Jargon buster: Treadmill terminology

Published 29th December 2022
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Don’t know your motorised from your manual treadmills? Not too sure what the features and functions of running machines really do? We’ve got you!

To help you shop with confidence and find the right treadmill for your home, we’ve broken down some of the common terms and technical aspects you’ll come across while browsing.

Running belt

The moving surface which you run on when using the treadmill.

Running belts come in a variety of sizes, but as a general rule of thumb, we recommend: 

  • For walkers - W20" x L50"
  • For runners - W22" x L55"
  • For runners over 6ft - W22" x L60"

Manual treadmill

A manual treadmill does not require any electricity source to operate; instead it is powered by your feet as you move along it. Moving the belt makes you work harder, so a fully manual treadmill typically provides a tougher workout than a motorised one. 

Manual treadmills are typically cheaper than their motorised counterparts but also lack some of the features found on electric treadmills, such as console displays and pre-set workout programmes. 

Electric/motorised treadmill

An electric or motorised treadmill has an electrical motor built into the base, which drives the belt and powers other features like a console display or heart rate monitor.

They're better suited for beginners than manual treadmills, since the moving belt helps you to keep your pace, but they can still offer plenty of challenge for experienced runners if they have a powerful enough motor. These are the treadmills you’ve most likely used in a gym before.


An incline is another word for a sloped surface. Treadmills with an incline option allow you to tilt the running belt upwards to simulate running up a hill.

This is a great feature because the steeper the incline is, the harder your leg muscles have to work to stay at the same place. Incline running is perfect for building muscle strength in your back and legs.

With a manual running machine, you’ll have to alter the incline yourself. They often come with knobs and/or levers to make this nice and easy. 

With motorised incline treadmills, changing the incline is as usually simple as pressing a button! 

If this feature is a must for you, check out our range of incline running machines - we've even got a selection of folding incline treadmills for smaller spaces!


The display is usually found at the front of an electric treadmill and shows information relating to your progress during exercise such as total calories burned, distance travelled, current speed and heart rate (if you're using a heart rate monitor). Some advanced treadmills, like Bluetooth treadmills, can sync this data with a workout app or fitness trackers and smart watches.

The type of information shown will depend on make and model so make sure you check before buying if specific data points are important to you.


The pre-set workout activities available on an electric treadmill.

Programs are great for fitness beginners, as they’re specifically designed to provide the most benefit in the shortest amount of time. Some can even automatically change speed and incline as you exercise, which is great for interval training.


The motor is an electrical device that powers an electric treadmill. The size of the motor used in each model will vary which will affect how powerful it is – something worth considering when selecting which model best suits your needs!


The power of a motor on an electrical treadmill, usually abbreviated to HP. The higher the horsepower, the faster your treadmill can go!


The outer section of a treadmill that holds the equipment in place.


Folding treadmills can collapse down to be narrower. This makes them much easier to store in your home. Many folding treadmills have wheels on the frame that are positioned to make it easier to move the treadmill from room to room when folded, but won't cause the treadmill to slip or slide when you're running on it.

Shock absorption

Shock absorption refers to cushioning built into the treadmill's belt. This padding reduces the force your legs receive when they make contact with the belt as you run. It helps to reduce the risk of injuries to your ankles and knees over long periods of running.

Still unsure of your options? 

Check out our guide to the different types of treadmills, to find the perfect running machine for your home, goals and budget! 

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