What Is a Manual Treadmill? Our Guide to Running in a Fun New Way


Motorised treadmills or long outdoor trails will likely come to mind when you think about running. Sure, these have been common ways to complete the on-foot workout for ages. However, they have an upcoming competitor! The manual treadmill is an increasingly popular way to run indoors without many of the drawbacks of a treadmill.

So, is a manual treadmill precisely what it sounds like? We’re here to answer your question and explore what exactly a manual treadmill is!

What Is a Manual Treadmill?



What is a manual treadmill?

The manual treadmill is a piece of indoor exercise equipment. It is built in a similar manner to the typical treadmill, using a belt, support bars, and often a high platform to see your running data and to hold water bottles or electronic appliances.

To move the belt on a manual treadmill, you need to keep running. You are in total control of the belt, including how fast it moves.

Some manual treadmills are flat, but many are curved. This allows the body to mimic a more natural stride.

You can use this kind of treadmill to walk or run. It’s also easy to go back and forth between the two, as you won’t need to spend time changing the speed functions on the machine!


What are the health benefits of a manual treadmill?

Running on a manual treadmill has a variety of health benefits. One of the most notable is that it helps you build your speed. Going from a walk to a run enables you to practice picking up speed, allowing you to hit a fast run gradually.

Since your muscles are powering your speed rather than a motor, there are also significant muscle gains that are often found with running on a manual treadmill.

Running, in general, can do amazing things for your health and your body. This is no different when using a manual machine to do the running. These benefits include:

  • You can strengthen your muscles
  • Weight loss is facilitated
  • You will be able to burn more fat
  • Your cardiovascular fitness will improve
  • Your bones will get stronger

Some may choose to buy a manual machine for walking. Walking has many of the same benefits as running. Additionally, walking is often easier and more low impact than running, which makes it more accessible.




What are the main differences between a manual and a regular treadmill?

Motorised treadmills use a motor that makes the belt move. You then must keep up with the motor, running at an appropriate speed that you set the piece of equipment to.

The motorised treadmill does allow you to set your speed and incline, forcing your body to stick with it. This can be good for runners or walkers who like to push themselves. Comparatively, manual treadmills can only go as fast as you want them to in the moment.

Using a manual machine for running can be better for practising for competitive racing. Since the speed is under your control, your body will get used to speeding up or slowing down based on your conditions, just like you’ll need to do in a race. This also helps you build on the mental aspect of running.

Manual options lack a bulky motor, making the product lighter and more comfortable to store. You also don’t have to worry about placing it near an electrical outlet!

The flat manual treadmills are often cheaper than motorised treadmills. Curved manual treadmills are, unfortunately, often quite pricey, even when compared to motorised options.

Some of the main reasons why people may choose a manual treadmill over a motorised treadmill include:

  • It helps you set your own pace.
  • It allows you to speed up faster, mimicking racing conditions.
  • You don’t need to use electricity.

Some of the downsides to choosing a manual option over a motorised treadmill include:

  • You can’t follow pre-set runs.
  • You can’t increase the include like you can with motorised treadmills.

Are manual treadmills safe?

Manual treadmills can be safer than motorised treadmills. The stride pattern that you run or walk in on a manual option tends to be more natural, therefore reducing the impact that you’re putting on your joints.

There is a downside to the manual version of a treadmill when it comes to joint health, though. Many may find getting your stride going to be far more difficult on a manual exercise machine. This is especially true if you aren’t used to it.

A common fear when running on a motorised treadmill is the risk that you may fall off mid-run, as the belt may hurt you. Manual treadmills only move when you do. So, if you fall, you don’t have to worry about a fast belt making your injuries worse.


Can motorised treadmills become manual?

There are some hybrid models out there that allow you to use both manual and motorised options. You must disengage the belt to use the manual option.

Trying to make a regular motorised treadmill move without using the motor can be incredibly difficult. It could potentially harm your treadmill, so if you want a manual machine, then you will need to find one that’s meant for manual running!




Not all gyms carry the manual version of treadmills. So, it can be hard for runners and walkers to be introduced to the handy little pieces of equipment. They have incredible health benefits, as well as some practical ones, too.

We hope that our guide to manual treadmills has not only helped you learn what the product is, but has also given you the inspiration that you need to try one out for yourself!