7 treadmills reviewed for your at-home training needs

Whether you're setting up a home gym or simply want to fit in some extra miles in the evenings, investing in a treadmill is a wise choice. However, it's a choice that comes at significant cost, so we've reviewed the top home-use treadmills and narrowed them down to the very best for all your training needs.

Before you buy, be sure you have room in your home. Here are five common pitfalls to avoid.

Wiring: Do you have the right electrical requirements? We recommend a dedicated circuit. Every model will respond better if it has more power.

Safe space: Make sure you have 2-3ft clear behind you – you need room to fall off the treadmill. The safety key doesn’t stop you falling off; it stops the belt. Most major injuries come from falling back on a moving treadmill.

Max headroom: Make sure you have plenty of clearance and bear in mind that some models have high platforms. Have somebody measure you in the showroom at your maximum incline.

Sight lines: If you plan to watch TV, be sure you can look over the console at the TV. You’ll run in the direction your head is facing; if it’s turned to face a TV, you will run off your treadmill.

Housekeeping: Put it where you can clean underneath. Static charges will shorten the lifespan of the belt, so put it on a rubber surface, not carpet. And clean underneath it every six months – use a towel under the belt, too, to clear out debris.

Related: 3 benefits of treadmill training

NordicTrack C990

£1149, Fitness Superstore

Best for: Treadmill investers on a tight budget.

The good: While treadmills under £1,500 may be good for walking, they often become a little unpredictable under the stress of running. But the orange shock absorbers on the C990 can, with just a half-turn of each shock, go from a soft surface ideal for walking and easy jogging to road-like hard when you want to run fast. It’s a solid treadmill with a lot of options and settings to choose from, including an 18cm web-enabled touchscreen that can access the company’s iFit platform. Wish you were running in South Africa? Hong Kong? If Google Street View has mapped it, you can virtually run it, and the machine will automatically adjust its incline to match the terrain.

The gripe: Because of the 51cm-wide belt, most testers felt a little cramped and had to focus to stay centred on the machine.

Running surface: 51cm x 152cm

Maximum speed: 19kph

Maximum incline: 12%

Programmes: 32

Motor: 3.0 HP

NordicTrack Commercial 2950

£2999, NordicTrack

Best for: A household of runners – of all sizes.

The good: Our testers loved all the bells and whistles on this reasonably priced treadmill. ‘Tours! TV! Fans!’ one said. ‘I love it – I would use this all the time.’ (She was very excited.) In addition to the same kind of iFit programming found on the C990, but with a larger (25cm) screen, this treadmill’s console can be raised or lowered with the push of a button to comfortably suit runners of any height. Twist a handle and you can also adjust the cushioning, from springy to pavement-firm. All our testers loved the three fans – especially the low-mounted one pointed at your chest and stomach – and the machine’s ability to dip to a three per cent decline for downhill intervals.

The gripe: The machine’s touchscreen sometimes needed pressing several times for some functions to work, a little frustrating when you’re running.

Running surface: 56cm x 152cm

Maximum speed: 19kph

Maximum incline: 15%

Maximum decline: 3%

Programmes: 40

Motor: 4.25 HP

Landice L9 Cardio

£8,650, Executive Leisure and Fitness

Best for: Houses with sleeping babies.

The good: ‘This thing focuses on what’s important: the feel of the run,’ said one tester. It proved to be the quietest machine we tested, and the thick, four-ply belt made for ninja-like footfalls. The L9 is also quick to respond to speed and incline changes; runners were pleasantly surprised at how rapidly it reacted to big variations when doing intervals. They also liked that the display flashes until the belt reaches its destination, so you know when you’ve reached your desired speed or slope. Unlike other machines, the L9 lets you hit top speed and incline at the same time – a combo that would tax even the world’s best mountain runners. Our test model came with a ‘cardio console’ (four setups are available), which prioritises heart-rate-based training programmes.

The gripe: The tiny fan is poor. You have to stand right above the console to even feel it.

Running surface: 56cm x 160cm

Maximum speed: 19kph

Maximum incline: 15%

Programmes: 20

Motor: 4.0 HP

Woodway Curve Trainer

£6,530, Woodway

Best for: Working on proper form.

The good: We’ve long been big fans of Woodway’s slatted running surface, which delivers a realistic ground feel and is non-motorised. Not familiar with the concept? There’s no assistance from electricity with this one – you move the belt by the force of your own gait, which means your body is responsible for controlling the speed.

The only electronics are on the dashboard display. On the previous version it was difficult to change gears smoothly; its steep arc forced you to speed up and slow down quickly, making it best for intervals. The new Curve Trainer has a shallower lift at the ends, making it much easier to control, and better for longer, steady-paced jogs.

The gripe: Without guidance, testers found it taxing and often gave up after a mile or so. Form is key – you have to lean slightly and engage your posterior chain.

Running surface: 43cm x 150cm

Maximum speed: N/A

Maximum incline None

Programmes: None

Motor: None

True Fitness Alpine Runner

£8,750, Fitness Systems

Best for: Trail and mountain runners.

The good: This is a fell runner’s dream machine. The obvious reason to buy it is because it tops out at a monstrous 30 per cent incline, but all our testers were also wowed by its rock-solid build: the 272kg frame doesn’t wobble a bit, whether on the level or fully raised. The incline motor cranks out enough power to travel from one extreme to the other in as little time as machines with half the incline capability, and does so smoothly. Our test model came with the Transcend 16 touchscreen console with a built-in HDTV tuner and a plethora of workouts, including climbs up famous monuments such as the Eiffel Tower (324m) and the 192m Gateway Arch in St Louis, US.

The gripe: With the deck at 30 per cent, your feet will be nearly level with the console and your head will be in the rafters – your ceilings will need to be at least three metres high.

Running surface: 56cm x 152cm

Maximum speed: 19kph

Maximum incline: 30%

Maximum decline: 3%

Programmes: 38

Motor: 4.0 HP

TrueForm Runner

£5,435, Bulldog Gear

Best for: Competitive runners and hardcore track racers.

The good: The TrueForm Runner looks much like the Woodway Curve (p94), and is powered the same way: you are the motor that drives the belt by engaging your backside muscles. It’s hand-built, with a very solid frame and realistic running surface that lasts far longer than a typical treadmill belt. Plus, with no motor or electrical components, there are fewer parts to break down over the life of the machine. We loved the fact that it comes available in different run surfaces depending on your needs. Our test model had a running-track surface, which allowed testers to train in spikes for a mile race, but it’s also available with a rubberized belt or a turf surface (football and rugby players can warm up in their studs).

The gripe: Testers found the 43cm-wide running surface too narrow; they had to concentrate to stay centred on the belt.

Running surface: 43cm x 163cm

Maximum speed: N/A

Maximum incline: None

Programmes: None

Motor: None 

LifeFitness Platinum Club

£9,995, LifeFitness

Best for: Keeping you entertained while you work out.

The good: This health club-quality treadmill is a serious investment but because it weighs a ton it won’t shake no matter how hard you’re stomping – it’s built to be used by runners weighing up to 29st. The Discover SE3 console is just as impressive in size (48cm), and features cool interactive courses – you can chase virtual runners in exotic locations such as Monterey, California, and also stream Netflix if you fancy catching up with a box set while training. Our testers were also impressed with the hands-free heart-rate function (it pairs with a Polar chest strap, which is provided).

The gripe: As we said, it’s massive. Unless you have a few weightlifter friends and are willing to spend many hours screwing in many small bolts, we advise paying extra for the professional delivery and proper installation.

Running surface: 56cm x 152cm

Maximum speed: 19kph

Maximum incline: 15%

Programmes: 42

Motor: 4.0 HP