The Best Treadmills Will Have You Looking Forward to Indoor Miles

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Anna Callaghan
·8 min read
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You might think there's no such thing as the best treadmills. And it's true: runners get a kick out of hating the old "dreadmill." But—as you'll see—the most serious runners have strong feelings about them, because they're the ones logging big miles indoors. The truth is, they're incredibly practical—treadmill sessions can ensure your workouts aren’t thwarted by crappy weather or a crazy schedule.

So we talked to trainers, an Olympian, and two of the world's greatest ultra marathoners about what it means to get the best treadmill for you. Here's their advice on the best treadmills to buy so you can start going nowhere, fast.

The Best Treadmill Money Can Buy: Woodway 4Front

Woodway is the runaway champion of the high-end market. Studios like NYC’s Mile High Run Club, Equinox’s Precision Rub Lab, and Barry’s all have their own fleet. (So does the NFL, NBA, and NHL). Chris Hudson, VP of curriculum at Barry’s, touts the 4Front’s springy rubber shock-absorbing slats that make up the belt, which are “designed to mimic the feeling of running outdoors” and reduce impact on joints, muscles, and connective tissue. “They are more durable, resulting in less of a need for maintenance,” said Hudson. The Woodway belt is said to last 150,000 miles—or 48,280 5K runs, if you're a fan of the metric system. The 4Front has two additional modes: one that lets the belt spin freely like a manual treadmill so the user can power it themselves, and another that adds extra resistance. Custom options include a sleek 21” touchscreen display and more-powerful motors if you're looking to train like Kipchoge. When ultrarunner Mario Mendoza Jr. broke the 50K treadmill world record in January, maintaining an average pace of 5:45 minute miles for 31 miles, he used a 4Front. “It’s softer, and easier on your skeletal system—like trail running,” he says. Olympian Alexi Pappas also runs on a 4Front, which offers up to a 15 percent incline and can go up to 12.5mph, faster than 5 minutes per mile. Pappas, however, upgraded hers so it could go even faster. “I can do anything on it,” she says.

Woodway 4Front Treadmill

$0.00, Woodway

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The Best Treadmill with Built-In Workouts: Peloton Tread+

In 2018 Peloton extended their world-conquering at-home spinning workouts to a treadmill with the Peloton Tread+. The Tread+ has a 32” touchscreen that offers both live and on-demand workouts for running, walking, and other cardio and strength classes. Like the Woodway, the belt on the Tread is made up of rubber slats that offer a more springy, outdoor-like running experience. At 67 inches long the belt has ample room to open up your stride (shout-out to the tall runners), and easily-accessed knobs on the arms adjust incline (up to 15 percent) and speed (up to 12.5 mph). Though you don’t absolutely need to subscribe to Peloton's classes to use the treadmill, the experience is defined by the company's famously rah-rah workout programming, which costs $39 per month, or $468 a year. It’s expensive, in other words. But it may be the best combo of machinery and motivating content so that you'll actually use it

Peloton Tread+

$4295.00, Peloton

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The Best Treadmill To Replace Your Trail Runs: NordicTrack x22i Incline Treadmill

Kilian Jornet is a trail runner, mountaineer, and skier, though a better description is that he's the best mountain athlete in the world. The 32-year-old Spaniard scampered up Mount Everest twice in one week, alone and without supplemental oxygen. He dominates endurance sufferfests like the Hardrock 100 (an 100-mile trail race with 33,000 feet of elevation gain). He’s fast and seemingly indefatigable on all sorts of terrain. And Jornet, though superhuman, also trains on a treadmill sometimes. Jornet uses an older NordicTrack treadmill that’s similar to the x22i, the most affordable model in the brand’s Incline series. “I like that it is possible to go way above 20 percent to work power walking or running at a greater incline,” said Jornet. “I believe it’s good to have a treadmill that can support fast speeds and at least a 20 percent incline.” In addition to a 40 percent incline, the x11i can also go into a decline of up to 6 percent, great for trail runners looking to get downhill miles in. Ultrarunner Mendoza is also a fan of the NordicTrack treadmills, adding that the models that go up to 40 percent are great for the power hiking efficiency required for ultramarathons.

NordicTrack x22i Incline Treadmill

$3000.00, NordicTrack

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The Best Budget Treadmill: ProForm 505

ProForm offers a wide range of treadmill options that won't destroy your savings account, and the 505 model is a well-reviewed, entry-level workhorse. With a price well under $1,000 it’s an incredibly approachable machine that has everything you need—10 mph top speed (a.k.a., a six-minute mile), a 10 percent incline—and even a few luxuries, like a cushioning system. The 55-inch belt offers enough room to run comfortably, and the whole machine folds up to save space after you're done crushing miles. Mendoza, who’s trained on many different treadmills, says that while he prefers machines that have a greater incline and speed range, he likes that the 505 is “efficient in space and very budget-friendly.”

ProForm 505 CST

$650.00, Best Buy

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The Best Treadmill Accessory for Recovery: Light Speed Lift LS400

This contraption works in conjunction with a treadmill, transforming it into an injury-prevention and recovery tool. Like an analog version of the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill, which requires new-BMW money, the Light Speed Lift is a support system in the form of spring straps attached to compression shorts that are hooked up to overhead poles, relieving up to 40 pounds of impact force. It's a boon for hardcore athletes trying to get the most out of their training and for anyone whose joints can’t handle pounding on a belt. “Most people run slower on their easy days, but when you run slower you can actually have more impact on your body because you spend more time on the ground,” said Olympic runner Alexi Pappas. “This device is like a giant baby bouncer. It lifts you up. I’ve used it since my last injury and haven’t [an injury] since.”

Light Speed Lift LS4

$0.00, LightSpeed Lift

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4 More Treadmills We Love

The Best Treadmill for Running Purists: Sole F80

The Sole is well-priced treadmill that continuously gets positive reviews and minimalists will rejoice at its lack of flashiness. Read: it doesn't have a touchscreen. But it does have a perfect spot for a tablet, and everything else a serious runner might actually need: a cushioned running deck, a 9-inch screen that displays workout information, a USB charging port, Bluetooth-equipped speakers. It folds up automatically with the flip of a switch. The F80 can go up to 12mph and reaches an incline of 15%—as much as almost anyone might need.

Sole F80

$2500.00, Amazon

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The Best Mid-Range Treadmill: ProForm Pro 2000

This treadmill is the solid and reliable, bang-for-your-buck running machine. The Pro 2000 has all the features that buyers should be looking for: a roomy, cushy running surface, access to high-quality built-in streaming workouts (the first year is free). There’s also a spot for a tablet so you can stream whatever workout you’d like. While the 10” screen is a little small the Pro 200 has nice bonuses like a built-in fan, the ability to fold up easily, water bottle holders, and integrated Bluetooth speakers.

ProForm Pro 2000

$1565.00, Amazon

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The Best Treadmill for HIIT Workouts: Horizon Fitness T101

The 7.8AT is an interval training workhorse with a responsive motor that can keep up with pricier machines, like the one that starts with a P. Quickly make speed and incline adjustments using the chest-high roller controls (sound familiar?). Use your iPad to stream Zwift or those Peloton workouts and know that you’ll be able to change your settings fast enough to keep up. Or avoid staring at screens all together and go full vision quest with the treadmill’s built-in HIIT training programs that make all the adjustments for you.

Horizon Fitness T101

$2000.00, Horizon Fitness

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The Most Dependable Treadmill: NodicTrack Commercial 2950

If your best running partner was an inanimate object, this would be it. The roomy running surface is the standard for spaciousness, and its adjustments to a maximum speed of 12mph—that's a sub-5 mile. The big touchscreen will let you virtually escape your dreary apartment for beachy runs in the tropics and rolling hills through the country. It’s a large treadmill, but can be folded up when not in use. The best part? It's got two powerful fans built in—one aimed at your torso and another at your chest— for Benz-level climate control.

NordicTrack Commercial 2950

$3000.00, Amazon

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Ready to hit the pavement this fall? We've got you covered.

Originally Appeared on GQ