7 Different Types of Treadmills to Know

7 Different Types of Treadmills to Know

Table of Contents

Getting up and getting moving is back in style! Almost half of all Americans are either walking, jogging, or running for exercise, and it’s clear to see why: There’s currently more choice than there’s ever been in the treadmill market.1

From motorless, manual models to compact under-desk options and even anti-gravity machines that make you feel weightless, modern treadmill technology is truthfully multifaceted and mind-boggling. But, to select the correct type to support your exercise goals, you’ll need to know all about their differences. 

In this guide, we’ll run through seven different types of treadmills to highlight their features, use cases, and pros and cons. After working out your brain with this quick read, you’ll be able to confidently choose the best at-home treadmill for your lifestyle, fitness level, and future aspirations. 

Manual Treadmills

Before electric engines and self-turning belts, there were (and still are) manual treadmills. These powerless models rely solely on your own strength to move the belt, rather than using a motor. They’re about the same size as modern motorized treadmills, but you're not likely to find them in most gyms or fitness centers. Nonetheless, they still have their time and place and can be exceptional choices for those who want to amp up the difficulty of their workout. 

Pros & Cons of Manual Treadmills

Manual treadmills are quite a unique style on this list as they’re one of only two entries that don't require electricity or engines. This presents several advantages over other kinds, including:

  • Increased caloric burn – Without an engine to turn the belt, runners must exert greater effort to keep moving. Studies show that exercising on a non-motorized treadmill expends more energy than conventional models and running outside—so they’re a premier choice for those looking to burn more calories.2
  • Lower price point – Motors are expensive. If you can eliminate them from the equation, your machine will be far less costly. Generally, manual treadmills are amongst the most cost-effective models available.
  • Ability to run inclines – The major advantage of a manual treadmill versus running outside is the ability to take on hills on demand. Not all manual models have incline options, but those that do offer challenging and rewarding workouts.

Despite these positives, there are likewise several downsides to exercising on a motorless treadmill. Some of the major cons include:

  • The difficulty – Sure, manually pushing your treadmill’s belt results in more energy expenditure, but not everyone wants to give 110% during every workout. A motor gives you the option to raise speeds to make your exercise more challenging but, with a manual, you’re always stuck on maximum difficulty. 
  • The lack of features – Manual treadmills are bare bones and, without electricity, you won’t have access to preset fat-burning programs, hill sessions, and other features that gym-goers have grown accustomed to on their treadmills.
  • The variations in speed tolerance – If you’re considering a manual treadmill, be sure to carefully inquire into the speed it’s rated for. Many belts will only tolerate a walking pace while other, more expensive models are fit for running.

Motorized Treadmills

These are the kinds of full-sized exercise machines you see at gyms and fitness centers across the globe. Unlike manual models, they use electric motors to power their belts and set the pace for their users. They’re time-tested and beloved by regular runners—and that’s for several solid reasons.

Pros & Cons of Motorized Treadmills

It’s no mistake that motorized models are the standard most people think of when they hear the word treadmill. Some of the major pros they present are:

  • Preset pacing – With a motorized treadmill, there’s never any guessing how fast you’re running. Preset paces make it easy to monitor your progress and measure your improvements as you strive to attain your fitness goals.
  • Special features – Not every motorized treadmill has preset endurance courses or fat-burning sessions, but they’re definitely more likely to than other styles. These fun features can help motivate you or keep you on track if you’re not yet knowledgeable about different kinds of running exercises. 
  • Space for dynamic movements – Motorized treadmills are generally amongst the largest models, giving runners ample space for dynamic movements such as side steps and backward jogs.

While motorized treadmills do present a solid case as to why they’re the standard model in most gyms, they’re not without their faults. Some of the downsides to motorized treadmills are:

  • Their price – Motorized models are far more expensive than several other kinds of treadmills and, on the high end, can run you more than $4,000.3
  • The racket – You’ve heard that incessant whir of treadmill belts spinning away at the gym. Now, imagine that same sound in a smaller space without proper noise insulation (such as your living room). It could get annoying pretty quickly, especially if you share the area with non-runners.
  • Their size – Motorized treadmills are amongst the largest on the market and, unlike folding models, can’t be closed up and stored away when they’re not in use.

Folding Treadmills

Folding treadmills are a lot like motorized models (in fact, most contain motors as well). What makes them different, however, is their ability to lower the handlebars. 

But folding isn’t the only factor that sets this style apart from the rest of the pack.

Pros & Cons of Folding Treadmills

Folding treadmills are common choices for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike. Some of the reasons they’re so popular may be:

  • Their ability to fold – This is truly the main selling point of folding treadmills. People who purchase such models often have limited space, so the potential for easy storage is their top priority. 
  • Their similarity to motorized models – Truth be told, folding treadmills aren't all that different from regular motorized models. Many of them boast the same features and can hit similar speeds as motorized treadmills, so they often appeal to the same audience.

While folding treadmills may appear to be on the same level as motorized models, they likewise have their own issues. Some of their major cons include:

  • Their size – No, this isn’t about how much space they take up in your house, but about how much space you take up on the treadmill. Despite being about the same size as motorized models, many folding treadmills are slightly shorter and narrower. If you have a long or wide gait, you’ll want to carefully consider whether or not a folding treadmill can support your running style.3
  • Their thickness – Even when closed, folding treadmills aren’t all that slim. You may be able to store them under an elevated bed but, unlike walking pads, you probably won’t be able to stash them under your desk or couch when they’re not in use.

Desk Treadmills or Walking Pads

Mini walking pads (also known as desk treadmills) are a completely different kind of treadmill that optimizes storage potential while still offering a brisk workout. They’re the most compact style on this list by far and a common choice for at-home workers and residents of smaller apartments.

Pros & Cons of Desk Treadmills

Desk treadmills have soared in popularity as of late and the hashtag #walkingpad has accumulated well over half a billion views on TikTok.4 But why are so many people suddenly in love with their walking pads? 

Ultimately, it’s due to their:

  • Usability – You can hop on a walking pad anytime, anywhere. They’re simple to set up under desks, in front of TVs, or wherever else you want to exercise. 
  • Storability and portability – When you’re done with your walking pad, simply slide it under a couch or tuck it into a corner. If you’re heading out on a trip, just pick it up and pack it in the car—many walking pads only weigh about 40 pounds!
  • Price point – Desk treadmills are incredibly cost-effective with reliable models from highly reputable brands starting at around $300.

While walking pads have been enjoying a much-deserved boon lately, they’re not necessarily perfect machines. The few downsides they present include their:

  • Speed – Desk treadmills often max out around three miles per hour (MPH). So, if you’re hoping to hit sprints from the comfort of your living room, you may need to consider larger options.
  • Incline – Most desk treadmills have fixed inclines instead of variable settings. While they’re often set to a decently challenging seven degrees, you’ll need a motorized model if you want to train for hill running.

Want more? Check out our blog on a walking pad vs treadmill to better determine what’s best for you.

Hybrid Treadmills

Hybrid treadmills are often called treadclimbers. They combine the standard forward movement of a treadmill with the oscillating, up-and-down motions of elliptical machines to deliver an entirely unique style of workout. Learn more about a treadmill vs elliptical machine in our blog.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Treadmills

Hybrid treadmills are in a world of their own compared to other varieties, meaning measuring them against conventional models is like comparing apples and oranges. Nonetheless, their primary benefit is:

  • Their unique workout style – Treadclimbers are essentially a mix of treadmills, ellipticals, and stair machines. While they don’t go very fast (often topping out at less than five MPH), they may cause you to exert more energy than a regular treadmill, and some brands claim they deliver twice the workout as conventional cardio machines.5

However, the major con of hybrid treadmills is also:

  • Their unique workout style – Treadclimbers are an entirely different beast than conventional treadmills. If you’re looking for a machine to walk, jog, and run on as you would normally, they may not be the right pick for you.

Curved Treadmills

Curved treadmills function similarly to manual treadmills in that the user generates all the power to move the belt. Rather than being flat, however, they feature concave surfaces that are supposed to feel more naturally in tune with runners’ footfall patterns.

Pros & Cons of Curved Treadmills

Curved treadmills present many of the same upsides as using a manual treadmill, like:

  • Increased caloric burn – Like with manual models, pushing the belt requires more energy than simply running at a preset space. Thus, they tend to burn more calories than their motorized counterparts.
  • Environmental kindness – Motorized treadmills run on electricity, which has to be generated somehow. Meanwhile, manual models rely on pure muscle power to get going.
  • Relative simplicity – No motors means less to go wrong, resulting in fewer repairs and lower maintenance costs in the long run.

Despite these positives, the downsides of curved treadmills may outweigh their benefits. Some of their largest cons are:

  • Their prices – Unlike standard manual treadmills, curved models are usually quite expensive. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see them going for more than motorized models despite being less complex and containing fewer parts.
  • The effort runners need to exert – As mentioned about manual treadmills, not every runner wants to push it to their maximum during every workout. Many appreciate the steady pace a motor sets for them, and that’s just not possible with curved models.
  • Their lack of features – For the price, one would hope they’d get a plethora of features with curved treadmills. However, like other manual models, these treadmills often feature nothing more than a belt and frame.

Anti-Gravity Treadmills

Anti-gravity treadmills are cutting-edge medical devices made with space-age technology invented by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). They work by sealing the runner’s body in an airtight, bubble-like enclosure, and then pumping in air from underneath. The force of the air counteracts the pressure of gravity to make the runner feel weightless, allowing them to exercise with ease.6

Pros & Cons of Anti-Gravity Treadmills

Anti-gravity treadmills essentially have one purpose: to help you rehabilitate after an injury. Thus, their primary benefit is:

  • Their medical potential – Following a stress or trauma injury, anti-gravity treadmills can help patients rehabilitate their muscles and regain their strength. They alleviate weight on injured tissues, allowing you to exercise affected areas sooner. They’re marvels of modern medicine and are in use everywhere from the military to professional sports leagues.6

Ultimately, anti-gravity treadmills are more tools for recovery than exercise machines for day-to-day use. Thus, their major setbacks are:

  • Price and availability – Anti-gravity treadmills are complex medical devices, and their price tags reflect that. At over $35,000 for the entry-level model, their prices are, at minimum, ten times those of high-end motorized treadmills.7
  • Usefulness – Unless a doctor specifically recommends an anti-gravity treadmill treatment for an injury, these machines won’t likely be of much use to you. You’re better off saving tens of thousands of dollars by purchasing a smaller, sleeker treadmill.

Still not satisfied? Check out our treadmill buying guide for even more information on the world of treadmills.

Explore Lifepro Treadmills Today

The best exercise machine is the one you’ll use, and there are no easier treadmills to get on time and time again than those from Lifepro. That’s because Lifepro’s at-home treadmills reimagine exercise and make it simple to incorporate into your daily routine. 

Our compact, convenient walking pads let you get your steps in without having to leave home. They’re perfect for those long work-from-home days when you can’t find the time to make it to the gym or for replacing your gym pass altogether. When exercise is instantly accessible, it’s easier to stick to a routine and, thus, achieve your intended results.

Explore Lifepro’s treadmills today, and start taking steps toward your fitness goals.



  1. Statista. Running & Jogging - statistics & Facts. https://www.statista.com/topics/1743/running-and-jogging/
  2. National Library of Medicine. Non-motorized Treadmill Running Is Associated with Higher Cardiometabolic Demands Compared with Overground and Motorized Treadmill Running. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5694659/
  3. Consumer Reports. Treadmill Buying Guide. https://www.consumerreports.org/health/treadmills/buying-guide/
  4. Best Health. What’s the Deal with Walking Pads?. https://www.besthealthmag.ca/article/walking-pad-trend/
  5. Livestrong. What Results Will You Get Using the Bowflex Treadclimber?. https://www.livestrong.com/article/356192-what-results-will-you-get-using-the-bowflex-treadclimber/
  6. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Spinoff. ‘Anti-Gravity’ Treadmills Speed Rehabilitation. https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2009/hm_5.html
  7. Computer Network. Lower price brings antigravity treadmill down to earth. https://www.cnet.com/culture/lower-price-brings-antigravity-treadmill-down-to-earth/


Joel Gottehrer

Joel Gottehrer is the Co-Founder of Lifepro Fitness and has dedicated his life to helping people transform theirs. With over 12 years of experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and owner of two personal training studios, Joel has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to helping transform lives. After suffering from physical injuries, Joel and his business partner, Abraham Brach, came together with a common goal to alleviate the pain caused by their injuries.

They continued to find themselves disappointed with the results stemming from various products promising to relieve their pain, and with that – Lifepro Fitness was born. Joel's mission is to have a positive impact on millions of lives with the Lifepro brand. Whether it's finding new and innovative ways to help people recover from injuries or developing products to improve overall wellness, Joel is always looking for ways to push the boundaries. Thanks to his commitment to help people live their lives free of pain, Lifepro has been able to do this for thousands of people since its founding in 2017.

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