Running on a treadmill is a great way to train when it’s cold, dark, or raining. But sometimes it can be hard to get a workout that is equivalent to running on the road.
Adding an incline can help to change up the muscles you work and make your treadmill exercise more realistic by mimicking the conditions of the outdoors a little more closely.
It also increases the intensity of your workout in the same way running hills outside would. You need to put in more effort to get up an incline.
The 3G Cardio Elite Runner is our best overall choice. The 4.0 HP motor is powerful and allows you to run at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour on a spacious deck of 22 inches x 62 inches.
But we have picked out others that might be a better option for your needs and budget.
Top 4 Best and Favorites
3G Cardio Elite Runner
LifeSpan TR6000i Light-Commercial
Horizon 7.0 AT
XTERRA Fitness TR200
1. 3G Cardio Elite Runner
The 3G Cardio Elite runner is powered by a 4.0 HP motor, which can push the pace to 12 mph (5:00 pace) while pitching up to a 15% incline. It has three large rollers that provide a smooth and very quiet running experience.
The 22 inches x 62 inches deck is spacious and allows you to run at your full stride, even when at an incline. The deck also features the advanced Ortho Flex Shock to reduce the impact and minimize any risk of injury.
This model comes with eight built-in workouts and three fitness tests, as well as an option to customize your own training program. This will allow you to challenge yourself, as well as improve your speed and endurance by changing the incline or speed.
It has One-Touch buttons that allow you to swiftly change the intensity of your workout. However, you’ll have to manually set your cool down, as the treadmill doesn’t come with a cool down option.
- Ortho Flex Shock suspension system
- Comes with eight built-in workouts and three fitness tests
- 15% incline
- 4.0 HP motor
- You need to manually set your cool down as the treadmill doesn’t have a one touch button cool-down option
Top Under $2,500
2. LifeSpan TR6000i Light-Commercial
If you’re serious about your running and you need a high-quality treadmill to train seriously on, you’ll need to look at the higher-end models.
The LifeSpan TR6000i Light-Commercial is designed for commercial settings, so you can be sure it will cater to your needs if you’re using it at home. The 3.5 HP motor and large front roller are designed for high-traffic environments, so your treadmill will last a very long time if just you or a few people are using it.
A wide 22-inch x 60-inch running deck allows you to go all-out comfortably, and you can reach a maximum speed of 13.5 miles per hour. To challenge yourself, the deck can incline up to 13% and decline up to 3%, which is an unusual but helpful feature that’s not seen on lower-end treadmills.
An integrated tablet holder and built-in speakers allow you to access your favorite form of entertainment while running. However, there is no fan on this treadmill, so you’ll need to find another way of staying cool.
- Maximum Speed of 13.5 mph
- Incline and three levels of decline
- Large front roller
- 3.5 HP motor
- There’s no fan to help keep you cool while running
Best Under $2,000
3. NordicTrack Commercial 1750 iFit
A 3.75 HP commercial motor offers plenty of power and allows you to walk or run up to 12 miles per hour. It still remains quiet and has self-cooling technology, which increases its durability.
At 22 by 60 inches, the deck is big enough for tall runners to run naturally. It has FlexSelect cushioning to reduce impact and keep joints safe.
You’ll find about 50 onboard programs to choose from. There’s also a power incline and decline function (-3% to +15%) which you can use to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Although this treadmill comes with a 1-year free iFit subscription, if you forget to cancel it before your year is up you will be charged for the second year. You can use the treadmill without registering with iFit by pressing and holding the Bluetooth/iFit button on your console for about 30 seconds until it goes away and allows you to access the treadmill functions.
- 3.75 CHP motor
- SpaceSaver frame
- 50 built-in workout apps
- FlexSelect cushioning
- To create and store a user profile you need to be connected to the iFit program
- It’s very heavy and hard to move for just one person
Runner-up Under $2,000
4. Horizon 7.8 AT
If you like to follow a workout class or watch something motivational while you run, then this treadmill could be the right one for you. It is created with content streaming in mind, and can connect to a variety of fitness apps like Zwift, Peloton and Studio.
The tablet holder is located above the console, so it doesn’t block the view of your statistics and progress. You will also find two large storage areas that fit most water bottles and can also be used for things like towels or snack bars.
The running deck has 3-zone cushioning, which means that every step is cushioned to lower impact. To increase your speed or incline you can use the QuickDial controls, which are nifty rollers on the handlebars that eliminate the need to push a button.
Another convenient feature is the one-step hydraulic folding so you can move it out of the way when you’re finished your workout.
- 3-zone variable response cushioning
- QuickDial controls and one-touch Interval Keys
- Inclines to 15%
- Connect to various exercise apps
- You’d need a tablet to use and control the exercise apps as you can’t use them using the console
Best Under $1,500
5. LifeSpan TR3000i
The running surface of this treadmill is slightly smaller than the ones above, at 20 inches x 56 inches, but it should still accommodate most runners. It has 8 compression shock absorbers under the belt to make for a more comfortable and safer running experience.
You can select one of 38 workout programs on the full-color touchscreen. Keep an eye on your running progress by switching between three different dashboards that allow you to view your stats in a graph form, gauge form, or track form.
You can incline the treadmill up to 15% for a more intense workout. You can also charge your phone through the console, as well as play music or a movie through the Bluetooth speakers.
- 8 compression shock absorbers
- 38 treadmill workouts
- Up to 15% incline
- Features Intelli-Guard
- Some advanced runners may find the 56-inch deck to be too small to run at a full stride
Runner-up Under $1,500
6. ProForm 905 CST
The 20-inch x 60-inch running surface features ProShox cushioning to protect joints and can withstand weights of up to 325 pounds easily.
It has both digital speed and incline controls. It reaches a top speed of 12 miles per hour, and inclines from 0 to 12%. You can create many combinations from those two to give you an effective workout.
If you don’t want to choose manually, there are 30 preset workouts included.
- Smart chest strap included
- ProShox deck cushioning system
- 30 workout programs
- Lifetime warranty on the frame and motor
- You’re unable to create and store more than one user profile
Best Under $1,000
7. Horizon 7.0 AT
The Horizon 7.0 AT has a 3.0 HP motor that’s powerful enough for hard running, and the 20-inch x 60-inch running area means that even tall runners can run at their full stride.
The belt is made of silicone, which makes it durable and non-slip. Underneath it you will find 3-zone cushioning so that ankles and knee joints are as protected as they can be and the running experience is comfortable.
Speed ranges up to 12 miles per hour, and the incline up to 15%. The QuickDial controls are convenient and easy to use.
- Advanced Bluetooth
- 3.0 CHP motor
- Maximum incline of 15%
- QuickDial controls
- There’s a limited amount of built-in programs
- Some may find the 7-inch screen to be too small to effectively keep track of their workout
Runner-up Under $1,000
8. ProForm 505 CST
The maximum speed on this treadmill is slightly lower than others we’ve reviewed, at 10 miles per hour. That’s still a 6:00 pace, which is brisk enough for most. If you aren’t going to be sprint training, this should be adequate, and the digital incline of 10% still allows you to have an effective and intense workout.
There are 18 workout apps built-in, and you get a free trial of iFit. If you don’t want to use iFit, you can still use the treadmill. Power on the machine and press the bluetooth (AKA iFit Sync) “button” on the console for about 20 seconds. It will reset and allow manual operation.
Proshox damping on the belt makes it easy on joints, and you can keep track of heart rate and stats on the 5-inch screen, although some may find it too small to see nicely. Once you’re finished your run, just fold it up to save space.
- 18 workout apps
- Space Saving design
- Proshox damping
- Grip pulse sensors
- No wireless heart rate monitoring
- Screen is 5 inches
Top Under $600
9. XTERRA Fitness TR200
Good treadmills don’t have to be expensive. Although these under $600 won’t have as many fancy features as the pricier ones, they’re still perfectly good for running and improving your fitness level, or even training for races.
The TR200 has 12 built-in workout programs to choose from and three levels of manual incline. You will have to get off the treadmill to change the incline, which could be a little bit inconvenient. It’s a first-world problem that’s easy to live with.
The 50 inch x 16 inch running surface is padded with XTRASoft Cushioned Deck technology that will keep your feet and legs safe while you’re training.
Even though the motor is smaller at 2.25 HP, the top speed is 10 miles per hour. You can adjust your pace with the direct access speed buttons, and it’s great for walking or light running.
- 12 built-in training programs
- XTRASoft Cushioned Deck technology
- Direct access speed buttons
- 2.25 HP motor
- This treadmill isn’t Bluetooth enabled
- You have to manually adjust the incline out of three levels
Best Under $400
10. XTERRA Fitness TR150
For a price under $400, this is an affordable and effective exercise machine. The running belt is 50 inches by 16 inches, which may be slightly too small for very tall runners, but should be good for runners of most heights.
It ranges in speeds from 0.5 to 10 miles per hour, and has three manual incline settings. There are 12 built-in programs so you can have a variety of different workouts to keep you entertained and challenged.
It has a smooth, quiet 2.25 HP motor, and like its more expensive cousins, it can fold up easily to be stored away.
- 12 preset programs
- Direct Speed buttons
- Fitted wheels
- Low power consumption
- The treadmill doesn’t have Bluetooth, which means that you can’t connect your HR chest strap or other devices to the treadmill
What are the benefits of a treadmill?
Some individuals feel more comfortable training on a treadmill at home than they do in a gym. Training on a treadmill places less stress on the joints than running on outdoor surfaces, and reduces the risk of injury.
You’re also able to control the pace, distance, intensity and calories burned during your workout. You won’t have to worry about running in low light or how visible you are when weather conditions change.
It will also provide a way for you to destress after a long day without having to leave the house. With a number of built-in programs to choose from, you can work on your fitness and endurance levels or take a leisurely stroll to maintain your mobility.
You get to choose when and how you want to work out. You can also read a book or watch your favorite TV show while you exercise.
What are the benefits of incline running?
Running at an incline targets the calves, glutes, quads, hamstrings and core to work harder than they would running on a flat surface. This also helps to build muscle, increase endurance and strength, and improve your form and speed.
You’ll also be improving your cardiovascular endurance as your lungs have to overcome the demands of hills, which helps to strengthen them. Your heart is placed under a higher demand and becomes stronger.
You’ll burn more calories running at an incline, as your body has to work harder at propelling itself forward. You’ll find that there’s less stress placed on your shinbones when running at an incline, too. This can help alleviate and prevent shin splints as you’ll be using your hips more than your shins.
What should you look for when buying a treadmill?
When you’re buying a treadmill, consider what type of training you’re going to be using it for. If you’re a runner and looking to use the treadmill to train for marathons and ultras, you’ll have different needs than someone who wants to just keep basically fit.
For runners, the size of the deck plays an important part, as you want to be able to run at your full stride. A treadmill that allows for incline and decline can help with weight loss as it makes the body work harder, which burns more calories. For runners, it helps build endurance and speed.
Decide where you want to put the treadmill, as this will show how much space is going to be needed. If you don’t have a lot of space, you may want to get a treadmill that folds, as this will take up less space. These treadmills also have wheels so you can move them easily.
Intended use and motor size
Consider the size of the motor, as this powers the deck, and ultimately you. Depending on what you’re going to be using the treadmill for, as well as your weight, keep the following in mind:
- For walking, consider a 2.0 CHP motor
- For fast walking, consider a motor that’s 2.5 CHP or higher
- Running & sprinting require a motor that’s 3.0 CHP or higher
- Running & sprinting at inclines requires a 4.0 CHP motor or higher
You don’t want to be exercising with the motor running at full capacity, as it will wear it out faster. If you’re unsure, it’s better to go with a motor that’s slight higher and has some power to spare.
Deck cushioning is important, as this reduces the impact on the joints and minimizes the risk of injury. Make sure that the treadmill you get does have cushioning, even if you’re just going to be walking.
Most treadmills come with built-in workout programs, and some will even give you access to third-party apps. Depending on what you’re going to be using it for, be it weight loss or building your stamina, you want the programs to cater to your needs.
If the treadmill is going to be used by more than one family member in the house, you may want to get a treadmill with a larger weight capacity. This will help to protect the motor and the frame from wear and tear.
You also want to buy a machine where the warranty includes the motor, frame, and in-house labor for a period of time. Most warranties will cover the frame and motor for up to 10 years.
The prices of treadmills can range from $500 to upwards of $2500. The good news is that no matter your budget, you can still find a treadmill that will fit your needs.
What is crucial when you buy a treadmill?
Before you rush off and buy a treadmill, make sure that you’re going to use it frequently. Start by setting a goal and a plan to reach it. That could be running a certain distance, training for a specific race, or losing a certain amount of weight.
If you live in an apartment, make sure you have enough space for a treadmill. You also want to check that while you’re running on it, it’s not going to be excessively noisy and bother your neighbors.
When you’re investing in a treadmill, you want to make sure that there’s a good return on the investment. You want to be able to get years of use out of your treadmill as well as see an improvement in your health.
Some treadmills have advanced Bluetooth, which allows you to connect to apps like Zwift, a virtual online running game. Get a few running friends to join in, and race each other even when you can’t be together in person.
There are a number of apps that you can you use to make your running experience more pleasurable and to keep you motivated while you achieve your fitness goals.