The Best Treadmill for Home Use
The best treadmill for home use is substantial enough to offer a smooth and steady ride without taking up your entire living room. We brought in nine different treadmills that met our standards for power, tech, and reliability, and tested the user experience of each. In the end, we found a model for walkers and a model for runners that pack a lot of quality into a manageable footprint.
How We Chose the Best Treadmills for Home Use
Top features, packaged for your home
Working out from home shouldn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your exercise. Our favorite home-use treadmills offer the same solid construction and fitness programming as their gym-use siblings, but in a more affordable, maneuverable package. To find the best treadmills for home, we consulted online guides like Consumer Reports, Treadmill Reviews, and Runner’s World in search of quality machines that were durable, powerful, and easy to use. Before deciding which models deserved to be brought in for personal testing, we developed a set of criteria to guide our selections and accommodate the needs of both walkers and runners. You can find further details of our search and our testing process over in our review of the Best Treadmill.
If you aren’t able to dedicate a whole room to home fitness, you’re probably in the market for something that can wedge between couches while in use and slide into a closet when it’s not. We liked treadmills that fold with the help of hydraulics and come with wheels for easy maneuvering.
Helpful tech features
While working out from home cancels out a lot of excuses, boredom can become its own stumbling block. This is where programming and entertainment come in. A virtual personal trainer and simulated trail running may not be at the top of your must-have list, but we appreciated machines that help stave off treadmill fatigue. WiFi connectivity and downloadable workouts do wonders.
Roomy running deck
For most users, a 55-by-20-inch belt surface area allows for easy, uninhibited strides. If walking is your main form of exercise, you probably won’t ever need more. If you primarily run, or have extremely long legs, you may find a few more inches of length can do a lot to free your movements — around 60 by 20 inches. Clipping your strides means losing out on the muscle-toning benefit of stretching your legs out.
Continuous horsepower (CHP) is the motor power measurement to look for. Some treadmill manufacturers skew the numbers by reporting peak capabilities — the max horsepower a treadmill can exert for a limited amount of time. You want to know the level of energy it can sustain for the long haul. If you think of your treadmill as your workout partner, it should be able to match you stride for stride, no matter how long you go. Here’s an easy guide:
- Walking: 2 CHP
- Jogging: 2.5 CHP
- Running: 3 CHP
Warranty of 10 years or more on frame and motor
Treadmill owners tend to experience problems after a year of use. The companies that sell super-cheap treadmills with warranties of 30 or 60 days will be long out of the picture when the belt splits and the motor starts smoking after 12 months. When issues arise and parts need replacing, you’ll be grateful that you purchased from a company that sticks around to see how its products age.
Of course, we couldn’t recommend a treadmill without getting our feet on it. We brought in nine highly rated treadmills that mapped onto our criteria for power and programming, and explored a few major themes: the comfort of the run, ease of controllability, programming features, and overall ergonomics. Our favorites were intuitive and ergonomic, with solid construction and useful features that motivated us to press on when the workout got tough.
The 2 Best Treadmills for Home Use
Strong and solid
Limited without iFit
Why we chose it
Strong and solid
If you’re looking to get in brisk walks or light jogs at home, we recommend the ProForm 505 CST. The ProForm 505 CST was our no. 1 walking pick in our overall Best Treadmill review thanks to its supportive deck and spacious feel. With 2.5 CHP and a lofty max weight of 325 lbs, the ProForm is a durable choice for walkers and light joggers thanks to a strong motor and heavy-duty build that allows you to press into max speeds and inclines without shaking. We appreciated that the console, handles, and deck felt solid even when we pumped up the speed and raised the incline.
Most treadmills in the sub-$800 price bucket are practically identical; the ProForm 505 CST’s sleek design is refreshingly unique. And despite the ProForm’s lower price tag, its programming and connectivity are on par with plenty of luxury picks. The intuitive, sleekly designed console made it easy to change settings mid-workout. Horizontally placed controls allow you to reach forward the same amount whether you’re hitting the key for 3 mph or 10 mph. Beneath ProForm’s design innovations, its workout programs and functionality are essentially the same as its peers, but we found that design alone improved our workout experience.
Points to consider
Limited without iFit
Another offshoot of elevated design: more reliance on high-tech features. While you would be hard-pressed to find a new treadmill that didn’t have the ability to connect to an app, some rely on app control more than others. We found that prior to syncing with iFit, the 505 CST made it hard to access the programming and workout stats we wanted. It also has about half as many pre-programmed workouts as the average machine. This may make for a tougher learning curve when it comes to mastering the 505 CST. But whether or not you opt into all the extra iFit features this model offers, you can enjoy its substantial build and contemporary style. Overall, the ProForm 505 CST is an incredible value for its price.
Comfortable running surface
Why we chose it
Comfortable running surface
Do you log longer miles at faster speeds? NordicTrack C 990 is great for runners who need a little more out of their treadmill motor and a little more support from the belt. Your running will benefit from the C 990’s excellent cushioning, which testers rated as more supportive and comfortable than the other running treadmills we brought in. We preferred a softer running surface, which is how the C 990 is set on arrival, but know that, like for most treadmills, you can adjust its cushioning density to match your preferences. Rule of thumb: The longer and faster you run, the more solid a surface you’ll want.
Visually, the C 990’s console represents a happy medium between a classic treadmill and the ProForm: It’s simple and straightforward enough that you never wonder what any button is going to do, and sleek enough to look like a freshly issued model. Of all the treadmills we tested, the NordicTrack C 990 got us from powering on to running personalized training programs the quickest. The small, sharp touchscreen helps: It consolidates programming and adjustments, and opens up a ton of entertainment options. And while the ProForm 505 CST’s high-tech capabilities can only be accessed after syncing up with your smartphone, the NordicTrack puts all of its potential in one place by coming equipped with a small touchscreen. The touchscreen opens up the machine’s full functionality without making you pay for a console upgrade or fiddle with your phone for the right app.
If you’re on the hunt for a running treadmill that won’t break the bank or commandeer your entire living room, the stats of the NordicTrack C 990 are about to make you sing. While the NordicTrack provides a well-cushioned, generously sized belt for a runner’s strides, the machine’s overall dimensions are just as compact as our walking pick. This compact, lightweight machine provides 3 CHP while weighing in at just over 200 lbs and occupying a less than 3-by-7-foot space — the lightest treadmill we could find with that kind of horsepower.
Points to consider
One drawback to the NordicTrack C 990 — its top incline is 12%, three percentage points fewer than other equivalent running treadmills. If challenging yourself to those max inclines is more important to you than saving space, check out the top models in our Best Treadmill review.
How to Find the Right Treadmill for Your Home
Choose your pace
You want a treadmill capable of every bit of exertion you are. But no need for a sky-high threshold if you’re going to power walk at most. Remember the rule of thumb when it comes to continuous horsepower: 2 CHP for walking, 3 CHP for running. Landing on a treadmill that allows for that and not too much more will be lighter weight, cheaper, and easier to maneuver in your home.
Choose your tech
It may seem superficial, but a treadmill that lacks engaging programming or useful health stats is going to quickly become hard to use. Think about your favorite parts of working out — including watching visualizations of progress, challenging yourself with interval workouts, getting to zone out to road run footage, even feeling the cool fan and getting to rest your magazine on a convenient media shelf. Your chosen treadmill should offer the features that contribute the most to your run.
Get professionals to set it up
Can you assemble a treadmill? Yes. But the more tech-dense a machine, the more tricky and exasperating putting it together becomes, and both of our favorites listed on this page are guilty of tech complexity. Opt for room-of-choice delivery (omitting the headache of lugging it in from the curb) and have either the manufacturer or Amazon Home Services get it from box to built.
What about folding treadmills?
Our research steered us clear of any treadmills that claim folding or portability as their first characteristic. Here’s our rationale: a treadmill is only as good as the number of times a week you’ll use it. A cheap, rickety treadmill that’s best when it’s folded up won’t provide the comfortable, secure experience that will keep you moving. Secondly, “out of sight, out of mind” is a cliché for good reason. A treadmill that’s just bulky enough to be in your line of sight is going to necessarily more often thought of, and as a result more often used.
Are treadmill warranties important?
As it is for most product warranties, any damage you inflict on your treadmill won’t be covered. So normal wear and tear, and its gradual impact on the appearance and functionality of your machine, are part of the deal. But manufacturer flaws, those little quirks that crop up after a day or a year and impede functionality for no visible reason, are another story. Keep your warranty in force in order to guard against those (fairly frequent) instances of manufacturer defect by keeping its part well tended and having a professional do the installation. That’s right: DIY-ing your treadmill’s assembly could void it strait out of the box.
The Best Treadmills for Home: Summed Up
More Fitness Equipment Reviews
Looking to do more than run? We’ve got you covered. Check out our other fitness reviews to find the workout equipment that fits your needs.