Owning one of the best treadmills is probably on every cardio enthusiast’s wish list. However, with curved treadmills now available and very popular, runners wonder whether they are real game-changers. This curved vs traditional flat treadmill comparison article might help you decide.

Both treadmill types have different running surfaces: one is curved and grooved, while the other is flat and smooth.

These machines have more distinct features, though. Specifically, they offer different unique workout benefits and experiences that runners may or may not prefer.

Let’s zoom in on those aspects and highlight what makes a curved and flat treadmill better than the other.

Curved vs Traditional Flat Treadmill Comparison

Before we get into their differences in workout experiences, benefits, and cost, let’s start with what’s obvious: their design and appearance.

Traditional flat treadmills, from the name itself, have a completely level running deck, allowing users to run, jog, or walk steadily.

These are more common in the market. Flat treadmills are also the more versatile machines, considering that a level surface looks more familiar and comfortable to users, regardless of their running capacity.

On the other hand, curved treadmills have an arched running deck.

This design aims to simulate outdoor runs and encourage users to adjust their running technique.

Compared with their flat counterparts, curved treadmill decks are typically smaller or shorter and require some getting used to.

On top of the running surface difference, here are the other factors to consider when comparing curved vs traditional flat treadmills.

Scroll down for a more in-depth comparison.

Running formMore natural running formMore consistent and predictable
Muscles workedGlutes, hamstrings, and coreQuads and calves
Calorie burnHighModerate
Joint impactSignificantly reducedLess than outdoor running
StabilityTarget the core for enhanced balance and coordinationLet you run in a steady pace for improved stability
Endurance benefitsHighModerate
Speed trainingGoodExcellent
Performance trackingLimitedComprehensive and extensive
CostQuite expensiveMore affordable

1. Running Form

The arched deck of curved treadmills encourages a more natural stride pattern that involves a midfoot strike.

Experienced runners will likely prefer this kinematic for proper posture maintenance, running technique improvement, and treadmill injury prevention.

Beginners, however, usually find the familiar flat surface of traditional treadmills more appealing.

A more consistent and predictable running workout from a level deck seems less intimidating, too.

2. Muscles Worked

There is no curved vs traditional flat treadmill competition in strength development and lower-body toning.

Both machine types can activate your muscles to build endurance and burn calories. However, they provide these benefits on different levels.

Specifically, curved treadmills target the glutes, hamstrings, and core more.

Runners tend to exert significant force or effort when running against a curved surface, resulting in higher muscle engagement and a more comprehensive workout.

Flat treadmills target these muscles, too, but to a lesser degree. Flat-level running tends to concentrate more on your quads and calves.

3. Calorie Burn

Running on curved treadmills encourages higher muscle activation and workout intensity, making them effective calorie burners.

A study by Snyder and colleagues (2011) confirmed this conclusion, noting the higher heart rate and oxygen uptake observed among their curved treadmill participants.

However, it doesn’t mean that flat treadmills are less effective in burning calories.

Remember that calories burned depend on various factors, like body weight, running speed, and workout duration.

Adjusting your flat treadmill settings and sessions should give you similar outcomes.

Woman Training on a Flat Treadmill

4. Joint Impact

Running outdoors is a high-impact exercise and can cause joint stress or pain. Doing the same activity indoors with a treadmill lessens the effect.

However, since we are comparing curved vs traditional flat treadmills, we should determine which is more joint-friendly.

The winner, in this case, is the curved treadmill. Because of its arched design, the deck acts as a natural shock absorber — perfect for runners with joint conditions.

I also think the reduced joint impact and higher workout intensity from curved treadmills are an excellent combo for HIIT enthusiasts.

With these two vital aspects, serious runners can push themselves to the limit without hurting their legs and knees.

Traditional flat treadmills may not offer the same joint protection as their curved counterparts. Still, they are a better alternative to outdoor running.

Moreover, modern flat treadmills usually have cushioned decks for a softer landing.

5. Stability

There is no defined curved vs traditional flat treadmill difference in enhancing balance and stability.

That’s because either treadmill type can give you this fitness benefit. However, there’s a difference in how these machines do it.

For instance, the curved treadmill deck pushes you to use your core more to keep your body balanced and in proper running form.

On the other hand, flat decks develop your stability by letting you run in predictable, steady strides.

6. Endurance Benefits

Curved treadmills are better endurance trainers than flat ones.

It’s because curved treadmills are user-driven or non-electric machines. Keeping the belt moving depends on your physical input, which can be hard to sustain.

This aspect also explains why curved or manual treadmills provide more intense workouts, higher muscle engagement, and efficient calorie burn.

Flat treadmills can also develop your endurance, though. However, the effort becomes less because of the motor-driven treadmill belt.

Endurance training with a flat treadmill also has advantages. For example, you can use its incline mode to add variation to your endurance workouts.

Moreover, you can easily design an endurance workout with a flat treadmill’s adjustable and consistent speed or resistance.

Check out this article on endurance training with a treadmill for workout ideas.

Woman Training on a Curved Treadmill

7. Speed Training

The flat types win when comparing curved vs traditional flat treadmill speed-enhancing ability.

The combined motor power and adjustable speed levels of a flat treadmill make this machine a superior choice for race training.

With this treadmill type, you can quickly shift to higher speeds and boost your running abilities.

Individuals aiming to improve their sprinting abilities will also benefit from flat treadmills.

Running fast on a levelled surface is far safer for beginners than curved decks.

Read our previous article next to start speed training with your treadmill.

8. Performance Tracking

Do you prefer having real-time metric displays or heart rate monitoring while running? If yes, then flat treadmills are your best match.

Considering these machines are motorised, Bluetooth-ready, and Wi-Fi-enabled, it’s easy to make them work with today’s modern technology, like your fitness tracker or smartphone.

Sync the flat treadmill with a tablet and your favourite app to access engaging workout videos, trainers, and tracking options.

Some curved treadmills have tracking features, too. However, these are likely limited to simple progress monitoring.

9. Cost

You can easily buy a quality mid-range flat treadmill for $2000 in Australia. However, most curved treadmills have a starting price of $3000.

Curved or manual treadmills are relatively new technology with heavy-duty materials, which explains the price gap.

Price is a crucial point of comparison for curved vs traditional flat treadmills. After all, our budget often dictates what exercise machine to get.

So, make sure to research about your options before buying. Our treadmill price category guide might help, too.

Curved vs Traditional Flat Treadmills: Which is Better?

Both treadmill types are excellent cardio machines that offer distinct benefits.

Curved treadmills, for example, are ideal for runners who want to improve their running form, endurance, and stability.

While more expensive, these machines also suit users who prefer to burn calories without hurting their joints.

On the other hand, beginners and experienced runners will appreciate flat treadmills and their consistent running surface. It’s perfect for speed training and detailed performance tracking, too.

Flat treadmills are also more common, giving you plenty of options that fit your budget.

Ultimately, your choice depends on what you want and need. I suggest testing both treadmill types in-store to see which one feels easy and comfortable.

Also, consider asking trainers or treadmill enthusiasts for recommendations.

Hopefully, this comparison article and our tips help you make an informed decision.

Traditional Flat Treadmill in a Living Room

FAQs About Curved and Traditional Flat Treadmills

1. Which treadmill type is better for HIIT?

Curved and flat treadmills are ideal for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Traditional flat treadmills have adjustable speeds and resistance levels, allowing you to shift from moderate to intense paces. On the other hand, curved treadmills are non-electric equipment, giving you infinite speed and resistance for your HIIT.

2. Do flat treadmills use a lot of electricity?

We typically work out for a short period (45 minutes to 1 hour), so electricity consumption with treadmills is relatively low. You can even reduce your power use further by turning off and unplugging the machine when not in use.