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Best Manual (Self-Propelled) Treadmills

A manual treadmill is useful if you are on a budget, or if you're looking for a simple, no-frills workout machine. Here are our top picks.

Manual treadmills, also known as self-propelled or non-motorized treadmills, are available in two varieties – flat-belt treadmills and curved-belt treadmills. The latter is a new and pricier category with fewer manufacturers and models. Unlike their flat-belt counterparts, curved-belt manual treadmills have been built mainly for the commercial market, which necessitates more robustness than the home market. 

If you’re considering buying a manual treadmill, you need to check out our reviews of the best manual treadmills so you can make an informed choice. But before that, here are some of the benefits of buying a manual treadmill.

What are the major benefits of using a manual treadmill?

  • Cheaper

Manual treadmills are an economical way to exercise at home. Compared to motorized treadmills, flat-belt manual treadmills are less expensive, with most models being priced under $300. Moreover, manual treadmills don’t require a lot of maintenance like automatic ones do, which helps to minimize operational costs. 

  • No electricity needed

Unlike motorized treadmills, manual treadmills are not powered by electricity but by your effort to move the belt while running or walking. This means that the speed of the treadmill is dependent on your motion and pace. Since these non-motorized treadmills don’t use electric power to run, they help save on your energy bill. 

  • Convenient

Since manual treadmills don’t require electricity, they don’t need an electric outlet, which means that they can be brought outdoors if you desire to work out in the fresh air. These machines are also lightweight and portable, making it easy for you to move them from one room or place to another. Some models also fold up easily, making them easy to store.

  • Safe

A manual treadmill stops when you stop, which means that you don’t have to wear a safety cord to stop the machine in case you slip and fall, as with some automatic machines. The level of safety presented by manual treadmills make them a little safer for homes that have seniors, children, and pets in residence.

  • Provides beneficial cardiovascular workout

The fact that manual treadmills are muscle-powered means that you will be controlling the speed of the machine by putting in more effort, rather than trying to keep up with a moving belt. In so doing, you’ll provide all of the motive power and ultimately expend more calories per mile.

Manual treadmills are not powered by electricity, but by your effort to move the belt while running or walking.

What are some considerations to keep in mind about manual treadmills?

  • Joint stress

Manual treadmills are muscle-powered and they tend to make for more strenuous exercises. Flat-belt treadmills, for instance, lack belt cushioning systems that automatic machines tend to offer, thus your hip and knee joints are experiencing a greater impact. So, working out on them for extended periods of time can lead to joint stress. If you have knee or hip arthritis, this is something that you should keep in mind when choosing a manual treadmill.

  • Manual incline

One limitation with flat-belt manual treadmills is that you will be stuck with one incline level during each exercise. Once the belt is in motion, you will have to stop and get off the machine to adjust the incline. If you are concerned about burning more calories, you should consider a curved-belt manual treadmill as you can change the incline by moving your feet more towards the middle or farther forward. 

  • Cheaper Build

Flat-belt manual treadmills generally have less sturdy construction, which is evident from their low weight capacity. Most models also come with shorter belts, meaning that you cannot use a long running stride. Consequently, they cannot be used for anything more powerful or faster than a brisk walk or light jog. If you want to use a manual treadmill for running, consider curved-belt manual treadmills as they are of higher quality and tend to feature more robust construction. 

  • Low weight capacity

Since manual treadmills function mechanically, they tend to be simpler and more compact than their automatic counterparts. For this reason, and the fact that they have less sturdy construction, these types of treadmills have a low weight capacity. So, if you are overweight, it’s important to keep this aspect in mind when shopping for a manual treadmill. 

  • Less software features

Another aspect to keep in mind is that with a manual treadmill, you won’t have the benefit of built-in workout programs, apps, and other convenient features. Most manual models come with a simple battery-powered display that can display basic workout information such as speed, distance, elapsed time, and calories burned. In order to vary your exercises, you will have to rely on other resources such as online treadmill workout plans and apps. 

When choosing a manual treadmill, it helps to look for models with a user weight capacity of at least 300 pounds as that is the best indicator of the quality of construction. Also be sure to take a look at the warranty and avoid models with a warranty of less than a year. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top ten best manual treadmills.

1) Exerpeutic 100XL available for $301 on Amazon

Key features
  • 325 lbs user weight capacity
  • Three levels of incline
  • Eight levels of magnetic tensions
  • Computer LCD display

This is a high capacity magnetic resistance manual treadmill that comes with the benefits that only automatic treadmills offer. It has a user weight capacity of 325 lbs owing to its robust construction. It’s backed by a 3-year limited warranty, which gives you the peace of mind knowing that your investment is amply covered. This model is priced under $300, making it one of the most affordable options on this list.

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Wider and longer tread belt:  This makes it ideal for walking, jogging and running.
  • Three incline levels: It features quick and easy three position inclines of 8, 10 and 15 percent. 

  • Pacer control: This is a helpful feature that enables you to stabilize the speed of the belt and allows you to walk or run hands-free at the preferred tension and incline settings.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Does not have a media device holder or water bottle holder.
  • Its display is not backlit, making it difficult to use in poorly lit conditions.

Pros:
  • Foldable and portable
  • Extra long handles with pulse 
  • Practically assembled out of the box
  • Smooth, quiet operation
  • Has ability to incline
Cons:
  • No media device holder
  • Display is not backlit

2) Fitness Reality TR3000

Key features
  • 325 lbs user weight capacity
  • Eight levels of magnetic tensions
  • Heart pulse pads
  • LCD display

This is an outstanding treadmill from Fitness Reality that’s packed with a variety of features that are not so common in manual models. What sets it apart from most manual models is that it can be used for walking and also for running. It also comes with three incline levels, a higher user weight capacity, and a longer and wider tread belt. This model is priced under $300, making it a budget-friendly option.

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Heart pulse pads: They allow you to measure target heart rates.
  • Extended treadmill belt: It’s extended to 45L x 16W inches, which is longer and wider than most manual treadmills.

  • Three incline positions: It has three incline positions of 8, 10 and 13 percent.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • This model does not include a media device holder.
Pros:
  • Smooth ride
  • High user weight capacity
  • Different levels of difficulty
  • Has ability to incline
  • Allows for hands-free walking
  • Long and wide belt
  • Extra long handles
  • Foldable and portable
Cons:
  • It has very stiff resistance
  • Does not include a media device holder

3) ProGear 190 available for $186 on Amazon

Key features
  • Two levels of incline
  • Twin cast iron flywheels 
  • LCD display
  • 225 lbs user weight capacity

Designed with walkers in mind, this manual treadmill might be just what you need to start living a healthier lifestyle. It features a steel frame with a powder coated finish and twin cast iron fly wheels. It’s priced under $150, making it a very low cost treadmill. 

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Two incline positions: This model has two incline positions at 6 and 10 degrees, presenting a quick way to boost your workout intensity. 
  • Longer handles with foam grips: They provide for good balance and walking security.

  • Oversized belt rollers: They allow for a very smooth and consistent walking experience.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Lower user weight capacity: Its user weight capacity of 225 is lower compared to many other models within its price range.
  • Short warranty: The product is backed by a 1-year warranty, which is shorter compared to the warranties provided by many other manufacturers.

Pros:
  • Cost effective option
  • Has ability to incline
  • Easy to assemble
  • Compact in size
Cons:
  • Display is too basic
  • Low user weight capacity
  • Narrow running surface
  • Short warranty

4) Stamina InMotion available for $129 on Amazon

Key features
  • 225 lbs user weight capacity
  • Two incline positions
  • 41L x 12.5W inches running area
  • Basic monitor

This is a motor-free manual treadmill that is designed for walking or jogging.  Generally, it should be thought of as a way to intermittently diversify cardio training, or as a workout backup during inclement weather.  It’s priced under $150, making it one of the low cost options on the market.

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Two incline positions: Incline options are 8 and 10 percent, enabling you to burn calories quickly.
  • Compact frame: Its frame measures 47L x 22W inches, and when folded it measures 21.1L x 21.1W, so it can be stored in the corner of a room or in a closet.

  • Portable: This model is lightweight (weighs 49 pounds) and comes with caster wheels to ease transport.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Not sturdy: The model uses low quality and very basic treadmill components such as small track rollers and very thin track material.
  • Short warranty: The frame is backed by a 1-year warranty, which is short compared to other models.

Pros:
  • Inexpensive option
  • Compact in size
  • Easy to assemble 
  • Has the ability to incline
  • Foldable and portable
Cons:
  • Low user weight limit
  • Very basic and inferior features
  • Extremely small track size
  • Short warranty
  • Requires regular maintenance

5) Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill

Key features
  • 220lbs user weight
  • Quiet and smooth 
  • Eight resistance levels
  • Easy folding
  • Multi-function computer

This is an entry-level, budget-friendly manual treadmill that presents you with the most basic features that can be expected from a fitness machine priced under $160. This treadmill is marketed particularly as having smooth magnetic resistance with eight adjustable levels to best tailor to your exercise needs. It’s ideal for walking and light jogging. 

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Handy handlebars: It comes with sleek handlebars that add a touch of additional balance and safety to your exercises.
  • LCD display: Helps you track distance covered, elapsed time, total speed, and calories burned.

  • Transportation wheels: They are fixed at the bottom, making it easy for you to move the treadmill from one room to another.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Non-adjustable incline angle: Makes it impossible for you to change incline angle.
  • Basic and simplistic display: You must continuously press the button to switch from one reading to another. 

  • Low user weight limit: It’s a lightweight machine (weighs 46.2 lbs) and supports maximum weight of 220 lbs.

Pros:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compact design
  • Easy to assemble
  • Tracks workout progress
  • Foldable and portable
Cons:
  • Non-adjustable incline angle
  • Basic and simplistic display
  • Low user weight capacity
More on Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill
Buy on Amazon: Read customer reviews Read seller's description

6) SpeedFit Speedboard ProXL available for $4999 on Amazon

Key features
  • Shock-absorbing tread belt
  • Curved profile
  • 400lbs user weight
  • Gentle incline

Featuring a curved profile, the patented SpeedFit Speedboard ProXL is a manual treadmill that presents an unmatched running experience. This curved-belt manual treadmill is the first non-motorized treadmill that allows users to run effortlessly, with improved performance and better workouts than expected from both manual and motorized treadmills. There’s a high price tag attached to this treadmill though, which is just under $5000.

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Curved profile: This design allows you to naturally adjust your speed from standing motionless to a full-out sprint. Moreover, the soft tread belt helps to reduce joint stress, allowing you to work out longer.
  • High user weight capacity: This is a heavyweight machine that weighs 265 lbs and has a high user weight capacity of 400 lb when running.

  • Maintenance free: The inclusion of a closed ball-bearing system and a frictionless slat belt allows for smooth, quiet operation with no maintenance required. Besides requiring no adjustment, the belt system has a lifespan that’s ten times longer than the average treadmill.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Cost: This manual treadmill comes with more convenient features than average manual treadmills, but at a hefty price that makes it not affordable to those looking for a budget-friendly option.
  • Heavy weight: While its heavyweight construction makes it sturdy it also makes it hard to transport, or to move from room to another.

Pros:
  • Sturdy and durable
  • High user weight capacity
  • Sufficient running surface
  • Smooth, quiet operation
  • Shock-absorbing and reduces joint stress
  • Maintenance free  
  • Long warranty
Cons:
  • It’s expensive
  • Not easy to transport

7) Weslo CardioStride 3.0 available for $186 on Amazon

Key features
  • 15% incline
  • LCD display
  • Maintenance-free belt
  • Easy folding

Casual exercisers who are looking for a good workout without a lot of frills and without a high cost will find this to be an excellent choice. Weslo CardioStride 3.0 is a compact, lightweight, and manually-operated treadmill for under $100. Despite being budget-friendly, it comes with certain features that will make your workouts worth the while. 

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • SpaceSaver technology: This treadmill features a vertically folding design that can fold up for easy storage.
  • Maintenance-free belt: The treadmill comes with a 17 x 41-inch belt that doesn’t require maintenance.

  • LCD Display: Although simplistic, the black and white display helps track the basic pieces of information relative to your workout- distance, time, speed, and calories burned.

  • Budget-friendly: It’s one of the few treadmill options that are available under $100. 

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Low user weight capacity: This treadmill weighs only 60 lbs, thus has a low weight capacity of up to 250 lbs.
  • Limited features: This treadmill is quite basic and lacks a lot of features such as workout programs, heart rate monitor, and elevation level varieties.

  • Fixed 15% incline: This means that you cannot change incline levels mid-workout for variety.

  • Short warranty: Unlike many other manual models that offer warranties that run for years, this model comes with a 90-day warranty for parts.

Pros:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to assemble
  • Compact and foldable
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Tracks crucial workout information
  • Maintenance free belt
Cons:
  • Minimum features
  • Low user weight capacity
  • Fixed incline 
  • Flimsy and not durable
  • Short warranty

8) Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill available for $134 on Amazon

Key features
  • Electronic display to track your progress
  • Water bottle holder
  • Heavy duty flywheel
  • Easy fold-up

This manual treadmill comes with all of the basic features of an entry-level non-motorized treadmill. It actually has everything you can anticipate from a good manual treadmill. And, better yet, it is available at a great price. This treadmill is priced under $150.

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Heavy-duty flywheel: It allows for a smooth and quiet operation.
  • Spring loaded pull pin: It securely locks the unit in the vertical position for storage, and makes it easy to release for operation.

  • Easy-to-read display: It comes with a single electronic display that helps you track distance, time, speed, and calories burned, all of which are necessary for a good workout.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Non-adjustable incline: This treadmill offers a 12.5% incline that cannot be adjusted.
Pros:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to assemble
  • Compact and foldable
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Tracks crucial workout information
  • Maintenance free belt
Cons:
  • Non adjustable incline
  • Low user weight capacity (250 lbs)
  • Short 1-year warranty for the frame

9) Avari Magnetic Treadmill available for $199 on Amazon

Key features
  • Adjustable magnetic resistance
  • Lightweight
  • Transport wheels
  • Electronic monitor

Designed to fit even in the smallest of workout areas, the Avari Magnetic Treadmill is a great fitness machine that will get you walking, jogging, or running right at home. This non-motorized treadmill uses magnetic resistance to give you a smooth, quiet ride. It also features a sturdy, oval tube frame, and twin weighted flywheels that keep the machine grounded. This model is priced under $200, which makes it one of the budget-friendly options on the market.

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Twin weighted flywheel: Allows for a smooth, stable and quiet operation.
  • Foldable and portable: It’s compact, and folds up easily for easy storage. 

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Non-adjustable incline: This treadmill offers only one incline setting.
Pros:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to assemble
  • Sturdy and stable
  • Conveniently folds for easy storage
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Tracks crucial workout information
  • Long warranty for the frame (3 years)
Cons:
  • 8 degree incline is non-adjustable
  • Running surface is not sufficient for running
  • Requires some maintenance

10) Best Choice Products Manual Treadmill available for $113 on Amazon

Key features
  • Heavy duty
  • LCD display
  • Folds up and locks
  • Easy assembly

This is another great option for exercising in the comfort of your home. This manual treadmill from Best Choice Products comes with a 40L x 14W-inch running surface. It also features an LCD screen display that allows you to track your workout progress. Besides being small and lightweight, this manual treadmill easily folds and locks in vertical position for easy storage. It’s priced under $150, which makes it a low cost option.

Image Source: Amazon

What makes this a good walking machine?

  • Easy-to-read display: It comes with an LCD display that helps you track distance, time, speed, and calories burned, all of which are important pieces of information for a good workout.
  • Two incline settings: This feature comes in handy as it adds intensity to your workouts, enabling you to burn more calories.

What's not so good about this manual treadmill?

  • Small running surface: The surface is okay for walking, but not so much for running.
Pros:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to assemble
  • Sturdy and stable
  • Offers two incline positions
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Tracks crucial workout information
Cons:
  • Surface is too small for running
  • Requires some maintenance

In conclusion...

To conclude, manual treadmills are usually a great choice for people with very tight budgets who want to do a low-intensity workout regularly (ie. walking or light jogging). Because they don't come with the same electrical parts as their automatic counterparts, they are far less prone to breaking down over time. Many manual treadmills are also small enough to fit into an apartment or basement without taking up too much space, and can even be put wherever you like (not tied to a plug or an extension cord). If these points sound like something you would benefit from, consider a manual treadmill for your home.