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Why Buy a Home Treadmill?
Through a combination of hands-on testing and research, we found The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 treadmill to be the overall best treadmill. It has significant inclines and declines to provide more alternatives to your fitness routines, unlimited user IDs so multiple people can work on their own exercise goals, and fun accessories like a touchscreen console and web browser to help keep track of your progress.
In our testing, we jumped on several treadmills that were delivered to our office, and we also used the models at a few local gyms – all while looking for insight into which features most people tend want, which functions are good for weight loss, and which extras you could live without if you’re on a tight budget. We also spoke to marathon runners, physical therapists and personal trainers to get their opinions and insight. Here are some of the best treadmills we found during our over 600 hours of research and testing.
Best Overall Treadmill
The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 treadmill inclines by 15 percent and declines by three percent to simulate walking and running up and down hills. The running deck is 60 inches long and includes shock absorption to keep you comfortable and steady during rigorous exercise routines. It has 38 exercise programs, including goal-specific presets, as well as a wireless heart rate monitor so you don’t have to break your stride to check your heart rate. The web-enabled touchscreen console and interactive workout videos help you stay on track and monitor your progress. Both the frame and the motor are backed by a lifetime warranty, making it one of the best choices for a home treadmill.
Best Value Treadmill
The Horizon Fitness T101 is a basic treadmill model that is light and easy to store. Because it is light and doesn’t have as powerful of a motor as other treadmills, it isn’t good for extended or intense workouts, but it is a perfect home treadmill if you are just starting out or don’t plan to do more than just walking. It has 30 workout presets with several being goal-oriented, and a personal cooling fan to keep you comfortable as you exercise. Because it is a budget treadmill, it doesn’t come will a lot of convenient extras, such as a tablet holder or a touchscreen console. It does have a standard water bottle holder and integrated speakers so you can plug in your playlist and listen to music without headphones.
Best for Weight Loss
The ProForm Pro 2000 is one of the best treadmills; it comes with so many features and tools, it mirrors some of the professional-quality machines found in commercial gyms. This treadmill has some of the steepest inclines and declines, making it great for challenging workouts and losing weight. It also has an extra-wide running surface. Because you can have unlimited user profiles, each with its own workouts programed into it, this ProForm treadmill is also a good fit for multiple users with more rigorous fitness goals. It comes with 32 workout programs, interactive video workouts and a cooling fan.
Strengths of a Treadmill: What We Tested & Reviewed
Several of our testers each worked out on a handful of treadmill brands to give us an idea of what to look for and how they work. We learned the importance of having a personal fan, how a machine’s weight factors into its stability, and what features make a model easy store when not in use. Our testers became familiar with some of the most popular workout programs and reported that having tablet holders and integrated speakers sometime helped them stay focus and endure to the end of the workout. Our testers came from a variety of backgrounds with different fitness goals and body types, so we can speak to the best home treadmills that meet a variety of purposes. Here is some of what we learned.
All the treadmills we reviewed have the option to adjust the incline level of the walking area. This makes your workout more challenging, since you are moving “uphill.” This is a great option for losing weight, because the greater the incline, the more strenuous the workout and the more calories you burn. The big difference is in how steep the include can go. Typically, most treadmills can incline about 12 percent. A few models, such as the Precor Energy, incline up to 15 percent, creating an even greater workout challenge.
One standout feature of both the NordicTrack Commercial and the ProForm Pro treadmills is the ability to decline by 3 percent. This simulates walking downhill, which works different parts of your leg. The rest of the treadmill machines we reviewed don’t decline, but stay flat at their lowest points.
Another important factor to look at is how fast the treadmill can go. While this isn’t a big deal if you are walking, it is if you want to run, especially if you are training for a marathon or other foot race. The average human runs at a pace between 6 and 9 mph. The top speed of the Spirit XT, and most other treadmills we evaluated, is 12 mph.
If you are taller than 6 feet 5 inches, note the length of the running surface of the treadmill. People this tall typically have a long stride and need a longer surface to walk or run comfortably. Treadmills typically have running decks that are 54, 58 and 60 inches long. Experts suggest the tallest people choose a treadmill with a 60-inch surface to avoid injury while exercising. The Vision Fitness TF is a good machine with a surface length of 60 inches.
Almost as important as the performance of the treadmill are the workout features. Preprogramed workout features let the treadmill automatically adjust the pace and incline during your workout. For example, programs such as hill-climbing, cross-country and aerobic options offer more challenging routines with more resistance. Some workout programs automatically create variation in the pace so you may start out walking but quickly transition to a jog or run without having to adjust settings on your own. The more presets you have, the more versatile your machine. The NordicTrack Commercial, our top pick, has 38 workout programs, double the number a typical treadmill comes with, and the LifeSpan TR has 21 presets, which is also an impressive amount.
As part of your workout regime, it is important to keep track of your heart rate to ensure it is within healthy ranges. It is common for treadmills to include heart rate monitors on hand grips that you hold for a few seconds while the console tracks and records your heart rate. Most of the treadmills we reviewed are capable of monitoring your heart rate wirelessly using a chest strap. This method of tracking is especially helpful when you are running or in the midst of a more rigorous or fast-paced workout that would be interrupted by grasping the hand rails. The chest strap lets you continue your routine while still tracking your heart rate. Most of the incline treadmills, such as the Yowza Fitness Daytona, include the chest strap, but a few require you to purchase the wireless monitor separately.
All treadmills come with water bottle holders and book rests to make your exercising time more comfortable. The best treadmills for home use include a few extra features, such as touchscreen consoles, workout videos programmed to run on the console screen, and a web browser for tracking and sharing your results online. These extras are not very common, and many users find that using their own videos or top-notch fitness tracker, is sufficient and more cost-effective than these advanced accessories.
Folding treadmills, such as the LifeSpan TR4000i, allow you to pull the running surface up and lock it into place, making it easier to store the treadmill out of the way. This is also a great security feature, since exercise equipment can be fascinating to curious children, but it can also cause injury, including cuts and burns.
Additional Fitness Support
We have tested and reviewed a variety of other exercise equipment and tools to help you achieve your overall fitness and exercise goals. For example, if you experience any knee or other joint pain, experts suggest using an elliptical machine rather than a treadmill to alleviate the stress to your joints. Additionally, if you are incorporating an incline treadmill into your fitness routine to build muscle mass, check out our picks for home gyms, weight machines that target your core muscle groups and are specifically designed for muscle building and toning.
If weight loss is your primary goal, check out an online diet service. These programs help you monitor your food intake, motivate you through online mentoring or connect you with a workout buddy in your area to encourage you as you work towards you weight loss goals.
Whatever your fitness needs, a treadmill is a great machine to help you excel in your health goals. Exercise equipment like this is an investment, but the best home treadmills are effective to help you take control of your health, boost your immune system, increase your self-confidence and improve your well-being.
Contributing Reviewer: Renee Shipley