Features to consider while choosing a high-capacity treadmill
Not all treadmills are created equal. The best treadmills for heavy people are those that have the right amount cushioning and extra safety features for when you first start on your new health regimen. To find out more about treadmill features, read more in our in-depth analysis.
Running path dimensions
The running path is the area that you are able to run on a treadmill. It is measured by width x length and is usually presented in inches. A larger running path means you have more flexibility in how you run. A wider running path also means more comfort, especially if you are wider in the middle, as you won’t have to run up against the side arms of the treadmill.
The standard dimensions for a treadmill’s running path is 22 x 60 inches. However, the Exerpeutic TF1000 is quite a bit smaller with a running path of 20 x 40 inches. It is, though a walking treadmill so you don’t need as much of a length to hit your full running stride.
Within a treadmill, there are various pre-determined workout programs. While you can just start running and adjust the speed and incline as you want to, you can also select a workout program that will manually change the speed and incline. Workout programs take a lot of the guesswork out of operating a treadmill. They are especially great if you are a beginner and are unsure of how to maximize the benefits of a treadmill.
Some workout programs include hills of various inclines, steeper mountain climbing, programs that are designed to burn fat, and programs that are designed for a cardio workout. Different treadmills will have different amounts of workout programs. For example, the Bowflex BXT216 has 11 workout programs while the Precor TRM 885 has 27 workout programs. If like variety, then the number of programs is an important factor when determining which treadmill to purchase. If, however, you like to manually decide how to run, or have one optimal program you want to exclusively use, then the number of programs isn’t that important.
Maximum speed, increments
There are two types of treadmills: walking treadmills and running treadmills. A walking treadmill, like the Exerpeutic TF1000, has a much lower maximum speed, in this case 4 MPH. It is meant for walking and therefore won’t be able to achieve a faster speed.
The other five treadmills on our list are meant for running. Their speeds vary between 12 and 16 MPH. Most people won’t be able to hit that extreme speed, so really, any treadmill would be appropriate. The only instance where you really want to focus on a high maximum speed is if you are doing high intensity interval training. This is when you alternate between sprinting and jogging, as a way to increase your power and endurance. In some cases, those top speeds can be reached, so finding a treadmill that can reach 16 MPH would be a priority.
Most treadmills will have speed increments of 0.5 or 1.0 MPH. Generally, more higher priced treadmills will be the ones that offer the more subtle, 0.5 MPH increments for a more fine-tuned workout.
The incline angle on a treadmill refers to the maximum degree a treadmill can tilt. Most treadmills can move between 0 and 15% incline. This, however, only allow the treadmill to move up, as if you are running up a hill. On our list, the Precor TRM 885 allows you to also move the treadmill at a -3% incline. This means running downhill.
While it’s not advised to run downhill if you have joint issues, once you have built up more strengths in your legs, downhill running can help you train for outdoor settings. It’s a really nice option to have.
Treadmills are large. They are also quite bulky. While a few may fold in half and allow you to store them under the bed or couch, for the most part, you will have to pick a spot for your treadmill and keep it there.
Furthermore, treadmills do not come fully assembled. They will be in a few pieces and you will have to put them together. These pieces will still be heavy and it can be hard for one person to carry everything. Most companies will provide you with the option of paying to have someone assemble your treadmill although this, of course, can be quite expensive.
Generally, you can expect a length of about 80 inches. The width is normally around 35 inches. And the height is about 65 inches. As treadmills technology has increased, these dimensions have decreased. You can find sleeker designs, although you normally have to pay a premium for them.
You should also keep in mind that a treadmill is unfortunately not easily moved. You will need two people to move it once its set up in order to move it in a safe manner. It’s best to really think about where you want to place your treadmill before you even purchase it. As well, it’s a good idea to measure that area. Don’t forget height. Stand on some blocks or cushions that are 6 inches above the ground, to mimic the dimensions of running on a treadmill. Make sure there are no obstacles like low beams or wall hangings to get in your way. If you are planning on running in front of the TV, try it out in a simulation to ensure your sightlines are good and you don’t have to crane your neck to see the screen.
Ideally, you will use your treadmill every day. Also ideally, you will have a dedicated space to put it, such as a basement. But ideal is not always possible. If you plan on using your treadmill sporadically or you just don’t have much space for it, having a foldable design is a great advantage. This allows you to fold it and store it under a couch or bed.
Unfortunately, most advanced treadmills are too bulky and are not usually foldable. On our list, the Exerpeutic TF1000 is a bit smaller than the other models and is completely foldable.
Every treadmill will have a display. How large that display is and what it shows will differ, though. Some displays, like with the Exerpeutic TF1000, just show standard information like your heart rate and calories burned.
More advanced displays will show not only your health statistics but a TV screen as well. The Cybex 770T and the Precor TRM 885 have displays that include video options. If you want a truly impressive screen, check out the Life Fitness 95T. It has a massive 19-inch screen. You can watch all your favorite shows and be truly immersed in the experience and almost forget that you’re exercising at the same time.
By far, the biggest concern with treadmills is that they can be a bit boring to run on. It used to be that you had to set your treadmill up in front of the TV as the only way to keep yourself entertained. This was not always easy, as then you would be forced to have a giant treadmill in your living room. Now, there are display screens so that watching a screen is always an option. And, to enhance the display screen, some treadmills come with Bluetooth capability. You can sync your smartphone to the treadmill and watch any downloaded content, or you can listen to your favorite tunes.
Bluetooth capability is only offered in the most elite treadmills. These include the Bowflex BXT216, the Precor TRM 885, the Life Fitness 95T, and the Cybex 770T.
Treadmills have a lot of moving parts, quite literally. They have motors and gages, and everything needs to work properly for the best safety features. Having a warranty on your treadmill is essential.
The Precor TRM 835 has the best warranty of all the products we have reviewed. It has a lifetime warranty on both the frames and the welds. Most other warranties have five or ten-year warranties which are pretty good. As always, pay close attention to the warranty date and check in before it expires in case anything breaks or needs to be fixed.
Shock absorbers, safety features
Treadmills need safety features. They have moving parts can be a risk. Furthermore, running and staying in motion can lead to some health concerns. If you are new to a treadmill and especially if you are on the heavier side, you want a treadmill that will keep you safe.
All treadmills will have a quick-stop function. This is always in the form of a large red button that is easily pressed on the display console. In addition, many treadmills will have a wrist attachment. You can place it around your wrist and if you fall, the wrist cord will activate and automatically stop the treadmill.
If you fall, you don’t want the motor to keep running. Not only is this uncomfortable but things like your clothing or shoelaces can become stuck, adding to greater injury.
Another nice safety feature ins the inclusion or armbars. Some treadmills, like the Exerpeutic TF1000 has extra-long safety handles. The longer the handles reach out, the easier it is for you to grab on to them. If you misstep or feel faint, having the arm safety feature can greatly prevent injury.