The 7 Best Manual Treadmills – A Workout Powered by You

We gave this article focusing on the best manual treadmills a good shakeup. We removed a couple of outdated models, such as the Stamina InMotion and Exerpeutic 100XL, before adding five new machines.

These comprise the exceptional Assault Fitness AirRunner and the higher-end Sunny Health & Fitness 7700, as well as a few more affordable models, including the Sunny Health & Fitness Force Fitmill, the EFITMENT T017 and the Phoenix 98510.

The winner after the latest chart update:
Assault Fitness AirRunner - 1
  • Motor: None
  • Speed: Unlimited
  • Incline: None
  • Belt: 17” x 62.2”
  • Folding: No
  • Features: Curved deck, durable slat belt, easily-readable large LCD screen, preset workout programs (target, interval, heart rate), Bluetooth connectivity, lightweight design

Looking for a treadmill to torch calories and keep you fit, while not running up a huge electricity bill? Believe it or not, some of the best treadmills on the market are neither motorized nor expensive.

While motorized running machines are the most common, manual treadmills come with their own set of benefits that will appeal to many people – from casual walkers to serious athletes.

In today’s article we will be highlighting our top picks in this category, ranging from budget units to high-end models. After this, we will take a closer look at manual treadmills in general – introducing you to what these self-powered models have to offer, as well as their pros, cons and misconceptions.

Top 7 Best Manual Treadmills:

Pros

  • Perfectly replicates outdoor running
  • No max speed – it matches your natural acceleration
  • Surprisingly lightweight and maneuverable
  • Good control console for a manual treadmill, with a range of preset programs
  • Long belt (62.2”) with up to 150,000 miles durability

Cons

  • The price will simply be too high for many casual users
  • The belt is a little narrower than you may expect

Motor: None
Speed: Unlimited
Incline: None
Belt: 17” x 62.2”
Folding: No
Features: Curved deck, durable slat belt, easily-readable large LCD screen, preset workout programs (target, interval, heart rate), Bluetooth connectivity, lightweight design

We begin with an absolutely outstanding manual treadmill, which comes with a very high-end price tag. However, by not including it, we’d be overlooking an absolute beast of a machine – as we conclude in the complete AirRunner review.

The AirRunner is a gym-grade commercial treadmill that features a premium steel frame with a curved slat belt that’s built to last up to 150,000 miles. This treadmill has no speed limit, so you can go as hard and fast as you like, with quick and natural acceleration – perfect for serious athletes and HIIT enthusiasts.

The AirRunner delivers a smooth ride, that replicates outdoors running perfectly. There’s also a well-segmented Bluetooth-compatible display screen that delivers all the essential readouts, as well as a range of preset programs for everything from interval training to distance.

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Pros

  • Eight levels of adjustable resistance
  • Four levels of adjustable incline
  • Robust frame and generous deck suitable for users up to 440lbs
  • Tablet holder for running with entertainment
  • Suitable for running as well as walking

Cons

  • Quite a big price tag for a manual treadmill
  • No display screen or performance feedback of any kind

Motor: None
Speed: Unlimited
Incline: Four positions (Manual)
Belt: 19” x 49”
Folding: Yes
Features: Dual flywheels, shock absorption deck, 8 levels of adjustable resistance, soft-drop system, transportation wheels, tablet holder

The 7700 from Sunny Health & Fitness is far from your entry-level treadmill – costing more than some motorized treadmills we have reviewed on Fitness Verve. Yet, it delivers a seriously good performance that makes it suitable for a wide range of workouts.

With a heavy-duty build, the 7700 features a large deck (19” x 49”) that can accommodate users of up to well over 400lbs. Eight levels of adjustable resistance offer good variety, as do the four levels of adjustable incline.

It’s easy to fold away and move around, thanks to wheels on the bottom of the frame – great for small spaces. Unfortunately, there’s no display screen, yet it does feature a tablet holder so you can work out with a little entertainment.

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Pros

  • 16 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Heavy-duty frame supporting users up to 300lbs
  • Decent deck dimensions
  • Fold and unfolds easily, with soft-drop system

Cons

  • Only has a fixed incline
  • Doesn’t come with any display screen for workout feedback

Motor: None
Speed: Unlimited
Incline: Fixed at 13.5%
Belt: 16” x 53”
Folding: Yes
Features: Dual flywheel, 16 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance, multi-grip handles, soft-drop system, transportation wheels

Another impressive offering from Sunny Health & Fitness is the Force Fitmill. This manual treadmill strikes a good balance between performance and affordability. While it doesn’t offer the incline options of the higher-end 7700, it does offer 16 levels of magnetic resistance with dual flywheels.

It’s a good choice for use in small spaces, as it folds and unfolds easily – especially with the soft-drop system – while wheels on the base allow you to maneuver it as you like.

The deck offers a 16” x 53” belt and the heavy-duty frame copes with a maximum weight of 300lbs, so all users are catered for. With a fixed incline of 13.5%, walking and light jogging workouts can prove pretty intense.

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Pros

  • Includes arm exercisers for a full-body workout
  • Easy to fold away
  • Comes with a decent central console
  • Handles feature heart rate monitors
  • Features three-way adjustable incline

Cons

  • At 13.5”, the belt is quite narrow
  • Nowhere to store a water bottle or devices

Motor: None
Speed: Unlimited
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 13.5” x 42”
Folding: Yes
Features: LCD console, adjustable resistance, arm exercisers, heart rate monitor, transportation wheels

If you are on a lower budget, the T017 from EFITMENT is a very worthwhile choice when it comes to manual options. At 13.5” x 42”, the belt isn’t the largest on this list, but – with a maximum weight limit of 220lbs – it caters for most users quite well.

Notably, this treadmill comes with adjustable-tension arm exercisers, for a full body workout. This is a decent addition at this price – as is the three-way adjustable incline option, which isn’t always seen in this range.

While there’s no storage room, the T017 does offer some extras missing from even the higher-end manual treadmills. This includes a decent central console with a simple display screen with readouts including speed, time and distance. The addition of a heart rate monitor in the handgrips is a welcome bonus!

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Pros

  • Great price for the features on offer
  • Larger belt than many of its competitors
  • Easy to change resistance and incline
  • Features a central console as well as heart rate monitors

Cons

  • Handles don’t collapse when the treadmill is folded
  • Belt can be a bit noisy when in use
  • Quality control is temperamental

Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: Two positions (Manual)
Belt: 16” x 50”
Folding: Yes
Features: Backlit display screen, thumb heartrate monitor, iFit compatible, six preset programs, storage space, media shelf

The TR3000 from Fitness Reality has a lot going for it for the affordable price tag. The overall build of this foldable treadmill is solid, with a wider and longer belt than many others on this list (16” x 45”) and three levels of manual incline.

It features a fairly standard twin flywheel design with a ‘pacer control’, offering eight levels of magnetic resistance to help control your speed. This is tended to via a dial on the central console, which is where you will find a simple LCD that displays workout time, distance and speed.

This console also displays your heart rate, which is recorded by the monitors built into the handles. With advanced features such as these, paired with the affordable price tag, the TR3000 is well worth considering.

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Pros

  • Folds up and wheels around for easy storage
  • Comes with a central console with bottle storage and stats display
  • Hard to beat the price

Cons

  • Quite loud when in use
  • The incline is fixed
  • At 13”, the belt is one of the narrowest on this list
  • Not good for much more than walking

Motor: None
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: Unlimited
Belt: 13” x 41”
Folding: Yes
Features: Single flywheel, space-saving design, LCD display, transportation wheels, water bottle storage

The Phoenix 98510 is one of the cheaper manual treadmills on this list, but is one of the most popular thanks to a solid performance and a few convenience-enhancing extras.

Firstly, the deck easily folds up when not in use, while wheels on the base make it easy to move around. The heavy-duty weighted flywheel delivers a smooth experience when walking and jogging. With track dimensions of 13” x 41”, the belt feels narrow, but it still caters for users of up to 250lbs.

The central console is a bit basic, but – considering many others don’t even offer this – we can really appreciate it. There’s space for a water bottle and a smartphone, while a pretty tiny display screen delivers stats including time, speed and distance.

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Pros

  • Folds away very neatly
  • One of the most affordable on this list
  • Features adjustable incline
  • Comes with a small display screen with workout stats

Cons

  • Good for walking, but not much else
  • The belt feels a bit too compact
  • No adjustable resistance
  • Looks and feels like a budget model

Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: Two positions (Manual)
Belt: 16” x 50”
Folding: Yes
Features: Backlit display screen, thumb heartrate monitor, iFit compatible, six preset programs, storage space, media shelf

Simple, affordable, effective – this is the ProGear 190 in a nutshell! While most manual treadmills are pretty humble in their feature offerings, the 190 is certainly one for the minimalist.

For a very affordable price, it features a robust reinforced steel frame, which can accommodate users of up to 230lbs. Long foam-grip handles provide a good support for walking, while the 13.75” x 43” belt is fine, if a bit compact.

The resistance is provided by a pair of cast-iron flywheels and isn’t adjustable, although the incline is – you can manually change the gradient between 6% or 10%, depending on your desired intensity. While it lacks the features of the higher-end treadmills on this list, the 190 does come with a small display unit to track performance including time, speed, distance and calories burned.

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Shopping For a Manual Treadmill

Despite how simple manual treadmills are in theory, there are still some factors to pay attention to when choosing your model. These factors differ slightly from motorized treadmills, but the general idea is the same.

Here are some of the most important things to consider:

Design

In all honesty, the general aesthetics of a manual treadmill aren’t particularly amazing – especially when compared to some of the sleek and stylish electric treadmills you can buy. Ultimately, manual treadmills are functional machines, built for one purpose – to get you moving.

Unless you are buying a high-end, commercial model, most manual treadmills are quite compact and foldable. They tend to be built for living rooms and apartments, as opposed to dedicated home gyms.

This is also why many will feature a foldaway design and wheels on the base, so you can stow and maneuver to save a little space when the machine is not in use.

While there may not be much choice in design, aim for a treadmill with a robust metal frame – this will ensure your ride isn’t shaky or unstable.

Core Components

While we usually discuss motors in this section, there are none to talk about when it comes to manual treadmills! In short, you are the motor.

However, some treadmills will feature a way to adjust the resistance, making the belt either easier or more difficult to move.

Some will offer just a few levels of resistance, while others will give you up to 16 different levels. These more extensive options are usually found on more expensive models, although keep an eye out in the lower-end section are there are a few surprises around.

Incline Selection

No motor means no motorized incline. However, some manual treadmills will offer several degrees of manual incline adjustability. This means you can choose whether to run on a steeper gradient for a real challenge, or change to a slightly flatter surface.

One thing to note about manual treadmills is that most of them are set to a particular incline as standard. So, even if there are no adjustability options, your machine may still be fixed at a relatively steep incline.

This is to make the belt easier to move, especially for people with less leg strength or joint issues. While this incline can give you a good workout, having no option to change the gradient can get a little boring.

Belt Size

One thing you will find pretty common on manual treadmills is that the belts tend to be quite compact, with a narrower width and a shorter length.

This may be something to do with the fact that the majority of manual treadmills are affordable, costing no more than a few hundred bucks. Looking at a cheap motorized treadmill you’ll find the same problem exists.

It’s good to know this isn’t just because it’s a manual treadmill, although it doesn’t stop the experience from feeling any less cramped. Ultimately, if you want more generous belt dimensions, you’ll have to fork out a little more.

Control Module

Aside from the issue of the motor, this is where manual treadmills and the motorized cousins most noticeably differ. With no motor, there’s no speed or incline to control and therefore no controls. However, as we have noted, you will find a resistance dial if your treadmill offers adjustable resistance.

Secondary Features

Manual treadmills may seem simple, although there is a range of secondary features on offer, varying from manufacturer to manufacturer.

One thing that’s seen quite often – on both high-end and budget models – is a main console. Don’t mistake this for a control panel (as we’ve already stated, there is no motor to control).

If present, this console will usually feature an LED screen that delivers workout feedback, including how long you’ve been using the machine, the speed, the distance moved, and an estimate of the calories burned. With no mains power, these screens tend to be battery-powered.

One thing the screen may also offer is a readout of your heart rate. Of course, this will depend on whether your model offers another secondary feature – a heart rate monitor. These are usually built into the handles of the machine. Simply grip them, wait and watch as your heart rate is displayed.

Be aware that, like pretty much any machine-based monitor, the heart rate reading is unlikely to be accurate – you’d need a smartwatch or chest-strap for a more precise reading. However, they are a welcome addition, giving you a rough indication of how hard you are working.

One thing that lacks on a self-powered treadmill compared to its bulkier motorized counterpart is storage space for things like water bottles, smart devices and so on. Some manual treadmills will offer space for one or two items, but they aren’t as convenient as motorized machines.

Some manufacturers will add other features to their treadmills, such as arm trainers. These movable resistance poles encourage you to move your arms while you walk or jog, which gives you more of a full-body workout – similar to good elliptical trainers. These arms can be a nice addition, although not something to base your decision on.

Finally, the usual suspects on treadmills costing around $1,000 – such as cooling fans and safety tethers – are missing on manual treadmills.

This is because fans require electricity to function, while a safety tether is redundant when no motor is involved. Ultimately, there is no danger of the machine continuing to move when you are off it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s start with a basic but important question. Whether fitted with a flat or a curved belt, a manual treadmill is a running machine with no motor, and therefore requires no electricity.

It’s up to you to move the belt, meaning that essentially you are the motor. Jump on, start walking, and the belt will begin to move.

How fast you move your legs will determine the speed, although some manual treadmills offer resistance options, allowing you to dial in a certain level of resistance to make a workout easier or harder.

We’ve established that manual treadmills come in a variety of flavors, and different models will appeal to different users. More often than not, a manual treadmill will be most suitable for people who want to walk at varying speeds in the comfort of their own homes.

Perhaps this is somebody just starting a fitness journey, somebody returning to fitness after an injury, or an elderly user. These lightweight machines are usually only suitable for walking, which is why walkers are attracted to them.

On the other hand, some manual treadmills will appeal to serious athletes. The models that appeal to more advanced users will be more expensive, to allow for running at significant speeds.

In fact, some of the premium manual treadmills are perfect for sprinters, as they mimic outdoor running better than a motorized model, while also offering natural acceleration and infinite speed – there is no limit to how fast you can go.

Here are a couple of the more obvious benefits that come with buying a manual treadmill:

Low Price
The fact that manual treadmills tend to be very inexpensive is a big plus. Due to their inherently simple design, most non-motorized models are very affordable.

Of course, this is not always the case – with some models costing thousands of dollars – but, in general, manual treadmills are a low-cost solution for exercising at home.

Small Footprint
Manual treadmills also have a pretty small footprint. One of the biggest problems people have with fitness equipment in general is the size of these machines. While some people can dedicate an entire room or garage to a home gym, many cannot.

However, manual treadmills have no hefty motors to deal with, so there’s no need for an overengineered frame or bulky deck. This means they take up very little room, while most are easy to fold away and maneuver.

No Electricity Required
Of course, no motor means no electricity is required. This is great as, after purchasing the treadmill, you won’t need to spend any money on powering the unit.

The fact it doesn’t require external power is also useful for positioning the treadmill. You don’t need to place it near a wall socket – it can go anywhere, whether that’s a living room, garage or even the garden!

Provides a Great Workout
As we’ve already established, YOU are the motor on a manual treadmill. This means it’s down to the power in your legs to start and keep the belt moving. There is no assistance from a motor.

For this reason alone, you get a tougher workout – whether walking, jogging or running – and have the potential to burn more calories.

Of course, with pros usually come cons! Manual treadmills are excellent for some things, while not so great for others. Here are some of the negatives:

Not Good for Running
Firstly, you’ll find an affordable manual treadmill is good for walking, speed walking, and… not much else. This is down to the shorter belt length, which only supports a shorter stride, as well as a less sturdy design.

Some manual machines will allow you to run at great speeds, but – unless you are investing a considerable sum of cash – most will only support walking or light jogging.

Less Features
As we have mentioned elsewhere in the article, a manual treadmill lacks the convenient controls and features you’d find on a motorized model.

You control the speed by how fast you walk, you control the incline by a manual mechanism on the deck, and you aren’t given the fancy color screens and preset workout programs you may desire as there is no means to power them. If you just want to jump on and workout, then great – but otherwise you may be left a little underwhelmed.

Harder on Your Joints
If you have pre-existing joint or muscle problems, you may find a manual treadmill tougher to use initially. This is because it requires some force to start the belt moving.

It’s not impossible, but it can add more stress on already painful joints. This is worth bearing in mind if this relates to you.

Some manual treadmills cost under $150, which is great for people on a budget. In fact, the generally low prices are one of the biggest benefits of buying a manual treadmill.

Yet some are far from cheap. In fact, some self-powered treadmills are very high-end – costing much more than a motorized treadmill. You can actually spend well over $3,000 on a top-of-the-line manual treadmill.

These deliver the performance that you’d expect from a gym-grade treadmill, catering to serious athletes, CrossFit participants and long-distance runners. However, spending this much isn’t necessary for most casual users and walkers.

The Ver(ve)dict!

We took a long look at the best manual treadmills on the market and concluded that the AirRunner from Assault Fitness was our top pick. It’s a premium treadmill that – truth be told – will be too high-end for the majority of users.

However, if you are looking for something simpler and more affordable, the Fitness Reality TR3000 offers great value.

As you can see from our guide, you aren’t limited in your choice when it comes to manual treadmills, nor will you find them particularly complex.

Read a few reviews then pick one that suits your needs, budget and space limitations. All that’s left to do is put it together, jump on and start moving – you’ll be glad you did!

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