Whether you’re looking into a cheaper alternative to a motorized treadmill or you’re just interested in getting a great workout, a manual treadmill might be an excellent choice for you. And, if you don’t like running out in the cold, but still want to be able to run in the winter, a manual treadmill is the way to do it!
Manual treadmills vary widely in price, but are easy to store, and safe around kids and pets, all while putting you in control of how much you want to work your lower body. You power this baby.
Even though you aren’t going to be spending an arm and a leg to purchase a manual treadmill, it is important to make sure that you pick the best ones out there. There’s no sense in spending money on a poor quality treadmill even if it is operated manually.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
StairMaster HIITMill Self-Powered Incline Treadmill
ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill
1. Assault AirRunner
Not all manual treadmills are created equal, as the Assault AirRunner clearly demonstrates. It’s not your grandma’s manual treadmill. Instead, it’s a manual treadmill that has many of the features you’d expect on a motorized treadmill. The only difference is that you power the Assault AirRunner.
You can fit the AirRunner into any space, because it is lightweight and portable. Because it doesn’t use electricity, it’s safe to keep out around the kids and any pets you might have. And it’s easy on the environment, with zero electrical consumption.
Similarly, because it is motorless, you get to decide the speed, as the machine is propelled by you. You have no maximum speed setting, so you can push yourself to the limit if you so decide. It’s especially built with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) in mind.
Finally, unlike other types of manual treadmills, you have a console that includes information about your time, calories burned, distance, speed, watts, and pace, and even a number of heart-rate and interval programs. You’ll get all the benefits of a motorized treadmill in addition to the advantages of a manual treadmill, and your running form will improve.
- Great for intervals and Crossfit
- Will help you run better
- More natural workout than a motorized treadmill
- Monitor is similar to motorized treadmill (shows time, calories, speed, distance, and pace)
- Can take a little bit of time to figure out your cadence
2. StairMaster HIITMill Self-Powered Incline Treadmill
If you’re looking for a manual treadmill that will revolutionize the way you work out, the StairMaster HIITMill Self-Powered Incline treadmill is it. This treadmill is designed to be used in a HIIT program, so you can use it for speed and agility, lateral training, and sled work. In addition, you can opt for simple activities such as walking on an incline, running hill sprints, or hiking with light resistance for generic cardio training as you work up to more challenging workouts.
The HIITMill is designed to provide more traction than other manual treadmills, meaning that you can use it for heavy pushing and heavy lifting activities. In fact, it has Farmers Carry lift arms, which allow for the addition of weight plates on each side, meaning that you can do quite a bit more with this manual treadmill in comparison to others.
With a fixed 11 percent incline, this treadmill is not for the faint of heart. You’ll develop speed, strength, and explosive power when you use it for walking, running, pushing, and pulling.
- If you use this 5 days a week, you’ll be in amazing shape
- Extreme variety of workouts you can use it for
- Steep fixed incline
3. SpeedFit Speedboard ProXL
In addition to being an excellent way to run effortlessly, the SpeedFit Speedboard ProXL comes with the SpeedFit system that lays out a variety of 5,000 personal workouts based on one simple test that takes less than 10 minutes. You’ll be able to find the workouts best for you based on your potential.
Thanks to the curved belt, this treadmill has a soft tread deck that matches your stride and reduces joint stress by allowing you to naturally adjust your speed. Since the tread belt system is low-mass and shock-absorbing, it is smooth and quiet, giving you a satisfying and comfortable workout.
You’ll be able to reach your full potential with the SpeedFit Speedboard Pro XL because it will use more of your energy in a shorter period of time, focusing on workouts that include walking, long easy distance runs, and short sprint runs on the balls of your feet. You’ll burn substantially more calories this way and develop as a runner.
- It’s like running outside
- Reduces impact of running
- Be careful getting off as you’ll need to adjust to flat ground
4. ASUNA Hi-Performance Cardio Trainer Self Powered Manual Treadmill
Whether you’re looking for a low-intensity or high-intensity workout, the ASUNA Hi-Performance Cardio Trainer Self Powered Manual Treadmill can do both. Plus, you can be sure to achieve a great cardio workout with the static incline position of 6-10 degrees.
Running on this treadmill works best at its highest incline, but this results in a very challenging workout. If you’re looking to walk, the ASUNA treadmill is best when it’s flat. Thus, this treadmill has you covered for intense workouts and easy ones. It’s harder to reach a middle ground, though.
The ASUNA treadmill is designed with safety in mind, as the frame can sustain a maximum weight of 440 pounds—some manual treadmills can only handle significantly lower weights. Likewise, the handlebars are sweat- and slip-resistant coated to give you a secure grip for your HIIT workouts. Examples of other workouts you’ll be able to do on the ASUNA treadmill include mountain climbers, backward jogging, side squats, and hand walkers.
- Best for HIIT at a max incline, but hard to sustain
- Hard to find a middle ground between too easy and too intense of a workout
- Some found it only good for moderate walking
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1408M Manual Treadmill
You can use the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1408M Force Fitmill Manual treadmill as a treadmill or as an indoor sled alternative. It’s a versatile machine with its multi-grip handrails, as you can push against the tread and run or walk in various positions. When used in this way, you can reap the benefits that you might expect from an assault bike or ski erg.
In addition, you have a large running surface, which means that you have ample space, support, and room for exercise. Plus, the 13.5-degree fixed incline guarantees that you’re going to get a good workout, although you can adjust the 16 resistance levels to find one that is going to be just right for you: not too strenuous and not too easy.
Finally, the slip- and sweat-resistant rails provide a solid handhold as you push yourself for a maximum intensity workout and improved muscular power. And the incline will assist you in developing a more fluid running motion, helping you to improve your form. In the end, you’ll be able to increase your speed, set new fitness goals, and reach new personal bests with this manual treadmill.
- Very sturdy
- Can adjust tension on the belt for an easy walk to a full sprint
- Can use as an indoor sled alternative
- Very smooth workout
- No place for a water bottle (or iPad for entertainment)
- Hard to run on
6. Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, basic manual treadmill, the Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual treadmill fits the bill. In addition to getting a reasonably-priced machine that is easy to set up and quiet to use, you’ll also get some more traditional features you’d expect on a treadmill. The LED display shows time elapsed, distanced covered, calories burned, and speed attained.
The treadmill has a fixed gentle incline, which means that you can walk or run more naturally without a steep incline. You’ll also get to select between 8 adjustable levels to tailor your workout to what’s best for you. Many individuals find this manual treadmill perfect for walking, but a bit more challenging to run on.
This treadmill is incredibly light, so it’s easy to move around the house. If you want to use it as you’re watching TV, then store it under your bed, it can be done easily. And your spouse in the other room might not even know you’re using it because it is so quiet. In sum, the Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual treadmill is an excellent entry level, budget-friendly option if you are looking to spend $100-$200 on something basic to keep you active during the cold winter months.
- Extremely easily stored — very slim
- Nice workout and very quiet
- Excellent treadmill for the money
- This treadmill is for walking, not running
- Materials are somewhat cheap
- The belt can slip
7. Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill
The Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill is easy-up in two senses. One, the spring-loaded pull-pin makes it easy to securely lock the unit in the upright position for easy storage, and when you’re ready to exercise, you just have to release it. Second, you’ll experience an intense incline workout on this treadmill, since it has a fixed 12.5% incline.
In addition to a basic display with the distance you’ve covered and calories burned, you also have a water bottle holder, which you might need during a challenging workout. At first, if you’re not in shape, this might seem pretty hard to exercise on, but it is possible! Just keep working up to it.
On the Phoenix 98510 Easy Up Manual treadmill, you’ll be able to walk, jog, and run. Depending on the intensity of workout you desire, you can pick your speed. Plus, you can do all of this at a very affordable price.
- Easy to assemble
- Good workout, and will build your fitness quickly
- Very lightweight
- Pretty steep incline, so not great for elderly
- The belt sticks until you find your groove
- Traction belt is narrow and short
- Requires a higher level of balance and may need to use the handlebars
8. ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill
Like other reasonably priced manual treadmills, you won’t be spending an arm and a leg on the ProGear 190 manual treadmill. However, you’ll get some added perks that you might not see on other inexpensive models, such as two different inclines and long handles, making your workout more comfortable.
People often mention how easy it is to assemble, set up, and maintain this treadmill. Plus, it has oversized belt rollers so you have a smooth walking or running experience, which will encourage you to keep using it to get into shape.
You’ll be able to personalize your workout by adjusting the incline between 6 percent (if you’re looking for something easier) or 10 percent (if you are looking for something harder). Finally, if you find yourself needing to grab the handles during an intense workout, they are easier to reach since they are longer than on many manual treadmills.
- Quite smooth
- Great for walking and watching TV
- Incredibly easy to assemble
- Cannot eliminate the incline, which is somewhat steep
- Can take some time to get used to
- Hard to get into a rhythm
What is a Manual Treadmill?
A manual treadmill is a treadmill that operates manually rather than by electricity. The belt will only move if you’re moving. The action of your feet striking the deck moves the belt, so you control how fast you go with your pace and motion.
How Does a Manual Treadmill Work?
In a couple words, a manual treadmill works by the movement of your feet. Users themselves have control over the speed, so you’re going to get quite a workout because the force is coming from your legs, not the machine itself.
Manual vs Motorized Treadmill
A manual treadmill works due to the movement of your feet, while a motorized treadmill works due to electricity. A motorized treadmill will continue to work whether you’re running on it or not, and you have the option to set the speed that you desire.
As is logical, a manual treadmill is going to require significantly more effort, as it is manually operated. Thus, you’ll get a better workout with a manual treadmill over a motorized treadmill.
Why are Some Manual Treadmills So Expensive?
Your basic manual treadmill is going to be very affordable, likely no more than $100 or $200. However, if you want more bells and whistles, it’s going to cost more.
Fancier manual treadmills are designed to allow you to do other workouts with multi-grip handlebars. Additionally, some of the more advanced models have a console that gives you detailed information about your workout, like a motorized treadmill would. The high-end models are built from very rugged materials, and are designed to help shape a perfect running stride. Great materials and design drive the price up.
If you want to do more than simply walk or run on your manual treadmill, you’re looking at spending a couple hundred dollars or maybe even a couple thousand as opposed to $100 or $200. Even so, most manual treadmills are still quite a bit cheaper than motorized models.
How Do I Run on a Manual Treadmill?
Basically, you run or walk like you normally would.
For a flat manual treadmill, you will run like you would on normal motorized treadmill. A curved belt manual treadmill requires slightly better form, like elite runners would have. The faster you move, the faster the treadmill goes, because you are propelling the motion of the treadmill.
Do I Have to Use the Handlebars?
You should only use the handlebars on a manual treadmill when you’re getting on and off, or starting and stopping. If you feel like you have to hold onto the handlebars, you are likely going too fast. Plus, if you use the handlebars as you walk/run, you will lose the benefits of working your lower body. So, let go when the treadmill reaches the speed that you desire!
You may feel like you need to use the handlebars on some manual treadmills with a very steep incline, and in those cases, it’s okay if you do hold on. Workouts on those treadmills are so intense that you won’t be able to swing your arms.
Will a Manual Treadmill Stop When I Stop?
Yes, a manual treadmill will stop when you stop, because it’s powered by you! They are unlike a power-assisted, motorized treadmill because manual treadmills require hard work. You decide the speed, so if you go at a speed of 0—i.e., stopping—that’s what the speed of the treadmill will be.
Can a Manual Treadmill Teach Me How to Run?
Yes, a manual treadmill can be a good way to learn how to run, as it is easier to control your pace. However, your stride will need to be consistent, and you can get tired significantly faster. It is hard to run well on a manual treadmill without some practice!
Since you’re supplying the power, unless you’re in really good shape, it can be easy to get sloppy, meaning you won’t burn as many calories and it won’t give you the best practice. But, in a sense, a manual treadmill can be a good teacher, as you’ll learn how to make your stride consistent over time.
Additionally, as you exercise your muscles, you’ll experience less fatigue when you run, making it that much easier to run on a manual treadmill. This might be a goal you could work toward.
Finally, if you use a curved belt manual treadmill, it can teach you to run as elite runners do:
Lean slightly forward, strike with your mid- to front-forefoot, and maintain a high cadence. If you’re used to being lazy on the treadmill and leaning back, you’ll learn how to move with excellent form on a curved belt manual treadmill.
Can I Walk on a Manual Treadmill?
Yes, you can walk on a manual treadmill. In fact, some manual treadmills actually work better for walkers. A curved-belt manual treadmill is better for runners, while a flat manual treadmill is best for walkers, as you often can’t get above a speed/pace of 3.5-4.0 mph.