Manual vs Automatic Treadmill: Which is Best?

Treadmill is one great invention for fitness enthusiasts and weight watchers as it helps you get fit without leaving the comfort of your home.

There are two basic varieties of treadmills – Motorized and Non-Motorised (Manual).

Both the treadmill types have their own set of pros and cons, but the automatic treadmills have an upper hand in terms of better features and construction.

Let us look into more details about the two types of treadmills in this article.

Manual Treadmills

As the name suggests, the manual or non-motorized treadmill comes with a belt without any motor to rotate it.

So, the belt moves only if you move or run by stepping on it.

And, as a result, you’ll have to expend more effort on a non-electric treadmill when compared to electric running machine.

Powermax Manual Treadmills in India
A 4-in-1 manual treadmill with jogger, stepper, pushup bar and twister

You’ll experience elevated heart rates, even at a lower speed, thus making them best for weight loss results.

One study compared the curved belt treadmill with a motorised treadmill and outside running. They found that runners had experienced more than 20 beats per minute while on a manual machine compared to an automatic machine as they need to put more efforts to overcome the resistance of the treadmill belt.

Flat-belt manual treadmills are good for walkers but runners will find the curved-belt treadmills better due to their rugged construction.

Best Manual Treadmill in IndiaPowermax Fitness MFT-410; 4 in 1 (Jogger, Stepper, Twister and Pushup Bar)

Benefits of Manual Treadmills

  • Powered by Muscle – Since there is no motor to power the treadmill, you’ll have to expel your muscle power (lower body) in order to make the belt move. So, there is a lot of scope for burning more calories per mile.
  • Having Control – Unlike with the automatic machines, you’ll have the full control on the speed of the belt.
  • HIIT Workouts – Curved-blet manual treadmills provide a very high intensity interval workout for athletic trainers or sports persons. But, avoid HIIT on a flat-belt machine.
  • No Power Bills – A manual treadmill can be used anywhere without the need of an electrical outlet and hence there will be no power bills.
  • Safety – The automatic treadmill comes with a safety cord in case if you slip from it. However, there is little chance of getting hurt. Whereas, a non-motorised treadmill stops immediately when you stop walking or running. So, it is completely safe, especially if you have children or pets around.
  • Cost – If you’re a regular walker with occasional running, then you’ll be good with flat-belt machine, which is very less expensive compared to curved-belt machines.

Drawbacks of Manual Treadmills

  • Stress on the Joints – Initially, it would be a little difficult to get the treadmill belt moving, especially if you’ve a flat-belt model. So, if you have knee or hip issues, then you may have to increase the incline to keep the belt moving. However, this doesn’t suit everyone.
  • Only Manual Inclination – You need to get off the machine in the middle of your walk/run and manually adjust the incline, which is frustrating. This is not the case of curved-belt treadmills.
  • No or Less Features – The manual treadmills does not offer many features like the built-in workout programs or auto incline etc… Most machines come with an LCD display that shows just the basic stats like elapsed time, distance, calories and speed.
  • Not Very Sturdy – Flat-belt manual treadmills are less sturdy when compared with curved-belt models. They also have shorter belts with shorter running strides.
  • Just Walk, Don’t Run – The flat-belt models are not suitable for heavy running and you may have to choose the curved-belt models, which are a bit pricey.
  • Boring – Since there are no built-in workout programs, these manual treadmills become boring after using them for a while.

Automatic/Motorised Treadmills

Unlike the manual models, there will be an electric motor that sets the belt moving continuously at preset speeds.

You can increase or decrease the speed or inclination of the belt right on the dashboard using the buttons.

There will also be multiple workout programs to increase your strength and to make it less boring.

Powermax Automatic Treadmills in India
A motorized treadmill with 2HP motor, mp3 and iPad support

You’ll have to consider at least 1.5 CHP (continuous horsepower) motor for basic running. For heavier users and for higher speeds, you can get a bigger motor.

Best Motorized Treadmill in IndiaPowerMax Fitness TDM-101 with 2HP Motor

Benefits of Motorized Treadmills

  • No Strain – There is absolutely no strain on your joints to start or move the running belt as it is powered by the motor and will start automatically with the click of a button.
  • Automatic Speed & Incline – You can adjust the speed levels or inclination while you’re still walking or running on the machine with just a single button. So, you don’t have to get off during your workout to change the settings.
  • Walk or Run – You can find models that come with longer belts with longer running strides. So, if you have long legs, then you can choose those models.
  • Longer Training Sessions – You can run on a motorised treadmill continuously for longer periods but that won’t be the case with manual models.
  • More Built-in Workouts – Most automatic treadmills come equipped with built-in programs to make your workouts hard and enjoyable. You can train for different maratons such as 5k, 10k, half marathon and even HIIT workouts.

Drawbacks of Motorized Treadmills

  • Runs only on Electricity – The automatic running machines require electrical outlet to function and higher voltage too. So, if there is no power while you wanted to workout, then you may have to skip the exercise for the day.
  • Safety – It is easier to fall in case if you’re little distracted while running on the machine. You should always wear the safety cord that shuts off the machine in case of any fall.
  • Cost – The motorised treadmills for home use usually start from Rs.20,000 price range and go higher based on the features, built quality and brand value. The higher the number of features, the higher the price would be.

Final Word:

Both the manual treadmills and automatic treadmills have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. But, if you want to choose between the two, then the motorised treadmills are always better as they’re more interesting to use and come with advanced features like pulse rate, built-in workout programs, auto inclination, sturdy build quality, audio speakers etc…

So, choose the treadmill type according to your personal interests and budget preferences.