Best treadmills in 2021 to get you road fit at home

The best treadmills can help you improve cardio health without setting a foot outside

Included in this guide:

Person running on one of the best treadmills, the Assault Airrunner, looking out of a window
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Finally, the best treadmills are back in stock! After a long year of not being able to buy a decent indoor running machine for a reasonable amount of money, you can finally purchase these fantastic cardio machines again. NordicTrack, ProForm, JTX Fitness and the rest of the lot will be able to fulfil your orders sooner than six months. Rejoice!

As people seek to get fit and lose weight at home, suddenly, buying a treadmill – or even a folding treadmill – feels less of a foolish luxury. Indeed, treadmills are the go-to home cardio machine for many, despite elliptical trainers being better for joints health and rowing machines providing a better full-body workout.

It's not like treadmills are bad for you; on the contrary. The best treadmills have well-cushioned running decks to mitigate the impact force of landing, which is better for the joints than running on the tarmac. Running machines can also help you lose weight and tone up effectively. Here is the best treadmill workout to get you started.

On a tight budget? Check out T3's roundup of the best cheap treadmills. Because it doesn't have to cost the earth to get fit indoors.

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The best treadmills, in order of preference

The ProForm Pro 1000 is a pro-spec treadmill but without the pro price tagT3 Award

(Image credit: ProForm)

1. ProForm Pro 1000

Best treadmill with pro-spec but without the pro price tag

Specifications
Max speed: 12.4 mph
Incline: 0-12%
Power: 3.0 HP
Running surface: 60" x 20"
Max user weight: 135kg (298 lbs)
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 36 x 81 x 64
Reasons to buy
+Steep incline setting+Workout fan to keep cool+Pro-grade motor
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky-Non-folding

Coming in at just under £1k, this isn't the cheapest machine on the list but it is also no way near the most expensive, yet it offers some extremely competitive features.

These include a generous 12 per cent incline gradient, built-in workout fan, 32 pre-set workout programmes and an LED display that offers all sorts of fitness metrics to suit various training regimes.

Great for heavy use, the treadmill features a professional grade motor that is built with high-grade components and features a dynamically spin-balanced assembly (whatever that means) to power the treadmill up to a top speed of 22kph/13.6mph. 

That might not be full commercial gym sprint pace, but it's more than enough for a domestic jog. 

The Kettler Sport Arena is the best treadmill for recoveryT3 Award

(Image credit: Kettler)

2. Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill

Best treadmill for recovery

Specifications
Max speed: 11 mph
Incline: 0-12%
Power: 2.5 HP
Running deck: 58" x 18"
Max user weight: 135 kg
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 25 x 73 x 52
Reasons to buy
+Slow starting speed+Shock-absorbing deck
Reasons to avoid
-Running surface is a bit narrow

The Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill has one of the slowest starting speeds (0.3 km/h) on the market, making it ideal for recovery as well as complete beginners. With this running machine, you can gently ease yourself into running training without having to worry about the weather outdoors.

The fully shock absorbed deck will make running less demanding on your joints as well more pleasant for the downstairs neighbours. For added peace of mind, the Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill also comes with a 3-year parts and labour warranty including lifetime on the frame and motor.

On the other end of the intensity-spectrum, the Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill also offers seven HIIT (high intensity interval training) programs straight out of the box. HIIT training is an excellent way to lose weight and to maximise training efficiency, should you be pressed on time. HIIT workouts are made possible due to the high maximum speed (18 km/h) and the incline capabilities (up to 12%) of this treadmill.

The Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill supports Bluetooth connectivity so you can play music through the speakers of the running machine. Not only that but once paired, you can control the playback on the phone with the dedicated buttons on the console.

The Echelon Stride is the best full-size space saving treadmillT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Echelon)

Best full-size space saving treadmill

Specifications
Max speed: 12 mph
Incline: 0-10%
Power: 2.5 HP
Running deck: 55" x 20"
Max user weight: 300 lbs (136 kg)
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 69.3 × 31 × 10.25 inches folded
Reasons to buy
+Auto-fold option makes storage fast and simple+Great for smaller spaces+Echelon Fit offers a wide variety of fun, challenging classes
Reasons to avoid
-Limited incline-No built-in screen

The Echelon Stride is a solid running machine for most casual runners. It offers a full-sized running area and enough speed for most. It also benefits from Echelon United – a series of online classes that you can access via the app for a monthly fee (starting from $29.16/£24.99). 

For more hardcore runners, the 0-10% incline might be a little limiting and the Stride doesn't have a screen built-in, so you need to use your own phone or tablet to access the classes. However, the best thing about this treadmill is that it folds down flat, to just over 10 inches – meaning it will easily slide under a bed or stand up in a closet. 

The JTX Sprint-5 is T3's choice for best treadmillT3 Award

(Image credit: JTX Fitness)

4. JTX Sprint-5 Home Treadmill

Best treadmill for people on a shoestring budget

Specifications
Max speed: 11 mph
Incline: 0-12%
Power: 2.5 HP
Running deck: 55" x 19"
Max user weight: 140 kg
Dimensions (W x L x H, in cm): 33 x 69 x 62
Reasons to buy
+Folds neatly+Decent incline+Cushioned running belt
Reasons to avoid
-Running surface is comparatively small

As good as most high-end running machines are, most recreational runners won't pay top dollars for the fastest/widest and most potent treadmills. If you are after a decent indoor running experience and not planning on spending all of your life savings on a treadmill, the JTX Sprint-5 might be the perfect choice for you.

The newly updated 2020 model can produce up to 12% inclines and speeds up to 18 kph. The relatively small running deck might feel a little weedy compared to treadmills you might have tried in gyms before, but the compact dimensions also make it an excellent option for those short on space.

The running deck features an 8-point suspension system and CSC springs to create a forgiving running platform, which can reduce impact by up to 30% and make running on the JTX Sprint-5 relatively quiet. The vertical grab handles are a nice touch, as they allow for steep incline power walking with the added bonus of heart rate monitoring. The built-in speakers and numerous HIIT workout plans are also nice touches. 

For under a grand, you are not going to get anything better than this.

The Life Fitness T3 is a pro price treadmill with a pro price tagT3 Award

(Image credit: Life Fitness)

5. Life Fitness T3 Treadmill

Another cracking, pro-grade machine, this time with a pro price tag

Specifications
Max speed: 12 mph
Incline: 0-15%
Power: 3.0 HP
Running deck: 60" x 20"
Max user weight: 350 lbs
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 34.5 x 79.5 x 57.5
Reasons to buy
+Slick Track console for stat fans+Comfy FlexDeck running surface
Reasons to avoid
-Hefty

A name that will be familiar to anyone who frequents the gym, Life Fitness produces top quality equipment that can also be introduced to the home with minimum fuss. 

The standout feature on this model is the Track console, which easily connects to smartphones and tablets in order to harness the power of the excellent Life Fitness app. A powerful FlexDeck shock absorption system is said to reduce impact on joints by 30 per cent. It's fairly expensive but you get what you pay for. 

Oh, and you'll need a decent amount of room at home because this is, quite predictably, a big ol' unit. 

The NordicTrack 2950 is the best gym-level treadmill for home useT3 Award

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

6. NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill

The best gym-level treadmill for home use

Specifications
Max speed: 13.5 mph (22 km/h)
Incline: -3-15%
Power: 4.5 HP
Running deck: 60" x 21"
Max user weight: 135 kg
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 39 x 84 x 67
Reasons to buy
+Foldable+Commercial quality+1-year iFit Live subscription included
Reasons to avoid
-Quite large...-.... And not cheap either

If you have serious amounts of cash to spend on a treadmill, you should definitely consider the NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill. This commercial quality running machine excels in every category, whether it's running speed, incline capabilities, entertainment, all of it.

The 4.25 CHP DurX Commercial Plus motor is built to deliver speeds up to 13.5 mph, plenty fast enough for most runners who might consider running on a treadmill. For comparison, Eliud Kipchoge's 2-hour barrier-smashing pace was 13.16 mph, so even if you can run that fast, the NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill will be able to keep up with you.

As for entertainment, most of the middle console is taken up by a massive 21.5” full-colour capacitive touch display. As well as that, the NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill also sports built in speakers with bluetooth connectivity so you can blast your own music as well as listen to instructions coming from the iFit workouts streamed on the treadmill's gigantic screen.

You'll get a 1-year iFit Live subscription included in the price and there is also 40 pre-programmed workouts on the treadmill.

The NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill is pretty bulky, mind, and as mentioned above, it's not too cheap either, but should you have the money and the space, this will be the last treadmill you'll ever need to buy.

The Horizon 7.4AT is the best treadmill for quick transitionsT3 Award

(Image credit: Horizon Fitness)

7. Horizon 7.4AT

Best treadmill for quick transitions

Specifications
Max speed: 12 mph
Incline: 0-15%
Power: 3.5 HP
Running surface: 60" x 22"
Max user weight: 325 lbs
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 37 x 76 x 63
Reasons to buy
+Premium build+Lot of customisation options
Reasons to avoid
-Comparatively small LCD screen-It's MASSIVE

The Horizon 7.4AT Treadmill features a 3.5 CHP motor and 500 lb thrust incline motor which together create the "most responsive drive system available in a treadmill", Horizon claims. The Johnson Digital Drive System featuring Rapid Sync Technology responds "33% faster than other treadmill motors" – also according to Horizon – so in theory, you can keep up with the workouts you're streaming more accurately.

The treadmill can also be connected to training apps such as Zwift. The Horizon 7.4AT Treadmill features the integrated Sprint 8 high-intensity interval training that burns fat and builds muscles in just eight weeks (yet another claim from Horizon), "trimming body fat by up to 27% and significantly lowering bad cholesterol after just eight weeks of three 20-minute workouts per week."

the Assault AirRunner is the best treadmill for intense running workoutsT3 Award

(Image credit: Wolverson Fitness)

Best treadmill for intense running workouts

Specifications
Max speed: User powered
Incline: N/A (curved running surface)
Power : User powered
Running deck: 62" x 17"
Max user weight: 160 kg (350 lbs)
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 33 x 70 x 64
Reasons to buy
+A beast of a workout machine+Burns more calories 
Reasons to avoid
-Not a traditional running machine-Noisy

The Assault AirRunner does so much more than a standard running machine. It doesn't sport the typical motor-powered belt like others, but instead feeds off user input to crank up the resistance and adapt with effort.

It also feels like running on air, while the slightly kicked-up design means there really is no limit to how hard you can push yourself on it. Designed with HIIT in mind, it is great for cranking up the pace in a split second, without the awkward wait for a belt to catch up.

Worried about parting with the dosh? Its steel frame and handrails, corrosion-resistant hardware and slat belt running surface are built to last up to 150,000 miles of use.

The Reebok ZR8 is the best treadmill for intense running workoutsT3 Award

(Image credit: Reebok)

9. Reebok ZR8

Best treadmill for intense running workouts

Specifications
Max speed: 10 mph
Incline: 0-12%
Power: 2.0 HP
Running surface: 50" x 16"
Max user weight: 110 kg
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 29 x 65 x 56
Reasons to buy
+Soft landing+Foldable+Top quality
Reasons to avoid
-Cheap monitor-Max user weight is relatively low

Sitting comfortably at the 'affordable' end of the spectrum, this offering from Reebok packs some pro-spec features that feel rather generous for the money. A clever 'ZigTech' cushioning system on the deck disperses the impact energy across the length of the running deck, helping to protect your joints, while the safety cut off clip is something that is typically seen on more expensive models.

Although easily folded and stashed away, the running deck has been designed with long-legged joggers in mind and the unit has been rigorously tested to withstand users that weigh up to 17 stone. Alas, the digital display feels a bit cheap on this model and the myriad buttons aren't quite as neat nor easy to get on with as others on this list but then what do you expect of the world's 10th best treadmill? 

The NordicTrack S25 is a budget folding option that's surprisingly sturdyT3 Award


(Image credit: NordicTrack)

10. NordicTrack S25 Treadmill

A folding option that isn't flimsy

Specifications
Max speed: 12.4 mph
Incline: 0-10%
Power: 2.75 HP
Running surface: 55" x 20"
Max user weight: 125 kg (275.5 lbs)
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 35.5 x 73.5 x 63.5
Reasons to buy
+Foldable+Fitness app compatible+Decent incline
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy-Buttons and display feels cheap

The NordicTrack line of fitness equipment neatly treads a line between the affordable and the well bolted-together. Its treadmills are chunky and even this foldable item behaves like a borderline professional unit when used.

The motors is powerful, allowing for a max speed of 20km/h - more than enough for most fitness fans. Plus, there's a 10% incline setting, which is more than enough to punish those thighs and glutes on more targeted workouts.

The switches and screens tend to lift the side down a tad, but there's a specific clip for housing a tablet, which is great for use with the compatible iFit fitness app (available for a subscription fee). 

The Mobvoi Home Treadmill is an affordable and compact machine for walking and runningT3 Award

(Image credit: Mobvoi)

Affordable and compact machine for walking and running

Specifications
Max speed: 7.46mph (2.49mph walking mode)
Incline: Fixed
Power: 0.75 HP
Running surface: 400x1000mm (15.75 x 39.37in)
Max user weight: 120 kg (265 lbs)
Dimensions (W x L x H, in inches): 27 x 49 x 42
Reasons to buy
+Small footprint+Inexpensive+Easy to Store
Reasons to avoid
-Small running surface-Low max speed

For the space and budget-conscious that want a treadmill to take gentle runs or walks, the Mobvoi Home Treadmill is a great option. The unit folds flat and can be slipped under the bed when not in use. It can also be used in the walking mode without folding up the handrail, so it's perfect to pair with a standing desk to get in your steps while you work. 

This won't suit everyone – the running area is on the small side, there's no incline, and the max speed is 12 km/h (7.46mph), but it's perfect as an affordable home runner. 

person running on a Bowflex treadmill in their room looking out of the window

(Image credit: Bowflex)

Where to buy treadmills right now?

The best treadmills are always in high demand, so finding a reasonably-priced running machine will be a bit of an effort. If you can't find a suitable model at the shops listed below, you can always try and source a second-hand model: it's not all that unlikely people will give up on their new hobby and try to sell their hardly used cardio machines for cheap online. The best places to look are eBay US, eBay UK and eBay AU, but who knows, you might end up finding gold on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or Craigslist.

Which treadmill is best for home use?

Of course, something like the LifeFitness Platinum Club Series sits at the top end of the budgetary scale – it's got the word 'platinum' in it, so what did you expect? – but that's not to say there aren't great choices to suit less extravagant tastes.

Prices range from around £160 / $200 for the basic, self-propelled models. Still, these tend to offer a very unrealistic running experience and fall apart after a couple of uses, so really, the sweet spot between performance and price starts at around £600 / $700.

A good, mains-powered treadmill is judged on its running deck, which has to absorb the impact of a run while simultaneously representing an outdoor surface, as well as keeping the amount of noise it produces to a minimum.

For everyday use (as in, not hardcore running training), we would recommend the JTX Sprint-5 Home Treadmill: it strikes a good balance between quality, ease of use and price, offering a good value for money for people not willing to remortgage a house to get a new running machine.

How to buy the best treadmill for you

Naturally, the more money you spend on a running machine, the more technology is thrown at it. So if you like tracking stats, running along with a virtual partner or ingesting some multimedia, then it's worth opting for the machines with built-in screens or reliable smartphone connectivity.

Or, you can buy a basic model and also get an exercise bike, elliptical or rowing machine added to your pain cave. What are the differences between how treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals? We compared them to find out: treadmill vs exercise bike and treadmill vs elliptical.

RRPs can be punitive, but you'll found the usual online shopping suspects tend to offer enormous discounts off sports equipment of this nature. Just make sure there aren't any enormous delivery and set-up charges involved, especially for the larger, fancier stuff. Our price widgets will always pull in the lowest price offered by our retail chums.

One final tip: sports scientists have found that runners tend to exert less energy when pounding the miles on a treadmill, presumably due to the springy running board offering an extra boost. So, if you want to keep fit indoors, much sure you place the speed on a faster setting than you think you need.

And if it's speed you are after, you will need some additional gear too, like the best running shoes and for tracking heart rate accurately, the best heart rate monitors. If you need to isolate yourself from your surroundings at home, you might also want to wear the best running headphones.

Are treadmills bad for your knees?

No, they aren't! As a matter of fact, they are probably better for the knees than running on hard surfaces (e.g. tarmac). Modern treadmills have cushioned running decks to make home workouts less noisy and reduce impact force as you run. It's a different story if you try to run fast, but that will affect your knee joints on any surface. If you're concerned about your knees, try running slower and should you feel any pain or discomfort, consult a medical professional.