A manual treadmill is a compact piece of fitness kit you can easily store and use for getting the heart pumping at home. Let’s take a look at some information about them and what the best manual treadmill looks like.
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We’ve picked 5 to review and our top choice is at number 1 on this list of our favorite manual treadmills.
- Sunny Health & Fitness Force Fitmill Manual Treadmill
ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill with Twin Flywheels
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1407M Manual Walking Treadmill
Exerpeutic 100XL High Capacity Magnetic Resistance Manual Treadmill
Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill
I struggled for years to find the motivation to exercise. I was too busy with my job, my family, and everything else I had going on. So many people feel the same way, and having a workout machine like a manual treadmill is sometimes the answer to keeping fit at home.
Choosing the Best Manual Treadmill
Before you spend a bunch of money on a manual treadmill, there are a few things you want to consider.
First of all, is a manual treadmill a good solution for your home fitness plan? Not that I’m here to scupper your plans but It does take some practice to keep the pace on a manual treadmill.
There is a level of balance that is required which is a good thing if you’re looking to improve it.
Most treadmills usually run in the 75-78” length and 35-40” width. Manual treadmills will be smaller than this, and folding treadmills are smaller still. You want to make sure you have enough space on the treadmill for safety reasons, but you need to ensure that the treadmill fits in your home. (I made that mistake once before).
Having an incline feature on the treadmill allows you to raise the base on one end mimicking what it would feel like to walk uphill. This feature helps you burn more calories, and it’s also easier on the joints. Most treadmills offer a variable or fixed incline up to around 15%.
Making the Right Choice
The most important thing to remember about manual treadmills is that they don’t offer a lot of the features of electronic ones. With electric treadmills, you get a lot of workouts and programs built right into the treadmill.
The workout programs can control the speed of the belt and work that right into your training. Manual treadmills leave it up to you to figure out your exercise plan, and they don’t offer much variability in a program.
Many manual treadmills also do not come with any health monitoring tools like heart rate grips.
Due to their smaller size, manual treadmills usually have a lower weight capacity as well. While many large, electric treadmills can hold up to 400 pounds, manual treadmills might only allow 250-300 pounds.
There are many upsides to manual treadmills like size, affordability, and simplicity, but you want to make sure you understand the differences between these and their electronic counterparts.
Features to Look for in a Manual Treadmill
While you may not get a lot of features on your manual treadmill, there are some that you should expect.
Comfort – Your ideal manual treadmill should have plenty of padding on the handles to prevent your hands or arms from getting sore but make you feel secure.
Incline – The best manual treadmills allow you to adjust the incline on them as much as 15%. Unfortunately, with a manual treadmill, you will have to adjust it by hand using a pin.
Foldability – Most manual treadmills will allow you to fold them up and store them away. These are usually small enough to hide away in a closet.
Large belt rollers – One of the main issues you’ll run into is a difficult or tight belt. Since you’re pushing the belt yourself, you want to make sure the rollers are large and run smooth with little noise.
Safety – On assembly, everything should run smoothly especially the belt and rollers. Handles should be at the right height and be a good length.
Why Choose a Manual Treadmill?
If you’re on the fence about why you would choose a manual treadmill over an electronic one, let’s take a look at some of the benefits.
Manual VS Motorized
Manual treadmills are cheaper than motorized ones. They are easier to maintain and with fewer complicated moving parts, they are far less likely to go wrong.
And so you’ll find a manual treadmill is more likely to last longer.
Of the 62,000 people injured on exercise equipment every year in the US over 24,000 go to emergency rooms after using a treadmill.
I remember hopping onto a vacant treadmill once, thinking it was not moving but someone had hopped off and left it running – and quite fast too. It’s a fair jolt to the system when your brain eventually catches up with your body.
Don’t know why motorized treadmill manufacturers don’t paint white arrows down the sides of the belt… actually, I believe there is at least one treadmill for seniors that has a dashed line down the center.
Anyway, with a manual treadmill, there is no problem with a moving belt. If you’re not moving the machine isn’t either.
If the budget is important to you then you’ll want to look towards a manual treadmill to get that home fitness hit. Electronic treadmills are around 10-30 times the cost of a manual one. If you want something to walk on every day and get a little exercise without all the frills, a manual treadmill is a great choice.
Not everyone has a ton of room in their house, and I understand that. That’s another reason why manual treadmills are so popular. The best manual treadmill will fold away easily and compactly. You can store it in a closet or hide them behind the couch.
I had a manual treadmill in my first apartment. It was a studio apartment, and I was dead-set on having some kind of exercise machine in there. A cheap manual treadmill (eBay) was my best choice. I was able to store it in the same closet where I hung up my coat.
There was no disturbing the neighbors either as no motor meant it was pretty quiet.
Remember though, you want to have the treadmill somewhere convenient. If you have to put it in the garage or basement, you might not feel as motivated to go out there and exercise.
No Electricity Needed
Having a treadmill that doesn’t require electricity has benefits. You’ll save money on your electric bill. Running a big treadmill for even a few hours a week will soak it up.
Plus, you can use the treadmill anywhere!
You don’t have to worry about having an electrical outlet wherever you’re exercising; you could even do it outside if you wanted to. Having the freedom to exercise in different places makes it more fun and refreshing.
The Treadmill Walking/Running Experience
Some people just prefer the more real experience that a manual treadmill offers. Exercise on a treadmill is always going to be a different experience to going outdoors on all terrains and in all weather (and traffic). But being your power source as opposed to having a moving walkway underneath appeals to many as it is more like the real thing.
Walking VS Running
Well naturally, running is going to provide more cardio benefits and quicker than walking. But walking isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. When you’re powering a belt on rollers with your efforts it’s surprising how difficult it can be especially getting the momentum going.
Most manual treadmills are designed for walking and with an incline, they can give a good low impact workout causing less stress on the joints than running on a manual or motorized treadmill.
Manual treadmills that are safe to run on are more expensive and tend to be bigger negating two of the benefits of the manual ones.
The Best Manual Treadmill Reviews
Now that we’ve touched on some of the benefits of walking or possibly running using a manual treadmill let’s take a look at some examples. These are some of the best manual treadmills available for purchase online.
Number 1 in our 5 reviews of manual treadmills we have picked an excellent machine that you can walk or run on and feel safe and comfortable.
2nd in our list is our number 1 choice for value if you’re not looking to run on the manual treadmill.
Here is a treadmill that offers quite a few different features. This treadmill is more intended for someone who is looking for a running treadmill and higher intensity workouts.
This Sunny Health manual treadmill is a heavy-duty machine for those in the camp of wanting a treadmill that doesn’t have a belt that moves underneath your feet. It offers a realistic workout as the user provides all the energy to keep the manual treadmill belt moving.
You can walk all the way to full sprinting on this treadmill although for some even treadmill walking might be a bit arduous as there is a locked-in incline of 13.5%. (It was a little brutal for one reviewer who stacked the back end up to level the machine out – but still loved the treadmill).
This one comes with side handrails for added support. It also has a very large belt surface at 53” long and 16” wide.
I’m not a great fan of holding onto to handles when using a treadmill but with a bit of imagination, or a quick check through the video, you can see what a variety of workouts you can do with multiple placements on the handles.
Overall the design of this machine adds a new dimension to what you can do on a manual treadmill.
It comes with 16 levels of resistance using magnetic tension so you can adjust the difficulty on the treadmill as you improve your overall level of fitness.
This one comes with dual flywheels as well for added smoothness of the belt and improves the experience of the runner or walker.
Some effort has gone into the design of the Sunny Health treadmill. It even has a soft drop system for an easy start and end to your workout.
- Dimensions: 59” x 55” x 27”
- Running surface 53” x 16”
- Weight: 110 pounds
- 300-pound weight capacity
What are customers saying?
Verified purchasers of this treadmill have mostly good things to say about it. They love the manual treadmill because they don’t have to worry about all the electronic and mechanical problems of an electric one. They also love how small and compact it is to fit anywhere in the home. “Solid build” is often referred to.
- Heavy duty build
- For more serious workouts
- Extra handles and secure grips
- Comes with resistance settings
- Larger running area
- Incline not variable
This manual treadmill has a 230-pound weight capacity and a steel frame that comes powder coated. You get wide rails for safety and oversized belt rollers to help offer smooth walking and consistent belt flow. The incline has 3 positions for a 7,8 and 9% incline (not as marketed). The handles also come with foam grips to allow you more comfort and security when walking.
Walking being the operative word as it’s not recommended for running. Like any manual treadmill, it’s possible but hands-free running especially could be a disaster.
- 47” x 23” x 51”
- Walking surface 43’ x 13.25”
- Weight: 49 pounds
- 230-pound capacity
- One year frame warranty; 90-day parts warranty
What are customers saying?
Overall, customers are pleased with this manual treadmill. They say that they expected it to have a jerking motion because you have to move the belt on your own, but they were pleasantly surprised. The major downside that a lot of people have is it wasn’t sturdy enough.
- Padded handles for comfort
- 3 manual Incline settings
- Smooth operation
- Very compact
- Basic features
- Walking only
Next is another manual treadmill from the Sunny Health stable although if the number 1 on our list of manual treadmills is chalk then this one is cheese.
At the time of writing, it is the cheapest on our list and probably the most basic with no fancy bells or whistles. Having said that it’s pretty well made and is very compact, ideal for small spaces. It has a running surface of 42” x 13” so already you can see how much smaller these are than electronic treadmills. It comes with an LCD monitor to keep track of your workouts, speed, and calories burned, which is great.
The belt is a non-slip running surface for safety purposes, and it has a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds. This one also comes with dual flywheels on the belt to provide for smoother operation, but it does require a bit more work to get the belt moving.
- Dimensions: 49” x 23” x 50”
- Walking surface 42” x 13”
- Weight: 58 pounds
- 220-pound weight capacity
What are customers saying?
Customers say that the treadmill is simple to assemble and that they had no problem putting it together in less than an hour. The main advantage that they love is how easy this is to fold up and move around. This one like it’s smarter cousin has a fixed incline (9.5” raised at the front) which some reviewers didn’t like.
- Easy to assemble
- Simple to fold and move around
- Dual flywheels for good belt mobility
- Fixed incline
Here we have another magnetic resistance treadmill. This one has a 300-pound weight capacity, and it comes with twin flywheels to provide a smoother walk and less trouble getting the belt moving consistently. There are 3 manual levels of incline 8%, 10%, and 12%. (not as advertised 8,10,15)
One plus to this treadmill is that it features heart pulse pads to allow you to check your heart rate while you’re running, this is not so common in manual treadmills, so we’re pleased to see it.
The extra-long safety handles on this treadmill are twice the length of their competitors, which is ideal for safety and security when walking or running on the treadmill.
- Dimensions: 50” x 29” x 50”
- Walking surface 45” x 16”
- Weight: 73 pounds
- 300-pound weight capacity (not 325lbs as marketed)
- Five-year manufacturers warranty; 90-day parts warranty
What are customers saying?
Customers have mostly good things to say about the treadmill other than the fact that it raises in the front if you get too close to the back. And many were disappointed in the difficulty of use compared to an electric motorized treadmill.
- Resistance modes
- Good sized belt
- Large weight capacity
- Extra-long safety handles
- Small and compact
- Less effective for running
- The treadmill can lift up in the front
Our last recommendation comes with eight different adjustable levels to cater to your workout needs. It has a fixed incline and multi-function computer screen. From the computer, you can control things like speed, distance, calories burned, and different scanning functions. The treadmill is easy to fold up and transport using the wheels and pin setup.
The folding design is a really good one but because when opened for use the handles don’t run down the sides so only leaves one position to hold on.
- Dimensions: 47.2” x 19.1” x 48”
- Walking surface 40.5” x 15”
- Weight: 46.9 pounds
- 220-pound weight capacity
- 12-month warranty
What are customers saying?
They say that setup is easy and to remember that the treadmill requires two AA batteries for the computer. One customer states that the manual nature of the treadmill with the magnetic resistance takes some adjusting. You need to have all the settings right or else the belt will lock up if you don’t move fast enough.
- Resistance settings
- Good folding design
- Incredibly lightweight
- Computer controls
- Easy setup
- Not as sturdy as some
- One position handles
By this point, you should have a complete understanding of what a manual treadmill is, what the benefits are, and you may have even decided on a treadmill for your home.
Although the most expensive of our 5, the best manual treadmill had to be the Sunny Health and Fitness Force Fitmill Manual Treadmill.
This one combines a lot of the elements we love about manual treadmills. Either walking or running this machine will provide a safe and thorough workout.
And for the value option, the ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill is our first choice for a regular, fitness walking exercise. Both are robust but compact treadmills.