);

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Manual Treadmills Reviewed

Both the young and old can walk, jog or run on these machines to get an efficient and safe workout.

by PITeam

What is a manual treadmill? It is a treadmill with no electric motor. Instead, manual treadmills have an internal mechanism that allows the user to move the running belt.

Instead of keeping up with the treadmill, the user pushes on the belt (usually with feet) to keep the mechanism going and control the speed. This almost always makes for a different and more rigorous workout than one would get on an electric treadmill.

Image

Product

Deck Length

Belt width

Weight Capacity

Check Price

Assault Fitness AirRunner, Black Frame/Charcoal

Assault Fitness AirRunner

62 inches

17 inches

350 LBS

StairMaster HIITMill Self-Powered Incline...

StairMaster HIITMill X

~ 60 inches

23 inches

400 LBS (estimate)

Sunny Health & Fitness Cardio Trainer Self Powered...

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7878

47.5 inches

17.5 inches

300 LBS

ASUNA Hi-Performance Cardio Trainer Self Powered...

Sunny Health & Fitness 7700 Asuna

51 inches

18 inches

440 LBS

ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill with 2 Level Incline...

ProGear 190

43 inches

13 inches

230 LBS

Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill

Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up

41 inches

13 inches

250 LBS

Exerpeutic 100XL High Capacity Magnetic Resistance...

Exerpeutic 100XL

45 inches

16 inches

325 LBS

Advantages & Drawbacks of Manual Treadmills

The benefits of manual treadmills are many. They are eco-friendly, as they pull no electric power. The leg muscles get more of a workout, driving the mechanism.

Most often, manual treadmills are relatively less expensive than standard treadmills. They generally are lighter and more compact (and most have portability features), and, for some users, they might be safer because there is little risk of falling off a rapidly moving belt.

However, there can be drawbacks. Runners might find it hard to get into a groove with a manual treadmill (though some designs overcome this shortcoming), and some people might feel that the physical and mental focus needed to push the running belt is overwhelming.


Choosing a High-Quality Manual Treadmill

Design:

Almost all manual treadmills have at least one flywheel, with most having a pair. A flywheel is a device that holds rotational energy to stabilize the speed of rotation. In a treadmill, the goal is to make the belt move steadily, even with uneven or intermittent force applied by the user. Furthermore, most manual treadmills have belts made of friction-friendly material to facilitate gripping and pushing the belt.

Size vs. Space:

Manual treadmills tend to be on the small side, so they are great for use in small rooms. The longest in the manual treadmill reviews of this article is 78 inches (6.5 ft.) long, but most are closer to 4-feet long. Similarly, the widest is 55 inches (4.5 ft.) wide, but most are only about 2.5 ft. wide.

Max User Weight:

Despite their compact size, most manual treadmills have no trouble carrying a lot of weight. Very robust units can accommodate around 400 lbs.; many small units designed for basic home use can tolerate about 250 pounds. If you intend to do weight-bearing exercise while walking on a treadmill, remember to consider the added weight when looking at treadmill specs.

Deck Length (belt size) & Height:

The belt length and width give you the dimensions of the overall running surface. This is especially important to consider if you are a tall (over 6-feet) person or if you anticipate running on the treadmill (running strides are usually longer than walking strides). For most, the height of the treadmill is not so important; however, it could matter if you want a treadmill that can fold up small, or if you are tall and need the handlebars to be up high enough.

Durability & Stability:

Durability and stability are especially important in any treadmill since you are putting the weight of your whole body on the mechanism. Furthermore, the equipment must be able to accommodate your weight shifting with motion—and at different inclines and resistance levels. Less stable treadmills might squeak during use, or the belt might fail to stay centered as the user shifts weight.

Portability & Storage:

Almost all manual treadmills are portable and storable. In fact, all listed below are folding manual treadmill reviews: They have wheels on the bottom that allow the folded treadmill to be rolled; they fold up so that the length reduces to 50% of the folded-out length. Most are light enough that small people can safely fold and unfold them; some even have a soft-drop mechanism, so the running deck comes down slowly by itself.

Extra Features:

  • Incline:
    A few manual treadmills have one fixed incline, but the majority give at least 2 incline adjustment options. (Keep in mind that higher incline does not necessarily mean greater rigor with manual treadmills—the incline actually helps you push the belt.)
  • Handlebars:
    Handle design is especially crucial if you want to do a variety of workouts. Sled-push or driving motions (typical in HIIT workouts) demand handles that are down low so you can bend down and push; on the other hand, less athletic users still need to have handles that are easy to reach and grip for safety and comfort.
  • Console:
    Manual treadmills are not computerized per se, but many have battery-powered monitors hooked up to keep track of essential measures such as speed and distance walked. Some also have water bottle holders and device slots/holders.

Price & Warranty:

Generally, manual treadmills are less expensive than electric treadmills, but it still depends on the model. Large, heavy-duty manual treadmills with features for serious running or weight-bearing workouts are as much $5,000, while basic lightweight manual treadmills for at-home walking are under $200. Almost all manual treadmills have a warranty of at least 1 year on the frame; many also have shorter warranties on other parts.


7 Best Manual Treadmills Reviewed

1. Assault Fitness AirRunner

top curved pick

Dimensions
(L x W x H)

70 x 33 x 64 inches

Deck Length/

Belt width

62 inches/

17 inches

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight)

350 Lbs

Incline

Fixed

Warranty

Yes—5 years (frame), 3 years (non-wear parts), and 1 year (labor)

The Assault Fitness AirRunner lives up to its name, and is arguably the best manual treadmill on the market: It is definitely the best manual treadmill for running or CrossFit enthusiasts. The manual treadmill curve design (no deck, but instead a series of bearings, rollers, and pulleys directing its slatted belt) acts as a silent coach to encourage proper running posture. The belt is made of a durable, springy material that gives soothing shock absorption during strenuous workouts.

This unit has unusually extensive console functions for a manual treadmill: It keeps time, distance, speed, calories, and pace (time/distance) on its LCD hi-contrast screen. It also has functions to assist interval training, such as “work” and “rest” modes/indicator LED lights, and, since it is Bluetooth compatible, it can be used with heartrate monitors to assess target heart rate.

Users do find that, while you can easily run on this unit, it generally slows you down from your record time. However, it burns more calories, as you apply energy to run the mechanism.

Users generally agree that the ride is smooth and quiet and that the mechanism is highly stable—people of all sizes can run on it without wobbling. Unfortunately, at 280 pounds, the unit is not so portable, despite having transportation wheels.

As a bonus, Assault Fitness offers a free email subscription of weekly workouts. Plus, if building a home gym, consider Assault Fitness’s line of AirBikes (Classic and Elite lines) and AirRowers.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Stable
  • Promotes good running
  • Variety of console functions
  • Works for people of all sizes

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

2. StairMaster HIITMill X

Best manual treadmill for HIIT

Dimensions
(L x W x H)

78 x 55 x 66 inches

Deck Length/

Belt width

~ 60 inches 

23 inches

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight)

400 Lbs (estimate)

Incline

Fixed

Warranty

Yes—10 years (frame and parts); 3 years (labor); 1 year (wear items)

The StairMaster HIITMill X is the best manual treadmill for HIIT training—and, really, for any intense, full-body exercise. The arm handles can bear a total of 90 lbs, giving a maximum total of 100 lbs of lift-weight per arm.

Even if not using the Farmer’s Carry option, this treadmill will provide a good workout at its 11-degree incline. Its thick and textured belt facilitates strenuous, weight-bearing exercise. As shown in the 1st video below, you can bear down and put your head through the top rails to get a sled-push workout.

This unit has six magnetically-controlled resistance modes, plus an emergency stop feature. The console is designed for HIIT workouts: It is Bluetooth and ANT+ (Adaptive Network Topology—wireless sensor technology, often used in fitness equipment) compatible. The console keeps time, distance, and calories, plus interval time and calorie measures, too. There is space for a water bottle and a smartphone.

This treadmill gives more options than most manual treadmills. Aside from those stated, you can hold on to the ample handrails (as needed) and do backward workouts—there are places to connect tubes or straps to the back bottom area; you can also walk sideways. If you are a small person or you do not want Farmer’s Carry, consider the StairMaster HIITMill, which costs less and has longer handrails.

Pros

  • Upper body workout options
  • Very stable
  • Durable
  • HIIT-friendly console
  • Fine for tall people

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7878

Best folding manual treadmill

Dimensions
(L x W x H)

56 x 27 x 56 Inches

Deck Length/Belt width

47.5 inches/

17.5 inches

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight)

300 Lbs

Incline

Adjustable

Warranty

Yes—3 years (frame); 180 days (parts)

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7878 is the best folding manual treadmill you can buy. It has a medium-length running deck but folds to only 28 inches. However, it also has a hydraulic soft-drop mechanism so that it will not crash down accidentally after you push the button to release it for folding or unfolding. At only 110 lbs, it can support a maximum user weight of 300 lbs. Also, like most manual treadmills, it has portability wheels.

The double 11-lb flywheels give this unit a smooth ride. There is the option of 7, 8, and 9% incline. This unit has 16 levels of magnetically-adjusted resistance, controlled by a dial on the left side of the frame (reachable during use). The console displays time, distance, speed, calories, and heartrate (taken from the heartrate sensors on the handrails). As bonus features, the console also has an age-heartrate chart to help you establish the correct rigor for you, and it has a small ledge to hold an iPad.

The well-shaped, easy-grip handrails allow a variety of exercises and positions, including sled-push. The company website listing includes a workout guide suited to this treadmill.

If you would like a less expensive, more straightforward unit, consider the fixed incline version (13.5% incline). Taller people might enjoy its longer running deck, but unfortunately, it lacks console features.

Pros

  • Many resistance gradients
  • Many resistance gradients
  • iPad space on console
  • Responsive customer service
  • Soft-drop mechanism

Cons

  • No bottle holder

4. Sunny Health & Fitness 7700 Asuna

Best manual treadmill for running

Dimensions
(L x W x H)

55 x 30 x 57 Inches

Deck Length/

Belt width

51 inches/

18 inches

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight)

440 LBS

Incline

Adjustable

Warranty

Yes—5 years (frame); 180 days (parts)

The 7700 is from the premium Asuna line from Sunny Health & Fitness: it is the best manual treadmill for running and other more intense workouts. In fact, HIIT and Tabata enthusiasts love it. The two heavy-duty magnetic flywheels at the front give a smooth ride with 8 different resistance levels—you can control the resistance by little gear shift that is easy to reach, at the user’s right side. Also, the incline is adjustable in 1-degree gradients from 10 to 14 degrees.

At 167 lbs., with transport wheels and a soft-drop system, this unit is portable and compact—with a fold-up length of 27.5 inches. Surprisingly, it has a very high user weight capacity of 440 lbs. Therefore, even large people can do strenuous and weight-bearing exercises on this unit.

Even as it has no console, it does have a rubber gripping surface to hold an iPad/tablet—many users might prefer this. Furthermore, the handrails— made of sweat resistant, grip-able material—are extensive to allow 8 different holding positions.

To get full use, check out the video the company website offers to accompany this treadmill. You will see that you can walk/run forward, backward, and sideways—you can even do a series of squats on it. You can do sled-push/drive movements. You can also do climbing exercises—with hands-on floor, pushing with legs, or hands walking on the treadmill, with feet on the floor. 

Pros

  • Very stable
  • Unusually high weight capacity
  • Easy assembly
  • Great for intense workouts
  • Responsive customer service

Cons

  • No monitors or sensors
  • Excessive resistance for small users

5. ProGear 190

Best manual treadmill for home

Dimensions
(L x W x H)

47 x 23 x 51 inches

Deck Length/

Belt width

43 inches/

13 inches

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight)

230 Lbs

Incline

adjustable

Warranty

Yes—1 year (frame); 90 days (parts)

The ProGear 190, made by Paradigm Health and Wellness, Inc., is the best manual treadmill for home—for most users’ purposes. This treadmill is the second smallest on this list, weighing only 49 lbs and extending only 47 inches when unfolded; plus, it folds to only 21 inches long and has transport wheels on the bottom.

This treadmill has dual flywheels to smooth the ride, and it has a simple foam-grip handrail system that extends from front to sides. It has a console that displays time, speed, distance, and calories on an LCD screen. The incline can be adjusted to either 6 or 10 degrees.

While this might not be the best manual treadmill for running, it guarantees a strenuous workout for walkers and joggers. Some users complain about the unit squeaking or the belt moving too fast or shifting from the center. However, these issues likely originate at installation—some users do report installation difficulties. However, many users do get around these issues and manage to use the treadmill successfully, and many do not have these problems at all. Thankfully, customer service is responsive and helpful.

Just because you purchase a simple, economical treadmill like this one does not mean you cannot have comfort features. Consider getting an add-on mini fan, iPad/magazine holder, drink holder, and more.

Pros

  • Space-saving
  • Stable frame
  • Responsive customer service
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Difficult assembly
  • Not ideal for tall people

6. Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up

Best rated

Dimensions
(L x W x H)

46.5 x 21.1 x 50 inches

Deck Length/Belt width

41 inches/

13 inches

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight)

250 Lbs

Incline

Fixed

Warranty

Yes—1 year (frame); 90 days (parts)

The Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up is the best rated manual treadmill for home use. It is very compact at only 46.5 inches long (21.7 when folded) and 45 lbs.—it both folds and rolls. However, it still manages to carry users up to 250 lbs. and it has a flywheel to smooth the ride.

The console has a device/personal item slot on one side and a bottle holder (with a water bottle included with purchase) on the other, and it has an LCD screen that shows speed, distance, time, and calories.

Users are unanimous that this treadmill, with its 12.5% incline, will give you a workout—to the point that you probably will not be able to multitask much during use: You might be able to watch TV or listen to an audiobook. Furthermore, many users agree that this machine is too resistant and inclined to allow a comfortable run.

Most users find the ride quiet and smooth, but some do report issues of wobbling, noise, or the belt halting during use. However, these problems might originate with complicated assembly, as some users report parts not easily fitting together.

To protect home floors, many users purchase the Stamina Fold-to-Fit Equipment Mat (86 x 36 inches) with this treadmill.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Space-saving
  • Inexpensive
  • Holders for bottle and device

Cons

  • Assembly difficulties
  • Not ideal for tall people

7. Exerpeutic 100XL

Best manual treadmill for seniors

Dimensions
(L x W x H)

50 x 29 x 50 inches

Deck Length/

Belt width

45 inches/

16 inches

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight)

325 Lbs

Incline

Adjustable

Warranty

Yes—2 years (frame); 90 days (parts

The Exerpeutic 100XL from Paradigm Health & Wellness, Inc. is arguably the best manual treadmill for seniors. It has ample side rail width to rest feet during a sudden stop; it has long, but simple, handrails that include pulse sensors; and users agree that it runs quietly. Aside from heartrate, the console displays time, distance, calories, and speed on a large LCD display.

Mature users will enjoy that there is a device holder—potentially for a TV remote—on the console’s left. On the console’s right, there is a large dial controlling the magnetic tension (resistance) with a gradient of 8 levels; unlike some other manual treadmills, you might be able to walk hands-free on the lower resistances. Plus, the incline can be adjusted to 8%, 10%, or 15%.

Like others, it is foldable and roll-able; however, at only 73 lbs., it is easier to move around than other treadmills that can bear the same amount of user weight (325 lbs.). Some users praise the 100XL for its easy assembly. Unfortunately, some others find that parts do not seem to fit together; however, most can get around these issues and successfully use the treadmill.

Younger users sometimes use the 100XL as a manual treadmill under their desks. One reviewer used it with the Jarvis Electric Adjustable Height Standing Desk.

Pros

  • Space-saving
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Easy assembly
  • Heartrate sensors

Cons

  • Parts sometimes do not fit properly
  • No soft-drop mechanism
  • No bottle holder

Manual Treadmills Vs Other Exercise Equipment

Manual Treadmills Vs. Stationary Bikes for Fitness

Stationary bikes target the lower body exclusively, while manual treadmills require pushing the handlebars with the upper body to keep in position while pressing forward. If you have knee trouble, the movement of a stationary bike might be painful. However, treadmills put full body weight on joints, which can also cause pain. In conclusion, if your joints are in good shape and you want an upper-body component to your workout, a manual treadmill is the better choice.

Manual Treadmills Vs. Elliptical Trainers for Fitness

First, elliptical trainers always give an optional upper-body workout—the handles move by the same mechanism as the foot pedals. In contrast, while manual treadmills require pushing off with the upper body, only a few have actual upper-body workout features. Second, elliptical trainers usually can pedal backward, while walking backward is challenging on many manual treadmills. Third, elliptical trainers generally put less stress on joints than treadmills. Therefore, if you have joint issues, an elliptical trainer is probably the better option.

Manual Treadmills Vs. Rowing Machines for Fitness

Rowing machines target muscles in the upper, lower, and mid (abs, back) body equally, while manual treadmills predominantly target the lower body (legs), and sometimes, to a lesser extent, the upper body (arms). Rowing does not involve bearing the weight of one's body, so it is easier on joints. If you have joint trouble or you want a full-body workout, rowing is the better choice.


Manual Treadmills Vs Electric Treadmills

Electric treadmills are easier to use, but manual treadmills are guaranteed to work the muscles harder. That said, if you need to reduce the impact on joints, an electric unit might be better.

Aside from the obvious challenge of pushing the belt instead of keeping up with the pace of an automatically moving belt, there are more differences: With adjustable incline manual treadmills, you always have to set the incline before stepping on the deck.

Many manual treadmills have adjustable resistance—a factor that is irrelevant to electric treadmills. Many electric treadmills, however, will automatically adjust incline and pace to adhere to pre-programmed workouts.

A common complaint about manual treadmills is that they have relatively narrow belts—you might feel a little restricted; however, for many, this problem goes away with practice.

Ultimately the answer to the manual vs. electric treadmill question depends on your needs and what you want out of your workout.


Care & Maintenance

  • Daily
    Wipe the exterior of the treadmill with a soft cloth if any moisture gets on it, and use a nonabrasive cleanser on any surface stains. Avoid spilling liquid on the mechanism or console.
  • Periodically
    Most manual treadmill belts need to be re-lubricated every few months, especially if you use the unit heavily. If you suspect this is needed, lift the belt slightly and apply some silicone lubricant to the deck underneath the belt. Walk on the treadmill for a few minutes to spread the lubricant out.

Also, the belts of some manual treadmills can run off-center over time. Generally, correcting this requires a series of bolt twists and manipulations of the belt with your foot.

Always look at the instructions included with your treadmill for model-specific details about lubrication and re-centering. The video below addresses both issues. (It demonstrates with electric treadmills, but the steps are essentially the same.)


Manual Treadmill Exercise Routines

Traditionally, people looking to lose weight on a treadmill have used long periods of aerobic work—enough intensity to feel a little burn and get their heartrate up. However, interval training has gained popularity, as it offers more fitness benefits and generates more weight loss.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a treadmill involves a pattern of, say, 20 seconds of strenuous work (high resistance and/or high speed) followed by 10 seconds of rest (put feet on side rails); 8 intervals in a row is a reasonable target number.

Generally, it is better to start on lower resistance, lower speed, less time, fewer intervals, etc. than you think you can handle. Many people do not realize until later that they have injured themselves. Once injured, it is harder to progress.

Always warm up—it can just be with a brief period of walking—before an intense workout.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you actually run on a manual treadmill?

In theory, yes, but some are easier to run on than others, and all will take some practice.

How do I make my manual treadmill smoother?

If the treadmill does not give a smooth ride, check whether it has enough lubrication under the belt, or look at the instructions to see if there are ways to tune up the mechanism.

Can I lose weight on a manual treadmill? How many calories are burned on a manual treadmill?

Yes, manual treadmills usually work your muscles harder than electric treadmills, which ultimately will make you lose body fat. (However, you might be more likely to gain muscle mass.) Generally, just walking on a manual treadmill for half an hour will burn at least 150 calories.

Are expensive manual treadmills worth investing in? What are the disadvantages of cheaper ones?

If you want to simulate running outside, you will need a pricier manual treadmill, because less expensive manual treadmills are so different from running outside that most users find they cannot really run on them at all.

What are the best manual treadmill brands? What are their most well-known features?

Paradigm Health & Wellness (makes Exerpeutic, ProGear, and more), Core Health & Fitness (makes StairMaster and others), and Sunny Health & Fitness are two companies that have a reasonably priced selection of manual treadmills and other fitness gear for home use. Assault Fitness offers more expensive manual treadmills, rowers, and bikes well-suited to serious athletes.

Can I walk on a manual treadmill?

Yes. It is easy to find a manual walking treadmill. What is harder is finding one that facilitates running, interval training, or upper-body work.


Conclusion

The Assault Fitness AirRunner, #1 on this review list and the best manual treadmill for sale, is in a category all its own as a curved manual treadmill.

It might be too big for most residences, but its easy maintenance and ability to double as a running coach make it wonderful to use for most people. 

However, in general, if you want a more intense workout with a smaller, less expensive apparatus, definitely consider a manual treadmill. 

Last Updated on

Top