Installing a treadmill as the cornerstone of your home fitness room can take your running or walking routine to the next level. With a treadmill, you can get your cardio workouts in – rain or shine – without having to deal with the hassle of getting to the gym or running outdoors.
But with so many treadmill models and features on the market, it can be tricky to determine which option will suit your needs and budget.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find the ideal treadmill for your home gym. We’ll discuss key factors to consider, review top-rated treadmill picks, and provide tips to help you get started using your new machine properly and safely.
Why Add a Treadmill to Your Home Gym?
First, let’s look at some of the main benefits of owning a treadmill for your home fitness arsenal:
All-weather and anytime cardio training. No need to wait for ideal running temperatures or daylight with an indoor treadmill. Hop on morning or night for a run.
Softer impact than pavement. Treadmill belts absorb impact better than concrete and asphalt. This can help prevent injury and reduce strain on joints.
Accurate performance tracking. Treadmill consoles display precise metrics like pace, distance, calories burned, heart rate, and more to help you train effectively.
Incline and decline options. Mix up strength training by simulating hill climbs or downhill running at the press of a button.
Compact and storable. When not in use, foldable treadmill bases can stand vertically to conserve space.
Treadmill desks. Walking while you work on a treadmill workstation helps increase daily activity.
For the versatility to get your cardio in any weather, plus robust tracking features, a home treadmill is a smart investment.
Key Features to Look for in a Treadmill
Once you’ve decided to add a treadmill to your home gym, it’s time to determine the must-have features to match your training needs and fitness goals:
- Look for at least 2.0 CHP (continuous horsepower) for a comfortable light jog up to around 6 MPH.
- 2.5+ CHP gives flexibility for intervals and moderately fast running up to 8-10 MPH.
- For serious running, 3.0+ CHP supports speeds over 10 MPH.
Belt and Deck Size
- Wider belts around 20” give plenty of personal space.
- Length should fit your natural stride at top speeds – 50”+ is common.
- Cushioning under the belt helps absorb impact.
Incline and Decline
- Adjustable incline (0-15% is common) simulates hill running outdoors.
- Decline setting (0-3% typical) allows for downhill running to work different muscles.
Speed and Programs
- Look for top speeds of at least 10 MPH for experienced runners. Walkers can get by with 6 MPH.
- Pre-set workout programs provide structured cardio and strength routines.
Heart Rate Monitoring
- Hand pulse sensors or wireless chest straps allow you to train in target heart rate zones.
- Intuitive controls and clear readouts for tracking stats like pace, distance, heart rate, etc. in real time.
- Cushioning under the belt softens impact from running to prevent joint strain.
- Folding treadmills with vertical storage take up minimal floor space when not in use.
Next, let’s look at some of the top-rated treadmills that bring together these key features for your home gym.
The Best Treadmills of 2022
NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill
For a premium treadmill packed with performance and training features, the Commercial 1750 shines.
- Motor: 3.5 CHP
- Incline Range: -3% to 15%
- Belt Size: 22” x 60”
- Top Speed: 12 MPH
- Programs: 50+
This powerful treadmill has an extra wide belt and 3.5 CHP motor to support serious runners at speeds up to 12 MPH. The Commercial 1750 folds up neatly when not in use.
Smart features like automatic incline control to match terrain shown on screen ramps up the immersion. The interactive 10” touchscreen provides motivation.
- Potent motor supports intense running
- Massive incline/decline range
- Advanced interactive training programs
- Generous belt size
- Much pricier than basic models
- Heavy at over 300 lbs
Price Range: $$$$
Horizon T101 Treadmill
For budget-conscious shoppers looking for value, the Horizon T101 combines user-friendly design with quality components.
- Motor: 2.5 CHP
- Incline Range: 0-10%
- Belt Size: 20” x 55”
- Top Speed: 10 MPH
- Programs: 30+
This wallet-friendly pick still packs a respectable 2.5 CHP motor capable of speeds up to 10 MPH – ample pace for most runners. The automatic incline mimics hill running.
Bundled workout programs provide training variety. The display console clearly shows your workout metrics at a glance. With built-in speakers and fan, the Horizon T101 provides an enjoyable exercise environment.
- Lower price point for the value
- Smooth and reliable motor
- Solid range of speeds and inclines
- Well-designed console and controls
- Manual leveling required
- Max user weight of 300 lbs
Price Range: $$
Sole F80 Treadmill
Sole’s F80 model is built with the highest quality components to rival commercial gym equipment.
- Motor: 3.5 CHP
- Incline Range: 0-15%
- Belt Size: 22” x 60”
- Top Speed: 12 MPH
- Programs: 10 standard
This ultra-sturdy treadmill provides a roomy 22” wide belt for comfortable running. The 3.5 CHP motor delivers power for intervals, hills, and top speeds up to 12 MPH.
Cushion Flex Whisper Deck provides joint relief. Amply spaced handlebars have speed and incline controls. The vibrant display tracks all your workout metrics clearly.
- Extremely powerful motor
- Extra wide tread belt
- High-end commercial-grade build
- Generous incline range
- Cushioned deck protects joints
- Lacks built-in speakers or fan
- Pricey compared to other brands
Price Range: $$$
Goplus Electric Folding Treadmill
Need a basic, affordable treadmill for walking? The Goplus Electric delivers.
- Motor: 2.25 CHP
- Incline Range: Manual up to 15%
- Belt Size: 16” x 43”
- Top Speed: 7.5 MPH
- Programs: 12 presets
While less powerful than pricier options, the 2.25 CHP motor provides ample power for light jogging or walking up to 7.5 MPH. The LCD tracks your time, speed, distance, calories and pulse.
The deck manually adjusts to inclines up to 15% to intensify your workout. The compact Goplus folds away for storage. At under $500, it makes an inexpensive option for walkers.
- Extremely affordable price
- Smooth and quiet electric motor
- Manual incline ups intensity
- LCD display tracks metrics
- Folds to save space
- Less powerful motor than some
- Narrower belt than premium brands
- Lower weight capacity of 265 lbs
Price Range: $
Comparing the Top Treadmill Options
To summarize some of the key differences between the top picks:
- The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is built for serious runners with its monster motor, decline settings, interactive trainers, and premium components. However, the price reflects the advanced performance.
- The budget Horizon T101 cuts back on some bells and whistles but still delivers solid quality and capability for most running needs under $1,000.
- Sole’s F80 rivals commercial gym models with its ultra-sturdy build, ample running surface, cushioned deck, and overall superb craftsmanship. The price matches its premium structure.
- The Goplus Electric Folding Treadmill makes an inexpensive choice for walkers or light joggers who don’t need advanced controls or intense speeds.
Other factors that can sway your decision include:
- Intended use – walking vs. casual running vs. high-speed training
- Belt size – width and length required for your height and stride
- Available space when folded up
- Features like decline settings, shock absorption, touch screens
- Noise level for apartment or shared living settings
Once you’ve weighed your priorities in terms of functionality, performance, and budget, choosing the right treadmill becomes much easier.
Setting Up Your Treadmill
Once your new treadmill is delivered, you’ll need to allow ample space for assembly. Most treadmills take 30-90 minutes to put together with the tools provided. You may want an extra pair of hands to help with installation.
Review the assembly instructions thoroughly and follow each step carefully. With foldable models, be cautious when unfolding the deck to avoid pinching wires or tubing.
Once assembled, these tips will ensure safe operation:
- Place the treadmill on a flat, even, and non-slippery surface. Improper surfaces can affect performance.
- Ensure at least two feet of clearance around the treadmill when in use for safety and access.
- Plug into a grounded outlet on a dedicated circuit. Avoid using an extension cord which could overheat.
- Always clip the safety key onto your clothing when using the treadmill to stop the belt if you fall or trip.
- Start by testing low speeds while holding onto handlebars. Don’t start walking or running until you are comfortable.
- Consult the manual about lubricating the belt periodically as use which prevents damage and wear.
- Familiarize yourself with all the console functions and built-in workout programs.
Starting slow, in small increments, allows your body to adjust to treadmill training to prevent injury. Enjoy exploring all the capabilities of your new machine!
Perfecting Your Treadmill Running Form
Proper running form is important when training on a treadmill to enhance performance and avoid missteps:
- Look straight ahead, not down, with a slight forward lean coming from the ankles rather than bending at the waist.
- Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees and move arms front to back, not side to side. Don’t clench fists.
- Use a light bounce off the treadmill belt to propel forward, landing mid-foot then pushing off the toes.
- Keep shoulders relaxed and back straight to maximize oxygen intake – avoid hunching or tense shoulders.
- Increase speeds gradually over multiple workouts to allow your body to adjust to the new motion and impact.
- On inclines, lean forward slightly but don’t hold onto handlebars – pump arms more aggressively to help drive your climb.
- Don’t pound the treadmill deck – aim for quick but soft foot strikes to avoid pain and injury.
Focus on posture and arm drive to take your running mechanics to the next level indoors. Consult a personal trainer if you need help correcting any issues.
Using Your Treadmill Effectively
Once you have running form dialed in, here are tips to maximize your workout effectiveness on your home treadmill:
- Gradually increase workout duration from 20 minutes up to 45-60 minutes for full cardiovascular and endurance benefits.
- Vary speeds for intervals – mix sprint intervals up to 90% max effort with active rest intervals at 70% effort.
- Incorporate incline walking or running into every session – start with just 2-3% incline.
- Alternate longer steady state cardio days with interval training days for variation.
- Mix low-impact modalities like walking and jogging to allow for muscle recovery.
- Supplement with strength training for lower body and core 2-3 days per week for complement full-body fitness.
- Stick to an attainable workout schedule of 4-5 days per week for at least 3-4 weeks to cement habits.
Recording workout details like pace, distance covered, and heart rate over time can help you quantify your progress and fitness gains.
Maintaining Your Treadmill
With periodic maintenance, you can expect your home treadmill to deliver many years of reliable performance.
Here are some best practice tips for treadmill maintenance:
- Wipe down the belt, deck and rails after each workout to prevent slippery buildup and corrosion.
- Vacuum out dust and debris from under the motor cover and electronics bays every 2-3 months to prevent overheating.
- Lubricate the belt every 3 months or 50 hours of operation, whichever comes first. Use only treadmill lubricant, not general household oil.
- Inspect hardware, fasteners, brackets and all components for signs of looseness or wear monthly. Tighten as needed.
- Check belt tracking while running and re-align if drifting or rubbing against sides. Consult manual.
- Power off the treadmill when not in use for extended time and unplug to prevent electric surges damaging electronics.
Following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and guidelines will help preserve your investment for the long run.
Frequently Asked Treadmill Questions
How difficult is it to assemble a home treadmill?
Most treadmill assembly takes 1-2 hours with 1-2 people. Follow instructions carefully. unfold slowly to avoid pinched wires. Test all functions before intensive use.
Where should I place my treadmill at home?
Allow at least 2 feet clearance on all sides for access and emergency dismount. Place on a flat, non-slippery surface. Avoid plush carpeting.
What treadmill speed should a beginner start at?
Start at 2-3 MPH walking pace during first workouts. Increase speed by no more than 0.5 MPH each session as your body adapts. Don’t start at top speeds.
What causes a burning smell from my new treadmill?
This is normal during first several uses as lubricants and adhesives cure. Run at low speeds only during break-in period per manual. Contact tech support if smell persists.
How can I avoid injury when running on a treadmill?
Maintain proper form – upright posture, midfoot striking, bent arm pump. Start slow and increase duration/speed gradually over 4+ weeks. Take 1-2 rest days per week.
Why does the belt slip or hesitate sometimes?
Belt may need lubricating or tensioning. Check manual. Or debris may be stuck – gently lift belt edge and clean deck. Avoid over-tensioning belt.
Should I hold the handlebars or rails while running?
Lightly holding rails is fine when needed for stability as a beginner but don’t rely on arms to support body weight during normal running.
We hope this guide has provided the information you need to find the ideal treadmill for your training needs. With your new home gym setup, you’ll enjoy the benefits of cardio exercise year-round, regardless of weather.
Remember to start slow and gradually increase duration and intensity. Be sure to maintain proper form to enhance performance gains and avoid injury. Consistency is key.
Here’s to achieving your fitness goals with your new favorite piece of equipment! Enjoy the run!