If it’s too hot, cold, or wet to jog outside, it doesn’t hurt to have a treadmill at home for spur-of-the-moment cardio. The best treadmills not only provide a solid indoor option when you’re hesitant to run outside because of the weather, but they can help mix up your running workouts too. We chatted with more than a dozen running coaches to find out what they consider the best treadmills, folding treadmills, and smart treadmills to use at home for the most effective cardio workouts.
Below you’ll find picks from big-name brands like Peloton, NordicTrack, ProForm, Sole, and Bowflex, available at retailers such as Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and more. But first, here are some treadmill tips from running coaches to help you ensure the treadmill you buy gets put to use. If you want to read more about what to look for when shopping for a new treadmill, take a look at our extensive buying guide for treadmills that are suitable for home use.
Treadmill Buying Tips, According to Running Coaches
Bringing the run indoors “eliminates the need to modify your workouts,” Jes Woods, a Nike+ running coach, tells SELF. By having a treadmill at home you also have the freedom to “train at any time, continue doing something you enjoy, and get your miles in without going outside,” Adrian Richardson, the head coach for Fitbit, tells SELF. But it all depends on how well you use it, and where it will go. “If you’re new to running and are looking to get a treadmill, make sure that it doesn’t become a very expensive coat rack (meaning be honest with yourself on how much you expect to use it),” Richardson says.
Set a Schedule
Setting a schedule can help you stick to getting the most out of your treadmill. If you need extra motivation, try to join a running club or test out different types of running apps. “This will help you develop the habit of running on a treadmill and give you an opportunity to discover different types of training to help you reach your goals,” Richardson suggests.
Run With an Incline
With a few adjustments, your treadmill can help you get better at running outside. Josh Maio, founder and head coach of Gotham City Runners in NYC, suggests running with a slight incline. “Run with the incline set at 1%, even when just jogging,” Maio tells SELF. “Since the majority of runners naturally heel strike—even more so with the moving belt—adjusting the pitch even just a little bit will naturally improve your mechanics while adjusting your stride, which then translates outdoors.”
Try Treadmill Exercises and Workouts
Don’t just stop at jogging and running with your treadmill, says running coach and founder of Iron Diamond Fitness, Karli Alvino. “If your treadmill has the option for ‘dynamic mode’ (where the treadmill runs a bit looser) [try] exercises like body saws, army crawls, and knee drives. I also suggest keeping the treadmill at a very slow pace while doing running drills like high knees, butt kicks, and side shuffles.” You can challenge yourself with HIIT treadmill workouts, treadmill total body workouts, and other treadmill exercises.
How to Find a Treadmill that Works for You
Quality treadmills are rarely budget-friendly, though, and not all of them are created equal. For those looking for smart home gym equipment, there are treadmills with WiFi- and Bluetooth-connectivity, HD touchscreens, access to on-demand and live workout programs like iFit, trackers for health metrics like heart rate, and more. For anyone who’s tight on space or looking for something entry-level, there are folding treadmills, which (as the name suggests) pack down into slim profiles so they can be stored under a desk, couch, or bed. Experts note, however, that folding treadmills have smaller treads which, as Alvino puts it, “can make it difficult for some to maintain a consistent pace depending on how long the runner’s stride is when they open up.”
Tracksmith coach Louis Serafini says that runners can find a worthwhile home treadmill that aligns with their fitness goals and needs if they consider their priorities, whether that’s the price point, presets, speed, or space. As a baseline, make sure whichever treadmill you choose provides enough room to move freely while you run, and then think about which additional features are important to you. “A lot of treadmills do a lot of fancy things, but if you focus on some of their most important aspects—including speed, incline, space-saving abilities, and ease of functionality—you’ll be able to find a great product without breaking the bank,” he says.
Ready to invest in your home gym equipment? Check out the following expert-recommended treadmills to start—then pick up a fresh pair of running shoes to go with your new equipment.
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