Love the thought of using a treadmill while watching TV, but just don’t have the budget (or space) for one?
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 list my top 9 picks for the best manual treadmills of 2021 for home use, and then 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.
- TOP 9 Best Manual Treadmills 2021
- Exerpeutic 100XL Manual Treadmill
- Fitness Reality TR3000 Manual Treadmill
- Weslo WLTL99315 CardioStride 3.0 Treadmill
- ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill
- SpeedFit Speedboard ProXL
- Efitment Adjustable Incline Manual Treadmill
- Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill
- StairMaster HIITMill Incline Treadmill
- Sunny Health & Fitness Asuna Cardio Trainer
- What is a Manual Treadmill?
- Manual vs Electric Treadmill – Which is Better? Pros & Cons
- What Should I Look for Before Choosing a Manual Treadmill?
TOP 9 Best Manual Treadmills 2021
What is a 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.
The running platform of manual treadmills sit at a bit of an incline, so your running or walking action combined with gravity, forces the belt downhill. Each time you land on the belt and then push off, your weight plus the action of pushing off, in turn pushes the belt.
The higher the incline is angled, the faster the belt moves, and this is how you end up running on a manual treadmill.
These days, magnetic resistance is also often used to add extra resistance to the belt and allow you to have a bit more control over adjusting the resistance level.
Manual vs Electric Treadmill – Which is Better? Pros & Cons
You may be debating which is right for you, or what the difference is between a manual and an electric treadmill. To lay it out visually, I have listed the pros and cons of each type.
- Less expensive.
- Smaller footprint.
- 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.
- Less parts to break or need replacement.
- May take some effort to gain momentum.
- You need to get off to manually adjust the incline.
- Manual incline treadmills are not able to be used when flat.
- Electric treadmills usually 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.
- Can be used flat.
- More expensive than manual treadmills.
- Treadmill may not stop, even if you trip or fall.
- Must have a place to plug it in.
- Parts often need fixing or replacing at some point.
The Bottom Line
Those who opt for the manual as opposed electric treadmill usually do so for two reasons:
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 cannot be made flat.
The other issue some folks had was most manual treadmills need the belt to be lubricated frequently.
If you are on a budget and tight on space, you might like the option of a manual treadmill.
What Should I Look for Before Choosing a Manual Treadmill?
User Weight Max Limit
Maximum 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. So, you’ll want to make sure you choose one that will cope with your weight.
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.
Newer manual treadmills tend to 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.
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 to the handles while using them.
This means, the style and length of the handle matters. Longer handles are more comfortable and easier to use.
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 to you, be sure to check for them before you decide.
Interested in other kinds of treadmills?
We have a guide to the best overall treadmills available right now that might help your search.
Alternatively, we’ve also divided them up to make it really simple!
Interested in the best treadmills for walking? We’ve got that sorted right here.
Tight on space and looking to prioritize treadmills that fold? We have a list of the best folding treadmills right here.
Keen on working out those glutes? What about incline treadmills? It doesn’t get much more intense than walking uphill! We’ve got all the best incline treadmills reviewed for you right here.
Can You Run on a Manual Treadmill?
In general, manual treadmills have a shorter deck than electric treadmills, which makes them more of a challenge to run on. You need more length for a running stride than you do for walking.
Also, it’s often hard to get manual treadmills to go fast enough to run on, and by the time you do, your legs will probably be exhausted.
But, some manual treadmills are great for running, so it pays to read reviews first and see whether others have been able to run successfully.
Are Manual Treadmills Good for Walking?
Yes! Definitely! Manual treadmills are usually better suited to walking than running, but this doesn’t mean that the walking is easy. Walking on a manual treadmill can still be really hard work!
How do You Use a Manual Treadmill?
Using a manual treadmill is very easy. Simply follow the manufacturer’s set up instructions and set the incline to a level you are happy with (you can always change it later).
Then, take hold of the handles and carefully step up onto the belt, being aware that it will start moving as soon as you put your weight on it. Walk at your chosen speed and push downwards with your feet to get the belt moving.
Can You Lose Weight on a Manual Treadmill?
Losing weight is always a balance between your eating habits and your exercise habits. If you are eating healthy food and slowly increasing your exercise without increasing your caloric intake, you will lose weight, regardless of what kind of exercise you are doing.
SO, the answer is YES, you can definitely lose weight on a manual treadmill.
Is a Manual Treadmill Worth it?
If you are on a tight budget and appreciate the simplicity of a manual treadmill and the walking workouts you can have on it, a manual treadmill is definitely worth it.
Is Manual Treadmill Bad for Knees?
This depends on your walking/running style and whether you are wearing the right kind of shoes for your feet. If you are wearing good shoes and haven’t had any problems with your knees in the past, you shouldn’t have any problems using a treadmill.
That wraps up this guide to the best manual treadmills of 2021.
Think you might be interested in a different kind of cardio machine for your home gym? No sweat, we have a list of the best cardio machines for home use which make it much easier to choose the right kind of machine for you.
Have you decided to try a manual treadmill? Love them or not, we want to hear what you think!
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