Choose the Best Treadmill for Home Gym
Treadmills are one of the most often used cardio workout equipment found in practically every commercial or home gym.
They are not the cheapest piece of the equipment, but they have many great characteristics, and one of them being is that they actually - work! Using treadmill regularly can help burn extra calories, lose unwanted fat, increase strength and stamina and generally feel and look better.
When you decide to buy a treadmill for your home gym, there are many things to consider like motor strength and drive system, type of console, size of a running track, treadmill weight and dimensions, warranty etc. but also personal preferences of future trainee, their number, available space, budget etc.
Home Treadmill Price
A good manual walking home treadmill can be found for less than $100, while good running treadmill, with spacious running deck, with automatic incline and decline deck positioning, good maximum user weight limit, many built-in and custom programs, integrated Google maps, wireless heart rate monitoring etc. can cost thousands of dollars.
Such expensive treadmills are big, sturdy, come with warranties lasting for years or even with lifetime warranty on some parts (construction for example) and similar, but don't forget that it is the trainee who does all the work, not the treadmill or any other piece of home gym equipment.
Size and Dimensions of Home Treadmill
Commercial treadmills are, in most cases, not foldable. They are designed for constant use, on the permanent position.
On the other hand, home treadmills are usually of foldable design. There are basically two type of foldable treadmills:
- after the use, running/walking deck is lifted toward the console. In most cases, such treadmills are positioned on permanent location, and due to lifted deck, they require less space when not in use.
- after the use, console is lowered down toward the running deck. Total height of such folded treadmill is around 8-12 inches, sometimes even less, enabling such treadmills to slide under the bed, for example.
In both cases, treadmills have transport wheels for positioning around the home, when required. Due to the weight and physical size of larger treadmills, they should be positioned on permanent location and moved only when really required.
Running or walking deck size varies. Most walking treadmills have deck width in range around 16 and 20 inches, and deck length around 54 and 60 inches. Such treadmills are large enough for walking even for larger people.
However, if you need running treadmill, 20 inches wide and 60 inches long deck should be minimum deck size of a good running treadmill. Since such treadmills can be quite costly, many people choose smaller treadmills with deck size of 18x56 inches, for example, and find them more than good enough.
Maximum allowed user weight of home treadmills varies from 200 to 400 pounds (~90 - 180 kg). Treadmills for really heavy and overweight people are commonly built as walking treadmills with maximum belt speed in the range of 4-5 mph (7-8 km/h) and have many built in features, like heart rate sensors and programs. Faster belt speeds for such heavy people are, after all, not required, since they first have to lower their weight and increase strength and stamina, and only them to try some running - all of this is, of course, done under doctor's supervision.
Treadmill Cushioning System
Treadmill cushioning system protect joints of the walker or runner, by absorbing the energy of impacts of foot landing on the running deck.
Good cushioning system is important both for people having issues with their joints (ankles, knees, hips etc.) and for people wanting to keep their joints healthy. Also, good running shoes and running technique are very important for keeping the joints healthy.
Treadmill Electric Motor Power
Generally, good walking treadmills have 1.5 - 2 CHP electric motors, while good running treadmill have 2.5 - 4.0 (or even more) CHP electric motors. 'HP' stands for 'Horse Power', of course, while 'C' stands for 'Continuous' and this 'C' is very important.
Why? Well, CHP stands for 'Continuous Horse Power' - that is continuous power provided by motor for a long time. So, if you decide to walk or run for hours, you can rely on your CHP motor that it will do it flawlessly, without overheating. And heat kills electric motors and other electric equipment with ease.
Noise levels of a treadmill depend on the motor strength, but mostly on the treadmill design. Stronger motors are not necessarily noisier. When pushed to the limit, smaller and weaker motors will be under larger relative load than stronger motors. Also, heavier and more sturdier units will hardly squeak or produce any similar sound during slow speeds.
Hence, if you looking for room treadmill that is going to be used early in the morning, be very careful regarding noise levels. On the other hand, if you plan to buy treadmill for dedicated home gym (in the basement), maximum noise levels are important too, but not that much.
LCD/LED Treadmill Console
Treadmill console is vital part of any home or commercial treadmill. It usually has one, sometimes two screens for displaying all relevant information to the trainee like used program, intensity, incline, heart rate, covered distance and similar.
Most treadmills have several built-in workout programs for various purposes and options for custom programs. Console controls enable the user to choose the program, speed/intensity, incline and other options for best possible running or walking workout.
Treadmills with automatic incline or decline systems change incline level depending on the used program, but also according to the current needs of the user - additional incline and speed controls are usually right in the front of the user and are easy to hit/press even when running.
Other safety features include safety pin, long enough handles, heart rate sensor (wireless or wired) and user sensor - if the user falls off the treadmill, treadmill automatically stops. Note that not all treadmills have all the features.
Other features not always found on every treadmill include:
- Built in fan or fans keep the trainee cooler and thus postpone fatigue due to excess sweating. Of course, keeping the gym temperature at appropriate level is much more important.
- Water bottle holder enables the trainee to have the water bottle right next to him/her and to hydrate him/herself whenever required, without stopping the exercise.
- Sound system is very important for keeping the boredom away. Sound system is based on one or more speakers and can have inputs via USB port, via wireless or similar.
- Charging stations - some treadmills can be used for charging smartphones and similar devices. While you run or walk on the treadmill, your device is being charged. Of course, main reason for charging stations is avoiding such smartphones and other devices being discharged while in use during exercises, and additional charging is just a nice bonus :)
Of course, there are many other features that can be found on modern treadmills. Some of them just increase the price and complexity of the units, while others really improve workouts and can be quite useful.
Warranty conditions – note that warranty conditions are not the same for the whole unit. For example, frame can have lifetime warranty, while warranties for motor, electronics, parts, and labor can differ significantly.
Depending on your budget, before buying consider purchasing 'protection plan' for treadmills, but also for other similar units. Such plan may include maintenance, common parts replacement, labor and similar. It increases the initial costs, but in the long run, it can save you money and time.