Buying a treadmill for your home can be a positive investment in your health and welfare and provides an exercise option when the weather is poor, or you can’t travel to the gym.
Millions of runners rely on higher-powered treadmills to maintain training during the winter or get a workout during unsociable hours but does the horsepower of the treadmill matter?
While treadmills look pretty similar, there are key differences to look for to determine which model is most suitable for your needs, including the cushioning, belt weight, deck height, and the size of horsepower of the motor.
These elements will help you see how long a treadmill will last, whether it matches your workout expectations, and if you’ve got the right size treadmill to power you through your exercise routine.
Today we’ll run through eight of the best 3 horsepower treadmills on the market to help you make an informed decision.
If you have limited time and want a TLDR answer to the best 3 HP treadmill, we recommend the XTERRA treadmill which folds down for compact storage and has a sizable 3.25 HP motor which means it’ll be a good piece of kit for a keen runner or regular sprinter.
The Best 3 Horsepower Treadmills on the Market
Next, we’ll look more closely at the eight best treadmills available, all with a motor of 3 HP or above.
The LCD display is large enough at 6.5″ and backlit so you can watch your time, pace, speed, calories burned, incline, distance, and pulse even if the room you’re working out in is dark.
In-built Bluetooth enables you to connect to any compatible third-party app, so if you already have a fitness tracker or a workout program on your mobile, you can connect your device and listen as you go.
There is also a range of controls, with a heart rate monitor, 30 pre-set workout routes, and space for two custom sessions if you’d like to enter these manually.
- Motor: 3.25 HP
- Rated 4.5 after 1,050 reviews
- High-quality in-built speakers
- 6.5″ LCD backlit display
- 30 pre-set workout programs
- Cushioned XtraSoft deck
- Very heavy to assemble
- The platform requires lubrication every 100 miles
The LiftAssist and SafeDrop mechanisms make it safe to fold your treadmill up for storage, and there is a cooling fan to take the edge off the heat.
Incline controls only go up to 10% (rather than 15% as a top-of-the-range specification), but that’s enough for most runners who want to add some hill climbs to their routine.
You can store the treadmill upright to avoid taking up too much space, and the machine folds to tuck the deck away. Each model comes with cushioning called FlexSelect, which softens the impact of each footfall to prevent injury or strain on your joints, and makes it feel more like you’re exercising outdoors.
NordicTrack offers a 30-day iFit membership but be warned that you usually have to sign up, provide credit card details and then pay for a longer period to claim a one-month discount.
- Motor: 3.0 HP
- Rated 4.5 stars after 24,586 reviews
- User capacity up to 300 lb
- Generous 20 x 55″ tread belt
- 30-day free iFit membership included
- One-touch speed and incline controls
- The iFit trial automatically charges after the 30 days unless you cancel
The warranty is reasonable, with a ten-year guarantee on the frame, two years on the parts, and one year on labor costs.
We noted that the model had been updated since 2021 with a few upgrades, so that’s likely where the motor size discrepancy comes from! Other changes include a phone holder, adjustable remote control, and an improved display with instant stop buttons and one-touch speed controls.
With a top speed of 8.7 MPH, it’s not the fastest, so better suited to a jogger who would like a stable, robust frame but isn’t planning any sprint training. Alternatively, this treadmill would suit heavier walkers who require a solid treadmill.
The user capacity is 265 lb, and there is an anti-slip belt in a relatively wide profile (17.3 x 45.7″) to keep the movement flowing with cushioning to protect your knees from impact.
- Motor: 3.0 HP
- Rated 4.5 after 711 reviews
- Pulse sensors on the handrail for heart rate monitoring
- Suited for extended use up to 8.7 MPH
- Backlit adjustable display monitor
- Wide cushioned belt
- Needs to be used on a hard floor to prevent scraping against the belt
- Fairly basic controls and features
This treadmill comes with a folding mechanism, and when stored, it measures 55.2″ long x 27.8″ wide and 5.1″ tall.
OMA claims that its treadmill requires three assembly steps, although you’ll need a hand as it’s a two-person job. The treadmill accommodates up to 300 lb (whichever of the two models you choose) and features shock absorbers underneath the running deck.
The track is a respectable 55 x 20″, so it’s fine for use by taller or heavier runners and has in-built Bluetooth speakers if you like to listen to music during your workout.
You can adjust the incline up to 15%, reach a top speed of 11.2 MPH, and benefit from a magnetic motor that runs quietly and is intended to be durable.
Once your treadmill is assembled, you can turn the knob to activate the hydraulic cylinders – these lower the deck, and you can manoeuvre the panel with just one hand to reduce the total storage space required by 40%. The wheels underneath are there to help steer your treadmill into a cupboard or corner.
- Motor: 3 HP
- Rated 4.5 after 309 reviews
- Thick grit blasted steel frame
- 43 workout programs and three custom settings
- The Bluetooth connection is fiddly and a little unreliable
The variety of programs, larger user weight limit, and extended incline settings mean you’d be fine to use the OMA treadmill for every family member. It has a big enough motor to maintain smooth running conditions for years with the proper upkeep.
It has an ultra-wide belt of 17 x 50″ which is suitable for almost every size of runner and incorporates a fatigue speed button so you can slow the track down to a walking pace straight away if you need a breather.
Once you’ve recovered, touch the button again, and you’ll resume your workout where you left off.
You get 15 workout programs to choose from, the treadmill supports up to 300 lb in weight, and the frame comes with a ten-year warranty.
- Motor: 3.0 HP
- Rated four stars after 664 reviews
- Compact, foldable design
- Easy and quick to assemble
- Bluetooth app connectivity
- Shock absorption running track
- It may provide tiny electric shocks when placed on a carpet
The running plate on the OVICX treadmill has Silkworm Shock Technology which works like a cushioned track to adsorb shock and protect your knees.
However, you can skip the apps and use the other functions or play music through the treadmill speakers.
A 3.25 HP motor is powerful, but the top speed is nine MPH, so it’s a treadmill better suited to slow, steady runs or hikes than anything quicker. The commercial thickness steel is tough and very strong, and the treadmill supports joggers up to 300 lb.
The manual incline is a little limited; you can set it to 0%, 3%, or 5% if you want to head uphill, so again it’s a solid piece of exercise equipment but designed for perhaps heavier long runs than serious hill training.
- Motor: 3.0 HP
- Rated 4.5 after 164 reviews
- 98% preinstalled – takes 15 minutes to assemble
- Safety drop and easy fold mechanism
- Extra-wide running track
- 12 pre-set workout programs
- Misleading product title – the motor is 3 HP, not 3.25 HP
- The Bluetooth is patchy
The LCD minor is built-in and shows you things like your heart rate, calories burned, time, distance, and speed.
You can pick from two pre-sets, which are a bit limited at either three or five MPH or use the manual button to increase or reduce your speed, with a maximum of eight MPH.
Best suited to jogging or walking, the tread belt is made with a non-slip texture, the belt has plenty of room, and the touch screen is HD, so you can switch between sessions or monitor your progress as you go.
The treadmill comes with a phone holder if you like to watch movies or listen to music as you run, or you can download the Gymax app and use that to manage your workouts and monitor your fitness performance.
- Motor: 3.0 HP
- Rated 4.5 after 16 reviews
- Emergency stop safety key
- Non-slip running track
- Quiet motor operations
- Manual speed adjustment
- Some buyers have reported receipt of a smaller motor than advertised
- Bluetooth is tricky to set up
The knobs on the side activate the folding mechanisms, with wheels on the bottom so you can transport the treadmill into a storage space.
The electric motor is quiet and operates up to 10 MPH, including 12 pre-set workout programs you can select with one touch.
The Merax is much sturdier than an aluminum treadmill with a steel frame and has a reasonably sized running track of 16.4 x 48″, which is wide enough for most users; the weight capacity is 300 lb.
You can track your time, speed, calories burned, and pulse on the LCD monitor, along with a couple of cup holders and an integrated phone holder to keep your device nearby.
- Motor: 3.5 HP
- Rated 4.5 after 127 reviews
- Speed range from 0.5 to 10 MPH
- Herat rate monitor included
- Smartphone or tablet holder
- Sturdy frame suitable for up to 300 lb
- Doesn’t come with a fan
- No Bluetooth
The Merax treadmill comes with audio speakers and integrates with your mobile so you can play music from another device as you train.
The Benefits of Choosing a Treadmill With 3.0+ HP
A treadmill with sufficient HP will be able to run efficiently with any size of the user, at higher speeds, and for longer – as a rough guide, you should look for minimum motor sizes as per the table below.
|Workouts one to three times a week||Workouts 3+ times a week|
|Walking||1.5 HP||2.0 HP|
|Jogging||2.0 HP||2.5 HP|
|Running||2.5 HP||3.0 HP|
The motor is also just one of several factors in selecting the right treadmill, so think about:
- The maximum budget you have to spend.
- Who will be using the machine, and how often.
- How do you train – running, walking, sprinting?
- Extras you would prefer, such as a heart rate monitor.
- The space you have to store your treadmill.
It’s well worth taking your time to compare different models because once you get into a new exercise regime, it can be hugely beneficial.
Running, walking, and jogging are great cardio workouts and one of the most efficient ways to achieve a weight loss target without putting your body under excessive strain.
As you get stronger, your lung capacity and endurance increase, and you can build muscle and bone density which are essential for long-term health and longevity.
A fitness tracker is usually a good motivator, so consider whether you want to continue with any existing apps you’re using or if you’re content with a treadmill that tells you how many calories you’ve burned and how far you’ve run each time.
Safety Tips for Using a High Powered Home Treadmill
Treadmills are very safe pieces of equipment, and it isn’t easy to injure yourself if you’re working out sensibly.
As a failsafe, here are some of the most important treadmill safety tips to keep in mind.
- Read the manual – it’s easy to want to use a new machine immediately, but ensure you understand how it works, how to turn it off, and what to do in an emergency,
- Assemble your treadmill carefully – a loose bolt or a wobbly connection can cause no end of problems, so don’t try your first run until your machine is properly assembled.
- Try not to multitask – while it’s common to read while walking or watch TV during a jog, it’s better to focus on your workout. If you need to tie your shoelaces, pause the track because a distraction is the number one cause of an accident.
- Don’t jump onto a moving base plate. It looks much easier than it is, so start with your feet on the stable, non-moving plates at the side of the treadmill deck and then allow the belt to increase slowly. We don’t recommend starting the machine standing on the track because they sometimes start much faster than you expect, which can throw you off balance.
- Use all the safety features. Most quality treadmills will have an emergency stop button (easily identified by a bright red or yellow color) and a safety key with a small clip tethered to the machine. The idea is to fasten the clip to your top, and if you were to fall or start to get too far away from the console, the hook would automatically pull away, putting the machine in pause mode.
- Make sure you’ve measured! It’s common to assume a treadmill will fit into a small corner from a photo, but some of these frames are pretty large! Check you have plenty of space, with sufficient room around you – if there are any sharp edges nearby, try to find a better spot with a good 1.5 feet on either side and 6.5 feet behind.
What to Look for in a 3 Horsepower Treadmill
Since we’re focusing here on three horsepower treadmills, as a feature many people search for in a piece of home workout equipment, we’ll start by thinking about the motor itself.
A bigger motor isn’t always necessary, but specifications and technical details can be a little confusing, so it’s important you know how well made your workout device is and whether the drive motor is appropriate for your needs.
The general advice is to look for 2.5 to 3.0 HP if you intend to run regularly, and you’ll find a few guidelines to help above.
Other features that are important to having a good home exercise experience include:
- Belt size – tracks or belts should ideally be at least 18 inches wide and 48 inches long. That isn’t always mandatory (because more petite users will be very comfortable on a far smaller machine). However, if you are six feet tall or more, you’ll need a good 52-inch belt to walk to your full stride and 54 inches if you’re a runner.
- Control panels – each of the machines we’ve listed has some kind of LCD, display panel, monitor, or control function, but they can vary considerably in terms of functionality. If you’re content to use pre-programmed workouts or know exactly what you’re doing, a lower-spec control panel is fine. Otherwise, it could be worth spending a little more for better guidance.
- Belt cushioning – one of the primary risks of regular running is that the shock reverberating through your ankles, knees, and hips can cause injury or stress on your joints. Likewise, a rigid, tough track can be hard on your legs. Cushioning helps absorb the shock and stops the belt from moving slightly every time your foot hits the ground.
- Incline adjustments – the best inclines for hill training are at least 10%. Again, not a prerequisite if you have no desire to run uphill, but decline and incline options with 10% or more of movement provide the maximum flexibility.
- Weight capacity – treadmills come in all shapes and sizes, as do we. If your treadmill is a small, lightweight model, it may not be suitable for a user of your weight, and going over that capacity could severely impact the lifespan of your machine. We’d usually suggest you deduct about 50 lb from the rated weight limit to be realistic.
- Speed limits – again, it’s all about what running or walking experience you expect, but a high-quality treadmill will usually go to a max speed of around 10 MPH. That’s definitely not crucial if you’d like a treadmill for walking, but equally important if you’re training for a time trial!
- Treadmill stability – finally, keep an eye on the machine weight and frame materials. Solid, heavy treadmills are a pain to move around. Still, it’ll make a profound difference to whether the frame feels wobbly and unreliable during a fast-paced run.
FAQs – Choosing the Best 3.0 HP Treadmill to Use at Home
Below we’ve answered some of the frequently asked questions about selecting the right treadmill and why HP matters!
What Size Motor Do I Need in a Decent Treadmill?
Here we’ve listed the best three horsepower treadmills – but there are many models and motors to choose from, and a lot depends on your weight, frequency of use, and requirements.
A 3.0 HP treadmill is ideal for runners who like to incorporate some fast, hard sprints or use their treadmill frequently during the week.
Continual usage or very high speeds will make a smaller motor wear down faster, increasing maintenance costs and impacting the longevity of your treadmill.
How Do I Check What Horsepower a Running Treadmill Has?
Every treadmill should display the HP within the product description – if you have an existing machine and want to check the motor, you should be able to find this on the product label normally underneath or along the side of the frame.
Why Does Horsepower Matter for a Treadmill?
HP matters because a small, weak motor won’t be sturdy enough to cope with vigorous workouts and will potentially start to malfunction if you have higher body weight.
As a rough guide, if you are over 200 lb, you should look to add 0.5 HP to the standard power minimum. I.e., 2.5 HP for a walker, 3.0 HP for a jogger, and 3.5 HP for runners.
If you’ve got a good quality 3.0 HP treadmill, it will be suitable for heavier usage, and larger user body weights, without breaking down.
A treadmill with a 3.0 HP motor (or above!) is a good bet if you’d like an exercise machine that will stand the test of time.
It’s normally advisable to go for a bigger motor than you think you might need because a slight price increase will mean that your treadmill lasts for years and won’t start to require repairs or replacement parts.