Should You Invest in a Manual Treadmill?

Most people buy a manual treadmill solely because of the low price. But then, there really is no other reason to buy a non-motorized treadmill. They have a lot of drawbacks that you should consider before buying one since the matter of manual vs. motorized treadmills goes far beyond price.

What to Expect with a Manual Treadmill

So what are the pros and cons of buying a manual versus a motorized treadmill? Looking at the cons of a manual unit first, we find:

  • They are hard to initiate and get the belt moving over the deck (setting up the incline helps here)
  • They wobble and feel unstable
  • You have to dismount to change the incline
  • You can only go as fast as your feet can move the belt; once you stop, it stops

As for the pros of getting a manual treadmill, well there’s this:

  • Like Fred Flintstone and his stone-age car, you provide all the power to make the belt move thus giving your legs a good workout
  • The price - usually less than $150

What to Expect with a Motorized Treadmill

Cory Everson Manual Treadmill

The pros of a motorized versus a manual unit are fairly obvious: the motor turns the belt for you so you don’t strain your muscles and joints like you will on a manually operated treadmill; you can adjust the speed and incline conveniently on the console; you can select a number of pre-set training programs; and you can get features as heart rate control and heart monitoring.

Where to Find the Best Manual Treadmills

Check out some of the manual home treadmills on sale at Amazon and you’ll find they average from $100 to $170. If this is what you want to get, Amazon is a great place to shop since many of the better selling models such as Stamina, Confidence and Exerpeutic have been reviewed by dozens of owners who will tell you their experience with these machines.

Stamina Manual Treadmill from - $125

If you’re mulling the purchase of manual vs. a motorized treadmill, take some time to look for discounted electric treadmills first. New models come out every year and you can find last year’s models at very reasonable sale prices. Or consider remanufactured treadmills; they can be more than 40% off the price of a new machine.

Finally, give some thought to how often you’ll use a treadmill. You can buy a cheap manual, non-motorized treadmill and see if you can “stay with the program”, that is, if you’ll stick with using it and exercising on a regular basis rather than turning it into a clothes hanger within a few weeks.

Once you’re sure that a home gym workout is the answer to your fitness needs, then you can step up from your manual treadmill to a more expensive motorized unit.

UPDATE: Winter 2018 Treadmill Sales are on!


Best Treadmills 2017

Best By Price
Under $500


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