The Best Treadmills (2020 Reviews)

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Treadmills are a common sight in public gyms, but they’ve also found a place in the home for fitness enthusiasts and others who are starting out on their fitness journey.

Treadmills provide an excellent way to get fit in the comfort of your home and knock down some of the common barriers to fitness, like the cost of gym memberships, poor weather, or a lack of suitable outdoor spaces. Treadmills can provide anything from a brisk stroll up to a sprint, so they can work for a wide range of people at a variety of fitness levels. By using a treadmill, users can improve their cardio and physical coordination, along with building muscle and burning fat.

In this guide, we look at what to look for in a treadmill and how to choose one to suit your needs. We’ll also give you our top picks for the best treadmills available.

Our Top Picks:

The Best Treadmills: Our Top Picks

Best Overall: NordicTrack T Series Treadmill

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NordicTrack T Series Treadmill

A high-tech treadmill with easy storage features.

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Why We Picked It

The NordicTrack T Series is a high-tech treadmill design, boasting a 10-inch color display and SpaceSaver technology that allows the treadmill to fold for easy storage.

The 10-inch screen provides an easy way to track your stats as you work out, and can be used to access the on-demand programs included with the free, 1-year iFit membership. The console also features an autobreeze fan and a grip pulse monitor. Moving from 0-12% incline is as easy as pressing the incline up/down button on the console.

The T Series’ motor is quiet when in operation, with self-cooling technology that ensures it can stand up to the most vigorous exercises. The sound system is Bluetooth ready, so it’s easy to stream your music to it as you work out.

Keep in Mind

The T Series is a full gym size, seven-foot treadmill and may not be suitable for small spaces.

In a Nutshell

  • 1-year iFit membership
  • 300-pound weight limit
  • Sound system is Bluetooth-enabled

Best Budget: Horizon Fitness T101

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Horizon Fitness T101

An affordable, high-quality treadmill.

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Why We Picked It

The Horizon Fitness T101 is a budget-friendly yet high-quality treadmill. Its small footprint combined with its fold-up design and hydraulic assist makes it perfect for homes with limited space.

The T101 features 10 pre-programmed keys for both speed and incline, which makes it easy to swap between levels of workout intensity. It’s also simple to record your own programs with the press of a button. A 3-zone design creates a natural, comfortable running surface, divided into a push-off, transition, and impact zone running from the rear to the front of the belt.

The T101 is also Bluetooth enabled for streaming audio and the console includes a fan, USB charging ports, and a tablet rack that you can use with your own devices. Finally, the quiet motor will be perfect for smaller homes where noise can be disruptive.

Keep in Mind

The quiet, low RPM motor may not be as powerful as other options on the market.

In a Nutshell

  • 250-pound weight limit
  • 10 MPH top speed
  • Foldable for storage

Best Upgrade: 3G Cardio Elite Runner

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3G Cardio Elite Runner

Upgrade your workout with advanced features.

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Why We Picked It

The 3G Cardio Elite Runner is perfect for enthusiasts and those wanting to upgrade their workout. It offers a large running platform measuring 22 inches by 62 inches, with commercial-grade shock absorption and a powerful motor capable of handling the most intense workouts.

One-touch speed and incline controls keep things simple, allowing you to focus on your workout, but the Elite Runner also includes pre-programmed workouts and fitness tests and the option to program your own.

The console comes equipped with speakers, a multi-speed fan, and a tablet rack for use with your home devices.

With its 400-pound weight limit and great shock absorption, the Elite Runner also provides an excellent upgrade option for heavy users. The treadmill includes a 10-year parts warranty and 2-years in-home labor warranty.

Keep in Mind

While it covers the must-haves, there are no smart features like online app connectivity.

In a Nutshell

  • Shock-absorbing cushioning
  • 400-pound weight limit
  • Up to 15% incline

Best for Small Spaces: Lifespan TR2000e

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Lifespan TR2000e Electric Folding Treadmill

Compact and foldable, perfect for smaller spaces.

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Why We Picked It

The Lifespan Electric Folding Treadmill’s compact size and fold-up design are perfect for smaller homes. Proprietary eFold technology allows you to fold the machine on a button press, limiting wasted workout time.

At 71 inches long, the treadmill has a small footprint even when in use, but it remains a sturdy, high-quality machine. The central display is easy to read, and the central console includes USB charges, which can also be used to upload workout data to the Lifespan club account, which free membership included.

Keep in Mind

The small, foldable design makes this a bit louder and less powerful than larger treadmills.

In a Nutshell

  • 300-pound weight limit
  • Small and foldable
  • Free club membership

Best Tech: NordicTrack Commercial 2950

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NordicTrack Commercial 2950

Delivering the best treadmill technology available.

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Why We Picked It

The NordicTrack features a huge, 22-inch screen on its console, which is pre-programmed with a range of workouts and controls the treadmill via a touchscreen interface. A free, 1-year membership to iFit gives users access to a library of workout materials, including live sessions.

Through the console, users can activate the machine’s automatic incline settings, adjusting from 3 percent up to 15 percent incline. Automatic fans keep the user cool during the toughest workouts and the treadmill’s quiet motor will limit disruption for others in your household.

Users can also save their favorite workouts and settings under multiple user profiles, which is an excellent feature for multi-user households.

NordicTrack’s impressive tech is also apparent in its space-saving fold-up design with EasyLift Assist, which can turn this treadmill into a surprisingly small package.

Keep in Mind

The pre-programmed and expert-led interactive workouts require a Wi-Fi connection to work properly.

In a Nutshell

  • 22-inch smart touchscreen
  • 300-pound weight limit
  • Variable settings with multiple users

How We Chose the Best Treadmills

To choose the best treadmills, we looked at several key areas to build a complete picture of the user experience.

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews give us insight as to how a treadmill performs for its users. Stats and features don’t always capture the user experience, so reviews help us form a picture of how the treadmill’s build quality, performance, and how it feels to use. Customer reviews can also catch any model-specific quirks that may not be obvious outside an everyday setting.

Versatility

The versatility of a treadmill adds to its overall value and can help to justify a large price tag. We consider how well the treadmill works for a range of users, from casual walkers watching TV as they work out to runners training for a big race. We also consider the treadmill’s incline options, maximum speed, and overall size, as these all determine its overall versatility.

Noise

Excessive noise from a treadmill can disturb others, cause concerns about the machine’s health, and generally distract from your workout. We look at each model’s noise output to determine where it falls on the scale from noisy to silent, and what that might mean for users. Several elements of a treadmill can generate noise, including the motor and belt. A treadmill’s shock absorption will affect how much a treadmill bounces on hard floors.

Programmed Workouts

While pre-programmed workouts aren’t essential to the treadmill user experience, they can make working out more accessible and more fun, which can help users achieve their fitness goals. We consider the type of workouts included with each treadmill and how well they work for users at a range of fitness levels. We also consider how easy it is to access and use the programmed workouts, and whether the treadmill allows you to program your own custom workouts.

What to Look for in a Treadmill

Not every treadmill will be the perfect option for each user. When you’re looking for a treadmill, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to use it and which features you personally find important. Here are some things to consider when making your choice.

Size

You’ll need to consider the treadmill’s footprint, the space you have available, and how the treadmill will be stored when you’re not using it. If you only have a small amount of space, you’ll need to find a model that not only has a small footprint but also folds up when not in use. However, it’s also important to remember that storing a treadmill can get in the way of using it, so you may want to opt for a model with a smaller footprint over one that folds away.

Weight Limit

Most treadmills have a maximum weight they can handle, so heavier users will need to keep an eye on this when shopping around. Buying a bigger or better-constructed treadmill does not always mean it can handle more weight, as even the largest models may have a relatively low weight limit. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Exceeding the manufacturer’s weight limit could shorten the lifespan of your treadmill and even void the warranty.

Construction

Heavy treadmills can be hard to move around, but they are usually better constructed. They tend to last longer, will not rattle as much, and can feel more stable even when you’re running for a long time. They may come with better features and might be easier to customize to your workout needs. The trade-off is that heavy treadmills also tend to be more expensive.

Maximum Speed

If you run fast or are practicing for sprints, you will need to find a treadmill that has a higher maximum speed. While many runners don’t need much more than 7-8 MPH as a maximum speed, sprint runners may want to find models that go higher. If you just want to walk or don’t plan to run at a fast speed, a lighter model may be a better and less expensive choice.

Interactive Technology

Treadmills have integrated a range of interactive and smart technologies to bring users extra features, like virtual classes and training sessions. Some models can connect with outdoor routes and display them on large screens. These features can help runners stay motivated and engaged with their overall fitness, which can help users achieve their goals.

How to Safely Use a Treadmill

Treadmills aren’t difficult to operate, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind to operate one safely. When in doubt, always refer back to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Starting the Treadmill

If you’ve never worked out on a treadmill, it’s best to familiarize yourself with how they work. Take the time to figure out the controls and learn about what each one does before you start working out. The best way to start out on a treadmill is by standing with your feet on each side of it. Start it slow and then start walking on it instead of starting while standing on the belt. As you become more comfortable, you can increase the intensity of your workout.

In Case of Emergency

All treadmills come standard with a safety feature that protects you in case you fall while you’re working out. The emergency clip allows you to stay safe and will shut the treadmill off if you happen to fall. Clip the red emergency clip on your shirt or pants so if something happens and you lose your balance, it will pull and the machine will stop.

Stopping Safely

When you’re ready to stop working out, you will need to slow the treadmill down. Use the handrails to maintain your balance and step onto the sides just as you did when you started working out. Bring the machine to a complete stop after you’re off the belt.

Treadmill Care and Maintenance

A treadmill is an investment, so you’ll want to protect that investment by taking good care of it. This will extend its life and ensure you get your money’s worth. Always consult your owner’s manual for detailed treadmill care, but these steps are a great place to start.

  • Clean exposed surfaces: Clean the exposed surfaces monthly. Wipe them down with a gentle all-purpose cleaner and a damp rag. If your treadmill has an LED screen, use a cleaner that’s made for that specific purpose.
  • Monitor Belt Tension: Monitor the belt tension and adjust it as needed. Make sure your belt is not too tight. When your belt is too tight or too loose, the treadmill will not operate properly and it may wear out faster. Refer to your owner’s manual to determine the proper tension level and how to access the area where you can adjust it.
  • Lubricate rollers: Lubricate the rollers and other components to ensure they work properly during regular use. You’ll need to use machine oil or a lubricant recommended by your manufacturer. Most treadmills do not require lubrication right out of the box, but check your owner’s manual for information on your specific model.
  • Remove dust: Vacuum out and dust the motor compartment occasionally. While this step may seem unnecessary, it can help your treadmill’s motor run smoothly, limit overheating, and can be helpful if you notice the rollers are sluggish. This step is more important if you live in a home with a lot of dust or you have pets, as their hair can clog up the inner components.

Related Resources

If you’re looking for more home exercise guides, be sure to check out our other resources.

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