Treadmill Buyers Guide

purchasing a treadmill

Exactly what makes a good treadmill? Is it the features? Comfort? Durability? How much money to spend?

After reading Building Muscle 101's treadmill buyers guide, you should have a pretty good idea of what to look for in an effective treadmill.

When buying a treadmill, take your time, call the dealers, and try out the equipment before making any purchases. Make sure you find what your looking for.

If you're thinking of buying a cheap treadmill, remember the saying, “you get what you pay for”. A lot of cheap treadmills have flimsy frames and sticky threads. Stay away from these treadmills. See a specialized dealer and use their knowledge to make an informed choice.

Treadmills can be quite expensive so make sure you make an informed choice when it comes to buying a treadmill. I would suggest you stay away from infomercial type treadmills because these types of treadmills are not built with the exerciser in mind.

I'd like to go over some of the in's and out's of what to look for in an effective treadmill. I think it's very important that you understand what you are buying and to get the best treadmill for your needs for the right price.

Make sure the treadmill you choose has the following attributes:

Treadmill motor

On your treadmill, You will want a motor that moves the walking belt. The belt should move smoothly. Ensure that the treadmill has at least 1.5 continous horse power. You want to make sure that the motor sustains the amount of walking or running you may do on it. You’ll know if the motor is powerful enough if it operates smoothly while walking or running on it.

Does it matter what size of motor the treadmill uses? Yes, larger motors tend to run a little cooler and don't break down as much.

You will also want to ensure that the belt moves consistently at your speed setting without it slipping or sliding off centre.

Deck size

You will want to ensure that the deck has sufficient space to accommodate all potential exercisers in your family. Remember, you need a large enough deck which allows you ample room to walk or jog.

You will also want to make sure the deck is shock absorbent. By using a shock absorbant deck, you will reduce the amount of impact to your joints. The deck is also dependent on how large you are. If you are a big person, make sure the deck is capable of handling your weight, has enough room, and is very shock absorbant.

Treadmill frame

Ensure that the treadmill is sturdy enough to support all potential exercisers in your household. Consider your goals and the goals of other exercisers in your home before you start your search. It's important to consider who else might be using the treadmill before making your purchase.

The treadmill frame should be solid. Make sure the frame is either made of solid steel or aluminum. Of course the aluminum frames will cost a little more.

Treadmill belt

Ensure that the treadmill belt is large enough to match your fitness needs. The more running you plan on doing, the larger the belt will need to be.

Display/control panel

If you can afford it, consider a model with a display/control panel that offers various pre-programmed courses and provides feedback such as how many calories you’ve burned and how long you've been on the treadmill. This way you never get bored of the programs and you know exactly how many calories you've burned.

A quality treadmill should display the time, distance, speed, and calories burned. Ensure that the display console is easy to understand. What good is a console if you can’t understand it?

Heart rate monitor

Heart rate monitors are great to have. Most treadmills include some type of electronic heart rate monitor that enables the exerciser to tell whether or not he/she is exercising within their target fitness zone. This way you don't have to stop and manually do it.

A word of caution, most ear clip monitors have about a 40% error rate. Chest strap monitors on the other hand are more accurate. A great feature. You can usually pick up an accurate polar A1 monitor for $50

Incline capability

Uphill walking/running adds more intensity to your workouts. Beware of cheap models that use hydraulic pistons to incline. These models tend to break with you running because they can't support your body weight

High quality treadmills will offer an automatic incline, which changes depending on the users heart rate. Generally speaking, the higher the incline, the more expensive the treadmill.

Emergency stop

Always use a treadmill that have emergency stop buttons and an automatic slow start speed.

Authorized specialty fitness retailer

Your shopping should start with an authorized specialty fitness retailer. These dealers should specialize in the product you want to purchase, in this case treadmills.

Chances are, these dealers will likely have a more educated staff, and higher quality equipment.


Make sure the treadmill you choose has a warranty. Look for a treadmill with at least a one year warranty. I'll be very honest with you, products with weak warranties usually indicate a weak product. By that, I mean that companies who beleive in their producs will have strong warranties with more transparency. If you see a product that has a weak warranty with scant information about returns and possible shipping and stocking fees, you may want to stay clear.

Some cheaper companies will offer a 90 day warranty. This is pretty weak and indicates a weak product. However, if the product is under $500, it may or may not be worth it. However, some of these companies will offer "extended warranties" which will give you up to 3 to 5 year more coverage. Remember this, the extended warranty price should never be anymore than 20% of the asking price of the product. It's just not worth it. Always read the fine print and look for line items such as:

- Extended warranties - strong products won't offer these kinds of warranties because they are strong products;

- Shipping costs - weak companies will make you, the buyer pay for the shipping costs of their defective equipment. Stay away.

- Restocking fees - I hate this one. Some companies have the nerve to make you pay up to 20% of the purchase price of the product and call it restocking fees. It's their defective equipment so why should you pay for it? Stay away from these companies.

Please, always ask or read about the warranties because they say a lot about a company and it's product. The company should have at least a 5 to 10 years on the frame, and 1 year on labour, parts, and electronics.

Good luck,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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