Determine your Horsepower Needs
You may think it would be simple to figure out if a treadmill has enough horsepower for you, but there are actually quite a few things you need to consider. What type of things? Well, what you weigh and how intense you work out could be considerations, and how often you use the machine may also be something you want to keep in mind. The right machine for me may not necessarily be the right machine for you, and the motor has a lot to do with that.
It’s tempting to think that the more powerful the motor, the better it is. But that may not necessarily be the case – at least not for you. There is little point in buying a machine with extra horsepower that you’re never going to use – that’s likely going to be a waste of money. Instead, you should consider what you’re going to use the machine for and base your decision on that.
Walking Your Way to Your Fitness Goals
Obviously walking will have a lower impact on your body than running will. If you’re living with chronic pain or some kind of back problem, you may still be able to use a treadmill – you just won’t be able to run at top speed on one. You can get a lot of benefit from a treadmill by walking at a nice brisk pace, though. Do you need the same amount of horsepower if you’re only using a treadmill to walk on? No, you don’t. If you intend to use your machine only for walking, you can certainly get away with a lower-horsepower motor.
So, what type of horsepower do you need if you’re using a treadmill just for walking? If you’re a lighter person you may be able to get away with a treadmill that only has 1.5 hp, but in general you should be looking for a machine that has 2.0 hp or greater. A 1 .5 hp motor simply doesn’t have enough power to withstand years of daily use. If you opt for a machine like this, chances are you’ll be replacing it in a few short years. If, on the other hand, you go with a machine that has 2.0 hp or greater it will likely serve you well for many years to come.
Turning It up a Notch
If you’re going to use your treadmill for running then 2.0 hp is probably not enough. It stands to reason that turning up your speed will also increase the strain on the motor. However, it also depends on how fast you plan on running. If you just plan to use the treadmill for a light jog you may not need a lot more horsepower; if you’re the type of person that likes to go for an all-out run on your treadmill you’re definitely going to need some serious extra horsepower.
If you’re planning on using the machine for jogging, a good guideline is to look for a machine with 2.5 hp or more. Jogging isn’t all that much more intense than walking, as you’re not pounding on the surface of your machine very much harder than you would when walking. If, on the other hand, you intend to use your machine for an intense running session or two, then you’ll want to look for a treadmill that has more than 3.0 hp. This type of motor is designed to withstand that extra wear and tear you’ll put it through as you pound away on your treadmill.
Heavy Duty 3 HP Drive Motor
The Weigh In
What you weigh is also another determining factor in the size of the motor you should be looking for in a treadmill. An analogy works well here – consider how far you can carry a three-year old child in comparison to how far you can carry a 30-year old man. Chances are you can carry the three-year-old for at least a couple of miles, but you’d be lucky if you got a few steps with a 30-year old man. The same is true for your treadmill.
If you weigh in at 150 pounds, even if you’re using a treadmill for some light jogging, you can probably get away with a 2.0 hp machine. Alternatively, if you’re 6’8” and weigh 350 pounds, even if you’re using the machine for walking it might be best to consider the most powerful motor you can find. In this case size definitely does matter.
I’m quite glad that I did my homework before deciding which treadmill to buy because, to be honest, how powerful the motor is had never crossed my mind before. I’m a heavier guy at 250 pounds, and now I know some of the cheaper treadmills with 1.5 hp motors probably wouldn’t handle my weight very well. I guess it pays to be informed.