It seems that I do get a lot of the same questions, so I thought it would be good to do a post to explain what are the top treadmill inner workings. Those with a home gym (or are looking to start one) are always curious about which treadmill is the best purchase out there. It only made sense to write a top 5 list featuring the most essential parts of a treadmill and reasons why a home treadmill owner should understand them.
Above all else, a quality treadmill motor is a must. Most treadmills will list a horsepower measurement for the motor. While the horsepower measurement is important, the type of motor is just as essential. A treadmill that lists its motor as “2.5 hp” means that the treadmill will reach this speed but not necessarily sustain it. This is a great option for someone who desires quick segments of power during a workout.
A treadmill that reads “2.5 chp” will boast continuous power at the maximum speed measurement listed. It’s much more powerful and will sustain high speeds during your entire workout.
For my own workouts, I prefer the chp reading, as I fare better with a steady climb and continual challenge. Others may appreciate the short spurts of added difficulty. Neither is positive or negative – it is completely the preference of the owner.
While the motor is of utmost importance, the belt comes in a very close second. Belt size is a huge selling point for many people because home gym use often equates to multiple users. A belt can run a huge range of length and width, with a standard measuring in at 19 x 50 inches. What I ceased to take into account with my first treadmill is that all belts goes onto a deck. This deck includes other necessary components like the frame and front console, both of which eat away at your actual dimensions. Thus, a 19 x 50 inch belt will realistically shrink down by up to five inches. If you plan to exclusively walk on your treadmill, a standard belt size is acceptable. Those who wish to run or jog will need an extra-long belt, as well as one that is generous in width. A treadmill belt that lists a running size of 20 x 60 is much more comfortable for an active treadmill user than a standard belt.
Since the frame of your treadmill will literally be holding everything together, it’s vital you find a treadmill known for sturdy frames. NordicTrack and Proform are both excellent brands to try. The studier the treadmill, the less of a “shake” you will experience during your workout. I personally will splurge on a pricier frame above all else, as I don’t enjoy wobbling or distractions during a jogging session. The frame’s bar placement is also important – we do not come from tall stock, so standard bars work great for our family. However, if you are taller, keep in mind you don’t want to compromise your runner’s stance and risk injury in order to reach bars set too low.
At times, I am blown away by the diversity of consoles on the market today. Treadmill consoles have evolved into miniature entertainment units with some offering full Internet access or custom workout plans coached onward by celebrity trainers.
If you like simplicity, you won’t need to pay much attention to the console other than to ensure you know how it functions. If you’re like my family and love the bells and whistles, you’ll undoubtedly have plenty of options. Most of today’s treadmill consoles offer an MP3 docking station, built in speakers and water bottle holders. More advanced models will include interactive training, a built-in television, an Android Web browser and cooling fans for ultimate comfort while you exercise.
Admittedly, we are not the disciplined type, so enjoying a good show or being able to catch up on email while exercising is a great perk for our family.
I do technically consider the accompanying warranty of a treadmill to be a part of the machine as a whole. Without a good warranty, you are setting yourself up for both debt and disappointment.
While top treadmills used to only carry a 90-day warranty, today’s models contain many other options. Look for a lifetime frame warranty, which now comes standard with many machines from brand name manufacturers. As for the rest of the treadmill, look for those that offer the longest extension of time on both parts and labor. This may cost more initially, but can potentially save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. Especially if you are placing your treadmill in a home gym where children have access, a reliable, long-term warranty is ideal.
Understanding the inner workings and important functions of a treadmill will help you make an informed and educated decision. Since today’s treadmill units are as diverse as the users who purchase them, only you and your family will be able to discern what works best for day-to-day use.