How Much Horsepower Does a Treadmill Need for Walking and Running?

The treadmill is a popular piece of exercise equipment in homes and gyms. People use it for walking, jogging, and running because it provides a low-impact workout that can be sustained over time. But how much horsepower does the treadmill need for walking and running?

A treadmill needs at least 1.5 horsepower for walking and 2.5 horsepower for running. Generally, high powered treadmills tend to be more stable and constant. Therefore, it’s best to pick more powerful treadmills if you’re heavy or intend to have intense workouts.

This blog post will review the minimum power output needed to run or walk on a treadmill. Read on for fascinating insights into these aspects and the pros and cons of using high-horsepower machines.

Or just find the fastest treadmill for home use here.

The Horsepower a Treadmill Needs to Function

A treadmill needs at least 1.5 continuous horsepower (CHP) to function. 

The treadmill’s base is typically equipped with either a driving belt or rollers that provide the power for moving the user’s feet. In both situations, momentum helps to keep the wheels going. Typically 1.5 to 2.5 horsepower (hp) will do, but you’ll be happier with more power because it translates into less wear on your machine and more comfort for you.

Haven’t bought a treadmill yet? Motor power is important but not the only deciding factor. Click here to find a complete guide on how to select the right treadmill for you.

The amount of power needed for walking and jogging is lower than that required for running. Assuming you’re a male weighing 199.8 lbs (90.6 kg), you’ll need about 1.6 hp to walk at a speed of three miles per hour on a 1% incline.

Conversely, if you’re a female weighing 170.8 lbs (77.47 kg), you need about 1.4 hp to achieve the same speed at a 1% incline.

Similarly, a male weighing 199.8 lbs (90.6 kg) would need 2.7 hp to run at a speed of five miles per hour (8.05 kph) on a 1% incline. In contrast, a female weighing 170.8 lbs (77.47 kg) would need 2.3 hp to achieve the same goal.

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Horsepower for Walking on a Treadmill

You need a minimum of 1.5 hp to walk on a treadmill. 

Generally, walking on a treadmill requires less power than running. However, the amount varies based on individual factors such as weight and speed, so it’s critical to consider these factors when estimating the amount of power you need.

So, how did I arrive at these values?

According to the CDC, the average weight for American males over 20 years old is 199.8 lbs (90.6 kg) while that of females over 20 is 170.8 lbs (77.47 kg).

If both set their treadmills at the 1% inclines, the value recommended by healthcare experts, and run at a speed of 3 mph (80.46 m/min), which is within the recommended 2 mph – 4 mph (53.6 m/min – 107.29 m/min) range, we’ll need to use this math discussion forum to estimate the amount of power they need.

In the male adult’s case, the calculations would be as follows:

  • Weight = 199.8 lbs (90.6 kg.)
  • Speed = 3 mph (80 m/min)
  • Incline = 1%
  • Time = 25 minutes per session, based on the minimum recommended 150 minutes per week. (This assumes you’ll be on the treadmill six days a week.)
  • Distance travelled = speed * time * incline = 80*25 *0.01 = 20 m (0.012 miles)
  • Work done = Weight * distance = 90.6*20 = 1812 kgm
  • Power = 72.48
  • Horsepower = 72.48 *0.0224 = 1.6 hp

If you use the weight of the female adult (convert it to kilograms first), you will get about 1.4hp. The average of the two is about 1.5 hp.

That said, walking on steeper inclines requires more energy because the force that gravity applies becomes greater with increased elevation difference between foot-contact points and machine surface level.

Therefore, if you are interested in how much horsepower your treadmill should remember: the higher your speed, the faster you’ll need to ramp up those watts!

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Horsepower for Running on a Treadmill

A tread treadmill needs a minimum of 2.5 hp to meet the requirements for running. If we change the running speed to 5 mph (134 m/min), the male would need about 2.7 hp (all other factors constant), to run on the treadmill, while the female would require about 2.3 hp.

Tip: Researchers point out that exercising at steeper inclines tends to boost the heart rate. However, you should consult your doctor or a professional trainer before increasing your treadmill’s grade level to avoid overworking yourself.

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16935254 – woman adjusts the treadmill at the beginning of training, do fitness in the sport club

Why Horsepower Matters For a Treadmill

What is horsepower? The term horsepower refers to a unit of measurement for power, as in energy and work over time (P=E*t).

Generally, treadmill motor energy is classified into three groups:

  • Peak duty: This is the highest power requirement a treadmill motor will need to produce.
  • Treadmill duty: This is the power required to sustain a constant speed on flat ground. It usually lies between peak and continuous duty.
  • Continuous duty: This is the highest power rating, and is the amount of power a treadmill maintains throughout a workout session.

The amount of power that the treadmill can produce will affect the intensity of your workout routine. The more horsepower, the more demanding it will be.

You should also keep in mind that if you have a lot of weight to lose, a 1.5 hp machine might not work well for you either since they are typically geared towards someone who weighs less.

Besides horsepower, you may want to consider your treadmill’s speed range as well when deciding on which one to buy. Some models only operate at two speeds, either slow or fast. 

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In contrast, other models allow for more levels like normal and fast-slow.

In a nutshell, horsepower is crucial because it determines how fast and smoothly the belt moves under your feet. A treadmill with a higher horsepower motor can provide a more consistent pace, regardless of incline or speed changes.

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How To Determine the Amount of Horsepower You Need

To find out how much horsepower you need for your treadmill, it is crucial to know the task at hand.

You should consider what type of activity will be performed on the machine- walking or running. This will also help determine what features are necessary and if a belt size needs to change as well as things like maximum incline angle and deck length.

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Walking requires more than half of an individual’s body weight in horsepower. In contrast, running only needs about one-third of their body weight in horsepower. This is because running uses less energy per footstep due to its quicker cadence, so this needs to be considered when looking at the recommended horsepower.

If you like HIIT type training, a treadmill that has a bit more power is a good idea since it helps accellerate the belt faster at the start of the high interval. A good interval timer is going to make HIIT workouts much more enjoyable. Check out the GymNext Flex timer. It’s super easy to set up and control contrary to most other interval timers making the set up for any workout a breeze.

The Benefits of Low-Horsepower Treadmills

A low-horsepower treadmill is an ideal choice for those who want to start a walking or running program but don’t need much power. They are perfect for beginners and seniors who might not keep up with the high speeds and intensity of higher horsepower models.

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They also have lower price tags which make them very affordable.

Additionally, they’re less bulky than most other models on the market, making them portable.

If you’re in the market for a low-horsepower treadmill, I recommend this Horizon Fitness T101 from It delivers up to 2.6 CHP, has durable, corrosion-resistant aluminum construction, and features a feather-light folding for portability.

Also, if you have a high powered treadmill but it’s plugged into an outlet that can not output a lot of amps, you might keep tripping the circuit breaker and not even be able to use the power. Read more about that here.

Why High-Horsepower Treadmills May or May Not Be a Good Idea

These machines have a higher power output at all speeds, which means it can handle heavier loads and more demanding workouts with ease. However, that added punch also translates into increased noise levels: many people find high-horsepower treadmills louder than machines in the lower range.

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The complexity of moving components increases as well, so they are usually pricier than budget models. But their power and durability compensate for their drawbacks, making them worthwhile in the long term.

If you need a high-horsepower treadmill, I recommend the Sole Fitness F80 from The treadmill delivers up to 3.5 CHP, a speed range of 0.5 – 12 mph (13.4 – 321.8 m/min), and features heart-rate monitoring technology, making it worth trying out.

How Many Calories Can I Burn on a Treadmill?

You can burn 224 – 558 cal. on a treadmill, depending on your weight, speed, and incline. The faster you walk or run on a treadmill, the more calories you burn. This number increases with your body weight and the incline, as this post by Healthline highlights.

From an in-depth analysis of Healthline’s data, you burn up to 58% more calories by running on higher inclines.

Most notably, here is a tabulated summary of the calories different weights would burn running at 3 mph on a flat surface versus on higher inclines:

Weight3 mph or 80.4 m/min (flat surface/  0% incline)3 mph or 80.4 m/min  ( 1% incline and above)
130 lbs. (58.9 kg)195 cal.308 cal.
155 lbs. (70.3 kg)232 cal.367 cal.
180 lbs. (81.6 kg)270 cal.427 cal.
205 lbs. (113.3 kg)307 cal.485 cal.

Benefits of Using a Treadmill

Using a treadmill comes with unique benefits you wouldn’t enjoy running or walking outside. They include:

  • Flexible workout schedule: Your treadmill will be in your house, so you can perform workouts any time of the day or night.
  • No weather disruptions: You don’t need to worry about weather conditions – you can always exercise indoors!
  • Injury prevention: Treadmills are low-impact, so they’re easier on joints than pavement, making them an excellent tool for prehabilitation programs like arthritis management.
  • Ease of use: There’s no traffic to deal with when using a treadmill at home. Just set it up in front of the TV or near some windows where you’ll get fresh air while walking or running.
  • A diverse range of settings: If you prefer slower speeds, there are preset speeds available on many treadmills–or if faster is what suits your needs better.

In a nutshell, a treadmill is ideal if you are busy with work or family obligations and want some exercise at home but don’t know what type of activity would best suit your schedule.

That said, here’s a video that explains what to look for when buying a treadmill:

Tips For Using Treadmills Safely

While treadmills can be an important part of your fitness regimen, treadmills can also be dangerous if not used properly.  In 2019, U.S. emergency departments reported around 22,500 treadmill-related injuries, including 2,000 to children under eight years of age. 

Suggested: How to turn on and use your treadmill for the first time.

To avoid accidents using a treadmill, I recommend following these guidelines.

Ensure the Area Is Well Lit

A treadmill offers a good environment to work out in, but it’s essential to ensure you can see where you are going while running or walking on it. Make sure there is enough light, and never use a treadmill in the dark unless absolutely necessary.

Avoid Using Earbuds or Use Adjustable Volume Control

If using earbuds, make sure they have adjustable volume control. If your phone rings, for example, you won’t be startled by loud music coming from the headphones.

While some people prefer listening to music during their workout routine, this can pose a dangerous distraction when you’re exercising on a moving machine like a treadmill – especially if your smartphone has an auto call function enabled. 

Although, it’s best not to answer any calls while on the treadmill.

Set Your Pace

Determine how many walking or running miles you’ll cover per hour.

It would help first to have a goal and a definite plan to achieve it. Instead of watching what others do and trying to compete with them, it would help to run at your own pace. By doing that, you can establish your limits and know when to slow down, stop, or increase your speed without getting fatigued quickly.

Start With Slower Speeds

Determine the machine’s speed and grade options. Always start with a lower setting, but you can always increase it as your fitness level improves. By doing this, you build up stamina and prevent tiring too quickly, which may discourage you from further sessions on your machine.

Can you lose belly fat by running on a treadmill?

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a treadmill, it’s best first to consider how much power you’ll need to make the most of your workouts. In that regard, the following guidelines may help you make an informed decision:

  • A male weighing 200 lbs (90.7 kg) needs 1.6 hp to walk at 3 mph (80.46 m/min) on a 1% incline. 
  • A female weighing about 171 lbs (77.5 kg) needs 1.4 hp to walk at 3 mph (80.46 m/min) on a 1% incline. 
  • If you’re heavier than these weights, you may need a more powerful treadmill.

Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.



Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to I've been going to the gym for about 15 years and am now looking to build my own. In the process I've learned many things I'd like to share with you.

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