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
SpeedFit Speedboard Pro XL
SB Fitness Equipment CT700 Self Generated Curved Treadmill
EXERPEUTIC 100XL High Capacity Magnetic Resistance Manual Treadmill
1. SpeedFit Speedboard Pro XL
The SpeedFit Speedboard Pro XL features a spacious curved surface—17×66 inches—that can handle up to 400 pounds of weight—running—and 800 pounds walking. It would be suitable for runners of all sizes and fitness levels.
The tread belt system is designed to be shock-absorbing. It features 56 individual strips on the belt, each of which sports a ⅜-inch cushion. This helps to cushion joints and reduces the risk of injury.
It comes with 5,000 built-in workouts that one can switch between for variety. To get access to this database, one would need to complete a fitness test which lasts about 10 minutes. Afterward, the workouts in the database are customized to suit the user’s fitness level.
The frame is made of steel and has a 10-year warranty on it. It’s also designed so that there’s plenty of space for one to run freely and at their full stride.
This treadmill weighs 256 pounds. Even though it has wheels on the back which are meant to help one move it from place to place, it may be difficult for one person to move this treadmill by themself.
- Spacious running deck
- Shock-absorbing tread belt system
- 5,000 personal workouts
- Weight capacity of up to 400 pounds
- This treadmill is very heavy and may be difficult for one person to move
2. Assault Fitness AssaultRunner
The Assault Fitness Assault Runner is a motorless treadmill that supports a weight of up to 350 pounds. It has no maximum speed—it’s all about how much power you put into it.
The slat belt running surface is designed to last for up to 150,000 miles. It is cushioned to provide impact absorption so your joints are better protected when using this treadmill than they would be on the road.
There is no need to set up the tension on the belt or spend hours maintaining it. It is also textured to simulate running on the road. The grip makes it suitable to use for HIIT workouts and sprinting.
The steel frame and corrosion-resistant hardware make this treadmill strong and durable.
The LCD console screen lets you see your time, distance, calories, and pace while you’re running. You can base your workouts on this data or you can use one of the built-in interval programs or heart rate zone workouts. The treadmill has Bluetooth and ANT connectivity capabilities.
Some people may not like that you cannot customize the information shown on the screen. You also can’t save your own workout if you have a specific workout you like to do. It’s also heavy—280 pounds—so it can be hard to move.
- Built-in HIIT and heart rate programs
- Bluetooth connectivity
- LCD digital console
- Built-in transport wheels
- You can’t save your workouts or customize the data on the display screen
Best for Running
3. SB Fitness Equipment CT700 Self Generated Curved Treadmill
You can walk at a leisurely pace or run at high speeds on this treadmill. It has high-speed stainless steel bearings which allow the belt to run quietly and smoothly without bumps or glitches. This is ideal for individuals who want to do speed work.
The running surface is 66.6 inches x 19 inches, which should offer enough space for even tall runners to hit their full stride.
The steel frame is sturdy and tilts at a forward angle so that the console doesn’t present a hazard when running at full pace. However, the handrails remain within grasp in case they’re needed. The handrails are designed in a way that allows you to do a sled push if you are training for sports.
Another safety feature is the anti-skid rubber on the running surface. This makes speed work safer and the raised rubber cushions also absorb shock and vibration of your footfalls. Each nylon slat on the surface is 0.75 inches thick.
There are eight levels of magnetic resistance that you can use to increase the intensity of your workout. The upward curve on either end of the treadmill surface helps it to slow down faster when the user’s legs begin to fatigue.
The treadmill also features adjustable feet beneath it so that you can level it out on any surface for optimal safety. It can handle users up to 475 pounds in weight. The treadmill itself weighs 308 pounds and can be moved around with the built-in transport wheels, although it may not be easy for a single person to move.
There is a 10-year warranty on the frame, a 5-year warranty on the parts, a 2-year warranty on the console and 1 year on labor.
- 8 levels of manual magnetic resistance
- Anti-skid rubber track
- Multi-positional handrails
- Spacious running tread
- Very heavy
Best for Walking
4. EXERPEUTIC 100XL High Capacity Magnetic Resistance Manual Treadmill
This treadmill is smaller than the others so it’s best suited for walking and light jogging.
It may look less sturdy than the others, but it has been tested and can take users of up to 325 pounds. The belt is 16 inches x 45 inches, which should still accommodate tall individuals when walking.
The treadmill runs off of twin flywheels in the front of the belt. These are smooth and quiet and offer a more consistent and balanced rhythm than treadmills with a single flywheel.
This treadmill has three levels of incline to vary the intensity of your workout. Some users may not like that there is no flat setting—the lowest the treadmill can go is at an 8 percent incline. This helps to prevent strain on the lower legs and can also help to build muscle and endurance.
One can also choose between 8 different levels of magnetic resistance. The handlebars come with heart rate monitor pads so you can measure your heart rate and adjust your intensity to meet your target heart rate.
The treadmill comes mostly assembled. All you need to do is attach the computer and you can start walking. When you are done, it folds up easily and you can move it out of the way using the built-in wheels.
- 3 levels of incline
- 8 levels of magnetic tension
- Twin flywheels
- Foldable design
- The treadmill does not have a flat setting, only inclined
5. FitnessReality TR3000
The FitnessReality TR3000 is a small and affordable treadmill but it offers a variety of useful features for its price point. It also comes almost fully assembled out of the box so there’s no need to pay for installation.
It has dual flywheels to power the running surface. While the 16 inch x 45 inch running surface is spacious enough for walking, users who wish to run may find that there’s not enough space for them to reach their full stride. The deck is durable and strong and has been proven to hold a weight of up to 325 pounds.
The handlebars are longer than other treadmills in this class for safety. They have pulse rate pads on them so you can measure your heart rate while you’re running.
If you want to increase the intensity of your workout, you can change to one of three incline positions—8, 10 or 13 degrees, no flat setting, Quick Release adjustments—or increase the magnetic resistance, with 8 levels to choose from.
You can monitor your distance, time, speed, heart rate and calories on the LCD display screen. Store the TV remote or your phone in the specially provided spot on the console. When you’re finished jogging or walking, it folds easily and can be wheeled out of the way.
- Quick Release incline adjustments
- Heart pulse monitoring pads
- Magnetic tension resistance
- Built-in transportation wheels
- The deck may not be large enough for running at a speed
Best for Seniors
6. Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill ASUNA 7700
Seniors who want to stay fit and healthy without needing to run on the road will find that this treadmill offers everything they need.
This dual-flywheel manual treadmill looks well-made and strong. It has a weight capacity of 440 pounds, and the heavy-duty steel frame is tough and durable.
The 51 inch x 17.75 inch deck is cushioned to protect seniors’ joints. There are cushioning cells placed in pairs across the surface so that most of the impact is absorbed before it even reaches your joints.
Seniors can adjust the treadmill to 8 different levels of resistance using the easy pull-bar system. There is an incline range of 10 to 14 degrees. You can’t set this treadmill to a flat setting. The multi-grip handlebar allows you to have support and is rubber coated for better grip.
There is no screen so you won’t be able to keep track of your metrics while you are running. But this shouldn’t be a problem for seniors who are not likely to be tracking their stats for training purposes. There is a tablet holder where one can place either a tablet or a phone if they wish to have entertainment close by.
The treadmill also features a soft-drop system so that people of all ages can lower it safely.
- Adjustable magnetic tension
- Deck cushioning system
- Rubber-coated handlebars for safety
- Maximum incline of 14 degrees
- This manual treadmill doesn’t have a digital screen so you can’t keep track of your stats
Best For HIIT
7. SB Fitness Equipment CT400 Self Generated Curved Treadmill
With a deck of 18 inches x 60 inches and a weight capacity of 450 pounds, this treadmill is suitable for users of all sizes and heights.
There are also low, medium, and high magnetic resistance settings, which makes this the ideal treadmill for a variety of workout types, including HIIT.
The high-speed nylon bearings allow one to run smoothly and at a speed without excess noise. Ultra-thin slats on the deck offer rubber cushioning for durability as well as grip, which assists on with high-intensity workouts. The slats have been tested to last for up to 150,000 miles before wearing away.
Although this is a manual treadmill and needs to be manually stopped, the shape of the deck—upward curves at the front and rear of the deck—uses gravity to slow the treadmill down quickly and safely.
The steel frame and handrails are designed for safety and can be gripped in a variety of ways. Underneath the treadmill, adjustable feet help you to get it level and safe on any surface. There are also built-in wheels and a handle for transporting it easily.
An external heart rate monitor can be connected via Bluetooth.
It has a comprehensive warranty, which includes 10 years on the frame, 7 years on the handlebars and parts, 2 years on the console, and a year for labor.
- Manual magnetic resistance
- Flexible slats
- Digital display
- Bluetooth connectivity for heart rate monitor
- This treadmill may not be suitable for long-distance running as the flexible slats may fatigue your legs quicker
Best for Home Use
8. Sunny Health & Fitness Force Fitmill Manual Treadmill
The Sunny Health & Fitness Force Fitmill manual treadmill is ideal for users who want to have access to a variety of exercise intensities on one machine.
You can customize their workout by choosing between three different incline levels and 16 easy-to-adjust resistance levels. You can also purchase a fixed incline treadmill, which remains at an incline of 13.5 degrees.
Two 11-pound flywheels make this treadmill very steady, and curved handlebars are easy to grip for safety.
The deck measures 47.5 inches x 17.5 inches, which should be more than enough space for walking and jogging. Taller runners may find that they can’t get a full stride in, but this can still work by adjusting one’s cadence.
A digital monitor allows you to follow their distance, speed, the time you’ve spent running, heart rate, and calories burned. Pulse sensors on the front handlebars make it easy to monitor heart rate and adjust exercise intensity accordingly to avoid overexerting oneself.
A soft-drop hydraulic system makes it very safe for anyone to fold and unfold this treadmill whenever they need to use it.
- Adjustable incline
- 16 levels of magnetic tension
- Soft-drop hydraulic system
- Easy fold design
- Assembling this treadmill can be difficult
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.