The weather and the dark don’t have to stop you from getting your regular running fix.
With the advent of home treadmills you can merrily continue your training in the comfort of you own house.
However, before I let you know which home treadmills I recommend, I thought it would be sensible to cover the things you should looking out for when choosing the best one for you.
The Specifications That Will Help You Decide What is the Best Treadmill For You
This is not only a practical thing to check, it is also something that will indicate the quality of the treadmill.
You will find that commercial gym treadmills will have a maximum weight of around 180kg.
When it comes to home treadmills, you’ll be looking at a limit a lot less than this.
However, in general terms, the higher the weight limit, the better.
Obviously you are looking for a weight limit that is greater than your weight, but there is more to it than just that.
With the models that can take the higher weights, the treadmill will be made with a robust frame, belt and motor.
So, as rule of thumb, the higher the weight limit, the better made the treadmill will be and the longer it will last.
Size of the Motor
The size of the motor on your treadmill is an essential piece of information to understand.
Of course what you need the treadmill for is going to play a big part in your decision.
The higher the power of a model, the quicker it will go comfortably. This means there is less chance of your wearing the motor out if you are doing serious sprints.
A less obvious benefit of a larger motor is that due to not working as hard, it will be quieter. This could be an important consideration if you are running in a house you share with others.
Obviously, if you only plan to do the occasional gentle jog on your treadmill, there is less advantage of getting one with a huge motor.
Again this is one of those specifications that is both personal, i.e. how quick are you going to want to run on the treadmill…
…and it is also an indicator of quality.
The higher the speed of the treadmill, in general terms, the higher the quality.
As a guide, to run 9 min/mile (5:35 min/km) pace, your speed would be 6.6 miles (11.21 km) per hour.
One word of warning, don’t just get a speed that will cater for your current running pace.
Firstly, you will probably want to do the odd sprint, and secondly, in the longer term your pace will increase if you are running regularly.
It is therefore a good idea to ‘future proof’ when it comes to the maximum speed of your treadmill.
Of course you have to balance this with the fact that the higher the speed limit on the treadmill, the better it is and therefore the more you will have to pay for it.
In the real world you won’t always be running on a flat surface.
In addition, it is well known that running up an incline can have great benefits when it comes to your training.
So with these things in mind, the best treadmills will come with the ability to add an incline to your runs.
A key part of any treadmill is going to be the size of the area that you have to run on.
If this is too small (either length or width) you will find it will impact your ability to run normally and safely.
For the average size runner, dimensions of 46 cm x 126 cm is probably as low as you would want to go.
Below this, there is the chance you are going to have to reduce your stride to run safely.
If you are taller than average, you will want to be looking for at least 137 cm to allow your natural stride.
Of course if you are looking to take up minimal room in your house, obviously the smaller the surface area the better.
As with most things it is up to you what your priorities are and you will find that most things are a compromise in one way or another.
We all know that running can put a strain on your body, and this is why some runners like treadmill running.
The less impact your body suffers whilst running, the more running you can safely do.
All treadmills will have some kind of ‘shock absorption’ built in.
It therefore makes a lot of sense to pay attention to what the manufacturer has to say about a treadmill’s shock absorption capabilities.
The Control Centre
The best treadmills will come with some sort of console.
This is where you can both control your run and monitor the various aspects of your run (speed, distance run, time elapsed etc).
These consoles range from giving you the very basics, up to the ability to choose complex programmes.
Some will even provide virtual versions of real routes and interaction with other runners.
Of course, the amount of technology incorporated within the console is usually directly proportional to the cost.
For this reason it is a good idea to think carefully about what you want and need.
Many of the clever novelty features might sound good, but when it comes down to it, will you ever use it?
Heart Rate Monitoring
As I’ve mentioned before, your heart rate can be extremely useful when it comes to effective training.
If you don’t already own a watch with a heart rate monitor, it is something that might consider when deciding which is the best treadmill for you.
Keeping Yourself Safe
The topic of health and safety isn’t the most riveting topic for a lot of people.
However, with something as potential dangerous as a treadmill, you do need to give it some thought.
The treadmills I’ve recommended below, all include various features to ensure you will be as safe as you can be using them in your home.
Several H&S features to look out for are:
Handrails – With handrails, you have something to grab onto if you feel yourself losing your footing.
There is nothing worse than a treadmill faceplant!
They are also extremely useful to get you out of trouble if you have overdone it with the speed of the belt.
All you need to do is use the side rails to pick yourself off the belt to save yourself shooting off the end.
One word of warning though. It is doubly important you get a treadmill that is wide enough if you have handrails.
The last thing you want is for the handrails to get in the way of your arms.
Auto or Quick Stop Feature – It is possible that you could get into trouble when on your treadmill.
Therefore it is very important you have a quick way of bringing the belt to a halt.
This can be either a big button you can hit to manually stop it, or some sort of autostop link.
This is where you have a cable that connects you, usually via a clip on your clothing, to the treadmill.If you then suddenly get thrown backwards or sidewards, the cable is pulled out of the treadmill causing it to stop.
Nice to Haves
In addition to the various ‘important’ features I have mentioned above, many treadmills will have their own added extras.
Things like bluetooth connectivity, cup holders, media capabilities, etc could be something that helps make your time on the treadmill more enjoyable.
And as we know, anything that increases your enjoyment of something will encourage you to do it more.
So as much as these extras are not key to getting the most out of you treadmill, they could be the difference between choosing one model or another.
OK, now I’ve given you and idea of the elements to look out for, lets have a look at the top rated treadmills that are recommended for the home.
As I appreciate budget is a consideration for most of us, I have split the treadmill recommendations into ‘BUDGET <£500’, ‘INTERMEDIATE £500-£1500’, and ‘SERIOUS £1500>’.
As with most things in life, the more you have to spend, the better the treadmill you can buy, whether that be in terms of quality and/or technology.
The best approach is to think how much you will be using your treadmill.
The more you will be using it and the quicker you will want to go; the higher you should consider investing.
In the long term you will be glad you did.
And after all, just think how much a gym membership costs each month!
Ideal for walking, power walking and occasional light running.
- Rated Power: 1.5HP 1100W
- Speed: 0.8 – 12 KM/H (0.5 – 7.5 MPH)
- Maximum User Weight: 110kg
- Setup size: L140*W60*H109cm
- Folded size: H124cm*L75*W60cm
- Package size: 144*67*24cm
- Product weight: 29kg; Gross weight: 34kg
- Rated Power: 4.5HP
- Speed: 0.3km/h – 16km/h
- Maximum User Weight: 120kg
- Setup size: L158*W70*H128cm
- Folded size: L100cm*W70cm*H141cm
- Product weight: 70kg
- Rated Power: 300WHP
- Speed: 1km/h – 10km/h
- Maximum User Weight: 100kg
- Setup size: L125*W60*H123cm
- Folded size: L55cm*W60cm*H123cm
- Product weight: 32kg
INTERMEDIATE Recommended Treadmills For Home Use
For the regular runner who want a few more features.
- Rated Power: 6.5 HP
- Speed: Up to 21km/h
- Maximum User Weight: 160kg
- Setup size: L190*W80*H132cm
- Folded size: L189cm*W85cm*H44cm
- Product weight: 90kg
- Rated Power: 2 HP
- Speed: Up to 16km/h
- Maximum User Weight: 110kg
- Setup size: L160*W75*H122cm
- Folded size: L160cm*W75cm*H21cm
- Product weight: 62.5kg
- Rated Power: 3.5 HP
- Speed: Up to 17km/h
- Maximum User Weight: 130kg
- Setup size: L165*W86*H132cm
- Folded size: L165cm*W73cm*H115cm
- Product weight: 77.1kg
These are for the serious runner who will be doing intense training sessions. The increased quality will mean that the treadmill is going to be around for a long time.
- Rated Power: 3.5 HP
- Speed: Up to 20km/h
- Maximum User Weight: 200kg
- Setup size: L165*W86*H132cm
- Folded size: L137cm*W102cm*H157cm
- Product weight: 140kg