Last updated on March 15th, 2021 at 10:30 pm
Having an indoor cardio option is critical for any great home gym, and a treadmill is arguably the most versatile option. If you buy one that is well made and suits your goals, it should last you for years.
I’ve worked at a store that sells treadmills for almost 20 years. In that time, I’ve seen brands come and go. I’ve seen new features get introduced and useless ones discontinued. I’ve seen what customers love and what they hate and return to the store.
This page will give you a short list of what I think are the absolute best treadmills in each of the listed categories based on my years of experience. I’ve also taken a moment to share what not to buy (based on quite a few customer complaints) and where I think the best place to buy a treadmill online is.
I hope this guide points you to a treadmill you’ll own and love for years to come!
Skip the reading and jump straight to the perfect treadmill for you!
- Best all around treadmill
- Best treadmill to simulate outdoor running
- Best treadmill for serious runners
- Best budget treadmill
- Best walking treadmill
What not to buy
Let’s start with how much a good treadmill should cost. I’ve never seen anything under about $800-$900 that’s worth buying. Yes, there are lots of $500 or less treadmills on Amazon with great reviews.
Keep in mind that most of those customers have never tried any other treadmill. They also typically haven’t used the treadmill they are reviewing for more than a few days.
I’ve talked to countless customers who have been very disappointed very quickly by trying to go super cheap on a treadmill. Treadmills are just one of those things that can’t be made well on the cheap.
I would also advise against buying an “under desk” or “walking” treadmill as your gym’s primary treadmill. If you need one to walk on that goes under your standing desk, these are great. They are not great to jog, run, or use daily as part of your home gym.
- How much space do you need to fit a treadmill?
- Can you install a treadmill on the second floor?
- How to clean your treadmill.
- Should you buy a treadmill mat?
- What size motor is right for your treadmill?
Where to Buy Your Treadmill
I’m going to recommend a place you may not have heard of before (although if you live in Chicago, this place is a household name) called Abt Electronics. You can buy treadmills from a variety of places online. But with a large and possibly complex purchase like a treadmill, Abt is your best choice.
They’ve been rated #1 in Consumer Reports for ten straight years and have amazing customer service. If you run into any issues at all, you’ll be able to talk to a real person who will take care of you right away.
In the interest of transparency, I’ve worked at Abt for almost 20 years. But even if I didn’t, I’d still recommend them. They really are the best place to buy no matter where you live. And if you live within 100 miles of their store near Chicago, it’s a no brainer to buy from them. But if you live there, you already know that.
Should you pay for installation?
Yes! It’s well worth the small extra expense to have a pro do this. While it’s not complicated, it is time-consuming. More important than that, running the wiring harness in most treadmills is tricky at best.
If you run the wiring harness incorrectly or even slightly crimp one of the wires, your treadmill won’t work right, and you really won’t know why. Most service calls on new treadmills are on customer assembled units.
If you are local to Abt (within 80-100 miles from Chicago, depending on the direction), they will offer it directly. If not, there is an excellent nationwide option too.
I’m not affiliated with them, but Jez Industries is a great place to turn to for treadmill installation nationwide. No matter where you live in the US, they have pros in your area to take care of the job. You can get their contact info here.
Recommended Treadmills by use
I’m always leary when I see lists titled “Best treadmills of 2020”. Best treadmills for what? Training for a marathon? Going on daily walks? Lightly jogging every day?
The first step to buying the perfect treadmill for you is to identify your general use first. Once you know that, you’ll have a better idea of what is perfect for you.
Best All-Around Treadmill for Most Home Gyms
If you want an outstanding treadmill for almost any use, the Nordic Track 2950 is the perfect model for you. It’s not the most or least expensive, but it is the best all-around treadmill I’ve ever used.
It’s comfortable, easy to use, smooth, and is very well built. It works with IFit, a subscription-based interactive training platform that lets you run in a myriad of different environments either alone or with coaches.
The screen is immersive and better than almost any other model out there. This treadmill is a joy to use. Customer feedback on the Nordic Track speaks for itself. We have more customers come in to buy one because a friend recommended it than any other kind we sell.
If I was to go buy a new treadmill today, the Nordic Track 2950 is the one I would buy without hesitation!
Here are the key features of the Nordic Track 2950:
- 22″ Interactive HD Touchscreen
- 15 Percent, 3 Percent Decline Technology
- Interactive Personal Training
- SMART-Response Motor
- 1 Year iFit Membership Included
- 17,000 Available Workouts
- Runners Flex Cushioning
- Two 3″ Digitally-Amplified Speakers
- EKG Grip Pulse
- 300 Lb User Weight Capacity
Best Treadmill for Simulating outdoor running
There’s a new kind of treadmill on the market called a “manual treadmill.” This treadmill has no motor and is driven solely by the runner.
According to serious runners, it’s as close to running outside as a treadmill gets. Many people who train for half and full marathons have switched to this type of treadmill. As with all things, there are good and bad versions.
With this type of treadmill, there are only a couple that are actually worthwhile. The good news is that those options are amazingly well built and effective!
One of the best available right now is the Assault Air Runner. It gets some of the best reviews of all of the manual treadmills out there. I was a little skeptical at first, but I’m fascinated and can’t wait to use one again after using one several times!
They are a little pricey (why I don’t have one in my gym), but this is an excellent option for those with the budget, especially if you are on your treadmill to train for serious road races!
Best Treadmill for Serious Runners
If you plan on putting in some serious miles every week, you’re going to want a treadmill from True. Known in the running community as one of the best brands on the market, True makes treadmills for legit, hardcore runners.
The feel of the deck is exactly what you’d want if you are running a lot. The programs and console are perfectly suited to whatever training regimen you are following. And True is about as well built as you can get in a treadmill.
The True TPS-800 is the ideal model if you fall into this category. It’s got all the standard features you’d expect: Quiet, 4 hp motor, 12 mph top speed, etc. But what makes this one special is the deck and running surface. It’s this surface that makes this one a runner’s dream.
Here are the high points of the TPS-800
- 4 Horse Power Motor
- HRC Cruise Control
- Orthopedic Belt
- TRUE Soft Select
- Polar Compatible
- 9″ Touchscreen Screen
- Responsive Tactile Dome Buttons
- Quick Speed Keys
- 12 Total Workouts
- 36 Custom Workouts
- 0.5 To 12.0 MPH Speed Range
- 350 lbs Maximum User Weight
- 2 Front Transport Wheels
Best Budget Treadmill
Of all of the companies that make some lower-cost treadmill options, Pro-Form does it the best. Their deck cushioning, build quality, running feel, and consoles are solid across their entire line.
If you are budgeting a few thousand dollars, I like the True brand better. But once you get to the more entry-level price points, Pro-Form wins every time, even when matched against True units that are similarly priced!
Specifically, I think the Pro-Form Carbon T7 is the ideal budget treadmill.
Here are the highlights:
- Interactive Trainer Led Sessions
- 1-Year iFit Membership Included
- 7″ Smart HD Touchscreen Display
- 2.75 CHP Mach Z Motor
- 20″ x 55″ Tread Belt
- 0-16 MPH Digital QuickSpeed Control
- 0-10% Digital Quick Incline Control
- SpaceSaver Design With EasyLift Assist
- CoolAire Fan
- Audio Auxiliary Port With Dual 2″ Speakers
- 300 lbs Weight Capacity
- Under $1000
Best walking treadmill
Okay, so you’re not going to run, and you’re not going to jog. You don’t need incline or anything that goes fast. You just need something you can walk on daily when you can’t make it outside.
Enter the “walking treadmill.” Walking treadmills are just that, treadmills designed for walking only. They don’t have high-speed settings. They often don’t incline. They don’t have a deck suited for running or sprinting.
What they do have is a belt for you to walk on at slow speeds.
The problem with this type of treadmill is that there is a lot of junk out there that will be a waste of money. Because these are designed to hit lower price points, many manufacturers simply build the cheapest thing they can.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend a ton to get a good walking treadmill. The GoPlus 2 in 1 folding treadmill is a perfect solution. Solid quality at a reasonable price.
I also like that it has a folding riser that collapses for under desk use. The unit automatically limits its top speed in this configuration, which is a nice safety feature not found in most other treadmills of this type.