Manual Treadmill vs Electric Treadmill – Which One is Better?

There are two basic types of treadmills: electric and manual. The type of treadmill you choose will affect your workout. A manual treadmill requires more effort, but motorized treadmills are usually better built and have better features.

There is a wide variety of treadmills beyond these two basic treadmills. Electric treadmills are popular with home treadmill buyers because of their attractive features, while manual treadmills are popular due to their ease of use. What is the best treadmill for you?

In this article, we have provided detailed information on the differences between manual treadmill and electric treadmill that helps you make informed decisions.

What is a manual treadmill?

The belt is moved by your feet hitting the deck on a manual treadmill, and the belt moves only when you move it. On a curved belt non-motorized treadmill, both runners and walkers exert more effort than on a motorized treadmill. Users can reach a higher heart rate zone at a lower speed, which is beneficial for fitness.

On a manual treadmill, subjects used 30% more energy at the same speed than on an automatic treadmill. However, they preferred to run or walk slowly to maintain their exertion.

Advantages of a manual treadmill

Greater energy exertion

You have to work more muscles when using a manual treadmill, as you are the one powering it. You will burn more calories more quickly when you are the battery, as your exertion level will be higher than on an electric belt.

Increased safety

Safety keys are required for electric belt treadmills to stop the belt from moving if the connection between the key and the treadmill is disrupted.

On the other hand, a manual treadmill won’t cause you any problems, as it will stop as soon as you stop moving.

Easy HIIT workouts

With manual treadmills with curved belts, you can easily do HIIT exercises. You can alter the level of exertion by varying your effort and where you run on the belt. Flat-belt treadmills aren’t designed for intense workouts, so they aren’t the best choice.

No electrical plugs

The advantage of a manual treadmill is that you no longer have to tie your treadmill to where you are most convenient. Instead, you can use a manual treadmill anywhere, as batteries power the display.

Flat-belt manual treadmills are inexpensive

The price of flat-belt treadmills can be as low as $100, making them highly accessible. Even the expensive manual treadmills cost a maximum of $500, which is less than the basic price of the electric treadmills.

Disadvantages of manual treadmill 

Inclination Change is Difficult

Only a flat-belt manual treadmill can be adjusted for incline. Changing the incline would require you to stop and get off once the belt moves. During each workout, you are restricted to a single incline level, and that incline level is often quite steep, about 10%.

The incline forces users to hold on to the handles, which causes poor walking and running. The calorie burn is also likely to be reduced. As your feet can be moved farther forward or toward the belt’s middle, a curved-beam manual treadmill does not have this drawback.

Stress on the Joints

At first, treadmill belts can be challenging to move, especially those with flat belts. Exercising in such conditions can be damaging to your joints.

Arthritis in the knees or hips can make this more difficult. You may have to raise the incline significantly to get the belt moving easily on a flat-belt manual treadmill. As soon as you do that, you are walking uphill, which may not be your preferred exercise method.

No Features

Fitness apps, workouts, and other features will not be included. To vary your treadmill workouts, you will need to use other resources, like apps and online workout plans.

Many fitness trackers use a simple battery-powered display that displays workout details like time, distance, calories burned, and speed. 

It is less sturdy

As you can see from the user weight limits, flat-belt manual treadmills generally have less sturdy construction. Their belt slippage and noise problems also appear to be more prevalent.

To determine how durable a model may be, check the user weight limit. The quality and durability of curved-belt manual treadmills are higher.

What is an electric treadmill?

As the name suggests, motorized treadmills are fitted with electric motors that automatically move the treadmill belt.

A machine’s quality is determined mainly by the horsepower of its motor. For optimum quality, look for continuous horsepower (CHP) of at least 1.5. Larger motors are required for heavier users or higher speeds.

Advantages of electric treadmill

No Strain

Motors move Belts, so you don’t have to exert effort when starting one.

Incline and speed adjustment during workout

Most motorized treadmills allow you to adjust the incline while walking or running. Some models also simulate running and walking over ground with a decline feature.

More workout features

More and more workout features are built into treadmill consoles, regardless of the price point. Apps are often used to provide fun and interesting workouts. Programs are usually used to prepare you for completing various distances, such as a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon.

Suitable for longer training sessions

Manual treadmills are generally used for short workouts, while motorized treadmills are great for long endurance sessions.

Running and walking

The treadmill belt length and motor power can be adjusted to accommodate runners and walkers alike. Since these machines carry more weight, they are more stable than non-motorized flat-belt treadmills.

Disadvantages of electric treadmill

Electricity needed

You must install it near an electrical outlet, and a commercial treadmill may even require a higher voltage.


Motorized treadmills can pose a safety risk. Getting thrown off the back of one is easier if you are distracted or stumble. In case of a fall, a safety cord must be worn.


Motorized treadmills are more expensive than manual treadmills with flat belts for home use. A good quality electric treadmill should cost at least $1,000, and low-priced models are usually less durable, have less power, and have fewer options.


While treadmills can be great cardio machines, make sure you get the right one for you. Learn what features you prefer by using various treadmills at the gym.

Manual treadmills are budget-friendly and save electricity, while electric treadmills come with the most advanced features that help you customize your workout. So, depending on your needs, choose the treadmill wisely.

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