In a world where modernity often equates to automation, the resurgence of manual treadmills is a testament to the enduring appeal of simplicity and functionality.
If you’ve ever wondered is there a treadmill that doesn’t need to be plugged in? You’ve come to the right place.
The rhythmic thud of each footfall, the ability to set your own pace, and the absence of cords or buttons to fuss with – these are just a few reasons why manual treadmills have regained their footing in the fitness arena.
As a long-time personal trainer and run coach, I’ve witnessed this revival firsthand, and in this article, we’ll explore the best manual at home treadmills to get you started. Previously, I’ve written extensively about the benefits and drawbacks of manual treadmill vs electric.
Let’s dive in to compare specific manual treadmills.
Are Manual Walking Treadmills Worth It?
I actually think this is a truly important question before you make a purchase. You can absolutely get a great workout on one of these manual treadmills by increasing the incline and then pushing yourself to do a power walk.
But that also means you need to know yourself.
Are you more likely to use an electric treadmill because it doesn’t sound as hard? Or because you can play with pace and incline? Or because you like the screen with guided workouts? If so, then I think it’s worth checking out some of the best budget treadmills for something sturdier and maybe that will get more use.
5 Best Manual Treadmills
If there were only one manual treadmill option on the market, it would be easy to choose which one you wanted! However, there are many different models available that all offer various options, which can make it tough to know which one is the best for you. So I’m sharing my favorite self-propelled treadmill models with you to help make your decision easier.
The truth is I could list a whole bunch of treadmills just like options 1 and 2, but they’re all the same.
These two have some of the best quality and that’s why I listed them rather than just giving you a ton of information that isn’t helpful.
Unlike a motorized treadmill, you won’t find things like a heart rate monitor or a large cushioned running deck. However, there are two distinct types of manual treadmills, one is the older cheaper compact style and the other is a larger curved manual treadmill.
1. Most Affordable For At Home Training – Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1407M Manual Treadmill ($199)
If you’re looking for a low-cost option that easily fits into smaller spaces, this Sunny Health treadmill is a good option. It has a small digital monitor that tracks key metrics like time, speed, and calories burned, so you can monitor your progress easily. Overall, this treadmill is ideal for anyone looking for a no-fuss, low-maintenance option for staying active indoors.
- Adjustable Incline: No
- Incline Degree: 10.4
- Dimensions: 23″D x 49″W x 50″H
- Running Surface: 42L x 13W in
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 220 lb
2. Best Walking Manual Treadmill – Exerpeutic 100XL High-Capacity Magnetic Resistance Manual Treadmill
If you’re looking for a low-cost option that easily fits into smaller spaces, this Exerpeutic high-capacity manual treadmill is a good option.
It has a small LCD display that tracks key metrics like time, distance, calories, speed, and target heart rates so you can monitor your progress easily. It also features extra-long safety handles for balance and stability. Overall, this treadmill is ideal
- Incline: 3 position inclines of 8, 10 and 15 degrees
- Tension: 8 levels of magnetic tension for different levels of difficulty
- Dimensions: 50″D x 29″W x 50″H
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 325 lb
3. Best for HIIT Training – Assault Runner Pro ($2999)
Now we’re getting into curved treadmills, which will be much more expensive than flat-belt self-propelled treadmills. The Assault Runner Pro is a popular model because it’s a great fit no matter what kind of training you want to do.
It’s sturdy, stable, reliable, and has a battery-powered LCD screen. In addition, many manual treadmills only allow you to reach a certain speed (usually around 4 mph), but this one will enable you to go as fast as you want to push yourself.
Here you’ll be running on a slat belt for things like sprints more so than taking a walk.
- Bluetooth-enabled, battery-powered LCD console
- Dimensions: 69.9L x 31.7W x 64.4H in
- Weight Limit: 400 lb
4. Best for Working – Lifepro 30″ Under Desk Walking Pad ($299)
If you want to get some movement in while working, this is a good option for an under-desk walking treadmill because it doesn’t have any handrails, so it fits nicely underneath your work space. While they often show photos of people running on these treadmills, I wouldn’t encourage it due to the lack of handrails or any screen giving you data.
Instead, this is a nice option to slide under your standing desk to get in light movement throughout the day, which we know can spark creativity!
This is one of the smallest options I’ve seen, so cheers for not needing a lot of space! But it will always be set at a 7% incline, which is partially to help you get going, but could work your legs more than you’re used to.
- LED Display: No screen
- Speed: .5mph to 3mph
- Dimensions: 32″D x 25″W x 7″H
- User Weight Limit: 220 lb
Electric Treadmill in Manual Mode – Nordictrack 2450
I think this can get confusing, so I wanted to throw in one of my favorite at home running treadmills and better explain manual treadmill vs manual mode.
Every electric treadmill has the ability to be used in “manual mode”, which is to say that you can turn it on and chose your speed and incline without using one of the pre-programed workouts. This is not to say that the treadmill can run without electricity and be self powered.
I’ve seen a few websites list the Nordictrack X22i or X32i as hybrid treadmills, but this is not correct.
In fact, we know that it can actually do damage to your electric treadmill to try and force it to run on human power without the motor running.
The 2450 is renowned for its integration of cutting-edge technology and its array of workout options, promising an engaging and productive fitness journey. While no longer labeled as a commercial series, you’ll see it often still referred to that way because it has all the right features for a home gym or gym.
Since I’ve mentioned it’s my personal treadmill and a favorite, I wanted to go ahead and give you the specs.
- $2,999 — watch for sales, they happen a few times a year
- 12 MPH max speed
- -3% decline to 12% incline
- 10-Year Frame Warranty, 2-Year Parts Warranty, 1-Year Labor Warranty
- Touchscreen that will pivot and tilt
By taking advantage of the power in your lower body, manual treadmills offer heart-pumping workout possibilities and a great alternative to motorized treadmills.
Boasting many advantages, including cost savings, convenience, and safety and storage benefits, self-propelled treadmills are becoming more popular by the day. So, if you’re looking to add a treadmill to your home gym, one of the options on this list may be exactly what you need.
Are Manual Treadmills Hard On Your Knees?
They shouldn’t be. If you are having knee pain after running or walking, then it’s time to dive in to the root cause of the issue.
Most of us need more hip and glute strength to prevent pain, but you can also use a knee support for walking to help you keep going while you work on that strength.
Tips for Using a Manual Treadmill
Manual treadmills may appear straightforward, but there’s more to getting the most out of these machines than meets the eye.
Maintain Proper Posture: Just like with any treadmill, maintaining proper posture is crucial. Stand upright, with your chest lifted, shoulders relaxed, and engage your core muscles. Avoid leaning on the handles excessively, as it can reduce the effectiveness of your workout.
Start Slow: If you’re new to manual treadmills, start at a slower pace to get used to the motion. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase your speed.
Focus on Your Stride: Pay attention to your stride length. Longer strides will provide a more intense workout, engaging your leg muscles and burning more calories.
Stay Hydrated: Manual treadmill workouts can be surprisingly strenuous. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout your session to prevent dehydration and cramping.
Mix Up Your Workouts: Don’t limit yourself to one workout style. You can do steady-state cardio, interval training, or even incorporate incline walking to add variety to your sessions.
Manual treadmills are a testament to the elegance of simplicity, offering an opportunity to achieve your fitness goals, save on costs, and tread lightly on the environment. Whether you’re seeking a cardiovascular workout, a way to build leg strength, or an entry point into fitness, manual treadmills provide an avenue to all of these objectives.
With the knowledge and insights shared in this guide, we hope you’ll make an informed decision when selecting the best manual treadmill to fit your unique needs and preferences.
Looking for more treadmill help?
Try a search in the top right or check out one of these helpful posts:
- 7 Boredom Busting Treadmill Workouts
- Best At Home Running Treadmills
- Treadmill Training Guide – Tips and Workouts to Maximize Your Time
- NordicTrack vs Peloton: Which Treadmill is Better for You?
- Why Do I Run Slower on A Treadmill?
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