

The answer to these questions will guide you in making a list of features that are necessary for you.

Determine your Budget

The next step is to set a budget.  Electric treadmills range from under $200 to over $10,000 for commercial models.

As a rule of thumb:

Entry-Level: Under $1000

Mid-Tier: $1000-$3000

High-End: Over $3000

Generally speaking, the higher the cost, the larger, sturdier and more long-lasting a machine will be.  The same goes for bells and whistles: many affordable machines lack features such as power incline and preset training programs.

A cheap treadmill’s overall dimensions are usually smaller, and the deck size may not be adequate for a full stride.  If you plan to run, keep this mind as you set your budget.

Additionally, very cheap machines may be lacking in build quality, and the warranties tend to be short or non-existent.

What if the machine you need is out of your budget?

There are two schools of thought here, and whichever you decide is personal preference.  You can buy now and upgrade later, or you can save for the treadmill you really want and buy later.


Buying now means you can get started on a home fitness routine, and upgrade to a better machine when funds allow.  The obvious benefit here is that you can begin working out right away in the privacy of your home.  The downside is that you won’t have the machine you want, and you have to buy twice.


If there are specific features you can’t live without, plan to save for a while to buy the machine that bests suits your needs.  Settling for something less will cost you more in the long run.  Additionally, it is difficult to stick with a workout routine if your machine doesn’t offer you the benefits you need.

Related Post:  See our pick for best affordable treadmill here.

Measure your Space

Remember that all machines, even folding treadmills and space saver models, have a footprint to consider.

Measure your space and pay attention to the dimensions listed to ensure that the machine will fit when fully assembled.

Generally it is recommended to have at least 2 to 3 feet of clearance on either side of the treadmill, and 6 to 8 feet behind for safety.

Select your Features

Treadmills today offer a wide array of high-tech features. Using your goals as a guide, decide which features will benefit your fitness routine, and which are unnecessary.

Remember that many basic models offer heart rate monitoring and some preset programs.  Extra features can greatly increase cost and complicate repairs.





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