A manual treadmill will give you a completely different workout than motorized one and though most people are just looking for low maintenance and reliability, the workout you get from one of these machines is the best reason to buy one.
With no motor to move the belt under you, these treadmills work with an incline. The incline keeps the belt moving so you’ll need it in order to walk or run.
The biggest advantage in the workout you get from a manual treadmill comes down to the effort you’ll expend to make the treadmill work. It will give you a higher intensity resistance workout than any electric treadmill would.
That’s not to say they are prohibitive to some users, they are an equally good choice for beginners and more experienced athletes alike – these machines are capable of both low and high-intensity workouts.
Though you can run on a manual, you’ll generally need to grip the bars for stability and support. But there are no limits to your speed. You can walk at a slow steady pace or ramp up the intensity to increase your cardiovascular and muscular fitness.
You could say, there’s nothing ahem …pedestrian about them.
A manual treadmill has no motor to pack up the minute your warranty runs out – it should give you years of good use and you’ll no doubt want it to become an essential piece of equipment in your daily routine so it’s important that you choose the right one.
Quick Comparison Table for the Best Manual Treadmill on the Market
|Best Overall Choice||Sunny Health & Fitness ASUNA 7700 Hi-Performance Cardio Trainer |
Resistance Levels: 8
Incline Range: 6 – 10 Degrees
Check Price on Amazon
|Best Mid Price||Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7878 Manual Treadmill|
Resistance Levels: 16
Incline Range: 7 – 9 Degrees
|Check Price on Amazon|
|Best Budget Choice||ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill|
Resistance Levels: 0
Incline Range: 6 and 10 degrees.
Some versions have 7 – 9 Degrees
|Check Price on Amazon|
Reviews of Our Top Picks for The Best Manual Treadmill
The first two manual treadmills we’ll be looking at are more high-end than most out there, but for those who are serious about their fitness (especially if you already regularly workout), they are by far your best option.
We’ll then also look at an affordable basic option, that may be more suitable for some.
Table of Contents:
- Best Overall Choice
- Best Mid Price
- Best Budget Choice
- Other Ones We’ve Reviewed
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Overall Choice: Sunny Health & Fitness ASUNA 7700 Hi-Performance Cardio Trainer
Best Overall Choice
The innovative ASUNA 7700 breaks with convention in the design of its manual treadmill.
To be honest, they all tend to look a little lightweight and basic, to say the least, but this treadmill with its heavy-duty construction frame and ergonomically designed bars, frankly raises the standard of what you can do with an incline manual treadmill.
There’s no competition for it and that’s why it made our top pick.
You see there may be no motor to break down or faulty console to flash ERROR at you, but that doesn’t mean they’re all pretty much the same.
For example, without a motor to assist you by moving the belt along for you, it’s down to you to do all the hard work yourself and it’s then that you find out just how much the ability to adjust the resistance and incline settings matter.
If you buy a machine that’s fixed with no adjustable settings, you could find yourself stuck with something that’s not comfortable to use or doesn’t challenge your fitness level beyond that at which you start out.
That’s a long-winded way of saying if this treadmill wasn’t adjustable we wouldn’t recommend it but, of course, it is. The settings can be tailor-made to suit individual workout sessions, making it ideal for both low and high-intensity workouts.
In practical terms, that means 8 levels of resistance created by the conveniently placed adjustable magnetic tension lever located on the left arm of the frame and 6 – 10 degrees of incline, which is adjusted by turning the feet cushions while the machine is in the folded | upright position. These two settings combined, offer variable workout intensities, targeting both cardiovascular and muscular fitness.
Where this model leaves others in the dust, however, is its ability to target upper body strength and endurance as well as lower body strength.
The ergonomic bars on the ASUNA are designed to accommodate more than 8 different hand grips. This gives your arms and upper body a variety of challenging resistance workouts as well as providing you with stability while running or walking.
Now cheaper manuals are generally only suitable for waking. Why’s that? Well, you see, the slow reaction of the belt which is caused by friction is something an electric motor would easily be able to overcome, but in a manual, friction is an ever-present force to reckoned with and if you combine that with a weak or flimsy frame and the inevitable incline of the deck, running feels unnatural if not outright precarious.
ASUNA solves this problem in two ways, firstly the heavy-duty frame is made with thick high-grade steel. It’s so heavy-duty, in fact, that the machine is capable of taking an ultra-high weight capacity of 440 pounds. The treadmill also has dual solid steel flywheels to achieve maximum belt responsiveness by minimizing friction. These flywheels also maintain the momentum for you, keeping the belt running smoothly and quietly. Adjust their tension, and they also create different levels of resistance for you.
The 7700 lets you walk, run, or sprint if you wish, and those soft-grip, non-slip rubber-coated handlebars allow you to lean in for added speed and stability.
There is no console on this machine but there is a large tablet holder so you can easily track your stats via your own a tablet or phone app.
It also has a pretty cool feature that’s more than just a side note. It can be folded away to conserve space if you’re not using it. But that doesn’t mean it’s a pain to set up again. It has a soft drop system -a hydraulic mechanism that gently lowers the deck to the floor when you’re ready to workout. You can see it in action in the video at the top of this section.
This manual treadmill requires no assembly other than to fix the tablet holder onto the front bar and to lubricate the belt (lubricant include) before first use.
What We Like:
- Ergonomically Designed Bars – They’re designed to accommodate more than 8 different hand grips, giving your arms and upper body a variety of challenging resistance workouts as well as providing you with stability while running or walking.
- Strong, Heavy-Duty Frame- This is what makes this machine such a good choice The frame is made with thick high-grade steel. It’s way more heavy-duty, that most, it’s capable of taking an ultra-high weight capacity of 440 lbs.
- 8 levels of Resistance – these are created by adjusting the magnetic tension lever located on the left arm of the frame.
- 6 – 10 Degrees of Incline – The incline is adjusted by turning the feet cushions while the machine is in the folded | upright position. Good for variable workout intensities, targeting both cardiovascular and muscular fitness.
Things to Consider:
To adjust the incline you have to fold the treadmill first. It’s easy to do, you just turn the Feet Cushions at the bottom of the treadmill counter-clockwise to increase and clockwise to decrease the incline. The downside is that with others you generally only need to lift the deck up a few inches so it doesn’t interrupt your workout as much.
While it does cost considerably more than manual treadmills generally do, it’s still way cheaper than a decent motorized regular running or under desk one.
- Running Surface: 49L X 18W
- Shock Absorption: Yes
- Soft Drop System: Yes
- Running Surface: 49L X 18W
- Dimensions: 57L X 27.2W X 49.2H
- Folded Dimensions: 27.5L x 30.5W x 56.5H
- Max User Weight: 440 LBS
Structural Frame – 5 Years
Other Parts and Components – 180 Days
Check the latest price for ASUNA 7700 on Amazon.
Best Mid Price: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7878 Manual Treadmill
Best Mid Price
If you’re happy to forgo some of the design features of the ASUNA 7700, most notably the ergonomically shaped handlebars and extra heavy-duty construction, you might prefer to save yourself around a couple of hundred bucks and go for this alternative choice instead.
You’ll still get yourself a manual treadmill that’s an exceptionally good machine, way better in its construction and design than the standard manual treadmills out there.
The newer, lighter SF-T7878 model even has additional features that you don’t get with the ASUNA 7700 model and that’s why it’s our high-end alternative pick.
For a start, it has double the range of adjustment settings for resistance – 16 to be exact. Allowing for progressively more intense workouts to increase your stamina and strength.
The bar, while not as ergonomically designed as our last choice or as versatile in the range of grips it will accommodate, does allow for several grip positions. That’s something you just don’t get with cheaper models which generally only offer one.
It also has built-in pulse sensors to monitor your heart rate. The readout is displayed on the battery-powered LCD display which is attached to the front bar.
It doesn’t set the resistance or incline as it would in an electric treadmill, but it does track speed, distance, time, calories burned, and heart rate.
There are 3 levels of incline on this treadmill and they’re more convenient to adjust than the ASUNA model. You can increase or decrees the incline without having to fold the treadmill upright first, you simply lift the back legs to adjust the height. You can see the incline mechanism in the photo below left. The incline range is 7%, 8%, and 9%.
Cheaper models often have poor resistance to friction but this model has dual 11 lbs fly-wheels which gives the belt momentum allowing you to pick up your pace from a walk to a jog or run.
The construction is sturdy too, giving the machine a weight capacity of 300 lbs but it’s also foldable. And when you’re ready for your next workout, it has that same soft drop system feature that the 7700 model has. A hydraulic mechanism that gently lowers the deck to the floor when you’re ready to workout.
This manual treadmill also needs no assembly so you can relax and put the screwdriver back in the draw. Like the 7700, it will just need belt lubrication before you begin.
What We Like:
- Good Value for Money – This is a high-end heavy-duty manual and it’s almost $200 cheaper than our top choice.
- 16 Adjustable Resistance Settings – That’s double the range of the ASUNA model.
- 3 Levels of Incline – You can increase or decrees the incline without having to fold the treadmill upright first, you simply lift the back legs to adjust the height.
- Digital Readout – It tracks speed, distance, time, calories burned, and heart rate.
Things to Consider:
If you are looking at this price range, you’d have to decide if it’s worth paying extra for an even heavier-duty machine and those 8 hand grip position bars.
- Running Surface: 47.5L X 17.5 W
- Dimensions: 56L X 26.5W X 55.5H
- Folded Dimensions: 28L x 26.5W x 55.5H
- Max User Weight: 300 LBS
Structural Frame – 3 Years
Other Parts and Components – 180 Days
Check the latest price and for the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7878 on Amazon.
Best Budget: ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill
Best Budget Choice
You couldn’t mistake the Progear for anything other than a basic model but it may have everything you need in a manual treadmill.
It’s pretty well-made and priced at well under $150, it’s excellent value for money and that’s why it’s our top budget pick.
You get two levels of incline on this model but instead of the choice being between that’s too steep and seriously that’s too much for me, you have a choice between a gentler 6 degrees or a more challenging 10 degrees.
You can see in the photo to the left the simple adjustment mechanism using a locking key.
Update: Recently users have said they’ve received an updated model with three levels of incline between 7 and 9 degrees. Either way, these are levels of incline are in that sweet spot and are a good indicator that the deck doesn’t have to be set to a ridiculously high angle just to get the belt moving and indeed this machine has dual cast iron flywheels to help keep up the momentum of the belt.
The treadmill itself is more light-weight than our first two choices but the powder-coated steel frame is sturdy enough to take 220 lbs. It’s also foldable, you simply lift the deck up when you want to store it away and lock it into place with the locking mechanism on the side.
The Progear has a simple user-friendly LCD display too which shows elapsed time, distance walked, calories burned, speed, and scan.
All in all, it’s a decent machine and good value for money if you want something to stay in shape with, and remember for this low price tag you’ll burn more calories than walking flat on any high-end motorized treadmill that you could buy.
What We Like:
- Low Price – It’s a good option for those who just want the basics and it’s excellent value for the price.
- Adjustable Incline – The incline is easily adjusted by lifting the deck up a few inches and altering the adjustment mechanism using the locking key. The high-end choice requires you to fold the machine completely. The incline is not too steep on this model.
- Digital Display – The Progear has a simple user-friendly LCD display too which shows elapsed time, distance walked, calories burned, speed, and scan.
Things to Consider:
- Requires Some Assembly – It’s not complicated and the instruction manual is actually available on amazon under their product details.
- Not for Heavy-Duty Use – This manual treadmill is great for walking to build fitness and stamina and you’ll get a much better workout than you would with a similar session on an electric one but you’ll need to hold onto the bars to run. But that’s true with all of them, its not specific to this model.
- No Resistance Settings – It’s a basic model but if that’s what you’re looking for, the incline will be more important than resistance to you anyway.
- Running Surface: 43L x 13.25W
- Dimensions: 47L x 23W x 51H
- Folded Dimensions: 21L x 23W x 51H
- Max User Weight: 230 LBS
Structural Frame – 1 Year
Other Parts and Components – 90 Days
Check the latest price and color options for the ProGear 190 on Amazon.
Other Manual Treadmill’s We’ve Reviewed:
These are the products that didn’t quite make our top picks, but they’re still pretty good so you might like to take a look.
This manual treadmill has a fixed incline.
- Study frame up to 300lbs.
- 16 levels of resistance.
- Multi-positional hand grips.
This manual treadmill is about as cheap as they come but it’s from the same company as our top choice.
- LCD Console.
- Very lightweight and compact.
- Budget price.
And lastly, if you are looking to extend your home gym workout equipment you might like to check out our guide to foldable rowing machines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a manual treadmill good?
Manual treadmills give you a different form of exercise than you’d get with a regular treadmill. They are more of a resistance type of exercise and they take more effort since you are moving the belt yourself.
Because they need an incline to work, you won’t be able to walk on the flat. This means you’ll be using similar muscle groups to those you’d use to climb stairs.
Manual treadmills do give you a more intense work out than you’d get from going at a similar pace on an automatic treadmill.
But you can set your own pace and they are an excellent way to increase your cardiovascular and muscular fitness.
Can you run on a manual treadmill?
Yes, it is possible to run on a manual treadmill. However, you won’t be able to run in quite the same way as you would with an automatic treadmill. Manual treadmills need an incline to work so you will always be running uphill.
They also take a little more effort to keep the belt running and this means you generally won’t be steady enough to run without holding the sides.
Some of the cheaper ones are really only suitable for walking on, simply because they aren’t sturdy enough. However, with a higher-end machine, you can walk, run, or sprint.
Is a manual treadmill better than automatic?
Manual treadmills aren’t better or worse than an automatic treadmill, they are just different.
Automatic treadmills are great for speed walking or running. They take less physical effort since the belt automatically moves under you, ready for your next step.
Good automatic treadmills are expensive, they will increase your energy bill and they have electrical parts that can easily breakdown. They also require to be used when there is a power supply.
Manual treadmills are cheaper by comparison. There’s no motor to pack up the minute your warranty runs out and no circuit board to go faulty. You don’t an electrical power supply either so you can use one just about anywhere you like.
Manual treadmills are great for building stamina and strength.
How do you maintain a manual treadmill?
Whether you have a manual treadmill or an electrical one you will need to lubricate the belt. The manual treadmills we have looked at in this guide all come with a lubricant included with the product.
It’s very easy to lubricate the belt. You just need to lift the side of the belt up and run a line of lubricant underneath – on top of the deck. Do this on each side (roughly where you walk).
You will need to repeat this roughly every 3 – 4 months. Other than that, manual treadmills are pretty much maintenance-free.
For a related post you may like our, work while you are walking, under desk treadmill guide.