Whether you’re looking for a way to compliment your outdoor running or simply looking for an effective way to improve your fitness at home, a treadmill makes an excellent choice.
But with so many different types now being produced by a wide range of fitness companies, how do you find the best treadmill for your budget?
As with any form of exercise equipment, it’s important to do your research into the pros and cons of each company. This helps to build up a clear idea of which models include the features you’re looking for at an affordable price.
You also have to consider how frequently you’re likely to use the machine. A less expensive model may seem like a good idea, but if you’re including running in your workouts on a regular basis, you might want to invest in a machine with higher quality parts and a longer warranty.
But with entry level machines costing little more than $300, and top-end commercial treadmills costing in excess of $12000, knowing where to start your research isn’t easy.
That’s why we put together this guide on all aspects of indoor treadmills, from the incline gradient and belt speed right through to the safety features and performance tracking, to help you find the best treadmill for your budget. This includes comprehensive treadmill reviews for some of the biggest names in treadmill design, such as Sole Fitness, Precor, NordicTrack, ProForm, and LifeSpan Fitness.
We’ll start off by looking at some of the benefits of running at home, but if you can’t wait any longer, feel free to jump ahead to our top 10 treadmills for 2021.
Treadmill brands reviewed by USA Home Gym
If you’re visiting a review site like ours, you have to be able to compare treadmills from a wide range of brands, but also find out about the history of these brands to make an informed buying decision.
By not showing a preference towards any single fitness equipment company, we’re able to create impartial reviews that judge each treadmill by its own merits, taking into account the physical and technological features and comparing these with similar treadmills from other companies.
We don’t claim to review every treadmill on the market. Instead we review only those which provide unique and useful features, are highly rated bestsellers already, or are new product lines that have the potential to take the treadmill industry in an exciting new direction.
However, although we won’t necessarily write in-depth reviews of every bad treadmill that’s out there, we will highlight any specific models or brands that have a negative track record and that should be avoided.
A quick search of our site will reveal a wide range of treadmills that we’ve reviewed, from companies including Precor, Horizon Fitness, Yowza Fitness, NordicTrack, ProForm, Sole Fitness, and Schwinn.
There’s no bias towards a specific price range either, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a high quality treadmill to suit every budget.
Top 10 treadmills for home gyms
|Name||Product Features||Rating (1 to 5)||Read Review|
|Precor TRM 445 Precision Treadmill||4.5|
|Sole Fitness F85 Folding Treadmill||4||Read Review|
|NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill||5||Read Review|
|NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill||4||Read Review|
|ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill||4||Read Review|
|LifeSpan Fitness TR1200i Treadmill||4.5||Read Review|
|Nautilus T614 Treadmill||4||Read Review|
|Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill||4||Read Review|
|Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill||4||Read Review|
|Confidence Power Plus Treadmill||4||Read Review|
Best treadmills by price range
- Confidence Power Plus Treadmill – 900+ reviews
PRICE RANGE: $200-$400
PRICE RANGE: $400-$1000
PRICE RANGE: $1500+
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Benefits of owning a treadmill
Whether it’s to supplement your current workout routine, or simply to save the inconvenience of travelling to a commercial gym each time you want to train, a treadmill can be an excellent addition to your own home gym.
With a large enough running area they act as an effective way to burn extra calories, tone lower body muscles, and allow you to recreate your natural outdoor running stride.
They’re also much easier to use than some types of fitness equipment, with intuitive display consoles, entertainment options, and in many cases a variety of preset training programs to help you plan your next workout.
Many of the top rated models even allow you to sync your workout information to a fitness app or online software so that you can monitor everything you need to reach your fitness goals, from your daily nutritional plan to the number of calories burned each workout.
Research sources online
Due to the space that’s needed to stock a large number of treadmills, many retailers now choose to sell exclusively online, either through their own website or an online marketplace such as eBay.
This helps to reduce staff and rent costs, which can then be passed onto you in the form of lower priced fitness equipment.
Price comparison websites have also been a huge help in allowing you to find the cheapest deal quickly, although in most cases this still tends to be Amazon.
But with many treadmills costing thousands of dollars to buy from new, it can be difficult to make such a commitment without having stepped foot on the running deck.
If you’re able to find a high quality review online, then this will usually act as an excellent source of information for the features and functions, but they tend to focus less on the actual running experience.
That’s why (where possible) we recommend doing a search for any local gyms in your area that carry equipment similar to the treadmill you’re looking to buy. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the exact model, but if you can find another design in the range from the same company then you should get a good general idea of the build quality and running experience.
With such a wide range of treadmills now available, you’ll tend to find only the top-end treadmills in commercial gyms, by the likes of Sole Fitness, Precor, Lifespan, or ProForm.
But don’t worry if you’re a little more limited on your budget. There are plenty of other options.
Research sources in person
Google Maps can be an excellent place to start if you are looking for local sports shops. This is usually a better place to start looking, as they will generally stock treadmills from across a much wider price range.
If you do choose the in-store route, then make sure you have a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask when you get there. This will not only help you learn more about the specific model you’re interested in, but may also reveal specific fitness goals that would be better served by a different machine.
In either case, test as many of the treadmills as you can at the store. Even if you’re not there to buy, you will walk away much more knowledgeable about what to look for, and feel much more confident about buying online if you find a model that fits your requirements.
A few basic questions to bear in mind before you start to shop online or in-person are:
- How long you would like the machine to last for? – Is this just a trial to see how you stick with a routine, or are you a seasoned runner?
- Who will be likely to use it? – If other members of the family will want to use the treadmill, it might make sense to find a machine that offers programmable user profiles and custom workout programs
- What sort of goals you hope to achieve by owning a treadmill? – Are you simply looking to walk or jog a few extra miles each week, or do you need a treadmill to help you maintain your running times during the winter?
- Will this particular model help you achieve those goals? – If your goal is weight loss, look for a treadmill that allows you to enter your age and weight so that the calculation of ‘calories burned’ is more accurate etc.
- What’s covered by the warranty? – This can really be a part of point number 1. Some treadmills offer comprehensive coverage on everything from the motor to the console. Others cover the equipment for just 90 days, but in either case, most companies will only validate coverage for the original buyer. e.g. Used treadmills won’t be covered by warranty
- How easy is it to find replacement wear items? – If the running deck isn’t reversible, the treadbelt can wear out much faster. Try searching online marketplaces for replacement parts, to get an idea of the availability and estimate any ongoing maintenance costs
Must haves vs. Nice-To-Haves
Considering all the features that are available on many modern treadmills, it’s easy to pay for features you may never even use.
It used to be that a treadmill was purely designed to provide a platform on which to run indoors. But now, mainly through additional entertainment options built into display consoles, you can do everything from send an email to read an eBook or even watch a movie.
With so many features now available, it’s important to write down two clear lists. One should have the absolute fundamental design features that the treadmill has to have in order to help you fulfil specific fitness goals, while the other should be optional extras that might provide a more enjoyable workout.
While enjoyable workouts are certainly important, it’s best to find out exactly which treadmills are within your budget before you start considering e-Readers and tablet shelves.
- Suitably sized running area
- High enough weight capacity for anyone likely to use the machine
- Powerful enough motor to maintain belt speeds at higher inclines
- Variety of speed settings
- Incline running deck options (either manual or power incline, depending on your budget)
- Safety features (at least a safety key, and preferably a hand rail)
- Folding design (if space is limited)
- Basic feedback on your workout e.g. Speed, time, distance, heart rate
- Shock absorption system inside the running deck
- Internet browsing facility
- E-Book reader
- Storage shelf for watching movies or TV on your tablet
- Virtual running routes displayed on a larger screen attached to the console
- Firmware installed that updates your treadmill with new workout programs
- Cooling fan
- Password protected display console operation
- Backlit display screen
- Storage shelves / water bottle holders
- MP3 connectivity
One area that tends to crossover between each category is the type of workout programs. With variety being considered such a crucial part of a successful and consistent fitness routine, they should really be classed as a ‘Must Have’.
That being said, some of the bestselling treadmills (specifically the ‘manual’ style designs) have no workout programs at all. Likewise, some companies offer a significantly larger collection of programs, which may require additional monthly membership fees. These would be considered more of a ‘Nice To Have’.
Next to its actual dimensions, the most important measurements to check are the length and width of the running area.
Running area length – Generally varies between 43 inches and 62 inches. Similar to the stride length on an elliptical trainer, you need to find a machine that has enough length to let you match your natural running stride, without worrying about your foot slipping of the back of the belt.
If you’re only looking to walk or jog on the machine, then this won’t be much of an issue. But if you want to build up to a full sprint or faster run, then you need to think about matching the running area to your height.
As a rough guide, treadbelts that are closer to 62 inches in length are best suited towards tall users of 6ft+. Belts with a length closer to 45 inches will be better suited to anyone around 5 ft tall.
Running area width – This isn’t as important as running area length, due to the fact that it won’t have a direct impact on your running stride. However, the width of the running area is usually proportional to the length, with some of the most popular running area dimensions being; 60″ (L) x 22″ (W), 55″ (L) x 20″ (W), and 50″ (L) x 18″ (W).
Key question: Do you intend to use the machine for walking, jogging, running, or all 3?
Another of the features that’s built into many modern treadmills is an impact reducing cushioning system inside the running deck.
If you’re not able to trial this for yourself, depending on the popularity of that particular model, you can always try posing your questions to an existing owner. This is a service that Amazon offers directly through their site at no additional cost, together with their customer reviews and ratings.
Although they seem like fairly universal features, treadbelts are actually quite model specific, particularly when it comes to their maintenance.
There are generally 2 main types of treadbelt; 2 ply and 4 ply.
The majority of home treadmill belts are actually designed with a polyurethane top layer and nylon polyester under layer (2 ply).
Regardless of how many workout programs your chosen treadmill has to offer, if the button layout on the console and choice of functions isn’t easy to use, it can become frustrating and time consuming to alter the various settings.
‘Quick select’ buttons tend to be most popular amongst mid and top level treadmills, and allow you to quickly switch between larger speed and incline increments than the standard up and down arrows (or plus and minus buttons, depending on the machine).
Some consoles will also let you create several user profiles, where you can enter some basic personal information that will help to increase the accuracy of certain feedback. This includes the number of calories burned per workout, and your current heart rate level.
User profiles (also known as User IDs) will usually enable you to store custom workouts which you’ve designed yourself. This can be particularly useful if you want some extra variety in addition to the preset programs, or if more than one person will be using the machine. e.g. Families, light commercial use
Another important feature of display consoles is the design of the LCD screens. It’s one thing to display important workout stats during your run, but if you can’t see the numbers due to low light conditions or glare on the screen then this won’t be much use.
This is why having backlit screens is such a major benefit, although it’s rare to find them on lower priced machines that only offer a single button function.
After covering some of the more fundamental design features of display consoles, depending on your budget, it’s can also be useful to compare treadmills according to the level of built-in entertainment options.
These will generally be things that improve the quality and enjoyment you get from your workouts, and can include cooling fans, speakers, MP3 and smartphone connectivity, virtual running tracks, and a storage shelf for your tablet.
As you start to move up towards the mid-range machines, you’ll start seeing these features on more models from a range of different fitness companies.
Based on customer reviews, the cooling fans tend to be fairly low powered, and shouldn’t be considered the sole reason to choose one treadmill over another.
Ease of assembly
With the exception of some of the lower priced designs and certain elliptical trainers, treadmills are one of the heaviest pieces of cardio equipment you can buy for your home gym.
Although this may not make much of a difference once the machine is setup (particularly if you won’t need to fold it away between workouts), it can be an important point to consider before buying.
That’s not to say that this should put you off choosing a particular type of treadmill, but it might be worthwhile to find out if there’s any additional charges for the shipping, and whether the company you’re buying from can recommend a home assembly service.
Some of the biggest online retailers will have contracts in place (Amazon will often suggest the Treadmill Doctor service) to ensure someone is available to help you get your new treadmill assembled quickly and correctly, without you having to worry about moving a running deck that can weigh in excess of 60 kg.
If you intend to assemble the machine without any additional help, then how quickly the treadmill can be assembled will be based purely on the quality of assembly instructions.
If you’re unable to find a user manual for the treadmill on the company’s own website, there are now plenty of online resources that can supply you with a user manual free of charge.
This then gives to time to find out what to expect from the setup, as well as letting you know a bit more about the different functions and workout programs.
Transport and folding
Unfortunately one of the main drawbacks of choosing a home gym setup over a conventional commercial gym is the lack of space. Whereas commercial gyms are often the size of aircraft hangars, your home workouts may be confined more to a spare room or garage.
That’s why to make the best use of space, many treadmill companies have developed product ranges that allow you to fold the running deck to a vertical (or high incline) position.
However, not all treadmills offer this feature, including the manual treadmills, many of the lower priced models, and the entire range from Precor.
With the running deck folded away, you may also want to be able to move the machine to place that’s a bit more out of the way, or even a different room altogether.
This is where it’s important to make sure you have transport wheels attached to the front to make it easier to roll the treadmill to wherever you need it to be.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that not all folding treadmills are alike. While some require you to lift the weight of the running deck unassisted (can weight in excess of 40 kg), there are others that offer a ‘soft drop’ assisted pneumatic piston system, which slowly lowers the deck to the floor before you start your workout.
As well as the transport wheels, one last feature we wanted to mention about the base of the running deck is the addition of base levellers.
Although these aren’t added to every machine, they can certainly come in useful if you need to compensate for any slightly uneven ground that the treadmill has to rest on.
Motorised vs. Manual vs. Treadmill Desk
Before you start taking a look at features, price ranges, and different fitness companies, the first thing you’ll need to decide is what type of treadmill you will actually get the most use out of.
There are generally 3 main categories of treadmill designed for home use:
- 1. Motorized treadmills – The most common type of design, produced by companies such as ProForm and Sole Fitness
- 2. Manual treadmills – Some of the lowest priced, but best selling models are ‘Manual’, meaning they are powered by your own walking motion rather than a motor
- 3. Treadmill desks – A recent addition to the range of treadmills available, these essentially feature a compact treadmill deck positioned under a simple work desk. These can be a great option for anyone that spends long hours in front of a computer working from home.
In terms of price, motorized treadmills tend to have the widest range, and can cost anything from $150 up to over $12,000. Next you have the treadmill desks which tend to have a price limit of closer to $5000, and finally the ‘manual’ treadmills, which can usually be found for closer to $150.
Best treadmill under $200 – Confidence Power Plus Treadmill
If you’re looking for a heavy duty treadmill that offers a wide range of workout programs, performance tracking, and market-leading technology, you’ll need a budget that’s higher than $200. But if you’re simply looking for affordable access to light jogging and walking workouts at home, you do have a couple of options.
Unfortunately most treadmills under $200 are powered by your own walking or running motion (manual treadmills) and don’t have an internal motor or incline system. This includes the Magnetic Manual treadmill from Confidence Fitness, the Phoenix 98510, and the Stamina InMotion.
This doesn’t seem to hurt their popularity, with the Phoenix 98510 alone having over 400 reviews on Amazon. But in most cases they just don’t have the high ratings, averaging 60% or 3 out of 5 stars in most cases.
The reason we chose the Confidence Power Plus as our top treadmill under $200 is because it’s one of the only models at this price range that’s powered by a motor. It also continues to maintain an impressive 4 star average rating on Amazon, even after 900+ reviews.
Unfortunately you still don’t have any workout programs to choose from, and the weight capacity is a little lower than the mid-range treadmills (250 lbs). But you do still have an LED display that provides constant feedback of your workout progress, including speed, time, and distance. There’s also a display for number of calories burned, but without using your body weight in the calculation, we’ve never found this to be particularly accurate.Buy now
Best treadmill under $400 – Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill
Although this price range has a lot more to offer than the treadmills under $200,
in terms of fitness tech and the latest workout programs and performance tracking, you still might feel a little restricted.
Weslo are a company that are looking to change that, by integrating iFit technology into their bestselling Cadence G 5.9. But although the Cadence 5.9 has over 2000 reviews on Amazon, the new model that’s fitted with iFit (Cadence G 5.9i) is new to the market and has a lot of work to do if it wants to build a similar reputation.
Having said that, the iFit Bluetooth Smart enabled console is a major advantage for the G 5.9i, as your workout stats can be synced to an online iFit account where you can monitor fitness improvements over time. The integrated tablet holder also makes it possible to pair your device to view your stats via the iFit app.
Measuring 16”W x 50”L means the running area is about as large as you can expect at this price, with Comfort Cell cushioning to reduce stress on your joints by absorbing the impact of your stride.
For added workout variation you can also take advantage of the full 10 mph belt speed, as well as choosing from from 2 manual incline settings and six workout apps. If you’re short on space, the SpaceSaver folding design creates a much smaller footprint that’s more practical when you’re not using the treadmill.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best treadmill under $1000 – NordicTrack C 990 Treadmill
Despite being a highly competitive price range, the NordicTrack C 990 has to be our top choice of treadmill under $1000, due to its combination of high build quality, workout variation, and high-tech features that make every workout more enjoyable.
From a technology perspective the C 990 really has everything you could hope for. This includes their revolutionary iFit training program (iFit enabled console), heart rate tracking via touch sensors as well as wireless chest straps, and an integrated tablet shelf so you can watch your favorite movies while you workout.
There’s even a 7-inch full-color touchscreen that can be used for checking your workout feedback, connecting to a virtual iFit running route and watching your progress through real-life images of the scenery you’re running through, or even checking your emails thanks to its built-in browser (Wi-Fi connection required).
From a walking/jogging/running perspective, you’re also very well taken care of. There’s a large 20”W x 60”L running area to accommodate taller users, powerful 3.0 CHP motor, full 12 mph belt speed, and 32 workouts (each of which has been designed by a certified personal trainer) already programmed into the console.
At the time of making our decision the C 990 was listed as being under $1000 on the official NordicTrack website as well as Amazon, but this was $1000 saving on the original list price. If the price has increased when it comes time for you to buy and you’re on a strict budget, the ProForm Power 995i came a very close second place and is definitely worth a look.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best treadmill under $1500 – NordicTrack 1750 Treadmill
This was probably the most difficult price range to select a winner, as we struggled to decide between the NordicTrack 1750 and the bestselling and multi-award winning ProForm Pro 2000.
But although the NordicTrack 1750 is available at a slightly higher price to the ProForm Pro, we found the list of upgraded features to easily outweigh the current price difference (around $200 at time of writing).
The most important point to remember is that the NordicTrack 1750 is iFit enabled, whereas the console for the ProForm model is described as ‘iFit Compatible’. This means that if you want access to the benefits of iFit, you have to purchase a separate iFit wireless module, in addition to your yearly subscription.
A quick comparison of the specs will show the NordicTrack model comes out on top in most cases. This includes having a more powerful motor (3.8 CHP vs. 3.5 CHP), more workout apps (38 vs. 32), and a more advanced console that incorporates a web-enabled full-color touchscreen (backlit only on the ProForm Pro). You’re also benefitting from a 2-ply tread belt by choosing the NordicTrack treadmill, compared to the 1-ply belt of the ProForm.
In our opinion these upgrades were enough to set the NordicTrack 1750 above the ProForm Pro 2000 to be rated as the best treadmill under $1500. But they also share a number of important features, such as the 2.5” rollers, -3% to 15% power incline, multi-position workout fans, 12 mph belt speed, and iPod® compatible sound system.
Perhaps partly because both ProForm and NordicTrack are brands under the ICON Health and Fitness family, they also share the same industry-leading warranty. That is, lifetime coverage on the frame and motor, 5 years on parts, and 2 years on labor.
In fact, the only part of the specification where we found the ProForm treadmill to lead NordicTrack was in the weight capacity, where the NordicTrack 1750 supports 300 lbs, whereas the Pro 2000 is rated to 350 lbs.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best treadmill over $1500 – NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill
When we were making our decision for the best treadmills at each price range, Sole Fitness definitely featured on our shortlist, specifically with their F63 and F85 treadmills. But although they’ve proven themselves as bestsellers and continue to be highly rated on every fitness equipment review site, we just couldn’t make them the winners.
That’s because in our opinion there are other companies making more significant strides towards a high quality, enjoyable running workout at home. We simply haven’t seen the console upgrades, performance tracking, or push into wearable tech capable of combining your outdoor and indoor running. This is where NordicTrack have been industry leaders.
But the price range ‘over $1500’ also encompasses pretty much every Precor treadmill, which are without doubt some of the best treadmills available for commercial gyms. Unfortunately, like their Adaptive Motion Trainers, they tend to be out of reach of what most people are willing to spend.
Back to the NordicTrack 2950, and based on its combination of preset workouts, iFit enabled console, entertainment options, wide incline range, warranty, and extra large running area, we had to make it one of only a few treadmills to receive our full 5 star rating.
There’s also a big focus on personalizing the running experience, with NordicTrack’s CustomFit™ power-adjustable uprights to change the height of the console, and adjustable RunnersFlex™ cushioning to control the firmness and cushioning of the running deck.
That’s not even including the personalized workouts you can download straight to your user profile, thanks to having an iFit enabled console. You can then build up an accurate workout history and track improvements in your fitness level.
To find out more about the workouts, warranty, entertainment options, iFit, and the complete specification, it’s worth taking a look at our full review. The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 is an excellent choice for single users and family environments alike, with a high enough level of build quality and enough workout variation to endure many years of intense running.Read the full reviewBuy now
- Belt – Wraps around the rollers of the running deck.
- Console – The controls and screens that form the panel at the front of the treadmill.
- Display – The screen built into the display console. Usually LCD and can be backlit for enhanced visibility of feedback.
- Frame – The aluminium or steel structure used to hold the majority of the treadmill together.
- Heart monitor – Used to measure your heart rate, usually through heart rate hand sensors, then transit the reading back to the display.
- Incline – The angle that the running deck can adjust to. Angles can be both incline and decline, and classed as either ‘power’ or ‘manual’.
Manual simply means you lift the running deck into an incline setting, whereas ‘power’ incline automatically adjusts the angle at the touch of a button.
- Manual – A treadmill you operate by pushing the conveyor belt with your feet. Some manual treadmills contain magnets to make it move more smoothly
- Motorised – A treadmill that uses an electric motor (usually varies between 1.5 and 4.5 CHP) to power the movement of the belt.
- CHP – Continuous Horse Power. The power scale to which treadmill motors are graded, usually be the company that manufactures them.
- Programmes – Usually split into several different categories (heart rate controlled, hill climb, interval, etc.), these affect the type of workout you follow, varying the incline and belt speed automatically.
- Surface – The top side of the running belt. The running surface is usually what determines whether or not you can run on a treadmill, as the length can restrict your natural running stride if too short. (e.g. 6ft+ tall users would require a surface at least 55 inches in length.
Updates to the treadmill buying guide
We will be keeping our treadmill buying guide frequently updated with the latest developments in treadmill technology, workout programs, design styles, and product ranges from leading fitness companies.
If there’s anything you feel is missing, or would like to ask us any questions, feel free to do so in the comments section below.