8 different levels of resistance and a monitor that tracks your time, speed, calories burned, and distance. Built with slip-resistant rubber pads that protect your floors and maintain machine stability.
Must be in a constant incline.
Compact design to easily store. Alloy steel frame is sturdy and sleek and doesn't require electricity to use. Comes equipped with LCD monitor to track speed, distance, and calories burned.
Not made for sprinting speeds.
More versatility than most with resistance levels and different handgrip options. Heavy-duty frame supports up to 300 pounds. Locks into place but features wheels for easy transport.
Incline is fixed and cannot be adjusted.
Quiet operation. Minimal assembly required, tools included. 8 and 10-degree inclines. 250-pound weight capacity. Belt surface is textured for additional stability. Long, padded handles for safety.
Belt is hard to adjust. Some parts reported missing. Belt speed is variable, not smooth.
Condensed design to fit in even the smallest spaces. Easy-to-read LCD monitor that tracks all your fitness metrics while speed walking or jogging. Arms move with user and stow back when not using.
Has a maximum weight recommendation of only 220 pounds.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Any successful home workout must cater to all your needs: convenience, cost, the type of exercise you want, and your fitness goals. For those seeking a measured cardiovascular workout that offers both safety and accessibility, a manual treadmill is ideal.
As opposed to traditional electric treadmills that run on a motor, manual treadmills are powered by the user. As you walk, jog, or run, the belt moves underneath your feet. Where electric treadmills force you to move to the set speed of the belt, manual treadmills force the belt to move based on your speed.
Manual treadmills tend to be significantly less expensive and more convenient than traditional ones while still offering a quality cardiovascular workout. However, there are limitations — you cannot achieve top speeds on a manual treadmill, and more competitive runners may find them frustrating to use since they can only go so fast. Still, they are popular with professional athletes and appeal to all ages and fitness levels. But that’s only the start. Read our buying guide and we’ll give you the ins and outs of manual treadmills to find the right one for you.
Manual treadmills are less pricey than motorized treadmills. They tend to be more easily transported considering they don’t need to be plugged into an outlet. Without a motor, they are generally much lighter. What’s more, some models are foldable for easy storage and some come with wheels to allow for convenient moving.
The workout on a manual treadmill can be fairly simple and low-intensity. However, you’re also able to reach a higher heart rate at lower speeds because of the energy required to move the belt.
Manual treadmills are safer than motorized ones as the belt stops moving when you do, and the top speeds are much lower.
Because they lack a motor, there are some drawbacks to manual treadmills. Running is more difficult to both achieve and sustain. You cannot start at a high speed; you have to build up to it with a manual treadmill. Once you reach the speed you want, you need to maintain your pace — higher speeds on a manual treadmill require more exertion than the same speeds on an electric treadmill.
Similarly, you cannot fluctuate or alter the speed and set a specific program the way you do on a traditional treadmill. Manual treadmills may not be the right choice for sprinters or competitive runners.
They are also not the best for those with weaker or strained joints. The initial effort required to move the belt can cause excess pain to those suffering from arthritic or problematic joints.
The weight allowance of manual treadmills varies but tends to fall somewhere between 200 and 300 pounds. While the unit may be able to withstand a bit more weight (some say “tested up to a certain weight” instead of listing a maximum weight allowance), it’s not recommended to go over. Be honest about how frequently you use the treadmill and about any weight changes — positive or negative — that may occur once you use it.
Most manual treadmills come at a fixed angle, including 0° or no angle. The inability to adjust the incline may be frustrating to some users. While it may seem counterintuitive, a slight incline makes it easier to build and maintain movement as opposed to no incline at all. However, maintaining speed requires more energy at an incline than at no incline.
The size of the treadmill (specifically the length and width of the belt) are important considerations with respect to the way you plan on exercising. If used primarily for walking, a larger treadmill is likely unnecessary. For jogging and running, you want more space for your longer stride. Of course, your height and size — particularly the length of your legs — is also an important factor. You need to be able to fit comfortably on the treadmill at your fullest stride to make sure your workout is both safe and effective.
Sometimes called an “Air Runner,” this relatively new subset of manual treadmills offers a far more intense workout at a significantly higher price. These treadmills feature high ends and a depressed middle, creating a curve. They also are more durable and larger than regular manual treadmills. The curve requires different strides and positioning to speed up and slow down as well as more overall strength to power it, making it a great choice for professional or competitive athletes.
This is a standard feature on motorized treadmills, but because they do not connect to an outlet, it’s uncommon to have a manual treadmill that provides a digital readout. There are some that do, using batteries to stay powered. Some treadmills come with batteries, while others require you to buy them separately.
Most manual treadmills have a fixed incline, but there are a handful that offer two options. One is simply flat, while the other is anywhere from five to 15°. It’s rare for there to be more than two options available.
More expensive models offer levels of resistance to enhance and diversify your workout. This is one of the few ways in which a manual treadmill workout can change while you’re on the treadmill. The higher the tension, the more intense the workout.
Fitness tracker: Fitbit Versa 2
Because most manual treadmills don’t come with an electronic display to monitor distance, heart rate, calories burned, and other vitals, a fitness tracker may be a wise investment. Fitbit is one of the most trusted brands in trackers, and we love the Versa 2. It tracks sleep and exercise and connects to Alexa and Spotify.
Sports water bottle: Polar Bear Insulated Water Bottle
For any active pursuit, it’s important to stay hydrated. This 24-ounce water bottle from Polar Bear is affordable, stylish, and keeps your liquids cooler longer.
Inexpensive: The least expensive manual treadmills cost up to $100. These may have a lower maximum weight allowance and be smaller in size.
Mid-range: Spending between $100 and $200, you can purchase a quality manual treadmill that is likely more durable and has a higher weight allowance.
Expensive: Between $200 and $400, you can find high-end manual treadmills that are the most durable and offer the most comprehensive workout possible. This includes varying resistance levels and grip positions.
Q. Is assembly required?
A. Most manual treadmills require partial or complete assembly. Make sure you have the necessary space, tools, and assistance to assemble the manual treadmill. It may be worthwhile to check out how easy or difficult assembly may be. If the treadmill isn’t foldable, make sure you’re setting it up in the room you want to use it.
Q. Does the treadmill make noise?
A. Because traditional treadmills often make a fair bit of noise, there is a hope that manual treadmills don’t due to their lack of a motor. However, the movement of the belt may cause some sound, though more expensive models promote a quiet, smooth run. Some consumers complain of the abrasive sound of certain manual treadmills.
Q. How large is the treadmill when folded up?
A. One of the appeals of manual treadmills is that they are easy to transport, and many are foldable and compact. Some are small enough to fit under a bed or upright in a closet. Consider the size of the treadmill both when it’s set up as well as when it’s not in use.