High Weight Capacity Treadmills For Heavy People

Last update: Sep 7, 2018

​​You finally made a choice; you want to lose weight by making use of a treadmill. I can imagine choosing one might almost seem even harder than shedding those pounds.

That’s why I created this article with the best treadmills for heavy people. In this article, you’ll discover our top picks and what to look for to choose the right model.

You’ll want to look for a treadmill with adequate cushioning, good stability and of course one that can hold enough body weight. So let’s dive into it!

Quick Overview: Our Top 5 Heavy-Duty Treadmills

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

What To Look For In A Heavy Duty Treadmill?

Weight capacity

Obviously, the most important thing to check right-away is the maximum weight capacity. Make sure your body weight is lower than the maximum weight limit.

There’s nothing worse than investing time in researching a particular model only to find out you exceed the maximum weight limit. This also means you’ll have to measure your weight before you start.

If you don’t frequently weigh yourself, then measuring your current weight might confront you, but it’s essential to make a good buying decision.

Cushioning

Most treadmills have a cushioning system. ​A good cushioning system reduces the impact on your body when your feet hit the belt. The cushioning will usually help to make you feel less fatigue and reduce the wear and tear on your knees, ankles, and hips. As a result, you reduce the risk of getting injured during your workout.

Higher-end treadmills might have a variable cushioning system, which tends to provide even more support for your joints. These systems usually consist of 3 different parts; the back, the middle and the front.

  • ​The back; consist of stiff rubber to create a steady push-off from the belt.
  • ​The middle; gives an average amount of cushioning.
  • ​The front; is usually the softest part, which reduces the impact of your feet landing on the belt.

​Be aware of the fact that not every treadmill has a cushioning system; especially non-motorized treadmills usually don’t have a built-in cushioning system.

If you’re overweight, then working out will usually put more pressure on your joints compared to a person who has a normal body weight. So that's why a decent cushioning system is extra important feature for an overweight person.

Incline (for strength & prevention)

​Using the incline can be a good way to increase your workout intensity without putting a lot more pressure on your joints. So if you are overweight, the ability to increase the incline isn’t an unnecessary luxury feature.

According to a study from the Ball State University, ​incline walking can strengthen your leg muscles while putting less pressure on your knees.

​During their study, the participants walked at different gradients at the same speed for 3-minute bursts. They found that the peak internal knee abduction drastically decreased by walking at different incline levels, except at 5% or lower.

Furthermore, the researchers point out that walking at an incline may; reduce pain, decrease the development of osteoarthritis and reduce the degeneration of the knee joint. These advantages could benefit older people, knee surgery patients, and obese individuals.

What to look for?

The incline usually varies from one model to another. You probably want to take a look at the percentage of incline and the option to manually or automatically change the incline.

The incline percentages usually vary between 0.5% and 20%. If you want to prevent knee problems, you may want to go for a model with an incline higher than 5% because in the Ball State University study they found no evidence of any benefit on your knees at an incline percentage of 5% or lower.

The second thing you may want to look for is an automatic incline. You could go for a manual incline, but this means that you’ll have to pause your workout before you can change the incline.

So an automatic incline is recommended because this allows you to adjust the incline by pressing the incline button on the console without having to pause your workout. Although, in my opinion, a manual incline is always better than no incline at all.

​Incline (for weight loss)

​If you’re purely looking to lose weight as fast as possible, then ​it isn't necessary to get a machine with an incline of more than 5 percent. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t want to look for an incline at all.

Walking, jogging or running at incline always helps to increase the number of calories you burn during your workout. During a run, even a small incline of 1 or 2 percent can help you to burn more calories because according to this study it simulates the intensity of outdoor running.

While the intensity of walking and jogging is usually lower than during running, walking at an incline still helps to burn more calories. It’s also a useful feature to keep varying your workouts.

Varying your workout is important because when you perform the same workout every time over a longer period, your body will get more and more accustomed to it. So to keep losing weight, it’s important to vary your workout. That’s why I recommend choosing a model with an incline!

What are the benefits of using a treadmill for heavy people?

​There are numerous benefits of using a treadmill, especially if you are overweight or obese. Some of the most significant benefits for heavy and obese people are;

  • ​According to Men’s Health, ​a treadmill is the most effective cardio machine for weight loss. For example, you’ll burn 17 calories per minute on a treadmill compared to ​13 calories per minute on an elliptical machine or 14 calories per minute on a stationary bicycle. ​Of course, the exact amount of calories burned per minute may vary based on different factors, like; workout intensity, age, weight and your metabolism.
  • ​It helps you to keep moving, even if you are tired or don’t feel like working out. The belt keeps rolling under your feet, and you have little choice but to keep up. This is a unique aspect of a treadmill. Usually, you need to start moving before the cardio machine does. In other words; a treadmill ‘forces’ you to keep up. Personally, this is the reason why the treadmill is my favorite type of cardio machine.

​How to start using a treadmill if you're overweight or obese?

​You might feel a bit fearful about starting your first workout on your new treadmill. The risk of physical pain, mental pain or injury might hold you back from starting. The fear of starting is completely normal, especially if you haven’t worked out for a long time. 

Obese people should take it easy in the beginning. ​Start with walking at a slow pace which feels comfortable, because walking puts the least amount of pressure on your joints.

If you think your body can handle it, then you could start your first week with 10 minutes of walking almost every day of the week, 20 minutes in the second week and 30 minutes in the third week. Build it up from there.

The most important advice I can give you is to always ‘listen to your body’. The second one being; keep your workout routine consistent. ‘Slow and steady wins the race’!

​Interval workout for heavy people

​If you have exercised for a while, you may be ready to try an interval workout. Interval training is a highly efficient way to burn fat. Check out the ‘Being Fat Sucks’ video below to get an idea of how it works!

​The guy in this video is seriously challenging himself with an interval workout. He starts slow and steadily builds it up from there. The basic principle of an interval training is to change the workout intensity during your workout.

For example; you start by walking 2 minutes at a slow pace and 1 minute at a fast pace, followed by 4 minutes at a slow pace, after which you walk fast for 2 minutes. It’s just an example, but you probably get the idea.

Of course, it might take a while before you are ready for your first interval training. But when you do, this video might help you to start with your very first interval training.

Always talk to a physician before you start.

​The Best Heavy Duty Treadmills Reviewed (Our choices)

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 (220-pound weight capacity)

​The treadmill from Sunny Health & Fitness supports a maximum user weight of up to 220 Lbs. It has a 2.20 Peak HP drive system, a running surface of 15.75 by 48.82 inches and a maximum speed of 9 miles per hour, which means it's suited for running.

Although the size of the belt might be a bit small for the more frequent runners, who like to push their limits.

​An interesting feature for users who want to use the machine for walking are the three incline levels. It has three manually adjustable incline levels of 0 percent, 2 percent, and 4.37 percent. The incline allows you to increase the intensity of your workout without increasing the speed. Increasing the level of intensity will help you to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

PROS

  • ​The shock absorption system helps to reduce the impact on your joints and legs. This is useful for both walkers and runners.
  • ​It has a tablet holder. Using a tablet to watch a movie or your favorite TV show may help to motivate you because it creates a distraction from your workout. Plus, depending on the size of your tablet, it helps to keep you from watching at the LCD monitor all of the time.
  • The soft drop and easy folding mechanism allow you to unfold and fold the belt more easily. This is useful if you want to save some space. When you’re done, you can also use the transportation wheels to move the machine.

CONS

  • ​The 15.75” by 48.82” belt might be a bit small for users who want to use it for running.
  • ​The incline is manually adjustable, which means you’ll have to adjust it before your workout or take a pause.

​Confidence Power Plus (250-pound weight capacity)

​The Confidence Power Plus doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. It might be a good choice if you’re looking for a stable machine with a maximum user weight of 250 Lbs.

With a 600W power motor, a belt of 14” by 38.5” it can be used for jogging or running. Although, in my opinion, it’s better suited for walking.

​According to the Confidence brand this machine is often converted to a walking desk. However, they point out the product doesn’t include the parts to convert it from a ‘normal’ machine to a walking desk. So, you’ll have to convert it yourself.

PROS

  • ​It’s a simple to use machine without a lot of features.
  • ​It can fold, which in combination with the transport wheels allows you to move/store it.

CONS

  • ​There’s no option to save or input any user info.
  • Some users might want or need more features.


Horizon T101-04 (300-pound weight capacity)

​The T101-04 designed by Horizon Fitness is a sturdy treadmill which can be used for walking, jogging and running. The 2.25 CHP motor is powerful enough for running.

What makes this treadmill stand out from the rest is the 'variable response cushioning' system. The response cushioning consists of 3 separate parts. A solid part at the back of the belt, a neutral zone in the middle and a more flexible part in the front where your feet lands.

​The variable cushioning is especially useful for people with bad knees or those who think they could benefit from an extra comfortable tread belt.

PROS

  • ​The folding system has two 'hydraulic shocks' which help you to fold and unfold the tread belt more easily.
  • ​Variable response cushioning for extra joint protection.
  • ​​Easy folding and unfolding system. This might be useful for users who want to move the treadmill after they’re done with their workout or just want to save some extra space.

CONS

  • ​Good for walking and jogging, but probably still not powerful enough for serious runners. Maybe you aren't one now, but you might be in the future. Who knows?

ProForm Power 995i (350-pound weight capacity)

​The Power 995i ​might be an interesting choice if you are searching for a treadmill with a user weight capacity of 350 Lbs. This treadmill is mainly suited for running, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use it for walking or jogging.

One of the main features that separates the 995i from the other treadmills in this article is the fact that it has a relatively high incline percentage of 12 percent. You might want to make use of this feature if you want to simulate an uphill walk, jog or run.

PROS

  • ​Extra big 20 by 60-inch tread belt. A large belt might be useful for big and tall people who have a long stride.
  • ​ProShox cushioning for a more comfortable walking, jogging, or running experience.
  • ​​The 995i is iFit enabled which means you can connect your smartphone or tablet to your machine and use it as an extra screen. You can then choose a track via Google Maps, after which the Power 995i will simulate the track.

CONS

  • ​It might look a bit big in a small room. The overall product dimensions are; 88” (L) by 32” (W) by 66.75”.
  • ​Unfortunately, ProForm decided not to include a chest strap. Of course, you could choose to buy one separately or use the pulse grip to display your heart rate.

Exerpeutic TF1000 (​400-pound weight capacity)

​With all due respect, the Exerpeutic TF-1000 is a treadmill for big guys and women. This treadmill supports a maximum weight of 400 Lbs.

One of the main reasons why this treadmill can handle a lot of weight is because this treadmill doesn’t go faster than 4 miles per hour.

So the TF1000 might be a good choice if you weigh less than 400 pounds and want to use your treadmill for walking or light jogging.

PROS

  • ​For safety purposes, the handles of this treadmill are extra large long. The 18-inch handles allow you to hold onto the handles more easily.
  • ​A relatively high 400-pound maximum user weight (!).

CONS

  • ​It’s possible to change the incline in 2 positions; this helps to burn extra calories. Although, you’ll have to do it manually.

Conclusion

​You will have to decide for yourself which treadmill suits your needs. It may be needless to say, but when you make a decision always check the maximum user weight first.

It’s even better if you keep some margin between your weight and the maximum user weight of the treadmill. This way you won’t push the treadmill to its max.

Please also don’t forget about the importance of a cushioning system and an incline feature. These are the most important features to look for in a heavy duty treadmill.

If you’re still unsure which one you should choose, then I recommend the;

​The TF1000 is, in my opinion, the best option for people who are overweight or obese. The main reason I recommend this model is the fact that it has a weight limit of 400 Lbs.

If you also want to use your machine for jogging or running and weigh less than 220 Lbs, I would go for the Sunny Health & Fitness. It’s a decent model with more than enough features to help you lose weight.

Good luck with your decision and your weight loss journey. If you've got a question, then feel free to ask it in the comment section below!

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