Running At Home

The 9 Best Treadmills for Every Space and Every Experience Level


April 3, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Chase Pellerin

This guide to the best treadmills of 2018 covers everything from entry-level, all the way up to bucket-list machines.

Table of Contents
Introduction
Tips From An Expert
Entry-Level

  • Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill
  • ProForm 505 CST
  • Sole Fitness F63

Mid-Tier

  • NordicTrack Commercial 1750
  • Life Fitness T3 Treadmill
  • Precor TRM 835

High-End

  • Woodway Mercury
  • Peloton Tread
  • Technogym SkillRun

Introduction

Every home gym starts with a great treadmill. It’s an easy tool to use all the time — whether you plan to walk, run, or both. Depending on the type of treadmill, it can act as a coach of sorts. Programming on the machines has come a long way, and while you might still want to have a TV show streaming or music blasting, at the very least, these machines will provide a little variety into your routine.

Buying a treadmill is an expensive investment that you will need to replace in the long run — it’s not going to last your entire lifetime, especially if there’s more than one runner in the family. Maybe you’re not quite ready to splurge on the top of the line, but want something at an entry-level price point that will give you a taste of what owning a treadmill is like.

This guide offers three entry-level picks, three mid-tier and three to swoon over. Many variables come into play with the purchase of a treadmill — How much space do you have? Will you walk or mostly run on the treadmill? How much weight are you putting on the treadmill? Are you over 6’4″? — We’re making recommendations within the following parameters: you’re running a lot and you have space for a machine.

Tips From An Expert

We spoke with Josh Fly, senior fitness director and master personal trainer at Chelsea Piers, who recently ran 50 miles for charity on the treadmill, about how he picks a treadmill for clients, and himself. One thing to keep in mind, Fly says, is that “in order to mimic running on a trail, path, or race course it’s helpful and necessary to make subtle changes to the incline up and (down and the speeds) so as to replicate the random undulations you’ll encounter in the real world.” Your body adjusts without mentally recognizing it. So when you hop on the treadmill, make sure to change the elevation every so often.

Buying Guide

Entry-Level

  • Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill
  • ProForm 505 CST
  • Sole Fitness F63

Mid-Tier

  • NordicTrack Commercial 1750
  • Life Fitness T3 Treadmill
  • Precor TRM 835

High-End

  • Woodway Mercury
  • Peloton Tread
  • Technogym SkillRun

Entry-Level

Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill

For such a low-budget treadmill, the shock absorption is top-notch. Run at speeds as high as 12.5mph, while testing 24 different workout programs. There are 15 incline levels and a digital monitor screen with all the stats you want to see – distance, time, speed, calories, pulse, incline and BMI.

ProForm 505 CST

With 18-workout apps and a sound system that syncs up with your phone, this sub-$1000 treadmill is a smart place to start. The incline goes up to 10%, and it holds a max weight of 325-pounds up to 10 miles per hour.

Sole Fitness F63

With just six standard, two custom and two heart-rate specific programs, this is one of the more basic models offered that’s still high-performing and squeaks in under $1,000. The belt folds up, so it doesn’t take up too much space in your home gym (it also makes it great for small apartments), and it holds up to 325-pounds. Run up to 12 MPH at inclines of 15% – and you can connect a chest-mounted heart rate monitor.

Mid-Tier

NordicTrack Commercial 1750

The 60-inch belt is great for those over six feet, and it’s two-ply, making it thicker and thus quieter than typical at-home treads. The 7-inch touchscreen is the real winner here with one-touch controls to join LiveCast Workouts (prerecorded studio workouts with trainers directly streamed to the tread) and two workout fans to cool you down for when you’re pushing it. It comes with a chest-mounted heart rate monitor, so you can wirelessly keep track of how hard you’re working. While the belt here is thicker than most entry-level treadmills, one more bump up would be the 2950 from NordicTrack that lets you customize the surface you run on to feel more like a track or a road.

Life Fitness T3 Treadmill

If you’re used to the Life Fitness machines many gyms offer (like Equinox, Blink and Chelsea Piers) you’ll likely enjoy another model under the Life Fitness arm. The next best thing for home use (you can’t get the in-gym model) is the T3 Treadmill, which surprisingly gives you slightly more shock absorption than a high-end Woodway treadmill — simply because of the nature of a belt over slats. It comes with a middle-of-the-road sized monitor filled with 13 workout programs in a range of speeds (up to 12 mph) and inclines (up to 15%).

Precor TRM 835

Similar to the commercial grade TRM 932i found at Crunch gyms across the country, this simple, yet durable treadmill is a step up from a fold-away. To control the speed and incline, merely push the dial away from you, and to slow down, tap the gear down. It’s not a touch-screen, but it’s easy to adjust quickly without having to punch in numbers and wait. The arms are a touch longer than some of the entry-level treadmills, so if you like to walk at an incline, or need to hop on and hop off during speed changes, it’s a breeze to grab them. Hit speeds of 15mph at max inclines of 15% – tough enough to exhaust any runner.

Splurge

Woodway Mercury

A version of these treadmills can be found in Barry’s Bootcamps across the country as well as at the indoor running class, Mile High Run Club in New York City. It’s much quieter than the typical treads found on many of the other machines here. While the model found in gyms offers more of a display, this one has easy-to-use speed, elevation and stop controls front and center, plus two water bottle holders. There’s no screen, so you’ll have to entertain yourself, but you’re paying for a higher quality treadmill that will last a lifetime (there’s no belt that needs tightening, aligning or lubricating).

Peloton Tread

Technically, this treadmill isn’t for sale yet, but pre-sale is happening now, and it’s the flashiest machine we tested. We had a preview of what it’s going to look and feel like, and the test run proved the machine is intuitive, feels good and is high-tech with the capability to live-stream workouts both on and off the treadmill. While this treadmill won’t work for someone in a tiny apartment, it will work in a home gym.

Technogym SkillRun

This machine is a one-stop-shop training machine. Used by Olympic athletes (Technogym has been the official supplier of fitness equipment dating back to the Sydney 2000 Games), this machine will provide you with some tough workouts. Hook yourself up to the back of the belt and work on your speed with training that mimics the feeling of running with a parachute on your back. Power up the resistance on the belt and practice explosive power with sled pushes. Run up to 18.6mph and toggle the incline from -3% to 25%. The variety of routines and workouts built-into the treadmill prevent all boredom and sync up quickly to the Mywellness app so you never lose training day stats.

Entry-Level

  • Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill
  • ProForm 505 CST
  • Sole Fitness F63

Mid-Tier

  • NordicTrack Commercial 1750
  • Life Fitness T3 Treadmill
  • Precor TRM 835

High-End

  • Woodway Mercury
  • Peloton Tread
  • Technogym SkillRun

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