Science & Technology



CNET: Best treadmills for 2021


Published in Science & Technology News

Treadmills have always been one of the most popular pieces of at-home workout equipment, but when gyms shut down in 2020, demand for a home treadmill went through the roof. As such, most home fitness brands have responded by developing better, more advanced models than their predecessors. Many of the best home treadmill options now have smart features, like full integration with streaming services, preset workouts and access to live workout programs with live incline and decline. Other manufacturers skipped the bells and whistles, and focused on the running deck — developing advanced cushioning for improved shock absorption and biomechanically correct belts that help simulate the feel of outdoor running.

Because every treadmill user has different needs and goals, we've included a variety of both categories on this list. We considered factors like design, incline (and decline), speed, price and size, while making sure that no matter which home treadmill running machine you choose, you'll still get a good machine that you'll be happy with. That's right, even the cheap treadmill on this list is a quality treadmill. If you're looking to add a new piece of fitness equipment to your home for a great cardio workout that helps you meet your fitness goal, read on to find the best treadmill for you.


Best treadmill overall

Bowflex Treadmill 22

CNET TAKE: The Treadmill 22 is the latest and most advanced model from Bowflex, and it's designed to please (mostly) everyone. Built like an absolute tank, this treadmill has a 4-horsepower motor, a 22-inch-wide by 60-inch-long running path and Comfort Tech deck cushioning that helps absorb shock even at higher running deck speeds. It has the largest incline range on this list, going from -5% decline up to a 20% incline to simulate running up and down hills, and supports the highest weight (400 pounds).

It also has an adjustable 22-inch touchscreen that allows you to follow along with trainer-led workouts (via the JRNY which requires a subscription) or lets you stream your favorite shows from a handful of popular streaming services. But before ordering this treadmill, make sure you have the space. At 85 inches long, 39.6 inches wide and 70 inches tall, it's fairly large but it does have a SoftDrop folding system that reduces its total footprint by more than 40%.


Best smart treadmill

NordicTrack Commercial 2950

CNET TAKE: The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 got a redesign for 2021, and the attention to customer feedback shows. This version is equipped with a 4.25 continuous horsepower commercial motor and a 22-inch deck that sits on top of 2.5-inch precision nonflex rollers for frictionless movement, even at higher workout speeds. The RunnersFlex cushioning in the deck allows you to choose between a real road-feel or engaging dampers that soften impact on your joints and reduce the risk of injury.


Like the Bowflex, this treadmill has an ultra-large 22-inch touchscreen, but one thing that gives the NordicTrack an edge over the others is the live control offered through its iFit subscription. During live workouts, the treadmill will automatically adjust from a -3% decline to a 15% incline to simulate whatever you're following along with on the screen. The iFit membership is a (worthwhile) additional monthly cost, but if you purchase this machine directly from the site, you'll get a free monthly membership.

At a retail price of $2,800, the Nordic Track treadmill is one of the most expensive options on this list, so you'll have to figure out what's important to you — a more intense manual workout or interaction with trainers and extra smart features.


Best budget-friendly smart treadmill

ProForm Pro2000

CNET TAKE: Another option from ICON Health & Fitness — the parent company of NordicTrack — this treadmill is a more budget-friendly option that still gives you access to iFit integration, if that's what you're looking for. The Proform Pro has a 10-inch smart touchscreen embedded right into the console so you can follow along with trainers as you run while simultaneously tracking your calories, speed and heart rate.

At -3% decline to 12% incline, it has a narrower incline range than the NordicTrack and a slightly less powerful 3.25 continuous horsepower motor, but it's more than sufficient for most runners (or walkers). The 20-inch tread belt is equipped with ReBound Pro Cushioning, ProForm's patented shock-absorbing system that reduces impact and puts less stress on your feet, ankles, hips and knees.


The following CNET staff contributed to this story: CNET contributor Lindsay Boyers and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit

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