How to Choose a Treadmill

How to Choose a Treadmill

One of the most common questions I get on social media is: What is the best treadmill that you recommend?

I don’t ever actually answer the question because the way I purchased my treadmill wasn’t by researching hundreds of treadmills and figuring out which one was the absolute best.  This won’t work because treadmill availability is different from city to city and country to country.

Instead, how I selected my treadmill and how I suggest you select your treadmill, I recommend that you choose the features and requirements you need, within a budget you can afford, then go to a local fitness equipment store and ask for a recommendation.

In this article we’ll give you some guidelines for what features to look for in a treadmill with regards to speed and horsepower needed for your run, what a good incline is for a treadmill, and what are all the other features you’ll certainly want for your treadmill.


Most treadmill speeds range from 10 to 14 miles per hour with the cost of the treadmill increasing the faster a treadmill can go.

Personally, I recommend at least a 12mph treadmill but you can use the stats below to determine how fast you are and therefore how fast your treadmill needs to be:

  • 10 mph
    • 100m : 23 seconds
    • 200m : 45 seconds
    • 400m : 1 min 30
    • 1 mile: 6 min
    • 5k : 18 min 40
    • 10k : 37 min 20
    • 1/2 marathon : 1 hr 18 min 39
    • Marathon : 2hr 37 min 29
  • 12 mph
    • 100m : 19 seconds
    • 200m : 37 seconds
    • 400m : 1 min 14
    • 1 mile: 5 min
    • 5k : 15 min 30
    • 10k : 31 min
    • 1/2 marathon : 1 hr 5 min 33
    • Marathon : 2hr 11 min
  • 14 mph
    • 100m : 16 seconds
    • 200m : 32 seconds
    • 400m : 1 min 04
    • 1 mile: 4 min 17
    • 5k : 13 min 16
    • 10k : 26 min 32
    • 1/2 marathon : 56 min 09
    • Marathon : 1hr 52 min 18

    A more important factor in how long a treadmill will last is the quality of the motor. How much horsepower do you need in your treadmill and what type of motor should you get?

    First off, you should be looking for a continuous duty motor, usually designated with “CHP” after the amount of horsepower listed.  A Continuous Duty treadmill is much higher quality and will last longer, the speed of the treadmill will be very consistent and last for a long time.

    What treadmill horsepower you need is a much bigger question.  Treadmill horsepower ranges from 1.5 for a bargain basement treadmill all the way up to 6.0 for top of the line commercial treadmills.

    I don’t recommend going with 1.5hp treadmills because they’ll just be working too close to their capacity too often for them to last very long for most people.  I recommend sticking with a 2.5-3.0 CHP horsepower treadmill for most people because this is the sweet spot for power and budget.


    Most treadmills range from 0-12% incline.  Some treadmills even decline simulating running downhill.

    I recommend that you get a treadmill with as much incline as possible because max incline sprints of 8-10 seconds is an absolutely excellent way to get in a time efficient workout.  Having a decline feature is far less important.

    Special tip: when doing your normal running, set your treadmill to a 1 degree incline to simulate the wind resistance you’d get running outside.


    When it comes to the size of the treadmill there are two main considerations: belt width and belt length.

    If you’re running with your treadmill you’ll want a belt length of around 54”, if you’re just walking on your treadmill 48” will work.

    Similarly, the width of the treadmill belt should be at least 20” wide for runners and 18” wide for walkers.


    Programmed workouts, heart rate sensors, fans, touch screens, bluetooth speakers, etc….  Treadmill manufacturers have been adding features to their models for years, and in my opinion it’s all unnecessary.

    The only features I really need in a treadmill is a water bottle holder and a spot to put my phone and remotes.

    Most people don’t use pre-programmed workouts, fans aren’t fast enough to cool you off, heart rate sensors are inaccurate, and most people have a set of running headphones they already use. In my experience, most features on treadmills are just ways to jack up the price of a treadmill and are unnecessary.


    This is the fun part! I won’t recommend a treadmill budget, that’s actually up to you to decide.

    Instead, what I’ll recommend is that you decide on the requirements and features of the treadmill that are important to you, then you go to a fitness equipment store and ask for the best value treadmill that will satisfy your needs.

    For example, what I asked for (and what I recommend most runners ask for) was:

    The cheapest treadmill you’ve got that could go up to 12 miles per hour, 12 degree of incline, had a 2.5-3.0 horsepower motor, has at least two cupholders, and is durable enough to run on a lot.”

    If you give a good fitness equipment store those guidelines, they’ll be able to recommend a treadmill for you.  In my experience, you can get a good treadmill that satisfies all these requirements for $1,000-1,500.

    The world of treadmill specifications is a deep, dark rabbit hole that you could spend hours obsessing over. Hopefully with this basic guide you’ll get all the treadmill you’ll ever need, without spending more than you have to.


    Written By "Triathlon Taren" Gesell
    Triathlon Coach and head cheerleader at