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The best treadmills under $1,000 are all going to have one thing in common — they’ll make you sweat. When it comes to running, you either love it or hate it, and during the winter months, it can be hard to get excited about going out and trudging through the snow, ice, or rain. And if you’re getting older like me, you probably don’t bounce back as quickly from spills on icy sidewalks and roads. A good way to avoid the hazards inclement weather brings and still keep cardio in your daily routine is by adding a treadmill to your flourishing home gym.
When you think about treadmills, you might picture rows of hulking machines whirring at a fitness center and quickly dismiss the idea of owning one because of how big and expensive they are. Those two factors definitely used to be a big deal, but the design and production cost of quality treadmills has improved dramatically over recent years, and now it’s entirely possible to get a high-quality, space-saving option for under $1,000. To help you navigate the ins and outs of the budget treadmill world, we’ve put together a list of our favorites.
Schwinn is known mostly for their bikes, but they really nailed it on treadmills, too. The Schwinn Fitness 810 Treadmill earns our top spot for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its trademarked “SoftDrop” system that allows the user to fold up the treadmill for compact, easy storage. The Schwinn Fitness 810 also features a 20- by 55-inch belt surface, making it a good candidate for taller users with long strides. The belt deck features Schwinn’s Soft Track Cushioning System, which helps take the major impact out of your stride to more accurately replicate the outdoor running experience.
On the technology front, the Schwinn Fitness 810 features a blue backlit LCD monitor with 16 pre-programmed workouts already loaded in. The monitor also has a USB port for connecting your smartphone and tablet and is compatible with the “Explore The World” app, which allows you to simulate running through courses all around the world like the mountains of Tibet or the Scottish Highlands, before showering up and heading for Starbucks.
- Dimension: 69.1 inches x 35.6 inches x 56.7 inches
- Max speed: 10 mph
- Max incline: 10 percent grade
Folds up to only 28 inches long
Foldable for easy storage
Capable of 10 percent incline
12 pre-programmed workouts
Even folded, the machine is still fairly large
Heavy at 155 pounds
The XTERRA Fitness TR150 is a great treadmill for anyone on a tight budget, and it has plenty of great reviews to back it up. Despite being a paired-down version of some of XTERRA’s more robust models, the TR150 still offers a lot of great features.
One such feature is XTERRA’s XTRASoft Cushioned deck, which provides “maximum impact absorption,” so your knees, hips, and back don’t take a beating. The TR150 features a 16- by 50-inch belt size, which is getting to the smaller side for those looking to run on this treadmill. If you’re a tall person with a long stride, you may want to look elsewhere or at least know what you’re getting into.
The five-inch LCD screen and monitor come with 12 pre-set workouts. Couple this with the three stages of incline available, and the max speed of 10 mph, and you should be able to get just as good a workout on this machine as any of its fancy-pants high-cost counterparts. The TR150 is also a foldable machine and folds up from 63.4 inches long to only 28.5 inches long, making it a solid choice for anyone with limited workout space.
- Dimension: 63.4 inches x 28.75 inches x 51.4 inches
- Max speed: 10 mph
- Max incline: Three levels (grade not specified)
Very affordable and highly rated
Folds to only 28 inches long
12 pre-programmed workouts
Less powerful motor
Max weight capacity of 250 pounds
Only three incline settings
The XTERRA Fitness TRX4500 is the higher-end model of our “best value” selection and ramps up the features of its budget-friendly counterpart in pretty much every way. The TRX4500 is a larger machine with a 20- by 60-inch belt size and even folded up, it doesn’t shrink its footprint that much. But what this machine lacks in compact storage, it more than makes up for in versatility.
The TRX4500 also features XTERRA’s XTRASoft cushioned deck and can increase the incline to 15 different preset levels. The max speed on this machine is 12 mph, which I don’t mind saying is probably enough to send me flying into the wall behind me.
The TRX4500 also features a 7.5-inch blue backlit LCD monitor that allows the user to select between 30 pre-programmed workouts. Don’t like pre-programmed workouts? The TRX4500 allows you to make and store two custom workouts as well. The treadmill is Bluetooth-capable of connecting with your smartphone or tablet devices and allows you to sync with a variety of fitness apps to enhance your workouts.
- Dimension: 77.2 inches x 35.5 inches x 56.1 inches
- Max speed: 12 mph
- Max incline: 15 levels (grade not specified)
30 pre-programmed workouts / two custom workouts / one heart rate controlled
Bluetooth-capable and syncs with various fitness apps
15 incline settings
Fairly large, even when folded
Heavy machine at 220.5 pounds
Let’s say you’re one of those people who hates running, but still wants to burn some extra calories and get your cardio in. For this, we recommend the Fitness Reality TR1000 Manual Treadmill (or one of its varying models).
The TR1000 is the only manual treadmill on our list and differs from our other choices because of its lack of a motor. Instead of all that fancy gadgetry, the TR1000 uses dual flywheels to help keep the belt surface moving and the user at a steady walking pace. Because there is no motor, there is no need for a power source, which means you can place this treadmill pretty much anywhere you want to work out, and at a total assembled weight of 49 pounds, it’s easy to move around the house.
The Fitness Reality TR1000 has a small LCD screen that will give the user the basic info of their workout, such as speed, elapsed time, distance walked, and calories burned. Unfortunately, this machine is not really meant for high-intensity training and is recommended just for walking. With that being said, I’d be willing to bet a machine like this could be a good solution for indoor rucking, so long as you don’t go over the max weight capacity of 230 pounds. (Weight capacity goes up with more advanced models.)
- Dimension: 47 inches x 23 inches x 51 inches
- Max speed: However fast you can walk
- Max incline: Two levels: six and 10 degrees)
No motor, so less tech to break
No power source needed
Folds up small for easy storage
Lower weight capacity at 230 pounds max
Not meant for running
The Sunny Health & Fitness T7632 (Folding/Compact) Treadmill is another great lightweight and space-efficient option. The T7632 offers a unique design, with the motor being placed beneath the front of the belt surface, allowing the user to maximize their stride, while saving on space. The belt surface measures 44.5 by14 inches, which is relatively small but should be sufficient for shorter users. The true draw for this machine is the way it can fold up to hold a minimum footprint in your workout space. In its folded configuration, the T7632 reduces down to only 16 inches long and the wheels at the bottom make it easy to push up against a wall and out of the way.
For tech, the Sunny Health & Fitness T7632 has a backlit, digital monitor that will provide the basics of your workout. To me, this is all you really need. A lot of other high-tech gadgetry just means you have a lot of other things that can break or go wrong. Plus, at only 74.5 pounds, this treadmill should be pretty easy to maneuver in front of a smart TV, computer monitor, or one of those new creepy, magic mirror things.
- Dimension: 49.5 inches x 26.5 inches x H 47 inches
- Max speed: 7 mph
- Max incline: 11.9 percent
Folds up to only 16 inches long
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
Motor placement allows for maximum stride
Lower weight capacity at 220 pounds max
Low max speed at 7 mph
Workout space limited to a broom closet? Look no further than the Zelus Folding Treadmill. This treadmill is the ultimate space-saver and folds up to a length of only 10 inches. Its small footprint, coupled with its minimal weight (61 pounds), makes this the ideal treadmill for maneuverability or closet storage.
This Zelus treadmill has a max speed of six miles per hour, which isn’t super fast, but enough to get that heart rate up. The Zelus’s LCD monitor allows you to keep track of that heart rate, while also monitoring speed, distance, and calories burned. This treadmill comes with 12 pre-programmed workouts and is Bluetooth-capable, allowing the user to control settings via their smartphone, or simply pump in their own music through the built-in dual speakers. The Zelus Folding Treadmill comes equipped with two—yes, two!!—built-in cup holders, so you have a spot for your water AND your “workout beer.”
The downside to a treadmill with such a small footprint is that you’re inevitably going to give up a few things. First, the belt surface for this treadmill is only 39 by13.4 inches, making this one of the smallest running surfaces on our list. While this is great for space-saving, it might not be the best option for runners with big strides. Second, it doesn’t appear that this treadmill allows for much (if any) incline change, so if you like to simulate uphill running, you’re out of luck. I’d recommend this treadmill for serious joggers only.
- Dimension: 48.4 inches x 19.7 inches x H 50.8 inches
- Max speed: 6 mph
- Max incline: Not specified (does not appear to adjust)
Folds up to only 10 inches long
12 pre-programmed workouts
Bluetooth-capable; dual speakers
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
Lower weight capacity at 220 pounds max
Smaller running (belt) surface
Low max speed at 6 mph
If you’re just starting your journey to get back in shape, lose weight, or you’re recovering from an injury, a walking treadmill might be the smartest option. For this, the Sunny Health & Fitness Walking Treadmill (or T7857), would be a great solution. The T7857 is a treadmill meant purely for walking and offers a lot of great features for those with a limited range of movement.
This treadmill has a low-step running platform to allow easy on and off access, as well as shock absorption technology to reduce the impact on your joints and back. Two built-in side rails (about waist-high) make it easy to maintain your balance or steady yourself during use.
The Sunny Health & Fitness T7857 comes equipped with a basic digital monitor that allows you to keep track of your time, distance, speed, and calories burned. Unfortunately, this treadmill does not have the ability to fold for easy storage, but it does come equipped with transportation wheels, so moving it around shouldn’t be too difficult.
- Dimension: 58 inches x 29 inches x 53 inches
- Max speed: 6 mph
- Max incline: No incline adjustments
Low walking deck
Higher weight capacity at 295 pounds
Does not have incline options
Does not fold
Heavier machine at 123 pounds
Another option for those with limited workout space is to make your treadmill surface your entire gym. Sounds weird, right? Agreed. But KSports has done it with the KSports Treadmill Bundle, which integrates dumbbell holders and foot anchors for abdominal workouts. Now you can get a full-body workout, without leaving the surface of your treadmill.
The treadmill itself has a max speed of 10 mph and allows the user to adjust between 15 incline levels. A double layer board for the running deck and six shock-absorbing springs help alleviate the stress to joints, and a digital monitor allows the user to track their basic workout stats or sync with their FitShow Smart App to better track their progress.
The KSport Treadmill also comes with an abdominal mat and sit-up rack, so you can do crunches and other core exercises right on the treadmill deck (it’s recommended you turn off the machine before attempting sit-ups). The dumbbells that come with the treadmill attach right to the front of the machine, but they aren’t very big, so don’t think you’re going to bulk up your biceps with them.
The KSports Treadmill Bundle is also foldable and reduced to the following dimensions: 35 by 28 by 47.5 inches. This doesn’t save a huge amount of space, but it’s better than nothing. Finally, the KSport Treadmill Bundle has a higher max user weight (308 pounds), which means it would be a good machine for rucking on days when it’s too nasty to go outside.
- Dimension: 60 inches x 27 inches x 49.5 inches
- Max speed: 10 mph
- Max incline: 15 levels (grade not specified)
Built-in features for multiple exercises
12 pre-programmed workouts/Bluetooth capable
Higher weight capacity at 308 pounds
Larger/heavier machine at 121 pounds
Even folded, the machine is fairly large
Why you should trust us
In my review about the treadmill’s cousin, I wrote about how I benefited from using an elliptical during my recovery from knee surgery. The low-impact workout machine was an integral part of my initial rehab, but I graduated to the treadmill once my knee got strong enough. By that time, I had deployed to Afghanistan. Because my unit’s doc didn’t want me running on our FOB’s rough roads quite yet, I spent the better part of six months plodding away on a treadmill in the workout tent, staring at the blank, desert-tan flap in front of me. Spending that much time on a treadmill, I had plenty of time to think about features I’d want and desperately wished I had.
Types of treadmills under $1,000
The most common treadmills these days use some type of motor to propel the belt. Typical treadmill motors range from two to four horsepower, but they can be more or less than this depending on the model. In general, you want a treadmill with at least a 2.5-horsepower motor if you’re planning to use it for jogging, and at least three horsepower for running. Motorized treadmills tend to be larger than their manual counterparts, for obvious reasons, and therefore will take up more space in your home gym.
Manual treadmills are exactly what they sound like; treadmills that make you do most of the work. How unfair, right? It’s not like you’re trying to break a sweat or something. Most manual treadmills under $1,000 use dual flywheels to provide efficient movement of the belt, once the user gets it started. There are other types of manual treadmills out there (see example), but these machines can run a pretty high price tag, so we won’t speak of them here. Manual treadmills are great, in that they do not require any electricity to run, and there are a lot fewer technical parts that the owner needs to worry about maintaining.
Both motorized and manual treadmills can fall into the category of “foldable,” which are just treadmills that can be folded up or down to be stored more easily or moved out of the way. The majority of foldable treadmills hinge upward near the motor/flywheels at the front of the machine. The machine then stands upright, using much less space than it would have in its normal configuration. Foldable treadmills are excellent for home gyms with limited space or difficult-to-reach areas like up a flight of stairs or around doorways.
Key features of treadmills under $1,000
The size of the running/walking surface (or belt surface) is something you’ll want to take into consideration before making your purchase. If you are planning to use your treadmill for running, you should try to aim for a running surface between 45 and 60 inches to allow you to stride out comfortably. Anything less than that, and you’ll want to be cautious because it may be too small. For walkers, the walking surface can be much smaller, but if you ever plan on upgrading to running, you might as well just start out with a larger surface area.
The top speed and incline capabilities will usually be a good indicator of the machine’s intended use. Machines with low top speeds and few incline options are usually geared more for walkers and joggers, while machines with high max speeds (10 to 12 mph) and multiple incline options are geared for runners or high-intensity athletes looking for a real challenge in their workouts. It’s important to understand what kind of workouts you want to do, and what you’d like to be capable of doing later before you buy your machine.
Display monitor capabilities
Almost every treadmill comes with some sort of built-in display monitor, but these monitors can range from a few inches to full-on master control boards. All of them will allow you to track the same basic information (speed, time, distance, calories), but increases in price usually come with an increase in tech capabilities. Many treadmill monitors now come with Bluetooth capabilities or USB ports that allow you to sync your machine with various fitness apps, import new workouts, export tracking data, or pipe in your own music. Many treadmills now come with multiple pre-programmed workouts already loaded to get your fitness routine underway.
Benefits of treadmills under $1,000
Most of us don’t enjoy the financial freedom of being able to drop a couple grand on an expensive piece of workout equipment and if we did, we would probably just move to a warmer, more temperate climate where running outside isn’t a giant inconvenience for large chunks of the year. With so many quality treadmills under $1,000, at least you can get a good piece of equipment for your gym without having to tank your bank account.
With treadmills, the rule is usually “the larger the machine, the higher the price.” With our category of treadmills under $1,000, we are looking at some fairly small and lightweight treadmills in comparison to their expensive alternatives. This can be a definite bonus for the home gym setup, as most people want a machine they can easily move or fold up and stow away, which is a luxury you can’t get with many of the more costly machines.
Let’s face it, sometimes you buy a piece of equipment and it just doesn’t get used. Or you buy it, use it, and then don’t touch it again for long periods of time. It happens to all of us and can be triggered by many things: the pace of life, injuries, short-term memory loss, etc. When life happens and you can’t work out like you want, you won’t have to feel so bad because you didn’t spend your life savings on a treadmill you’re not using.
Pricing considerations for treadmills under $1,000
Treadmills under $300 will incorporate most of your basic-level manual treadmills. With manual treadmills, prices are kept low because there is no motor, which means a lower production cost for the manufacturer. Because of the lack of motor and other moving pieces, these machines tend to be geared toward walkers, but on the flip side, these machines are usually the most compact and easy to fold/store. Treadmills in this category also tend to have smaller and less robust display monitors, which will provide you with only the basic workout information and rarely have pre-programmed workout functionality.
$300 to $600
Functionality starts to increase in the $300 to $600 range, and you’ll start to see treadmills with smaller motors and low max speeds (due to less powerful motors). Incline options become more prevalent in these machines and product descriptions begin to detail shock absorption systems and other features that are beneficial when you start to get more into high-intensity cardio training. The display monitors on these models still tend to be pretty basic, though you do start to see some Bluetooth integration and other perks (like double cup holders).
$600 to $1,000
In the $600 to $1,000 range, you start to see some of the perks of the more expensive line of treadmills, such as proprietary impact absorption systems, intricate belt development, and extensive pre-programmed workouts. The machines also start to get a little larger in this category, so it becomes less about space-saving and more about functionality and durability. The display monitors in this price range are usually more advanced, but are mostly still limited to backlit LCD screens, though many offer tablet or smartphone holders and integration methods allowing users to sync up with the manufactures fitness app of choice.
How we chose our top picks
Making top picks in a category like this is not easy given the wide range of options available in the market and the broad range of functionality each of these machines offers. In order to narrow down to the best choices, we did extensive research on options available, best-rated brands, and customer reviews.
We also scoured top-ranking lists from previous years to see what other experts were saying. Armed with all this knowledge, we bounced it off our own extensive experience with treadmills to narrow down to the machines with the features we found to be most beneficial while staying within our price cap.
FAQs on treadmills under $1,000
You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.
Q. How do I lose weight on a treadmill?
A. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, seems to be the optimal way to lose weight during treadmill training. In a nutshell, it’s periods of high-intensity exertion separated by moderate-intensity “recovery periods” and repeated to the point of exhaustion. This is accomplished on treadmills through speed changes and incline changes throughout the workout.
Q. How do I move a treadmill?
A. Some of the treadmills on our list are light enough to pick up and carry once folded. For those that don’t fold, many come with base-mounted wheels, so it’s just a matter of tipping up the machine and wheeling it around your workout space.
Q. How do I run on a treadmill?
A. The same way you’d do it on the ground: [lace one foot in front of the other, but faster than if you were walking.
Q. Why were treadmills invented?
A. Treadmills were invented 200 years ago in England and were originally used as “rehabilitation devices” in prisons, meaning they were made to make people suffer for their bad behavior. In a way, that’s what we still use them for today. The more you know!
Q. How fast do treadmills go?
A. Most of the higher-end models of treadmills have a max speed of 12 mph, but a handful of models can get up to 15 mph.
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Brett Allen is a humor writer and former U.S. Army Cavalry Officer who served from 2006 to 2010, largely with the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. The events of his 2009 deployment to the Logar Province of Afghanistan became the inspiration for his recently published debut novel, Kilroy Was Here, which is a dark comedy highlighting the absurdities of war. Brett resides in Ada, Michigan with his wife and kids and is currently working on his next novel. He enjoys all things outdoors to include backwoods camping, backwoods cooking, hiking, and boating, but can more regularly be found mowing, weed whacking, or performing some other form of backbreaking yardwork.