Buying a treadmill is a serious investment for your health and fitness journey, but you will see the benefits in the long run – pun intended! Before you make the decision, you should consider the pros and cons of running and whether this type of exercise is for you. But if you have already made up your mind, you are in the right place!

The choice in treadmills can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many aspects and features to consider: size, motor, programs, folding or non-folding etc. Don’t worry – this treadmill buying guide will break down all of these and serve as a handbook for you to choose the perfect treadmill to help you reach your goals and keep active at home.

Fitness goals

When it comes to picking the perfect treadmill for you, before you look at anything else, you should be thinking about your long-term fitness goals. These can actually dictate your budget and some of the features! For example, if you are only looking to walk or power walk a few times per week, there is no need for you to invest in a treadmill with a powerful 4.0 HP motor.

Fitness goals can vary, but we’ve outlined the most common ones below so that you can have an idea of how they relate to the quality of your future treadmill.

  • Weight loss;
  • Toning;
  • Training for a marathon;
  • Improving overall health and stamina.

Weight loss

Treadmills are a great piece of equipment for cardio exercise and, as we know, cardio is great for weight loss. You can vary up your training to include workout styles such as HIIT to make sure that you are as effective as possible. If you are looking to use the treadmill a few times per week and maybe interchanging power walking and light running, you could invest in a treadmill with lower-end specifications. However, if you take your training seriously, you might be looking at spending around £1000 for a good quality unit that can withstand frequent use.

There are other things to take into consideration as well, such as motor, running deck size and weight limit. And if you need a bit of extra motivation or some help, certain treadmills come with pre-installed message boards that can guide you through your workout. To some people, variety in running programs might also be a big plus when it comes to keeping their workout routine going.

Toning

A treadmill can be great for toning your muscles, but it is actually certain features that help you achieve this. If this is your goal, you should be looking at treadmills that come with an incline function. You should also be able to alternate between running and power walking easily.

Not a lot of treadmills come with this function, but some will also offer a decline, which is amazing for your muscles! It also simulates real-life running conditions, which some people might find easier to get into.

Training for a marathon

If you are a serious runner looking to use your treadmill up to five times per week, then you should be investing in a higher quality unit. Certain elements contribute to a treadmill’s quality, so you should be looking at the motor, running deck size, cushioning and speed limit, amongst other things.

Light commercial units might withstand frequent use better than other models, so that is something to consider when choosing the perfect treadmill.

Improving overall health and stamina

If your goal is one as versatile as improving your general fitness level, there is a bit of leeway when it comes to choosing the perfect treadmill. If you want a unit that won’t break the bank and that you can easily store away when you are done using it, you can go for a cheaper model with a smaller motor. However, if more people in the household plan on using it, or if you want a silent unit with more features, you might have to invest more money.

Budget

Treadmills are an investment, in every sense of the word. It is important to note that the cheaper a treadmill is, the fewer features it will have. This, of course, is perfect for anyone looking to use their treadmill lightly and get some extra steps in. But if you are a serious runner, it is worth investing more into your equipment. This will guarantee you more features, a larger running deck and a powerful motor, amongst other things.

Beginner: £400 - £800

The good thing about treadmills is that there are some budget-friendly options out there. If you aren’t looking to invest massively in your equipment and you just want to do some cardio on the side, a cheaper treadmill is perfect for you! A lot of the cheaper models will come with a motor of around 2.5HP, which is perfect for walking, power walking and some running. And with the incline function as well, you will be able to get a pretty good workout out of your treadmill.

Intermediate: £800 - £1500

If you want to challenge yourself and use your treadmill for regular running, you might find that you need to splurge a bit more money. The intermediate treadmills usually come with a motor of around 3.0HP, which can handle running comfortably. This way, you can easily integrate HIIT into your treadmill routine and make sure you’re breaking out a sweat. A bigger budget also means that you will be getting a lot more features and perks out of your treadmill, too.

Advanced: above £1500

A high-quality treadmill that can withstand intense, long-term training and frequent use will often be around £1500 and up. If you are serious about training, you will need a powerful motor and a larger running deck. You also need to make sure that the speed limit allowed by the unit won’t hinder your progress. Luckily, a more expensive treadmill will have a higher speed limit.

It is also worth noting that if more than one person is using the treadmill, you might want to invest in a light commercial model. Light commercial treadmills are built to withstand daily usage. They will last you much longer.

Ultimately, try to think about how much you will be using the treadmill, realistically. If you don’t require any of the extra features and you are quite happy with only some light effort, you can knock quite a few pounds off the budget!

Space

treadmill buying guide home gym with treadmill

When it comes to home gym equipment, it is known that treadmills are on the bulkier side. You need to make sure that you have already picked out the necessary space, and that your future unit will fit. There is nothing more frustrating than putting together an awesome piece of equipment and then realising that it doesn’t fit anywhere in your home or you can’t work out properly because of the clutter. This would be less of an issue if you had a room or a shed designated for all your home gym equipment, but that isn’t always the case. Make sure to take measurements of the space and then look at the technical details of the treadmill you would like to buy – it should come with the sizes included!

Fortunately for you, a lot of treadmills destined for home use can be folded. So, at the end of your workout, you can safely store the treadmill away so that it doesn’t take up too much space. Nowadays, treadmills have integrated systems that make folding and moving them around much more manageable. Look for a treadmill that has transport wheels and a hydraulic system or anything similar that can make your life easier when moving them around.

treadmill buying guide folded treadmills

Specifications

Now that you have outlined your fitness goals and how you can fit a treadmill into your life, it’s time to look at the specifications. These will determine what kind of workout you can get out of the equipment, so it’s essential to consider each one carefully.

Motor

The motor is one of the main features that will tell you how hard you can push yourself. A more advanced motor means that the treadmill will be quieter and will withstand higher speed limits. Therefore, it is crucial to determine how you would like to use your treadmill!

If your workout will mostly consist of walking or power walking on a treadmill, a motor of 2.5HP will do just fine. A motor of 3.0HP can handle both walking and jogging, but if you are a dedicated runner and you want your treadmill to keep up with you, then you should invest in a more powerful unit. 3.5HP or above should work just fine!

Deck size

The deck size is one of the things that determines how comfortable running on a treadmill will be. The average size of a running deck is around 20” x 55”, which is perfect if you are of average height as well – it should work for both running and jogging. However, if you are on the tall side, you might want to consider getting a wider treadmill, as it will allow plenty of space for running. In that case, treadmills will offer a running deck size of 22” x 60”.

If you don’t require a wide running belt and you are prioritising the space in your home over everything else, there are a lot of treadmills that come at 18” x 51” inches. And most of the time, these will also be foldable!

Maximum weight

When we talk about the maximum weight, we don’t mean the weight of the actual treadmill. This is about the maximum weight supported by the running belt. The best way to go about it is to choose a treadmill that supports a weight way above yours. This way, you can make sure that the equipment will be as sturdy as possible. This is great advice no matter what kind of equipment you are looking at.

It is also worth noting that a treadmill with a higher maximum weight will be much sturdier and more silent.

Speed

Depending on what kind of performance you want to achieve with your treadmill, speed is another thing to look at. Lower-end treadmills will usually cap out at around 12mph, though there are models that can go up to 15mph and even 20mph, like in the case of the XTERRA iPowerPlus.

If you are serious about running and challenging yourself, you will need a treadmill that can keep up with you. A higher-end model will allow you to go up to 20mph or even 22mph. However, a higher speed limit does usually come with an increase in price.

Incline and decline

treadmill buying guide woman running on incline treadmill

Running on a treadmill is a pretty straight-forward exercise, and it can get quite dull after a while. This is why the incline and decline functions are so important. They simulate real-life running conditions, so they can keep your workouts challenging and interesting. These functions are great for kicking your routine up a notch.

The incline function is usually present on most treadmills, however not all of them will come with a decline function as well. A declining treadmill is a nice feature to have, and it is incredible for toning your legs.

Cushioning

When it comes to running safety, the cushioning on your belt is crucial. If you prefer real-life running conditions and you would rather run on a hard surface, you can go for a treadmill with a standard running belt. However, if you want to protect your knees, you should invest in treadmills that come with a 2-ply running belt and some sort of shock-absorption system. It can reduce the impact suffered by your legs by a considerable margin and make the workout safer for you.

Heart monitors

treadmill buying guide heart rate hand grips

Monitoring your heart rate is essential no matter what your goals are. When you have a clear view of how your heart is behaving during a workout, you can tell whether you are in the fat-burning zone or not. It’s also great for measuring performance. Most treadmills will come with hand grips on the sides of the treadmill, and they will display the information on the computer.

However, if accuracy is important for you, you should consider looking into wireless chest straps. They offer more accurate readings, and you don’t have to hold onto anything, which could potentially slow you down.

Console and features

treadmill buying guide console

A treadmill’s console will usually present a variety of information about your workout and your body: your speed, the distance you have run, the program you chose to run to, your heart rate, the calories burned and so on. Some even come with Bluetooth connectivity so that you can sync up all this information to your devices and keep track of your progress. Of course, this kind of feature comes with a price increase.

If you are only interested in the basic features, you can get away with a simpler console and so shed some pounds off the total price. But if more features and app connectivity would drive you to use the treadmill more, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Some treadmills even come with an integrated message board or text coach, a system that can guide you through your workouts. This is wonderful for everyone working out from home!

Extras

Finally, even though they don’t seem as important as the motor or the speed limit, features such as speakers or tablet holders can really make a difference. If you are happy to get on your treadmill, get a good workout in and then hop off, then you don’t need any of the extras. However, some people require music or entertainment when using cardio equipment, and so they will be looking for headphone jacks or the ability to connect your music via Bluetooth. Some even enjoy watching their favourite TV shows and movies while walking!

If keeping entertained while you are running would make the experience more enjoyable for you and drive you to use the treadmill more, then you should definitely consider all the extras.

And there you have it! An extensive guide on how to choose the perfect treadmill. Luckily for you, there is a treadmill for pretty much everyone, from the beginner who only wants to get some steps in, to the serious runner training for a marathon.

Even smaller things, such as how nice the treadmill looks or how it would suit your living room colours, might prove to be a point to consider. If you are unsure, you can browse through the selection of treadmills and then refer to this guide again.

Happy running!


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.