The Best Manual Treadmill: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

The Best Manual Treadmill

Manual treadmills are affordable, yet very efficient cardio devices. Unlike their larger, electrical relatives, manual treadmills are powered by the energy that comes from the user’s pacing, walking or running movements – in other words, you yourself are the power that keeps the treadmill in motion.

Assault Fitness AirRunner

Assault Fitness AirRunner
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With its introduction, the Air Runner brought on a true revolution to the world of running and manual treadmills. With its unique, conceptual design, and a variety of innovations that put it way above the rest, the Assault fitness’ latest product is beyond compare.

One look is enough to tell you that this is no ordinary treadmill. With its robust, almost science fiction design, and a curved running belt, it’s clear that some serious thought was put into the design of this machine.
The structure is sturdy and robust in its every aspect, which means that you’ll need plenty of room to house this treadmill.

Unlike most common manual treadmills, the Air Runner is not inclined. Instead, its belt is curved, designed for a natural feel and the least possible pressure on your ankles and joints. This design allows for a perfect and efficient running stride, maximizing the calories consumption.

A testament to the advanced design of this treadmill is the top of the line display, filled with an almost endless list of options at your disposal.
Keep in mind that with its design, the Air Runner is not a foldable treadmill, and as such will require a specific place in your house.
This revolutionary piece of gear certainly comes with a hefty price tag, but for any serious runner, the price is definitely worth it!

The full review of the Assault Fitness AirRunner can be found here.

Exerpeutic 100XL High Capacity Magnetic Resistance

Exerpeutic 100XL
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When aiming for a robust, high quality, detail-filled treadmill, Exerpeutic 100XL is the one to look for. This magnetic manual treadmill is easily one step above its contemporaries, as this perfected design is filled with useful options and carefully designed details.
This attention to detail caters to each user, ensuring a safe and effective running experience.

One glance is enough to understand that 100XL comes with a whole arsenal of handy options. You have the unique magnetic tension with its own pace control. This allows up to 8 levels of tension, giving the advanced users an important challenge.

The handles are more than two times the usual length, with a heart rate monitor integrated. Meaning that you can monitor your pulse, as well as an array of other information, directly on the large display up front.
Exerpeutic Fitness also went one step beyond, offering 3 levels of incline. Now you can choose between 8, 10 and 15 degrees, each one chosen with a simple and quick adjustment.

Remember that 100XL is noticeably longer and wider than your usual manual treadmill, and as such, takes a bit more space. Still, it has the option to be folded and moved aside with relative ease, but you’ll still need some extra space.

In summary, the Exerpeutic 100XL is one of the better manual treadmills on offer, with an astonishing variety of options that will ensure a fantastic workout.

ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill

ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill
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ProGear fitness once more delivers a reliable and well balanced manual treadmill, with all the necessary details that will allow you a smooth exercise.
This compact, yet sturdy treadmill is perhaps one of the smallest on the market, and as such, its design is more focused on walking.

It shares the handy double incline option with a few other models, offering 6 and 10 degrees of incline. These are adjusted with a simple selector. The ProGear 190 also has the folding option, making it easy to hide out of sight.

Although a dash bit Spartan in its overall build, this manual treadmill has everything that a fitness beginner should need, and is especially handy for anyone living in small spaces.
And with a reasonable price tag, you’re ensured a good balance of price and quality, and an effective exercise as well.

The full review of the ProGear 190 can be seen here.

Stamina InMotion Manual Treadmill

Stamina Inmotion Manual Treadmill
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Based on a proven and standard design, the Stamina InMotion is a sturdy, well built and affordable manual treadmill.  Perfectly suited for the basic user, this treadmill hits just the right balance of price, quality and design.

The frame is robust, and made from heavy duty steel, making this treadmill very durable and excellent for larger users as well. The user is given the option of two adjustable incline options as well – 8 degrees and 10 degrees –, so you can easily add variety and increased intensity to your workouts. The InMotion comes with a simple and battery operated monitor that displays time, distance, calories burned and speed.

The unit folds into a compact shape with a few clicks, which makes it easy to store, and perfectly suited for small apartments.

With its proven design, a sturdy build, and a reasonable price tag – the Stamina InMotion is a well balanced manual treadmill but not as good as some of the other budget treadmills we featured above.

Our full review can be seen here.

Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill

Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill
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As an attempt to further refine a basic design, this magnetic manual treadmill from Confidence fitness comes with several unique details.

The first and most prominent feature is the lack of protruding horizontal handlebars. Instead, the designers opted for a unique forward mounted grip. This position gives you the option for a more focused exercise, as well as a more natural experience.  

Being magnetic, this manual treadmill also has a resistance option, with eight positions to choose from, giving you a chance at a more demanding exercise. The basic display at the treadmills front will give you the basic information – a handy detail for keeping tabs on your progress.

When basic needs are taken into account, as well as the price range, the Confidence Fitness magnetic manual treadmill can be a surprisingly good choice, offering a variety of neat options, in a single, well built package.

Weslo WLTL99315 CardioStride 3.0 Treadmill

Weslo WLTL99315 CardioStride 3.0 Treadmill
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Featuring a fixed 15 degree incline, the Weslo CardioStride 3.0 treadmill has been designed to maximize workout efficiency while also minimizing impact, making workout on the unit safe and rewarding, and above all - natural.

The design has been conceived with space saving considerations in mind – the deck folds easily into an upward position, so you can be sure your treadmill will never be in your way when you are not using it.

The walking belt is 41 inches long and 17 inches wide and can accommodate up to 250 pounds, so the unit is perfect for tall and heavy users as well. The Weslo is very quiet and the belt runs very smoothly, so you can be sure your workout will not be disturbed by unwanted noises.

The Weslo is fitted with an easy to read monitor that displays speed, calories burned, time spent on the treadmill and the distance covered as well – all the basic info you need for a tidy and complete exercise journal.

 Another strong point of the Weslo CardioStride 3.0 treadmill is the convenient price tag – with this manual treadmill you can train, increase your fitness level and improve your health without having to break the bank.

Our full review of Weslo CardioStride can be found here.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1407M

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1407M Manual Walking Treadmill, Gray
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For anyone with a lack of space and a tight schedule, the Sunny Health & Fitness walking treadmill can be the perfect choice! This lightweight, compact treadmill has a very straightforward and economic design, but still manages to provide everything that a reliable walking treadmill should have.

Fairly simple in its design, the SF-T1407M is a great choice for beginner runners. With just the slightest incline, a non slip running surface, and two protruding, sturdy hand grips, this treadmill is easy to get going.
Another useful detail is its simple but options-filled LCD display. It allows you to monitor your steps, time, speed and burned calories, which is a useful choice if you like to keep notes and monitor your overall progress.

The modular and lightweight design gives you the option of folding and tucking the treadmill away when not in use – which makes it perfect for anyone living in a small apartment.

Simple, affordable and lightweight, this walking treadmill from Sunny Health & Fitness is a go-to choice when choosing your first treadmill!

Fitness Reality TR1000 Manual Treadmill

Fitness Reality TR1000 Manual Treadmill with 2 Level Incline & Twin Flywheels
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A notch above the walking treadmills in its range, the Fitness Reality TR1000 is full of options that make it a really modular and reliable choice.

This walking treadmill is robustly built, with a stylish, powder coated steel frame and a great user weight capacity of up to 105 kilograms. It also has two flywheels which are made of cast iron, adding to the overall strength and providing a smooth walk or run.

A great feature of this treadmill is the option of two adjustable incline levels. Depending on your preference, you can quickly and easily change between a 6 and 10 degree incline, for those times when you desire a bigger challenge.

It has the integrated, simple monitor that tracks the basic info, and a useful design that offers a option to fold the treadmill and get it tucked out of the way.
This array of useful options, a sturdy design and an affordable price, make this walking treadmill a valuable option on the market.

Our in depth review of the Fitness Reality TR1000 can be found here.

Artist Hand Folding Manual Treadmill

Artist Hand Folding Manual Treadmill Incline Home Gym Maching Cardio Stride Fitness Walking Workouts with Twin Flywheels No Monitor Required
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If you’re on a tight budget, it doesn’t necessarily has to mean that you’re out of options. This affordable, straight forward manual treadmill is the choice for shallow pockets, while still giving you all that’s needed.

Some features need to be considered, though. Small, simple and very basic, the Artist manual treadmill is really designed for basic users and focuses on walking exercises. The build is very sparse, but nonetheless sturdy and capable of supporting a good amount of weight.

There’s a simple, one-button screen at the front, providing the basic info.
While this manual treadmill is nothing out of the basic, it’s affordable price and simplicity might be a good choice if you’re looking for something basic and down to earth.

You can see the full review of the Artist Hand folding manual treadmill in this article here.

GOGOUP Folding Treadmill

GOGOUP Folding Treadmill, Silent, Free Assembly- Manual Running Jogging Walking Machine for Health/Fitness/Exercise
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When you take a basic manual treadmill design, and go one step further to refine it, you get a great and reliable design that is the GOGOUP manual treadmill.

Full of curved elements and an adaptable, modular design, this treadmill hides much more than is visible at a first glance. The two main supports are adaptable in height, with a uniquely designed pair of front grips, which can be folded down for convenience.

A small but informative display can give you a variety of information, from the distance traversed, up to the calories burned. To get an idea of your daily progresses, this feature can be ideal.
The modular design of this treadmill allows you to fold it out of sight, and its design sits perfectly in between small and robust.

The price is on the cheaper end of the market, but it’s acceptable for the standard of treadmill, and combined with the 12 month guarantee, you’ll get an advanced, well-built treadmill.

You can see our full detailed review of the GOGOUP Folding Treadmill here.

Phoenix 98516 Easy-Up

Phoenix 98516 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill
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Simple is not always a bad thing, and this Phoenix manual treadmill is all the proof we need. Even though this model is as basic as basic can be, it’s still an effective and neat little manual treadmill.
Designed for the basic users, it is very rugged and bare in its design, but it still manages to give you an effective and decent workout.

One glance, and you’ll notice that there really are no special details on this treadmill. Fixed incline, a single flywheel, and a simple, sturdy outer frame, and that’s about it. There’s also a small and simple display with just the basic information.

While it certainly lacks options that an advanced runner would require, the Phoenix 98516 can still be useful for a basic user. Cheap, simple, and effective.

The Benefits of Using a Manual Treadmill

Before making your choice, you’ll need to understand that manual and electric treadmills are very different, and each one offers a variety of benefits. Moreover, manual treadmills are becoming increasingly popular, mostly due to their natural and power saving approach to exercising. Read on, as we discuss the full differences and benefits of a manual treadmill.

  • With manual treadmills, outlets, cables and power consumptions are all a thing of the past – these treadmills depend solely on your own input: they adapt to your own energy, movements and speed. Unlike the electric treadmills, there is no motorized running belts – and thus you are not forced into a certain pre-programmed pace. Instead, the running belt revolves around flywheels, and in turn, the whole running process feels natural, easy and very rewarding.

  • Manual treadmills are built with efficiency in mind. Most of the time, they are modular and foldable, allowing you to save as much space as possible, and to be flexible with your own moods and options. Have you ever wished to set up your treadmills on the back patio, soaking up the sun while you exercise? Well, with a manual treadmill, this is a very possible option.

  • Electric treadmills can be quite robust, large and cumbersome. Moreover, they lack the ease of movement and the folding option, usually requiring a separate room to store them in. With manual treadmills, this is not a problem, as most of them are easily assembled out of the box.
  • Simplicity – a manual treadmill offers a simple and natural way of running. With only your own movements keeping the treadmill in motion, stopping the unit is natural and easy. While the electric ones usually cater to advanced runners, with a variety of presets and pre programmed speeds, getting off of one can be a tricky task.

  •  Another point to note – and a point that is important to a lot of users, is the affordability. Compared to most electric units, manual treadmills come with a much lighter price tag, and are generally affordable for every user levels. For those of you that are on a tight budget but still crave a good run and an exercise to keep the body in shape, then the manual treadmill is simply a godsend.

  • What comes as the most important aspect for most users is the manual treadmills’ natural aspect when it comes to running. With its inclined design, placement of grips and lack of a motorized belt, these treadmills are all about the natural movements of the body. Simply put, it’s the machine that adapts to the user, and not vice versa, which means it can help with running technique. When you take this into account, you realize the importance of this fact. These natural running aspects were taken to a whole new level with the Assault Fitness AirRunner treadmill, which we reviewed above. This ultimate design is the perfectly natural running experience.

Manual Treadmill compared to Electric treadmill

It’s necessary to point out that both manual and motorized treadmills have their own pros and cons. It’s important to get acquainted with each one of these and to know beforehand what will be the best purchase for you. Find out below just what each style of treadmills has in store.

When it comes to manual treadmills, a lot of aspects are tailored for the average user and home environments. When you’re most likely to encounter a powerful, motorized treadmill exclusively in a gym, a simpler, lighter manual treadmill is designed for the opposite – your home. Below are detailed just some of the advantages that manual treadmills have.

  • Price:
    Affordability is perhaps the greatest factor when it comes to the popularity of manual treadmills, and once prices are compared, it quickly becomes obvious. While good manual treadmills are priced around the 300$ mark, the high quality motorized ones can be prices 10 times that – up to 3000$. The difference is clear to most users, and with the balance of functionality and price, the manual treadmills definitely win.

  • Safety:
    Simplicity and safety go hand in hand, and manual treadmills have both of those a-plenty. With the user being always in control, there isn’t that much that can go wrong. When motorized treadmills are considered, the user is often dependant on the pre programmed movements of the belt, and care must be practiced.

  • Effective exercise:
    More and more passionate runners are opting for manual treadmills, mostly due to the natural approach to running. With the adaptive nature of manual propulsion, the runner is ensured a natural stride and step, with little pressure targeting the joints. Moreover, with the coming of curved treadmills, like the Air Runner, this natural feeling is taken to a whole new level, perfectly mimicking the body’s natural movements. With all these aspects in effect, the exercise is much more effective, and focuses on the calves and thighs, making it more efficient at muscle building.

Considering the motorized, electric treadmills, we can all agree that they add the real modern touch to treadmill running, and as such, they have a few benefits of their own. The bottom line is, the choice of manual versus electric depends only on the user and the style that they are after. But knowing what the advantages are can be helpful.

  • Workout adjustment:
    Every motorized treadmill is perfectly adaptable to almost every style of running, be it pace, incline or stride. And what’s even better, is the fact that these aspects are controlled in a simple way, while the user is running. With a press of the button on the main display, the user can adjust the incline, the speed of the belt, the resistance. No need to stop, get off and adjust bits and knobs – the control monitor allows for quick adjustments, and that is a thing manual treadmills simply don’t have.

  • Quality:
    Housing all the extra mechanism parts, you can expect a motorized treadmill to be considerably larger and more sturdy. This also means that the quality of manufacture is almost always top notch. Heavy duty outer frame, thick running belt, and robust casemate all ensure that the electrical treadmill is really durable and hard to wear out.
    But on the other hand, this robustness can come at a price – these treadmills often cannot be folded and take up a lot of room. Also, they can be bulky and sometimes – an eye sore.

  • Putting you to the limit:
    While we mentioned that the manual treadmills are all natural when it comes to running, and adapt only to your strength and movement, the electric treadmill can give you an opposite experience.
    With several presets and challenges, advanced runners can really get a challenge from a good treadmill, by putting themselves to the very limit. Whether it is with incline or speed of running, you too can see what you’re made of, by giving yourself a real motorized challenge.

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Manual Treadmill

There are many excellent manual treadmills available on the market today, but there are a number of factors you need to pay attention to if you are to make the best choice. Consider not only the running mechanism, but also the odds and ends that comprise the whole unit. Sometimes quality and efficiency can be wholly different, and making the right choice can be crucial. Consider the following aspects when making your choice:

  • Weight limits
    With many varying differences in manufacture, manual treadmills can really have their limits when user weight is taken into account. Depending on the model and the quality of production, the weight capacity of manual treadmills ranges from 220 to 330 pounds, and rarely below that. This means that they might not be as robust as electrical treadmills, but still have enough capacity to support most average user weights.

  • Stability
    Quite a few of the low range manual treadmills are of a basic design, and as such they are narrow and lightweight. This means that if the handlebars are not designed properly, or the whole unit assembled poorly, stability can (albeit rarely) become an issue. This becomes apparent with heavy or elderly users.

  • Foldability
    This comes as a great bonus over electric treadmills, and a favorite aspect of many users. Having the option to save on space and tuck away your treadmill when not in use, certainly comes as a relief to anyone living in small spaces. Better yet, the folding option is often simple and takes only a moment. For those that need to move your treadmill around you should make sure it come fitted with transport wheels.

  • Adjustability
    It’s no secret that most users prefer a simple, adaptable treadmill without too many components. Manual treadmills are often just that – straightforward and easy to use, perfectly accomplishing the role for which they were designed. This adaptability makes them the first choice for most users.

  • Noise
    No one likes the constant hum and buzz that some electrical, motored treadmills are known to produce. Luckily, with the simplicity of manual treadmills, the noise levels are considerably lowered, with most movements being centered on flywheels. This reduced noise is a welcome change, making workouts focused and natural.

  • Performance monitors
    Almost all manual treadmill models come supplied with at least the basic display. Depending on the price and the model, these monitors can be simplified or more complex, giving you an important insight on the basics of your workout. Steps taken, miles ran, time elapsed, speed and stride, as well as heart rate monitors and other inputs. For serious runners, this can be a life saver – take notes and make your own exercise journal. In time, you can track your progress and complete goals and milestones.

  • Customer service
    Make sure you choose a brand that has a good reputation for providing great customer service. Manual treadmills are not very complex units, but even so, extended usage does lead to wear and tear, so you might just need repair every now and then. Luckily, most models are sturdy and robust, with at a least 12 month warranty. Either way, it takes a while to actually produce any considerable wear on your treadmill.

How Manual Treadmills work

There is a variety of factors that make manual treadmills unique in every aspect, and much more reliable than electric treadmills. The design, the working mechanism and ultimately, the natural feeling, all tie-in together to complete the whole “manual” experience.

In a sense, manual treadmills are old school. The mechanism is simple – the treadmill belt is moved only by the user’s feet. It runs on double rollers or flywheels, and is usually set at an incline to help the mechanism move. As simple as can be – the belt’s speed is determined only by your steps, making the manual treadmill a much different experience than the motorized treadmill.

While electric treadmills usually have an option to adjust incline mid-running, this is not possible with manuals. You’ll need to hop off, and change the incline yourself, which is usually very subtle. For anyone who wants a challenge, this might be a negative aspect of manual treadmills.

If you don't like the idea of a manual treadmill you might want to take a look at the Reebok Zigtech 910 or the confidence power track pro both of which are excellent powered treadmills, each one with a distinct set of features. After all, the choice is up to you, and choosing a treadmill depends only on your abilities, your wishes and the style of running. Keep this in mind at all times – what a manual treadmill doesn’t have, the electric does, and vice versa.

Follow the criteria presented above when looking for a manual treadmill or simply choose one of our top picks – you will surely be happy with the results!  And remember – a good run is the perfect exercise. Making the right choice is crucial!