If you’ve narrowed your next piece of gym equipment to a treadmill, you’ve only won half of the battle. With so many options to choose from, but only some much space in a home gym, every decision has to count. However, there are two types of treadmills that can have a major impact on your workout style: Motorized and manual.
But which one is right for you?
If you live by the mantra that the only person that can push you to workout is yourself, you’ll probably love a manual treadmill. Jokes aside, manual treadmills are a great cardio choice for people looking for high intensity fitness equipment.
Manual treadmills work by having a running belt that engages with an internal flywheel mechanism. When you walk and push your leg back, that power is transferred from the running belt to the flywheel. The faster you move, the more momentum you give the flywheel, and the more speed you can maintain. But the moment you stop, the flywheel slows down, and the manual treadmill comes to a near-instant stop.
Some manual treadmills also have a resistance mechanism that can help you switch up your workout. For example, magnetic treadmills like the SF-T7723 Force Fitmill have magnetic resistance that can be applied progressively to the flywheel mechanism. This will make it more challenging to get the manual treadmill up to speed (but you’ll be able to burn more calories and condition you lower body even further as you work out). This applied resistance can also help you perform exercises like sled pushes with the support of multi-grip handrails.
But just because these treadmills have manual controls, doesn’t mean they lack in incline. Some manual treadmills, like the SF-T7878 Cardio Training Self-Powered Manual Treadmill, have various incline levels that you can adjust after you safely dismount the machine. This combined with magnetic resistance can elevate your workout challenge, so you can burn even more calories.
Manual treadmills are also a great choice to perform Tabata and other high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. On a manual treadmill you expend energy while building speed to perform running spurts—which is something a motor treadmill does for you automatically. Running on this treadmill will require you to expend energy to maintain the speed you’ve built during your workout.
While manual treadmills can be used for challenging workouts, they also make great exercise machine for light cardio exercise. For example, machines like the SF-T1407M are designed for walking. These treadmills have a compact frame and can fold easily to save space. And weighing 4lbs, this particular product is nearly half the size of a traditional manual treadmill. While it’s not designed to reach running speeds, this compact treadmill is easy to use, move, and store.
Motorized treadmills can do the same things as a manual treadmill, and more. But they serve a different purpose. While a manual treadmill is good for building endurance for short high-intensity workouts, a motorized treadmill is ideal for the runner that is aiming for distance. Simply put, you don’t have to maintain a conscious effort to keep your speed over a long distance with a motorized treadmill.
Motorized treadmills tend to be heavier than their manual counterpart, but they’re also more feature packed. You can track important variables like incline, heart rate, and calorie count. Other treadmills are equipped with auxiliary inputs, like hand pulse sensors for tracking heart rate, dynamic workout program buttons, and in some cases loud speakers for your music.
Easy-to-store treadmills are only limited to manual treadmills. Foldable treadmills like the Asuna 8730 have a low profile. Most electric treadmills are also foldable, which means they can save just as much space. Transportation wheels also keep the treadmill grounded.
These treadmills are also capable of performing HIIT workouts. However, motorized treadmills are often best suited for individuals that are looking for a tool to train for long distances. The motor can help keep runners up to speed during long bouts, forcing them to keep up, even when they get tired.
Which one should you get?
Luckily both types of treadmills can be beneficial to your workout routine. However, if you’re looking to start running, build endurance, and practice high intensity interval training, a manual treadmill will work well for you. However, if you find maintained speed, feature-packed setups, and long-distance exercising more appealing, then a motorized treadmill will certainly boost your workout regimen.