When it comes to treadmills you have two main options- motorised or manual. If you never knew there was an alternative to your standard electric treadmill at the gym, your next question may be what is the difference between a motorised and manual treadmill? Or what treadmill should you get? The treadmill that will work best for you will depend on your personal fitness needs and what you expect to get out of your cardio workout.
A motorised treadmill otherwise referred to as an electric treadmill is probably what you are most familiar with, it is powered by an electric motor to set the belt in motion. The motorised belt automatically rotates under your feet to facilitate walking or running, these treadmills are popular at gyms and for home use. A curved treadmill, also known as a manual treadmill has recently made its way onto the fitness equipment scene as an alternative to your standard electric treadmill. Instead of using an electric motor, a curved treadmill is operated manually by using your feet and muscles to set the belt into motion.
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Motorised treadmills are designed to cater to just about every running, walking, jogging or sprinting routine possible. They come jam packed with tech features like incline (and sometimes decline) and an LCD display to not only track your workout but play your favourite videos. Most motorised treadmills come with a frame, running belt, cushioning technology, drink bottle holder, heart rate sensors and safety keys. The quality of these features will vary depending on the type of treadmill you purchase.
Speed and incline adjustability: Motorised treadmills allow you to easily adjust your speed and incline with the press of a button. They also allow you to easily maintain your speed, forcing you to keep up with the set pace without inadvertently slowing down.
Features: If you love using workout programs or switching on your favourite show to keep you company while you run, then the motorised treadmill may be your saving grace. Many electric treadmills come with handy features including in-built entertainment programs, Bluetooth connectivity, built-in-fans, speakers and workout app compatibility.
Reduced strain: Unlike manual treadmills, you don’t need to use extra force to kick start the electric treadmill. Instead, easily stick to your set speed without concerns about straining yourself or placing unnecessary pressure on your joints.
Home use: If you’re looking to introduce a treadmill into your home, then the motorised treadmill tends to be smaller and more adaptable to a living space. These days many electric treadmills have a folding mechanism meaning you can store your treadmill upright, leaving more room in limited spaces. For apartment living, walking treadmills can be a game changer, the slim design allows for storage under beds or sofas while the smaller motor keeps noise to a minimum.
Electricity: The catch with electric treadmills is that they’re electric... An electric treadmill can narrow down options on where you can use your treadmill and cause a jump in your electricity bill.
Safety: When working out on any electric machine there is a risk of injury like tripping or falling. Safety keys fitted onto most motorised treadmills do attempt to minimise the risk of injury while exercising.
Your standard manual treadmill just got a facelift with the new curved treadmill making its way into the cardio equipment space. Designed to eliminate speed boundaries set by electric treadmills, the curved treadmill allows runners to test the limits of their speed. Another key feature of the curved treadmill is of course the curved belt, designed to offer you the most natural walking or running sensation possible. Outdoor runners will love this treadmill!
You power the treadmill: Instead of pre-setting your speed, you now have the power to move as fast or slow as you want. Many athletes prefer this option as they have unlimited speed and easy stop-starting capabilities making the curved treadmill perfect for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Greater energy exertion: Manual treadmills will require you to exert more energy not only in your legs but also your glutes and core to keep the belt moving. The increased energy exertion will help to burn calories quicker and keep your heart rate up.
No electricity needed: One of the defining features of the manual treadmill is it doesn’t consume power. Whether you’re looking for an eco-friendly option or simply don’t have the space near a power outlet, the curved treadmill could make a good substitute.
Natural stride: The curved design isn't just for show, the curve mimics your natural stride pattern offering a more natural run or walk. This design alongside the rubber surface is more likely to reduce pressure on the joints and absorb shock.
No incline: The curved treadmill is quite limited for incline options. By walking closer to the front of the belt, you can get a small amount of incline, however it does not have the option to electrically incline the belt like a motorised treadmill.
Requires more space: Unlike motorised treadmills, curved treadmills are bulkier and aren't as home friendly. The curved treadmill doesn’t have folding options therefore, you will need a considerate amount of space to accommodate a treadmill of this size.
Cost: If you are on a tight budget then the curved treadmill may not be your best option. Most curved treadmills will have a higher price point in comparison to their motorised alternative.
Less features: Manual treadmills don't have built-in workouts, apps and other tech savvy features. The curved treadmill comes with a simple display showing workout stats such as time, distance, speed and calories.
Which is Best for You?
As you can see, there are many differences between the motorised treadmill and the manual curved treadmill. The motorised treadmill will offer you more variations to your cardio workout and come with more features. On the other hand, if you prioritise unlimited speed and the ability to adjust your speed without pressing buttons then the curved treadmill is for you.
Another factor to consider is maintenance. A motorised treadmill will require belt lubrication and replacement of the motor brushes over time, whereas the curved treadmill won’t require the same kind of upkeep. If you are looking for a cost friendly option, the motorised treadmill tends to be slightly cheaper compared to its curved counter option.