Do you want to lose weight? Get in shape? Or do you simply feel like you need to move more often? Whether it is you’re trying to achieve; a manual treadmill can help you on your journey to fitness.
However, with a lot of different models on the market, it might be hard to find out which model suits your needs.
In this article I will take an in-depth look at the best manual treadmills for walking, jogging and running. I also share important information to help you choose. So let’s dive into it!
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What is a manual treadmill?
A manual treadmill is simply a treadmill without a motor. This means you’ll have to do all the work yourself. There’s no motor which will support you to get the belt moving. Once you’ve put the belt in motion, there are usually not a lot of adjustments you can make.
You might have the ability to adjust the incline. However, to change the incline level, you’ll need to pause your workout or adjust the incline before you start your exercise. Most manual models also have a simple LCD display, which you can use to view some basic information about your workout like time, distance, and pace.
How does a manual treadmill work?
As the name implies, a manual treadmill needs to be powered manually. It’s straightforward because you’ll have to start walking to make the belt move. That’s all there is to it.
You might be wondering if it takes a lot of effort to keep the belt moving. Yes, it does take some effort, but luckily most of the manual models have an incline. The incline is useful to keep the belt moving around the deck.
Some models might have a magnetic resistance. Magnetic resistance provides the option to use the machine at various intensity levels. It also 'stabilizes' the speed of the belt, which usually makes your exercise more comfortable.
Manual vs Electric powered
Manual treadmills have a few unique aspects, which might make it a more attractive option for you than a motorized treadmill. A few of the biggest advantages of non-electric compared to electric models are;
- Easy storage & portability. Just like compact treadmills, they tend to be smaller and relatively lightweight.
- They don’t require electricity. This means no wires and no need for a nearby power socket. Just put it at your desired space to start your workout.
- Lastly, they tend to be safer than motorized treadmills because they don’t automatically move. If you stop moving, the belt stops moving. Therefore, they don't have a safety cord.
Please note that you’ll always need to follow the safety instructions which you can usually find in the operating manual.
However, manual treadmills also have their downsides compared to electric models. A few of the main downsides that could apply to you are;
Are manual treadmills good for running?
If you want to use your treadmill for running, then there are certainly some models you could use, especially the more advanced machines.
However, keep in mind some users might have to hold onto the handles on the sides. This may influence your form in a negative way. If you have to hold your hands on the handles, you’re most likely not running in a natural way anymore.
So I would only recommend running on a manually driven treadmill if you’re sure you won’t have to hold on to the handles. Else you’ll probably sacrifice too much on form, which might lead to injuries.
Factors to consider before buying
As you might already know by now, self-powered treadmills usually don’t have a lot of features. Although, if you want to compare a few different models with each other it’s still good to know what to look for. Here are a few of the factors which you might want to consider.
The size of the safety handles
Chances are that you’ll have to hold onto the safety handles in front or on the sides of the machine, especially at the start of your workout when you want to get the belt moving. Longer safety handles on the sides might make it easier for you to hold onto the machine.
An adjustable or fixed incline
Some models have a fixed incline, while others have different incline positions. A fixed incline isn’t adjustable, which means the standard incline of the machine itself will always be the same.
An adjustable incline gives you more flexibility because you can choose between different incline levels. Keep in mind that you’ll usually have to adjust the incline underneath the belt, so you can’t adjust it while exercising.
Furthermore, there are also some other features you might want or want to compare. These are features like the; pulse heart rate monitor, maximum user weight, size of the belt, transport wheels, foldability, warranty period and the LCD workout information.
Maybe it’s needless to say, but don’t compare all of the specifications between the different models. Just pick those which are important to you.
The Best Non-Motorized Treadmills of 2018 (Our choices)
Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up
The 98510 Easy-Up from Phoenix is suited for walking or light jogging. It has a basic console with a water bottle holder. The LCD display shows you some useful info like; speed, time, distance and calories burned.
Furthermore, with the support of the pull pin, you can lock the machine in an upright position.
- The heavy duty flywheel provides a more comfortable workout.
- The console offers a place for a water bottle, which is included.
- Some users may find the 13” (W) by 41” (L) belt too small.
Unlike other self-propelled machines, the Exerpeutic 100XL does have quite a few features. The 8 level magnetic tension is useful to improve your stability, and it provides extra resistance. Additionally, it has an LCD display which shows statistics, like; time, distance, speed and gives you an indication of the number of calories burned.
So this model might be a good choice if you want to have a relatively good amount of comfort and options.
- Suited for walking, jogging and running at a low pace. However, in my opinion, it is not suited for serious running.
- Maximum weight capacity up to 325 Lbs, which is relatively high.
- You can choose between 3 different incline levels of; 8, 10 or 15 degrees. This gives you the possibility to train on a level at which you feel most comfortable. Not too comfortable of course - no pain, no gain!
- Not one, but two flywheels with a diameter of 6-inches. Two flywheels usually provide a more comfortable workout experience.
- If you plan to move it often, the relatively high product weight of 73 pounds could be a disadvantage. This obviously also depends on your strength.
- It might be too big. The unfolded dimensions of the treadmill are; 50” long by 29” wide by 50” high.
- It has a display with ‘easy-to-read’ digits. The display shows you the; distance, time, speed and calories burned.
- The 17” (W) by 41” (L) belt is quite large for a manual model. This may be useful for firm walking or light jogging.
- You can't monitor your heart rate during your workout.
- The 15 percent incline might be too steep for some users.
- You can adjust the incline into two positions of 8 and 10 degrees.
- The Stamina InMotion T900 has an anti-slip belt, which gives you more grip.
- No built-in heart rate monitor.
- The exercise stats aren’t displayed all at the same time.
Best Choice Products manual folding treadmill
The Best Choice Products manual folding treadmill is a basic model. If all you care about is to get moving, then this might be an option you want to consider.
It doesn’t have a lot of features, but this might be a good thing for those who are looking for a machine without a lot of extras.
- No ‘bells and whistles’.
- It weighs 44 pounds, which will make it easier to move.
- Only 60 days of warranty.
- Some users might just want a little bit more features.
After comparing a lot of models, there’s one which I think stood out. This is the: Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up.
The 98510 Easy-up would be my suggestion for its performance and simplicity. What I particularly like is the fact that it is suited for a relatively wide range of users. You might want to use it for walking or if you want to burn even more calories, you can start to use it for jogging.
Another noteworthy aspect of the Easy-Up is the relatively heavy flywheel. The flywheel helps to make the exercise smoother and quieter. For these reason, I recommend the Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up manual treadmill.