What Size and Type of Treadmill Belt Do I Need?

treadmill beltPurchasing a treadmill can be an exciting step in promoting a better exercise regimen that can be conveniently facilitated from home. While there are lots of great treadmills on the market from companies such as Nordictrack Horizon and Matrix (to name a few), not all treadmills are created equally.

More importantly, treadmill decks and belts are tailored differently based on how you will use them, which is why a little research is required based on your height and weight as well as whether you will be primarily walking, running, or jogging.

First consider how much power the treadmill motor provides

Before choosing an appropriate deck/belt combo, you need to consider the continuous horsepower (CHP) of your treadmill motor in relation to your speed. The amount of continuous power that your treadmill can produce coupled will your weight will dictate how fast you can go and can therefore be the first indicator of what type of deck to purchase.

For instance, if you weigh between 150 and 200 lbs, a good starting guide is as follows:

• Walking decks: at least 2.0 CHP motor • Jogging decks: at least 2.5 CHP motor • Running decks: at least 3.0 CHP motor

The heavier you are, the harder the motor will have to work to give you consistent speed, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

As a general rule, the lower end treadmills tend to have weaker motors than the higher end ones, although you might find an entry level treadmill with a strong motor from time to time.

Of course, the power your treadmill produces is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the decision making process behind what type of deck/belt combo you should purchase.

What are treadmill belts made of?

Today, most belts are made with a top coat of PVC with some kind of backing underneath to provide cushioning and stability. In many cases, the PVC top will hold up much better than the backing underneath, which means your treadmill belt may look fine, but is not actually providing the kind of support that it should.

Popular backing materials include cotton, polyester, poly-cotton blends, monofilament, and urethane. Cotton provides a treadmill experience that is soft and quiet, but is not nearly as durable as urethane which can hold up for a decade or more if maintained properly. Polyester, poly-cotton blends, and monofilament lie somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

Adding extra layers can also increase the durability of a belt while providing more stability and cushioning. A two or three ply belt, like some of the best treadmills have, will be stronger than a one ply belt made of the same materials; but there is a tradeoff. Depending on the size of the rollers and how the deck and belt fit on the treadmill, too many thick plies can cause a loss of fluidity in motion or even cause the belt to seize completely, so be sure to figure out what your treadmill can handle first.

User size and intended use should be taken into account

Finally, think about the features, backing, length, and width of your belt based on your body shape, type, and how fast you will be going.

Joggers and runners will always need more cushioning than walkers to accommodate the force of their feet hitting the belt more rapidly. This also holds true for heavier versus lighter users.

If you are tall or long legged, look for a longer deck/belt. By the same token if you have a wide gate, look for a wider deck/belt.

Fortunately, with a wide range to choose from, it is not hard to find a deck/belt combo with the length, width, ply, and cushioning you need, regardless of your physique, needs, and exercise regimen.

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