The best treadmill isn't always the most expensive. For most users, finding the right home gym equipment means assessing three things: Your budget, your available space, and how you plan to use that equipment.
For serious runners that plan to use the treadmill frequently and heavily, durability and impact-reduction take center stage. If you're training for a long, steep hike in the mountains or to run a hilly racecourse, a treadmill with extra incline/decline capability can help you prepare your body for that challenge. If you find yourself easily bored, interactive features become key.
And of course, no matter what use you have in mind for the treadmill, a strong, smooth, and responsive motor and a reasonably cushioned running/walking deck are key features to look out for.
Which are the best treadmills?
For most users, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is the only machine you'll ever need. Despite the name, this treadmill is meant for use at home; and there is seemingly no end to the number of well-earned kudos it draws for its balance of power, build quality, and features, all at a reasonably accessibly priced.
If interactive, entertaining workouts are your priority, you can't go wrong with the NordicTrack Commercial 2750. This treadmill offers an impressive bump in terms of functionality, with almost all the bells and whistles you'd get from a Peloton treadmill — at a significantly better value.
However, those aren't your only two options for great at-home workouts. Keep scrolling, because we've put a retired personal trainer to work choosing the best treadmills for every budget or use — including an extra-quiet model that's less likely to disturb your family or the neighbors, and perfectly capable machines to suit budgets of less than $1,500, $1,000, and $500.
The best treadmills 2021
We chose the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 as the best all-around treadmill because it offers an unbeatable mix of award-winning features and builds quality, all at a very reasonable price.
What we like about it
This treadmill's max speed (12 mph), incline/decline capability (-3% decline to 15% incline), and relatively spacious 22"x60" belt size make it a fantastic, capable training machine for almost everybody, including serious runners. It consistently feels sturdy and stable underfoot, even at a run.
In terms of usability, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 has two very desirable features: a 10" HD touchscreen and a free, one-year subscription to iFit Coach — an interactive training program that allows you to access numerous interactive, video-rich features. Perhaps the most impressive is the live, trainer-led workouts, during which the trainer can adjust your treadmill's speed and incline for you remotely.
We also like the one-touch keys that take you straight to preset speed and incline settings, so you don't have to worry about frantically poking speed up/speed down buttons as you run. Finally, the deck folds up to free some floor space when not in use.
Things to note
Although NordicTrack Commercial 1750's 10" HD touchscreen works perfectly with iFit, we see some concerns about its functionality with third-party mobile apps.
Speaking of iFit, this treadmill comes with a one-year free trial of the family subscription, which allows up to four user accounts. But once that trial period is up, you'll have to either make do with the treadmill's built-in workouts or pay the iFit subscription fee, which ranges from about $180 to as much as $500 per year.
If you love everything about the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 except its price tag, keep scrolling: We've also picked the top treadmills at price points less than $500, $1,000, and $1,500.
It's hard to get a completely silent treadmill — usually anybody downstairs or next door to you will hear the sound of your footfalls, if not the treadmill's motors. With that said, the Bowflex BXT216 is the quietest treadmill we evaluated. If you're looking for a treadmill that offers the least disturbance to your neighbors or family or just has the most cushioning for your own benefit, this is it.
What we like about it
Bowflex uses a proprietary Comfort Tech deck cushioning system to soften both the sound and feel of your footfalls on the BXT216. Although almost every treadmill on the market has some sort of cushioning, this is the model that we see praised over and over again for how quiet it is.
It also has everything you need to suit a serious runner, including a maximum speed of 12 mph — powered by a beefy 4.0 CHP motor — and incline capability of up to 15%. It does not offer decline capability (to simulate downhill slopes), but it is Bluetooth compatible, so you can use a wireless heart rate monitor or sync workouts to some of your favorite mobile apps, including Explore the World and the Bowflex JRNY app.
The JRNY app offers iFit-like interactive training options, including virtual coaching. It does require a subscription, but you can try a 2-month trial for free when you buy the treadmill.
Things to note
This treadmill isn't the cheapest in our report, although we do think it offers good value for the money. If budget is one of your primary considerations, we've picked out the top models you can get for less than $500, $1,000, and $1,500; keep scrolling for more details.
Also, keep in mind that if the JRNY interactive features are important to you, you'll need to pay a monthly subscription fee once your 2-month trial is over. As of late 2020, a JRNY membership typically costs about $20/month.
If you really want to take your treadmill workouts to the next level, consider an incline trainer like the NordicTrack X11i. You could pay more for an incline trainer, but this one has everything you need for a serious uphill (or downhill) workout.
What we like about it
The NordicTrack X11i offers an impressive incline range of up to 40%, or down to a -6% — so you can simulate both uphill or downhill slopes. This kind of training is essential if you're planning to walk or run on challenging, hilly courses, or if you just want the extra physical and mental challenge (not to mention the increased calorie burn) of navigating that sort of terrain.
The other features on the X11i are fairly standard for a treadmill in this price range: Spacious running deck, strong motor, and so on. However, there are two particularly interesting features to note. The first is NordicTrack's optional iFit service; you get a one-year free trial to decide if the interactive workouts and virtual coaching are worth paying an ongoing subscription fee.
The second very interesting thing about this treadmill is an unusual manual mode which, paired with the push bar/sled handles on the treadmill console, allows you to simulate push-sled workouts right on the treadmill.
Things to consider
Although iFit's interactive workouts and virtual coaching are always a high point, they also come with a price tag: Once your free one-year trial of iFit has concluded, subscription fees typically range anywhere from $180 to $500/year, depending on which options you choose.
Unlike most of the treadmills in this list, the NordicTrack X11i doesn't fold for storage. And although it's the best value among the incline trainers we evaluated, if you don't plan to use its wide-ranging incline capability you can get an otherwise similar treadmill for significantly less money.
The ProForm Smart Pro 2000 packs fantastic build quality and value at a reasonable price tag.
What we like about it
Although it doesn't draw quite as many accolades as our top pick, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750, this treadmill delivers similar features and capability at a lower price.
The ProForm Smart Pro 2000 is built solidly, has enough speed and incline options to challenge most runners, and sports a modest but enjoyable 7" HD touchscreen display.
That touchscreen comes in especially handy for enjoying the treadmill's iFit-powered workouts, which include interactive workouts in which the remote trainer can adjust your treadmill's speed and incline for you.
Things to note
This treadmill comes with a free one-year trial of iFit — plenty of time to decide how much those interactive features matter to you.
You don't have to pay the subscription fees to use the treadmill's built-in workouts, but if you enjoy iFit's interactive coaching and training options, you'll need to pay a subscription fee of $180 to $500 (depending on the plan) once your year-long trial is up.
If those interactive features and HD video are what really motivate you to run, it's worth taking a look at the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 and the Commercial 2950 for their bigger screens.
The Xterra 150 offers one of the best blends of value and capability in this price range. Although it's not the right machine for serious, frequent runners with a long stride, it's a great choice for walkers or anyone who's just getting serious about a fitness habit.
What we like about it
This is the price range where you have to start picking and choosing which features really matter to you — but compared to the competition, the Xterra 150 treadmill gives you an awful lot to choose from. Its 16"x50" belt surface isn't great for runners with a long stride, but it still offers plenty of space for walkers and joggers.
Likewise, the 10 mph maximum speed won't challenge serious sprinters — but it's plenty for most walkers and runners who aren't doing hardcore interval training.
Having three manual incline adjustments to choose from is a pleasant surprise in this price range, as is the treadmill's compatibility with wireless heart rate monitors, although you'll need to supply your own.
Things to note
The Xterra 150's lifetime frame warranty is a great find in this price range, but warranty coverage for the other parts is quite limited.
We also note that the user weight limit, 250 pounds, is quite low. If you're in that ballpark weight range, it's worth upgrading to a slightly stouter model if you can —not only for the sake of durability but because you'll have a steadier, more enjoyable experience on the treadmill.
The next bump up the budget ladder, the Horizon T303, has a 325-pound user weight limit that's better than some of the more expensive treadmills we evaluated.
How to buy the best treadmills
Although there is a seemingly endless succession of treadmills to choose from you can narrow the field of options down just like we did, by focusing on key specifications like belt size, motor speed/power, incline options, and entertainment programs.
Together, these criteria determine how comfortable and enjoyable your workouts will be — and that, in turn, determines whether you'll actually use your treadmill. The last thing you want is for your fitness investment to turn into an expensive coat rack.
The gold standard for runners is a 22"x60" tread belt — enough space to accommodate almost any stride. You'll see shorter and narrower belts on budget-priced machines or those meant more for walking and jogging than full-out running.
Treadmill motor size is typically measured in continuous horsepower (CHP) and, in general, the bigger the better. A stronger motor is more likely to offer fast, smooth speed transitions and steady belt movement.
Motor-adjust incline capability of up to 15% is pretty standard on mid-range treadmills nowadays, with budget models sometimes offering lesser motor-adjust options or manual adjustments. Increasingly, mid-range and high-end treadmills also offer some limited decline capability to simulate the feel of running down a slight slope.
If you're willing to pass on high-tech entertainment options like HD touchscreens and interactive workouts, you can save a lot of money on your treadmill purchase. But if it's those entertainment features that motivate you to run or walk, don't skimp here — getting the right interactive features could be the difference between actually using your treadmill or turning it into an expensive coat rack.
Other specs to consider
Of course, there are other practical considerations to keep in mind, like how much space the treadmill takes up in your home gym and whether it folds for storage. Most mid-price and budget-price home treadmills do fold up like one side of a drawbridge, freeing up a significant amount of floor space when they're not in use.
But don't shoehorn that machine into a tight corner just yet: When the treadmill is in use, you'll need some extra space to the side and rear of the machine so you can easily get on and off it, and as a safety buffer on the very slim chance of a stumble.
Will it fit through your door?
Make sure to consider these important practicalities before buying your new treadmill:
Are there hidden delivery fees? When it comes to big, heavy equipment like treadmills, many delivery companies will only bring the box(es) to the end of your driveway or, in some cases, to your doorstep.
If you want the boxes brought any further than that you'll need to make arrangements in advance, and there's often a hefty extra fee — easily a couple of hundred dollars — associated with what is known as "inside delivery" or "threshold delivery."
Will it fit through your doorways? Check to see how many boxes your treadmill arrives in, and the dimensions of those boxes. Then grab a measuring tape and measure every doorway the boxes will need to fit through. If they don't fit, you're going to end up opening the boxes outside and carting the treadmill pieces inside one by one. Trust us — that's not fun.
What's the assembly like? Depending on the treadmill and how handy you are, assembling your new machine could be as simple as tightening a few bolts and screws as shown in a diagram — or it could be a horrible experience that you'll gladly pay to get out of. If you're not a fan of assembly projects or if you don't plan on looking at the directions, save yourself some trouble and pay professionals to assemble the treadmill for you. It's worth it.
Will you be moving the treadmill around? Typically, something as big as a treadmill stays put once it's assembled. But if you're planning on moving your fully assembled treadmill around at all — say, into a guest room when friends visit, in front of the television so you can run or walk during your favorite movie marathon, or when you move houses — measure all those doorways again to make sure the treadmill will still fit through when fully assembled.
Is the treadmill going upstairs?
If your treadmill is going to be in an upstairs room, have cared for anybody who might be downstairs and buy the quietest treadmill possible. Although no treadmill is truly silent, we've found the Bowflex BXT216 to be one of the quietest models at an accessible price.