When the winter months approach, it becomes more necessary to run inside for those living in colder climates.
Whether it’s cold or not, not being able to run outside is no excuse to give up on your training plan, and a non-motorized treadmill (also known as a manual treadmill or a self-propelled treadmill) is a great way to keep up your workout.
Finding the best non-motorized treadmills when there are so many on the market can be a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider:
How much space do you have?
Which ones are within your budget?
Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ve curated a list of the top non-motorized treadmills on the market today to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.
Also related: The Best Smart Treadmills
What is a Non-Motorized Treadmill?
Also known as manual treadmills or self-propelledtreadmills, non-motorized treadmills (NMTs) are exactly what the name suggests: treadmills propelled entirely by the user’s own body weight rather than using an electric motor.
Though more basic than a motorized treadmill, these still come with electronic, battery-powered displays to track your speed and calories burned. Some can even save interval workouts or customized plans tailored to you!
Why Choose Non Electric Treadmills Over the Electric Option?
There are several advantages to choosing the manual route.
- They don’t require a power source. This means they can be set up anywhere, not just near an electrical outlet. They’re easy on the environment and save you electricity at the same time.
- They’re more compact than motorized treadmills. There are no bulky motors on these, and many even fold up, making for simple and easy storage in smaller living spaces. This makes them an excellent option for apartments or studios.
- They’re safer to use. Since there are no automatically moving parts, there’s no risk of the belt moving too quickly, causing you to slip off. With an NMT, the belt only moves when you move it.
- They give you a more efficient workout. By forgoing a motor, the body uses more energy to propel it forward, meaning you get a more intense workout in less time. This means you could burn up to 30% more calories in the same session.
- You have full control over how fast or slow you go. No more setting a single speed on the machine and forcing your feet to keep pace. If you feel like sprinting, don’t take the time to push buttons. Simply run faster. If you want to slow down, slow down. That’s the beauty of a self-propelled treadmill.
What to Consider When Buying a Non-Motorized Treadmill
Finding the best non-motorized treadmill for you will depend on how you intend to use it.
Will it have multiple users? If so, opt for a sturdier one that can withstand different running styles.
Do you want one for mostly running or walking? For running, Brian Ward, a certified personal trainer and creator of TheWorkoutDigest, recommends looking for one with a curved belt rather than a flat one.
“You’ll get better stability on the curved belt and a better overall workout,” Ward says.
For walking or jogging, flat belt self-propelled treadmills will do nicely. These also tend to be easier to store, as they take up less space. Measure the area where you plan to use it beforehand to make sure the one you buy will fit your needs.
Look at belt size. “Pay attention to the belt size because non-motorized treadmills often have shorter belts, which means shorter strides for you,” Brian says. “And it’s virtually impossible to run on those shorter belts.”
We recommend buying one with a length of at least 48 inches. If you are taller than 6 feet, aim for an even longer one (around 54 inches) to run comfortably.
Check maximum weight capacity. Make sure you don’t forget this! Going over the maximum capacity can lead to machine damage and possible risk of injury.
Related Article: The 7 Best Treadmills Under $1000 In 2022
Best Non-Motorized Treadmill for Beginners: Sunny Health & Fitness Asuna
With maximum stability (while still more affordable than a curved treadmill), the Asuna is a great choice. With a heavy-duty deck made with high-grade steel, this is built for both low and high intensity training.
At 55 x 30.5 x 57 inches, you’ll be able to run with a normal stride. It comes with a dual flywheel design, making for smooth belt movement and allowing you to build up your strength with adjustable tension.
Finally, when you’re completely drained from your workout, it features a soft drop system so you can fold it gently to the floor, hands-free.
This machine is great for beginning runners because of its simplicity and durability.
- Excellent weight capacity at 440 pounds
- Extremely stable
- Tension adjustment for flexibility in workouts
- Higher in price than other flat-belted NMTs
Best Compact Non-Motorized Treadmill: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1407M
For something you can store easily and takes up very little space, this is the treadmill for you.
Measuring a tiny 20x23x50 inches when folded and weighing under 50 pounds, you could keep this one in your closet or under a bed without it getting in your way. The SF-T1407M is also highly budget-friendly, coming in at less than any of the others on this list.
The LCD screen tracks time, speed, and calories burned. The added bonus to this one is it includes a “scan” feature, allowing you to scroll through your performance data without constant button-pressing.
The downside to its ease of portability lies in its length. The walking area comes in at 42 inches, which may be too short to run for many people. But if you plan to focus mainly on walking and live in a small place, this will do the job nicely.
- Super light and small
- Non-slip foam handlebars for comfort
- Low maximum weight capacity at 220 pounds
- Walking space a little short for running at 42 inches
Best Mid-Range Non-Motorized Treadmill: Exerpeutic 100XL
For a solid all-around pick, go with the Exerpeutic. This one provides stability in the handlebars and extra features such as heart rate measurement without going all-out on an expensive curved treadmill.
Though short belts are common on flat-belt NMTs, you won’t have to worry with this one. The Exerpeutic comes with a belt length of 45 inches, meaning for many people, it can be suitable for running.
With a weight capacity of 325 pounds and inclines that adjust from 8 to 15 degrees, the Exerpeutic has a good amount of room for customization and is easy on the joints.
Because the incline goes higher than most other NMTs, you’ll probably need to hold onto the handrails. That could be annoying for some if you’re using it as a walking workstation. However, for an ordinary workout routine, it does what it needs to do.
- Heart pulse pads to measure heart rate
- Extra long safety handles for stability
- Incline goes up to 15 degrees
- Need to hold onto the handles at higher inclines
Best Curved Treadmill for Tech: SpeedFit Speedboard Pro XL
The second generation in the Speedboard series, this one has solidly improved upon the first. It delivers a machine that’s quieter, lasts longer, and is more shock absorbent. Sized at 67 x 33 x 72 inches, it makes running a breeze.
The curve here is less steep than you will find on many other curved treadmills, and that works to your advantage. By keeping the curve minimal, you can more easily move the belt while still retaining that natural running feel.
The real highlight here is the onboard tech. For personalized workouts, the SpeedFit takes the cake. It includes an in-depth ten-minute starter test that analyzes your performance to find the best workout for you. With 5,000 treadmill workouts available, there is something for everyone.
The downside? If you want to monitor your heart rate, that will be something you’ll have to find separately. Overall, this is a solid, mid-range machine that will ensure you have exactly the tools you need to maximize your potential.
- Easy, straightforward setup
- Highly customized
- Does not come with a heart rate monitor
Best Non-Motorized Treadmill for Running: Assault Runner Pro
While pricier than flat-belted NMTs, curved manual treadmills get the job done when it comes to high-performance running. Compared to other curved NMTs of its caliber, the AirRunner one is both more affordable and longer-lasting. It comes with a five-year frame warranty and a belt life of 150,000 miles.
While most NMTs can only reach maximum speeds of around 3.5-4 miles an hour, the AirRunner’s curved design allows you to push it as hard as you want, no maximum necessary. Whether your training type is walking, sprinting, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT workouts), the AirRunner can handle it.
Weighing in at 280 lbs, it is also one of the sturdiest manual treadmills you’ll find. It’s got a steel frame and handrails and boasts a user capacity up to 350 pounds. Plus, at 69.9 x 32.8 x 64 inches, it’s still compact enough to easily fit into your home gym.
- Very sturdy
- Five-year warranty
- Ideal for any type of training
- More expensive than flat-belt NMTs
These are some of the best non-motorized treadmills to choose from. As you’re making your decision, remember to stick to the main functions you need it to have.
Whether you are budget-conscious or need one for high performance, be sure to refer back to this list.
Have a great workout!