Treadmills are pretty handy pieces of equipment to have in your home gym.

You can use them for a range of different tasks, from running to jogging, or even going for a stationary stroll when the horrendous British weather is in full force outside. 

What you may not know, however, is that there are a range of different kinds of treadmills. A manual treadmill is just one of them.

best manual treadmill

So what is a manual treadmill? These are essentially much harder to use than your standard treadmill.

They look the same as an electric treadmill except that they aren’t powered by electricity. In short, you are the motor that keeps the treadmill running, giving you a lot of control over the device.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge then getting one of these is most certainly the way to get it.

Of course, there are a bunch of great manual treadmills on the market, which can make it somewhat difficult to make the best decision for you.

Thankfully, we’re here to help. Read on for our picks of the best manual treadmills.

We’ve also written a nifty buyer’s guide to help you to narrow down your decision.

OUR TOP PICK

YP Folding Portable Multifunctional Manual Treadmill Fitness Walking Machine Cardio Exercise Home Gym Incline

If you’re in the market for an advanced manual treadmill, then you should definitely consider the YP Folding Portable Multifunctional Manual Treadmill.

This treadmill is incredibly durable, and that’s not even all there is to love!

For starters, the treadmill comes with a very advanced monitor built into it. This will monitor some key statistics such as your speed, calories burned, distance and the time.

It’s very affordable too, and it’s great for older people looking to get some activity, or for if you just want to get some light activity in such as walking.

You will also get strong handlebars.

What’s particularly great about this treadmill is that it makes barely any noise at all.

It’s a smooth operator through and through, and won’t interrupt your TV if you’re working out during your favourite soap opera.

It’s highly portable, and you can store it away without any trouble after you’ve used it - it even has wheels!

Of course, it’s not a great choice for running, so you should keep this in mind.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Foldable
  • Easy to move around

Cons

  • Not the best choice for running

EDITORS CHOICE

Confidence Fitness Walking Machine Magnetic Fold Up Compact Manual Treadmill

Do you want to feel confident while you’re running? If so, why not try the Confidence Fitness Magnetic Treadmill?

This treadmill is certainly one of the best folding manual treadmills on the market. It’s ideal for home workouts.

So, why should you get this treadmill? For starters, the treadmill comes with 8 different adjustable magnetic resistance levels, and these allow you to really alter the intensity of the workout based on your current fitness level.

It folds up when you’re done, so storing it away afterwards is incredibly simple. The belt will operate quietly and smoothly as you use it too.

The treadmill comes with a fixed incline, and it has a computer screen that will tell you your calories, distance, speed, time and it has an odometer.

It can be used by users weighing up to 220 lbs in total and comes with a 12 month warranty.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • High weight capacity
  • Foldable

Cons

  • You cannot adjust the incline

BEST VALUE

Charles Bentley Non-Motorised Treadmill Folding Running Incline Self Powered

If you’re looking for a great manual treadmill, you should really give the Charles Bentley Non Motorised Folding Treadmill a try.

This treadmill is fantastic for getting a workout in straight from the comfort of your own home.

For starters, the treadmill is incredibly easy to set up - no need to sift through an instruction booklet for hours!

The treadmill is relatively compact, so storing it away after use has never been easier. It’s very durable.

Not only this, but the treadmill also makes very little noise when you use it. It’s a perfect choice if you want a light workout. It is somewhat expensive, however.

Pros

  • Easy set up
  • Compact
  • Makes little noise

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive for what it offers.

RUNNER UP

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For affordability, you can’t do much better than the Opti Non-Motorised Folding Treadmill.

In fact, this manual treadmill is a highly effective option that won’t break the bank. It has so much to offer, so you’re sure to enjoy using it.

As previously mentioned, this is one of the most affordable manual treadmills on the market.

It weighs a mere 21.5kg in total so carrying it around the house will be very easy.

All you need to do is carefully take it out of the box and then set it up, and it’s good to go!

The set up is fairly simple, and all of the parts are provided. It has one single incline level.

In addition to this, the treadmill comes with a console that will tell you your calories, distance, speed and time.

When you aren’t using it, simply fold it up and put it in a closet. It’s even easy to move around thanks to the transport wheels on the bottom.

With this, you can get a great workout in without having to worry about having electricity. 

Pros

  • Foldable
  • Affordable
  • Adjustable speeds

Cons

  • Only one incline level.

Best Manual Treadmill Buying Guide

Why Should You Get a Manual Treadmill? 

First of all, you need to understand exactly what a manual treadmill is.

These devices are basically slightly smaller versions of electrical treadmills, but the treadmill is powered by your own body instead of electricity.

They’re generally found at commercial gyms and they are a bit safer for you because you’re in total control rather than being governed by a machine.

They’re also great for any fitness level. They can be a little harder to use at first but after a while you get the hang of it without an issue.

So, what are the benefits of these treadmills? Well, for starters they make you work a lot harder.

Sure, you could just sit there and do nothing, you could walk at snail’s pace and jump off after five minutes.

If you do want to put the work in though you will need to work much harder, resulting in better fat and calorie burn. It requires a lot of resilience! 

They’re also a good choice for high intensity interval training. This form of exercise is ideal for burning great amounts of fat in short periods of time.

All you need to do is run for a while then rest in short bursts. This is harder on an electric treadmill as if you suddenly stop you may fall off the device.

You could end up injuring yourself. Again with a manual you are totally in control. 

One particularly cool thing about manual treadmills is that you can use them at pretty much any time of the day.

You can simply set it up in your home, put some TV on in the background and work out at home - no gym required.

Not only that, but these treadmills also don’t tend to make a great deal of noise, so you won’t be disturbing your children as you exercise. Pretty handy if you want to be more active! 

Also, while a manual treadmill tends to weigh less than a normal treadmill, they can often handle a higher weight load than an electrical treadmill.

There are some that can handle 150kg or more.

Treadmills are also very similar to outdoor running in some respects. You have to work harder to move your legs, which means that it feels more like running on uneven terrain.

This is great for seasoned runners who may not be able to go outside during the winter months. They’re the ideal training tool for athletes.

In addition to this, these treadmills usually cost less money, and they are quite safe to use.

They’re pretty portable too, which is ideal if you have limited amounts of space at home.

Things to Consider

So now you know why you should be investing in a manual treadmill, it’s time to make your choice.

While manual treadmills are generally more affordable, they are still an investment, meaning that you should try to make your purchase wisely.

With that being said, here are a couple of things that you should keep in mind when trying to make your decision. 

Design

When we’re talking about design, we don’t necessarily mean aesthetics. In truth, this isn’t particularly important.

Sure it’s nice to have something that looks good, but the design is more important in a practical sense.

You should ideally be looking for a manual treadmill that features a portable, compact design. This means looking for models that can fold down.

These are ideal if you don’t have space for a full home gym and you just want something that you can put in your living room then put away when you no longer need it. 

In addition to this, you should be looking for a treadmill that has a durable metal frame. This helps to ensure that it isn’t unstable when you use it.

Core Features

On most electric treadmills you would need to consider things like motors, but this is not relevant for a manual treadmill.

No - you are actually the motor, you power the treadmill yourself!

With that being said, many treadmills do come with ways that you can alter the resistance, and this helps to make it easier or harder to move depending on what you need.

With this in mind, you should consider the resistance levels of the treadmills.

There are some treadmills that will only give you a couple of resistance levels, whereas there are others that can give you as many as 16 resistance levels.

The options with more resistance are generally more expensive, but there are some options out there that are more affordable - you just need to keep your eye out for them! 

Incline Levels

It goes without saying that if you have a manual treadmill you won’t have a motorized incline.

With that being said, there are some manual treadmills that can allow you to change the manual incline to your liking.

If you want a harder workout then you can just select a steeper gradient, or you can make the surface flatter if you wish.

There are some manual treadmills that are automatically set to a certain incline, so even if your treadmill doesn’t come with any adjustability options you may find that there’s still a pretty sleep incline.

This is because the belt can move easier this way, especially if you don’t have very strong legs or you have problems with your joints.

Not being able to change the gradient can make workouts a little boring though, as you’ll be doing the same incline every single time. 

Size of the Belt

One of the biggest concerns for some people is that manual treadmills can have a narrower, shorter belt.

This is mainly because manual treadmills are more affordable.

This can mean that they’re slightly more cramped, so you should try to find a treadmill with a larger belt if possible, even if this means paying a little more money.

Extra Features

While manual treadmills can be a little bit simple, many of them come with a bunch of extra features that you can look out for.

One thing to consider is the main console. This isn’t necessarily the same as a control panel on an electric treadmill, instead the main console will come with an LED screen.

On this screen, you can see things such as workout feedback, speed, distance and an idea of the amount of calories that you’ve burned. The screens are generally battery powered.

Some screens will also show you things like your heart rate, though this depends on whether the treadmill actually comes with a heart rate monitor.

These monitors are usually sensors that are integrated into the handles. All you need to do is hold onto these sensors and wait a few seconds, then you will see your heart rate.

Of course, this isn’t highly likely to be accurate, so if you really want to see the best representation of your heart rate then you should get a chest strap or a smartwatch, but they can still be pretty handy. 

You should also look out for things such as storage space - this could be an area to put your phone or somewhere to put your water bottle.

You likely won’t get as much storage space on a manual treadmill as you would on an electric model, however.

Some manufacturers may also add other things to their treadmills, such as arm trainers to give you more of an arm workout. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a manual treadmill automatically stop when I stop running?

Thankfully, yes!

The treadmill is completely powered by you, so if you stop running then the treadmill will also stop. 

It will go at your speed too, giving you a lot of control.

Will a manual treadmill teach me how to run?

If you’re looking to get into running, using a manual treadmill is a great place to start as you can control your own pace.

It is very important to keep an eye on your stride though and you are going to get tired more easily.

A manual treadmill can help you to make your stride more consistent because it is harder to use, though.

Eventually you’ll get less tired after you’ve used the manual treadmill for a while because your legs will start to get used to the workout. 

A curved belt manual treadmill will be best for learning to run, however. To run on these treadmills, just lean forward a little, striking with your mid to front forefront.

Try to keep a high cadence. There’s no room for laziness on a manual treadmill! 

What are the downside of manual treadmills?

One of the biggest downsides of manual treadmills is that they generally aren’t the best choice for running.

Sure, if you’re walking or speed walking they’ll work like a dream, but beyond that you’re out of luck.

This is generally a result of the shorter length of the belt, which generally leads to having a shorter stride in turn.

Sure there are some manual machines that you can use to run, but you will likely need to spend more money for these models.

They also don’t tend to come with as many features. They don’t have as many control options, and you likely won’t get any fancy LCD screens or preset workout programs.

Finally, if you struggle with your muscles or joints then a manual treadmill can be quite challenging to use.

Ultimately you will need a lot more leg power to get moving to start with, and this can put a little more stress on your joints that already hurt. 

Last update on 2021-05-10 / Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

I'm Jamie and I test out new models in sports retailers, or buy and sell them new or second hand so I can review a wide range of models and put together the best advise on which treadmill is right for you. So if you are looking for a cheap treadmill for walking, a gym quality treadmill to run sprints, or something in-between I can point you in the right direction.