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How to choose a Treadmill for beginners

A decade ago if you wanted to cut some pounds you had to hit the gym. In the last decade, especially in the year 2020, most people prefer having their own fitness equipment.  A treadmill is the perfect beginner’s fitness equipment.

In the article below we look at the key features to look for when choosing your first treadmill.  The right treadmill should be high performing and affordable. Here are 7 features to look out for when choosing a running machine for home use.


Treadmills come in three sizes. How much spare room do you have in your home garage, bedroom or living room? The amount of space you can spare determines the type of treadmill you can purchase. These are the three sizes on the market.

Small/compact treadmills: These treadmills are pretty small. If you are working with a small space, this machine is a great option. Compact treadmills such as walking pads are designed with no handles so they can fit under a bed or couch. Some compact machines can fold in half for easier storage.

Mid-size treadmills: A mid-sized treadmill is a perfect machine for most home. Most mid-size indoor treadmills come with the tech features and physical components of high-end treadmills but in smaller sizes or reduced capabilities.

For example; most mid-size treadmills come with well-cushioned belts, similar cushioning with the large treadmills but the treads are smaller.

Also, a mid-size treadmill may have preset programs but will not be compatible with apps such as iFit.

Large treadmills: Now, brands such as NordicTrack, Bowflex and Proform have specialized in designing large home treadmills. You’ll experience similar power and performance as when using a gym machine.

You’ll need to set as aside enough space for this machine. The advantage of owning a huge machine is it allows for intense workouts. You can run from DC to Santa Fe and the machine will still hold its own.


Another important feature to look at is the motor specs. Treadmills come with different motor power. The higher the continuous horsepower, the more intense workouts a treadmill can handle.

Walkingpads or treadmills for walking are equipped with 1.0 – 2.0 HP motors.  These motors have enough capacity for walking exercises.

Jogging and light running treadmill are equipped with 2.25 HP motors and above.

Sprinting and interval training treadmills come with 3.0 HP motors and above. The treadmills with this motor capacity are large. Another plus is most often than not the motor is protected by a lifetime warranty.

What exercises do you intend to do on your machine? If you need a machine for light exercising, a treadmill with lower motor capacity will do and for interval training or sprinting on a treadmill, go for a motor with higher capacity.


Treadmills come with varying features. Before you choose a machine, you need to answer these questions

  1. Do I want to use the machine for endurance training?
  2. Do I need a trainer?
  3. How large should the tread/belt be?
  4. Do I need incline and decline?

Heart rate monitoring – If you want to do endurance training on a treadmill, you need a machine with built-in pulse sensors or one that is telemetry enabled so you can use a  chest strap.  Most mid-size and large treadmills come with pulse sensors

Programs – One of the reasons why most beginners quit exercising is because they have to guess the number of minutes to run, the speed, and distance to run per session. Thankfully, most brands have addressed this. Using tech, today’s treadmills come with preset programs.

Treadmill programs are designed for different fitness levels so you’ll get a good workout on each stage of your fitness journey. Also, brands such as Proform and NordicTrack have partnered with iFit.

With iFit you get guidance from certified coaches, customized routes, a library of workout videos, and more. Basically, you’ll have a world-class trainer in your home, run through scenic routes without ever stepping outside and never have to worry about weight loss plateaus.

Running belt size – The smaller the treadmill, the smaller the running belt and vice versa. Though compact treadmills are affordable, you’ll have to compromise on the size of the running belt.

For short people, a smaller treadmill would be okay but for taller people, we recommend the larger models that offer large wide belts (60 by 22 inches)

Incline/decline functions – Some treadmills can simulate uphill and downhill terrains. Incline and decline running on a treadmill is helps engage more muscle groups than traditional running. Running on incline or uphill on a treadmill can burn twice the amount of calories helping you achieve your fitness goals sooner than later.

Additional features: You want to stay hydrated when exercising; a treadmill with water bottle holders is a great plus. Also, check for floor stabilizers in case your floor is uneven, and go for a treadmill with a safety key for emergency stops.

If you like having music in the background, check for a treadmill that is Bluetooth enabled or has an audio jack with built-in speakers. Also, if you are going to use your machine for intense workouts, a treadmill with built-in fans the right pick.

Weight capacity:

Depending on the size of the motor and frame, treadmills are designed to support varying amounts of weights. Compact treadmills support from 170 to 250 pounds while larger treadmills support up to 450 pounds.

When choosing a running machine, make sure to check the specifications and pick one that supports at least 50 pounds above your current weight.


After deciding on the features, types of exercises and number of programs, check on your budget. Home treadmills are affordable. They range from $300 to $4000. Don’t be fooled. An expensive treadmill may not necessarily be the best.

We recommend mid-size treadmills. They are affordable and pack the same features as most $3000 treadmills.

Treadmills FAQs 

Which are the best treadmill brands? 

If you want to go with a brand name, check out NordicTrack, Proform, Bowflex, Sole and the new kid on the block Goplus. If space is limited, Goplus treadmills are the right pick.

Can you lose weight on a treadmill? 

Yes, you can lose as much weight as you plan on a treadmill. The keyword is a plan. How many calories can you burn on a treadmill? On average you can burn up to 250 calories when running at speeds of 7.5 for half an hour. You can lose a pound or two each week running on a treadmill. A good treadmill will reduce thighs and burn belly fat.

Are treadmills bad for your knees? 

A treadmill without cushioning is bad for your knees. A good running belt is integrated with cushioning to reduce the impact on knees and back. Ensure to check if the treadmill is cushioned, if the manufacturer has not stated clearly, you can always email them.