Self-Propelling Treadmills (Beginners Guide)

Many manual activities have been technologically innovated to fit a person’s lifestyle and convenience. A self-propelling treadmill is an example of such. In this article, will show you everything you need to know about self-propelling treadmills.

What is a Self-propelling Treadmill?

A self-propelling treadmill is a non-motorized treadmill where the user pushes their body weight rather than an electric motor. It allows you to walk or run with a natural stride while simultaneously powering the belt. It provides several advantages over a standard treadmill.

These treadmills have electronic, battery-powered screens. These screens track your speed and calories expended; however, they are less advanced than a motorized treadmill. Some even can save interval exercises or personalized routines just for you!

The motion of your feet against the surface moves the belt on a self-propelling treadmill. A self-propelling treadmill requires more work from both runners and walkers than a motorized treadmill. As a result, users may get their heart rates into a higher zone at a lesser speed, which offers fitness benefits.

Due to their less durable structure, most self-propelling treadmills are unsuitable for runners. However, a flat-belt or curved-belt variant may suffice for walkers who want a more intense workout at a slower pace. It depends on your preference!

How Does a Curved Treadmill Work?

The mechanical secret of curved treadmills is gravity, friction, and force exploration while running. The foot and body weight pull the tread down and back during the downstroke backward.

As a result, the experience of support differs from that of other non-motorized treadmill options or running on the ground.

This is because the point of contact is significantly ahead of the center of mass. They are sufficient to unload the body with vertical ground reaction forces slightly. Athletes may benefit from running on the curve to reduce the stress on their legs caused by ground reaction forces.

Measuring forces on them is a complex process. Because force plates are typically large and flat, you will have a hard time. It is due to the unique design of curved treadmills.

Self-propelling Treadmill Advantages

Using a self-propelling treadmill has some advantages, especially for walkers, despite the additional effort involved. Many people prefer these devices to powered treadmills since they are portable, energy-free, and often less expensive. That means they’ll be less costly to repair if they break down.

It does not need electricity.

One of its best characteristics is there’s no need for electricity. You can use a self-propelling treadmill anywhere and anytime. In addition, you no longer require the treadmill to be near an electrical outlet.

Best for intense training.

Athletic trainers utilize self-propelling treadmills in high-intensity interval training that alternate between high and moderate intensity.  Many professional sports teams use these for training and sprint intervals on the self-propelling treadmill.  So if you are an athlete, this will suit you best!

Self-propelling treadmills are safe.

A non-motorized treadmill stops when you stop. So, unlike a motorized treadmill, you don’t need to wear a safety cord to stop it if you slip and fall. It makes it a little safer to use around kids and dogs.

You are in control.

You generate all of the motive power and work out your lower body when you’re muscle-powered. As a result, you will most likely burn more calories per mile. Rather than trying to keep up with a moving belt, you control the speed by exerting tremendous effort.

Self-propelling Treadmill Disadvantages

Manual treadmills have benefits such as safety and portability, but it also has disadvantages, particularly for runners. The downsides of these treadmills may lead you to seek out motorized ones, depending on your needs.

It’s difficult to adjust the incline.

You can adjust the self-propelling treadmill only by getting off the incline. To modify the rise, you’d have to stop and get off the belt once it’s moving. There is a limit during each session, to one incline level, which is frequently a steep gradient of 10%.

It is inconvenient sometimes.

Because of the gradient, many users report they have to hold on to the handles. It disrupts ideal walking and running form and possibly affects calorie burn. The reason behind this is you can adjust the slope by putting your feet further forward or closer to the middle of the belt.

It can cause joint strains.

Getting the treadmill belt moving might be difficult at first. Stressing your joints by squeezing against the belt is not a good idea. Also, it could be a problem if you have arthritis in your knees or hips.

To make it easy to get the belt moving on a self-propelling treadmill, you may need to increase the slope slightly. But, of course, you’ll be walking uphill after that, which may not be what you want for your workout. Just make a few adjustments to fit your needs.

No access to built-in workouts, applications, or other features.

To change your routine, you’ll need to use other resources like apps and online treadmill workout plans. Most include a simple battery-powered display with workout data such as elapsed time, distance, calories burned, speed, and a pulse sensor.

Self-propelling treadmills are less durable in general.

Self-propelling treadmills are less durable in general as evidenced by the user weight limits. They also appear to have more problems, such as noise and belt slippage. Check the user weight restriction for any model to see how durable it is.

Before we dive into the difference between a self-propelling and a motorized treadmill, we must know what a motorized treadmill is.

What is a Motorized Treadmill?

The user does not have to exert any effort to start the motorized treadmill. The motorized treadmill has a lot more fitness functions to offer, including engaging and intriguing workouts. Motorized treadmills are more stable than non-motorized treadmills with flat belts.

The treadmill motor moves the belt for the user at an electronically regulated rate. Because of that, the motorized treadmill can keep up with the pace of running and walking. The downside is, you can’t control it.

The horsepower of the motor is one of the most crucial indicators of the machine’s operation quality. It should have at least 1.5 continuous horsepower. For more prominent users and higher speeds, a larger motor is required.

Self-propelling Treadmill vs. Motorized Treadmill

The self-propelling treadmill provides a more rigorous workout and burns significantly more calories than the powered treadmill. The motorized tread aids in enjoyable training by including a variety of functions in its console.

On a self-propelling treadmill, a user must exert more effort throughout a workout. Keep that in mind even though most motorized treadmills have superior design and functionality. Because motorized treadmills are too expensive to use at home, they are typically seen at well-equipped gyms.

The self-propelling treadmill, on the other hand, is less expensive. So you can use it at home for continuous training. But because it is large, non-foldable, and durable, it takes up many storage spaces.

The lighter-weight athletes and runners had to work significantly harder to overcome the treadmill belt’s resistance. Because of their less-rugged construction, most flat-belt manual treadmills are unsuitable for runners.

Things to Consider in Purchasing a Self-propelling Treadmill

Purchase a high-quality pre-owned treadmill.

Buying a higher-quality second-hand treadmill will give you the best value for your money. But, unfortunately, many folks sell their gently used treadmills. It usually happens when their New Year’s resolutions have worn off or when they need to get some exercise.

In the summer, look for fantastic prices from private vendors. You might be able to find commercial-grade old treadmills for sale at gyms that are upgrading their equipment. Examine the evaluations of models you’re interested in.

In this way, you can discover how well they’ve held up in the hands of previous owners. Inquire about the seller’s experience with the treadmill. You may ask how long they’ve had it, how often they’ve used it, and whether they’ve completed routine treadmill maintenance.

Consider the costs of setup and delivery.

The treadmill’s delivery and setup are essential factors to consider. It may be available at an additional cost with new treadmills. In addition, it can be challenging to get these devices upstairs because they can weigh over 100 pounds.

If you’re buying a used machine, you’ll probably have to do it yourself if shipping fees are not included in the purchase price. Because of that, it can be pretty hefty.

Now that you are fully aware of the things you must know in buying a self-propelling treadmill. Next, it’s time for you to understand what treadmills are ideal to buy.

Top 3 Best Self-Propelling Treadmills

1. SpeedFit Treadmill Speedboard Pro XL

The 1766-inch curved surface of the SpeedFit Speedboard Pro XL sustains up to 400 pounds running and 800 pounds walking. So it would be suitable for all types of runners. The tread belt system is for the cushion shock.

On the belt, there are 56 individual strips, each with a 38-inch cushion. It protects joints by cushioning them and lowering the chance of injury. In addition, it has 5,000 pre-installed workouts that you can switch between for variation.

It’s also constructed with lots of room for a person to run freely and at full stride. However, this treadmill is 256 pounds in weight. So it may be challenging for one person to move this treadmill by themselves despite the wheels that can assist.

2. Assault Fitness AssaultRunner

Assault Fitness is a fitness program that focuses on assault that can hold up to 350 pounds of weight. It doesn’t have a maximum speed; it all depends on how much power you put into it. The slat belt running surface has a rating of 150,000 miles of use.

There is a cushion to provide impact absorption. It will make your joints better protected than they would be on the road when you use this treadmill. In addition, the tension on the belt does not need to be set or maintained for hours. It’s also textured to make it look like you’re running down the street.

While jogging, the LCD console panel displays your time, distance, calories burned, and pace. You can utilize one of the built-in interval programs to base your workouts on this data. Bluetooth and ANT connectivity is available on the treadmill.

3. CT700 SB Fitness Equipment Self-Generated Curved Treadmill

This treadmill allows you to stroll at a moderate pace or sprint at high speeds. It contains stainless steel high-speed bearings that will enable the belt to move silently and smoothly without any bumps or problems. The running surface measures 66.6 by 19 inches; even tall runners should take a complete stride.

The anti-skid rubber on the running surface is another safety element. The raised rubber cushions minimize shock and vibration from your footfalls, making speed work safer. The thickness of each nylon slat on the surface is 0.75 inches.

You can choose from eight different degrees of magnetic resistance to improve the intensity of your workout. The treadmill’s feet are also adjustable, allowing you to level it out on any surface for maximum safety. It can support persons weighing up to 475 pounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to buy?

You can find the best bargains on new treadmills in January. It is when retailers take advantage of New Year’s resolutions to get in shape. January is also when the best selection is available.

Close-out sales on models that are still available may start in June. If you plan to use the treadmill in a particular way, it’s a good idea to discuss this with the dealer.

Dealers can help you figure out what you need in terms of skills and personality. Keep in mind that most treadmills sell for substantially less than their manufacturer’s suggested retail price all year. That’s for you to keep an eye out for bargains.

Who is suitable to use a self-propelling treadmill?

The self-propelling treadmill is a fun, quick way for anyone to challenge themselves and add variety to their fitness routine. Runners who want to avoid the elements have an indoor option. It allows them to run more naturally and get a better workout faster than a traditional machine.

Unlike self-propelling treadmills with predetermined speed limits, a motorized treadmill allows elite athletes to give their maximum personal exertion.

However, these treadmills are not suitable for acceleration exercises or short-distance sprints—the reason why is because of the machine’s curved nature and the resistance provided by the belt.

Athletes should use the curved treadmill for supplemental conditioning rather than top speed development or running mechanics. This is because acceleration is such an essential aspect of sports performance. That’s why it’s so important to assess yourself first.


We have tackled what a self-propelling treadmill is and its advantages and disadvantages. We have identified what a motorized treadmill is to know its difference from the self-propelling treadmill.

We discussed the top three best self-propelling treadmills, the things to remember when purchasing one, and the frequently asked questions.

Coach Brian
My name’s Brian and I created to help people run far. After conquering marathons and ultramarathons, I became a running coach to help others achieve their running goals! We help people run far. By using this website, you can spend less time searching the Internet and being overwhelmed with information and more time doing the one thing you want to do: become a better runner.

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