Whether you’re a new runner or an experienced marathoner, there are many reasons you might want to do your training indoors. You might be avoiding the colder weather, or lack enjoyable running routes near you. Understandably, many people have also picked up treadmills to train at home owing to the pandemic this year.
That’s meant treadmill stocks have been low, but rest assured there are still excellent machines available. While you might fancy a huge gym-standard unit, folding treadmills are a much better bet for home users, offering all the features you need while hogging a little less space in your home.
Below you’ll find folding treadmills to suit all abilities and budgets, but first here’s some advice on what to look out for in a machine.
How to choose the best folding treadmill for you
How much do I need to spend?
This will depend greatly on your height – taller users require longer running belts, which tend to come on pricier machines – and your running ability. If you’re going to use the machine for walks and slow jogs, you can get by with a cheaper machine that will cost £200 to £500, while intermediate and advanced runners will need the extra room and higher speeds available on machines that cost at least £500-£1000. If you want a commercial standard machine that wouldn’t look out of place in a gym, then be prepared to spend upwards of £1000.
How much room do I need?
When it comes to space, treadmills are the most greedy home cardio machine, and you’ll need something similar to the area a single bed would take up. Also think about clearance at the back to get on and off the machine, and whether you need room to put a TV in front of it for mid-run entertainment. Folding machines do at least take up less room than non-folding ones when not in use, usually folding up to be taller but shorter, so you can wheel them into a corner or a large cupboard. They’re still not small though – make sure to check both the folded and unfolded dimensions of your machine to see if you have enough space.
What speed and incline do I need?
Ensure your machine is fast enough to satisfy you. You shouldn’t just think about your steady running pace either, as you might benefit from a high top speed to do short intervals on. Gym standard machines usually have a speed range that tops out at around 20-22km/h, while cheaper home machines might max out at 16km/h.
Another way to increase the difficulty without using speed is incline, because ramping up the slope of your treadmill belt quickly makes running very hard indeed. Top machines will offer up to 15% incline, and some specialist treadmills go much higher than that and offer a downhill range too. Cheaper machines will still offer some kind of incline setting, and if you’re getting one just for walking then this will be an important feature to look for.
What other features are important?
The motor is key to the performance of any treadmill, and you want to see a horsepower (HP) of around 2.5 (continuous, rather than peak) if you’re using the machine for running, though walkers can get away with a lower HP. Also look out for preset workouts on the treadmill, which can help vary your training to keep it fresh, and a large console screen to see your stats.
What should I look for in terms of build quality?
It’s tough to judge this from a distance but generally you get what you pay for here. The warranty is important – you want at least a two-year warranty on a treadmill – and it’s worth looking into how hard it is to replace parts as well. The belt of the treadmill might require maintenance too, which won’t be hard but is important to do semi-frequently.
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The best folding treadmills to buy
1. JLL T350 Digital Folding Treadmill: Best folding treadmill for most people
Price: £600 | Buy now from Amazon
The feature set of this folding treadmill is remarkable given its price, with an impressive top speed of 18km/h and 20 levels of incline to ramp up the difficulty of your workouts. The 2.5HP motor is beefy enough to ensure the JLL T350 will run smoothly even when you do hit those max speeds, and there are 20 preset workouts you can use to shake up your training.
You can fold and unfold the machine using the hydraulic arm and it is one of the smaller options on this list when folded. However, that is partly as a result of the fact the running belt is quite short at 143cm, so taller users in particular will find it hard to go beyond jogging pace.
Key specs – Size: 158 x 70 x 128cm (LWH); Folded size: 82 x 70 x 146cm (LWH); Speed range: 0.3-18km/h; Incline range: 20 levels; Motor: 2.5HP continuous, 4.5HP peak
£599.99 Buy now
2. Fit4home Healthmate JK-04: Best folding treadmill for walking
Price: £270 | Buy now from Amazon
The top speed on this machine is just 10km/h and the three levels of incline have to be adjusted manually, which is a bit of a faff, but if you’re looking for a basic and cheap machine for indoor walking then the Fit4home Healthmate JK-04 will do the job, and it folds up to 55 x 60 x 123cm (LWH), making it fairly easy to store.
The motor is rated in watt horsepower rather than horsepower, and it’s actually pretty weak compared to the others on this list, but it will be powerful enough to drive the belt at walking pace smoothly.
Key specs – Size: 125 x 60 x 123cm (LWH); Folded size: 55 x 60 x 123cm (LWH); Speed range: 0-10km/h; Incline range: 3 levels; Motor: 300 watt HP continuous, 500 watt HP peak
£269.99 Buy now
3. JTX Sprint-7: Best folding treadmill under £1,000
Price: £979 |Go to Source