How to Purchase a Home Treadmill

Looking to buy a Home Treadmill but not sure what to look for ?

Here are a few tips to help you out :

Type and Size of Treadmill - If you are looking for a treadmill for your home, you will first need to decide where you are going to put it. Obviously it will need to be near a 110V outlet, but you will also need to decide in which room you will use it in and how much space you have in the room . You would want to place your treadmill in a pleasant area near a window or a TV, you are going to be spending a lot of time in that spot. This is where you need to decide if you want to go with a fold up or non fold up. The advantage of a fold up is that you can store it out of the way when you are not using it. This is especially nice if it is in a small room. At one time fold ups were very shaky and made a lot of noise but the manufactures have done a great job of fixing that problem. If you do decide to go with a fold up be sure it has a soft drop system to assist bringing it down for you. If you are worried about the kids, the deck will lock itself once it is in the fold up position.

Non Folding (NF) treadmills are a lot studier and if you like to mostly run this would be the way to go as long as you have the space. If you like a lot of room to run, NF treadmills normally come with the longest running belts up to 60". Have you ever heard of the old saying "Out of site out of mind", well people that own fold up treadmills have told me they forget about it sometime because it is out of the way.


Motor - Horsepower (HP) is the hot button for buyers, so manufactures tend to use this as a selling tool. Some manufactures are more honest than others, there are 2 ways to measure HP

  1. Peak HP - Which means the amount of HP used to get the treadmill going. This is only for a short period of time.

  2. Continuous HP - This is the amount of HP used once you got the belt going to the speed you want it at. This is about half the HP of peak.

Your cheaper brands do not wantt to advertise that their treadmill has 0.5 HP, so they tell you the peak HP instead. You think that you are buying a 2.5 or 3.0 HP treadmill and you are not. I have seen people fall off a treadmill because the motor could not hold their weight and stopped then snapped forward once the motor got its momentum back throwing the person off.

Like I said, HP is a hot button but there is more to know about a motor. Not all 2.0, 2.5, 3.0HP motors are the same. The size and RPM's of the motor is more important then HP. Lets compare 2.5 HP motors. Your cheaper brand motors are the size of a Campbell's Soup can and your better treadmill motors are a lot larger, normally 4 to 5 times larger. Also the cheaper brands spin at 7000 to 9000 RPMs to produce that 2.5 HP. This is why they are so noisy and run a lot hotter which causes your motor and electronics to burn out. Commercial treadmills spin at about 3500 RPMs and your better home treadmills like Spirit Fitness and Bodycraft spin at about 4000 to 5000 RPMs and the motors are the size of paint cans. This is why they can offer up to a 30 year warranty on a motor, they don't burn out. A good way to test the motor is to run the treadmill to about 3 mph and put your foot on it to see how easy it is to stop the belt. Be Careful !!

Belts - Most belts are either 1 Ply, 1.5 Ply, or 2 Ply. I have heard of 4 Ply but they are counting the glue in between the layers, so don't fall for that. Remember you get what you pay for so the 1 ply belt on the BodyCraft TR1120 is probably a better belt then the 2 ply ProForm belt. A great option for treadmill belts is an orthopedic belt which is a lot softer and easier on your knees and lower back. Standard on the BodyCraft TR1160 and higher models.

Belt Size - Belts come in various widths and lengths, which size to get is a personal choice. Room size, type of work out (running or walking), and user size are all things to consider. I would not go any less than 17" x 48"

Decks - This is a very underestimated feature to consider. A deck is the piece of wood that is under the belt and is just as important to get a good deck as it is a motor.

  1. Decks come in different thickness .5", 3/4" or 1" I would not get any less than a 3/4" deck and if you plan to do a lot of running I would go for the 1" deck. When you are running on a treadmill you are putting four times your weight down on the deck every time you plant your foot

  2. Deck Coating - Your better treadmill decks are impregnated with a layer of polyurethane wax. The wax helps to reduce friction between the deck and the moving belt. This is extremely important for 2 reasons A. It keeps the belt moving freely along the belt giving the user a smooth ride. B. Friction between the deck and belt means that your motor and electronics are going to heat up and you are going to start having problems within a few months. I can't say it enough, you get what you pay for. Both Spirit and BodyCraft use the best wax and under normal use it should last 3 to 5 years before you need to wax your deck yourself.

  3. Flex Decks - As you are running, or even walking, on your treadmill you are shocking your knees and lower back with every step. Treadmill manufacturers spend a lot of time and money to lower this shock. Your cheaper treadmills use the thinnest deck possible and call it a flex deck. What is actually happening is each time you place your foot on the deck the deck bends inward to absorb the shock. The problem is that once you take your foot off the deck again the deck recoils back like a tennis ball putting more shock on your knees and lower back then you started with. The trick is to have the deck absorb the shock without recoil. This is done by using high tech rubber under the deck that does just that. This is found in your more expensive treadmills and is worth the extra money.

Roller Size: The running belt is turned by a front and rear roller which are connected to the motor by a belt. The size of these rollers is very important. The smaller the diameter of the roller the more turns it takes to go the same distance. The more turns on the roller the harder your motor is working since the rollers are connected to the motor. Also with a larger roller you are saving your belt and wax because they turns less.

Some rollers are called "Crowned Rollers" because they are tapered on the end to keep the belt in alignment.

Display Boards:

There are basically 3 types of screens LCD , LED, and Dot Matrix in this order of ranking. Your treadmills under $1,500 tend to come with LCD which is not bad but will fade after a few years making it hard to see. The LED lights last much longer and are a lot easier to see, and the Dot Matrix are LED lights that scroll and come in different colors to provide you with more information.

Number of Windows - This is something that a first time buyer normally doesn't think about, but there is a lot of information you need or would like to have. Speed, Distance, Time and Elevation are the norm but Calories Burned, Heart Rate, and Program Info is important to know also. The less expensive treadmills will give you some or even all of this information but all cramped into a few windows which you have to press a button to alternate the information. Try to purchase a treadmill that gives you at least 4 windows for the most information at a glance.

Buttons - Test the buttons be sure that they work properly and have a good feel to them. Repeatedly press on them to see how they work.

Features and Programs:

The 2 biggest features are the speed and incline. You should a least purchase a treadmill that will go 10 MPH and if you are a serious runner 12 mph. The incline should go up to 10% and for the more advanced user 12%

Another great feature to have is Heart Rate. This can get a little confusing there are 2 types of heart rate features basic Heart Rate (HR) which only lets you know your heart rate and Heart Rate Control (HRC) which also tells you your HR but the treadmill will make incline or speed adjustments on it's own, to maintain a predetermined heart rate zone . There is a Fat burning zone and a Cardio zone. It is like having a personal trainer standing next to you. The treadmill can get your HR 2 ways , By wearing a telemetry HR rate belt that picks up your HR and sends it to the treadmill by a radio signal or placing your hands on the HR sensors located on the treadmill.

Some other nice features that you might like are fans, built in speakers for Ipods and Mp3 players, TV screens (over kill), or color displays.

I am saving programs for last because I feel they are the least important. People have them and never use them. Most people just use manual. If you were to use a program random is the best because you never know what is coming up and your body does not get used to a certain program. Read " If you Love your Work Out it May be Time to change it" for more on this.

Treadmills are still the leading cardio machine sold. They are very easy to use and burn a high rate of calories . People that do a treadmill workout tend to stay with there program the longest. More than any other type of machine.

From - The American Council of Exercise

Click here for a great selection of Home Treadmills offered by Fitness 909

Good Luck

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