Love the thought of walking on a treadmill while watching TV, but just don’t have the budget (or space) for one?
You may be surprised to learn that a manual treadmill could be the solution.
Manual treadmills are (usually) far less expensive and take up way less space than their motorized counterparts.
In this article I will explain what a manual treadmill is, how they operate, and how they may just be the best choice you can make for sustained indoor fitness on a budget.
I will wrap things up with my top 9 picks for the best manual treadmill for home, and let you know a few you should avoid.
- What is Manual Treadmill?
- How does a Manual Treadmill Work?
- What is a Magnetic Manual Treadmill?
- Manual vs Electric Treadmill – Which is Better? Pros & Cons
- Can you run on a manual treadmill? Are manual treadmills good for running?
- What should I look for before choosing a manual treadmill?
- TOP 9 Best Manual Treadmill Reviews 2019
- Exerpeutic 100XL High Capacity Magnetic Resistance Manual Treadmill
- Fitness Reality TR3000 Maximum Weight Capacity Manual Treadmill
- Weslo WLTL99315 CardioStride 3.0 Treadmill
- ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill with Twin Flywheels
- SpeedFit Speedboard ProXL
- Adjustable Incline Magnetic Manual Treadmill by EFITMENT
- Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill
- StairMaster HIITMill Self-Powered Incline Treadmill
- ASUNA Hi-Performance Cardio Trainer by Sunny Health & Fitness
- 3 Manual Treadmills I would NOT Recommend
What is Manual Treadmill?
A manual treadmill is one that you operate using your own power. It does not have an electric motor that drives the belt.
Manual treadmills are usually at a bit of an incline and the force of gravity plus down on you as you walk or run, which also helps the belt move.
The higher the incline is angled the faster the belt moves, and this is how you end up running on a manual treadmill.
How does a Manual Treadmill Work?
Back in the day, ALL treadmills were manual. They were made from a belt wrapped around two rollers on an incline deck. They usually had handles that you held as you walked.
You move the belt by moving your legs walking or running.
They even made manual treadmills for dogs. The dog powered treadmills were used to help do the laundry or make ice cream before, you know, “modern appliances”.
Not much has changed in the world of manual treadmills. They still sit at an incline and operate the same way.
There have however been some models released with some modern technology and updates. For example, magnetic resistance has been added to several manual treadmill models.
Keep reading to learn about magnetic resistance.
What is a Magnetic Manual Treadmill?
Magnetic resistance on a manual treadmill adds resistance to the belt.
Take for example the Exerpeutic 100XL listed in first place in the reviews below. This treadmill has two flywheels at the front, with brackets attached to the frame.
There is a tension adjustment that moves the brackets farther or closer to the magnet to add or lessen resistance.
Manual vs Electric Treadmill – Which is Better? Pros & Cons
You may be debating which is right for you, or what is the difference between manual and electric treadmill. To lay it out visually, I have listed the pros and cons of each type.
- Less expensive than Electric treadmill.
- Smaller footprint than Electric Models.
- Technically safer, since the treadmill stops when you do.
- No need to plug it in, no electricity needed.
- Uses more back leg muscles, also, may be a better (harder) workout.
- May take some effort to gain momentum on a manual treadmill.
- You need to get off the manual treadmill to adjust the incline.
- Manual incline treadmills are not able to be at a flat incline, 5 degrees is the smallest we found in our manual treadmill reviews.
- Usually electric treadmills have a longer deck which is necessary for running.
- Usually can adjust resistance and incline while walking or jogging.
- Usually have on board computers with workout routines and data display.
- More expensive than manual treadmills.
- Treadmill may not stop, even if you trip or fall.
- Must have a place to plug it in.
Price and space.
Manual treadmills save money and are usually a lot smaller and lighter than their electric counterparts.
The biggest complaint with manual treadmills is that folks were not expecting the workout to be so challenging, and on most models, the incline is fixed and can not be made flat.
The other issue some folks had was most manual treadmills need the belt to be lubricated frequently.
Can you run on a manual treadmill? Are manual treadmills good for running?
In general, manual treadmills have a shorter deck that electric treadmills, which makes there a challenge to run on. You need more length for a running stride than you do for walking.
I have called out several manual treadmills in the reviews below that are candidates for running.
I have also listed a few of the best manual treadmill for walking, as this is the most common use for this type of exercise machine.
What should I look for before choosing a manual treadmill?
User Weight Max limit
User Max Weight limits vary considerably among models. Of the manual treadmills we reviewed, the maximum weight for the user ranges from 220 lbs to 440 lbs.
That’s quite a big difference.
Deck length and width
If you plan to jog or run, most manual treadmills are too short. There are a few that will work for running, provided the deck is longer.
Look for a deck of at least 45” in length if you plan to jog, otherwise, stick to walking.
If getting onto the treadmill is a concern, you are in luck. Many manual treadmills have a low step up height.
Check the specs of the model you have your eye on before you buy.
Newer model manual treadmills use magnetic resistance.
This style of resistance not only allows you to customize the level of difficulty you prefer, but magnetic resistance also makes for a smoother ride.
Storage and Stowage
Manual treadmills have a reputation for being the most compact treadmills available.
Many models fold up, are light enough to carry if needed, and have wheels for easy transport. Several of the best manual treadmill for home are listed below in the review.
Some even fold to a height of as little as 9 inches!
Handle length and Type
One of the biggest differences between electric vs manual treadmills is that since manual treadmills are self powered, it is best to hold on while using them.
Since you should hold the handles, the type, and length of handle matters. Longer handles are more comfortable and functional and are preferred.
Some manual treadmills have extra features you might like to have. A few have small on board consoles that show time, calories burned, distance and more.
Others have heart rate monitors and pulse monitors built into the handle. Some have a place to store a book or tablet.
If these features are important t you, be sure to check for them before you decide.
TOP 9 Best Manual Treadmill Reviews 2019
Stamina Inmotion t900 Manual Treadmill
Avari Magnetic Treadmill
Lifeline 4 In 1 Manual Treadmill
Have you decided to try a manual treadmill? Love them or not, we want to hear what you think?
Have you tried a manual treadmill? Which one have you decided to get?
Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!