In the world of fitness equipment, treadmills reign supreme. They offer a convenient, weather-independent way to get your cardio fix, whether you’re a seasoned runner or a beginner taking your first steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

With a plethora of models boasting an array of specs and features, choosing the right treadmill can be challenging. Fear not! This Tech Talk will guide you through the world of treadmill jargon to help you find the perfect match for your stride.

1. Treadmill Motor Type

The heart of any treadmill is its motor, and its type and power directly impact your workout experience. Here’s a breakdown of the main options:

  • DC Motors: Budget-friendly but often noisy and prone to wear and tear, DC motors are suitable for light use or occasional jogging.
  • AC Motors: Offering greater durability and quieter operation, AC motors are ideal for more frequent workouts and higher speeds.
  • Brushless AC Motors: Brushless AC motors deliver smooth, powerful performance and superior longevity. Perfect for serious runners and intensive training.

I would personally recommend spending a little more from your budget on a treadmill with a good motor such as the AC or brushless AC motor.

Treadmill Belt Size Chart

2. Running Belt

Your comfort and stability depend heavily on the quality of the treadmill belt. Here’s what to consider:

  • Width and Thickness: A wider belt (wider than 46 cm or 18 inches) provides a more spacious and natural stride, while a thicker belt (at least 2 ply) offers better cushioning and impact absorption.
  • Length: A suitable belt length would depend on your height and stride. A taller person would need to pay more attention to the belt length for a comfortable run.
  • Material: Textured belts provide superior grip, especially for incline work, while smooth belts are easier on the knees. Consider your preferences and workout style.

3. Treadmill Speed and Incline Range

Don’t get overwhelmed by the numbers! Choose a treadmill with a speed and incline range that aligns with your current fitness level and goals:

  • Beginners: A maximum speed of 16 km/h (10 mph) and an incline of 12% should suffice for comfortable walking and jogging.
  • Intermediate Runners: Look for speeds up to 20 km/h (12 mph) and inclines of 15% to challenge yourself and progress your training.
  • Advanced Runners: Push your limits with treadmills offering speeds of 24 km/h (15 mph) or more and inclines exceeding 20%.

4. Cushioning and Suspension

Treadmill pounding can be harsh on your knees. Invest in a model with advanced cushioning technologies like the Reflex™ Cushioning on NordicTrack treadmills (see my review of the NordicTrack X22i) or the ShockControl™ cushioning system on Lifespan Fitness treadmills. These cushioning systems absorb impacts and reduce stress on joints. Your knees and ankles will thank you for investing in these treadmills.

ProForm Treadmill Console

5. Console Features

The console isn’t just a display; it’s your digital companion and motivator. Look for features like:

  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Track your progress and ensure you’re training in the right zone to optimise results.
  • Built-in Workout Programs: Choose from pre-designed programs for variety and motivation, targeting specific goals like fat-burning or interval training.
  • App Compatibility: Stream music, videos, or even virtual running routes like what you get from iFit, Kinomap and Zwift to keep your workouts engaging and fun.

6. Additional Features to Consider

Don’t forget the extras that can make your treadmill experience even better:

  • Safety Features: Emergency stop buttons and incline/decline limitations are essential for preventing accidents.
  • Entertainment Options: Built-in speakers or a TV mount can keep you entertained and motivated during long runs.
  • Folding and Storage: If space is a concern, consider a foldable treadmill with transport wheels for easy storage.

You should also protect your investment and ensure smooth operation with:

  • Warranty Coverage: Understand your warranty terms and conditions for peace of mind.
  • Routine Maintenance: Regular lubrication and belt adjustments will prolong the lifespan of your treadmill. We have a post on maintaining your treadmill if you want to learn more.

Finding Your Perfect Match

Choosing the right treadmill is a personal journey. Research different models, compare treadmill specs based on your budget and needs, and don’t hesitate to ask for expert advice.