Treadmills come in different sizes. Which size do you need? Does it all depend on how much space you have? Let’s find out.
For the majority of the population a treadmill belt that measures 20” by 60” is the right size to comfortably run on. People under 5’10 can use a belt 20” x 55” without problems. People that are taller than 6’4 need 62” length. For walking, a belt that measures 16″ x 50″ is big enough.
Why are these measurements important and how can you find out what will fit you? Find out below.
Belt vs. outside treadmill dimensions
When shopping for a treadmill, you’ll likely look at the outside dimension to see if you can fit it in your home gym. While that is important, the outside dimensions are not the only thing you should look at.
The belt size is maybe even more important than the other dimensions. The belt size is related to the outside dimensions because a bigger belt means you need more space to put it. But, some models are more compact with the same belt size.
If you want to know how much space you need to place a treadmill at home, check out this post: How big is a home treadmill?
While the outside dimensions are important to know to know if you can put it where you want to put it, the belt dimensions are important for other reasons. The belt dimensions impact what you can do with your treadmill.
The belt size dictates what you can do on a treadmill. Walking, jogging, running and sprinting all have different requirements for the belt size.
If the belt is too small, you might not be able to do what you want on the treadmill. If it’s too big, there isn’t any drawback except the treadmill will take up more space and likely be more expensive.
There are two belt dimensions that are important; width and length. Let’s look at both those dimensions in a bit more detail and what you need exactly.
The belt width is the less important measurement of the two. That’s because most treadmills have a belt that’s wide enough walk, run and jog. There are a few exceptions but the vast majority of treadmills have a belt that’s wide enough.
Treadmill belt widths range from 16” to 22”. In general, 20” is wide enough to run on for most people. 16” is just enough to walk on while 18” is wide enough to run on for smaller people. For people that are exceptionally larger than the average 22” can be necessary for running.
A 16” wide belt is good for most people to walk on. Maybe some light jogging is OK but running is going to be hard for a person of average size. You run the risk of putting your foot outside the belt and that’s going to cause you to fall.
An 18” belt is wide enough for most people to run on as long as you’re not exceptionally large. Running can still be a little tight though. 18” is wide enough to walk on for virtually anyone.
The majority of treadmills for home and commercial use has a 20” wide belt. That’s because it’s wide enough for the vast majority of the population to walk and run on. It’s a comfortable width for almost anyone to do whatever they want to do without making the treadmill too big.
22” is wider than most people need although it’s nice to have the extra space if you can fit it in your home gym. However, some people are wider than the average so if that’s you, 22” could be necessary. However, it is getting into the range where it’s unnecessary for most people and makes the treadmill pretty large.
If you’re only buying a treadmill to walk on, 16” is wide enough if you’re of average width. If you’re bigger or want to run, go for a 20” wide belt. That’s because 18” is pretty rare so you’re limiting your choices quite a bit if you really want that.
For High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), it’s better to err on the bigger side so you can be sure you can run at full speed. HIIT is a great way to burn more calories in a short period of time and also improve your cardiovascular health. 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 length of a treadmill belt is a very important measurement to look for before you buy. That’s because there is a lot more variability in treadmill belt lengths than there is in widths.
The length treadmill belt you need is largely dependent on how tall you are and if you want to run or just walk on your treadmill. People up to about 5’10 tall need a belt that’s 55” long to run on. Taller than 5’10 is better off with a 60” long belt.
If you look at the list below, you can see that 60” long is the most common closely followed by 55” or very close to 55”. That’s because those are the lengths that are suitable for the vast majority of people to run on. While running you place your feet much further apart then when walking so you need the extra belt length.
How far you put your feet apart is largely dependent on how tall you are. (Actually how long your legs are but height is a proxy that’s close enough). Of course there are some other differences between people like training level and just how they are used to running. However, going by height is going to get you close enough for all practical purposes.
Check out the chart below to see which length is suitable for you.
So you can see that the vast majority of the population has enough space on a 60” long treadmill belt. Only if you’re taller than 6’4 do you need a treadmill that’s longer. But that’s a very small percentage of the population.
If you’re under 5’10, a 55” belt is long enough for running and if you’re 5’2 or under you can get away with a 50” belt.
For people that just want to buy a treadmill for walking of light jogging, you can get away with a shorter belt. While walking you don’t move your feet all that far apart. That means the belt doesn’t have to be that long. Even tall people would be able to walk comfortably on a 50” belt. Shorter people would only need a belt about 45” long.
However, you’re going to have trouble finding a treadmill that has a belt that’s shorter than 50” anyways. They do exist but are pretty rare.
|Brand||Model/Series||Belt width||Belt length||Step up height||Incline||Folding|
What size treadmill belt is best for you?
Reading the paragraphs above, you can probably figure out what’s appropriate for you. Here are four common scenarios that can give you a quick impression of what you need.
- Walking 5’9 or shorter: 16” x +-45”
- Walking 5’10 or taller: 20” x +-50”
- Running 5’9 or shorter: 20” x 55”
- Running 5’10 or taller: 20” x 60”
Most likely you’ll end up with a treadmill that’s 20” by 55” or 20” by 60”. That’s just because they are by far the most common. And maybe if you start out with just walking, you’ll want to start running someday. And then it’s good to have those extra inches.
In this case, bigger is better but smaller is useless so if you’re not sure, go up one size.
Step up height
Another treadmill dimension you might want to check out is the step up height. For some people, it’s hard to get up a high treadmill or they need the extra clearance to be able to fit the treadmill under their ceiling.
A treadmill deck height of 6”-9” is the most common among treadmills for home use. Step up heights above 9” are rare but lower than 6” is not impossible to find. The lowest step up height for home treadmills is about 3.2”.
Able people with a tall ceiling don’t really have to care about the deck height but if you’re in a group that does care, make sure to check the specs for the model you want to buy.
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.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and workouts, there is no better choice than the GymNext Flex. It’s super easy to use and set up with a phone app.
- 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.