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“Just hop on a treadmill in the morning. Oh wait…treadmills are only made for skinny people? Doesn’t anyone even have a treadmill for heavy people?!”
If you’re big and heavy, you’ve probably been told to lose weight a thousand times. Or maybe you’ve just told yourself to do it a thousand times. Every time I look in the mirror or see my mom I get a dose of self-disgust or “I’m concerned for your health.” Well, guess what, with New Year right around the corner I figured it was the absolute perfect time to jump on the bandwagon and take up running. Even if all it does is get me some peace and quiet.
Either way, you and I finally made the decision to take control of our size and start off our home gym with a treadmill. Or maybe you’re just big-boned and it’s time to get shredded for summer. Well, either way, I have some bad news for you because treadmills, like every other piece of exercise equipment, (and most other things in the world) are made for skinny people.
This past winter, my weight was around 260 and I was out of shape. So I decided to pull out the treadmill I had stuffed into my parent’s basement and keep some of the fat at bay. When I started it up and jumped on for a quick jog I felt like I was on a trampoline. As long as I was walking I was fine, but if I broke into a jog the track bounced up and down and I could hear the motor whine every time my foot touched down. I mean, it was an old treadmill, but come on! It turned out that that particular treadmill had a weight capacity of only 200 pounds…which is shockingly normal.
Normally I don’t bother with weight limits but, unlike most things, exceeding the weight capacity on a treadmill can be downright dangerous. Not to mention expensive. But don’t give up yet! Because walking is one of the best ways to stay active, we’ll find a way to make it work. The answer, of course, is a heavy-duty treadmill, a treadmill meant for big and heavy guys. Since most home treadmills have a maximum weight capacity of 200-250 lbs we have scoured the internet to bring you the best treadmills with a 300lb capacity or more. Several of these will even support large and heavy users that are approaching the 400-pound mark.
Before we get into it, however, let’s talk about something you need to be prepared for: high capacity treadmills are expensive. Like, we’re talking about two-of-my-paychecks-expensive. So if you are just getting into exercising, it might pay off to take some walks outside until you’re in a more average weight range.
However, if you like I, live in a place that is snowy and icy for 7 months out of the year, or maybe in a city, a treadmill is an awesome choice. So let’s talk about some that are built to take your weight!
Why A Treadmill Is A Perfect Option For Big & Heavy People
If you decide to go for a walk, you still have to get home. If you go for a bike ride or trail run, the same story. If you’re on a treadmill though you can walk at whatever speed suits you and simply push stop at any time!
If you’re obese and haven’t been exercising, even walking can have fantastic health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can lower your blood pressure, encourage fat loss, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help control type 2 diabetes.
Easier On Your Knees
If you’re a big and heavy person it’s likely you have knee and ankle pain from carrying around extra weight for years. My own knee pain made me significantly less interested in exercise, especially if it meant I had to be on my feet for long periods of time.
I won’t say that a quality treadmill totally alleviated my joint issues but it was a better alternative than running.
Treadmills are made with shock-absorbing walking surfaces which make it much more forgiving to walk on than a road surface. If you’re still too uncomfortable on a treadmill, you can also try an elliptical or stationary bike as both are easier on your joints.
Having the option to work out at home has made it much more likely for me to get some exercise. Not having to worry about getting dressed to leave the house, driving to the gym, getting stared at, dripping sweat all over, etc. means that hopping on a treadmill is much less stressful.
While I firmly believe that everyone should feel comfortable going to the gym, that’s not always the case for me. Working on my goals at home is a great option on days when I’m not up to anything else.
You’re Free To Do Other Things
In my opinion, every treadmill should have a TV installed. A lower impact exercise such as walking on a treadmill is a great starting point when you’re a fat guy like me but it can get monotonous.
The great thing is that, while walking, you’re free to do just about anything. You can watch a movie, listen to music or an audiobook, or even read if you want.
This is a great way to make your workout fly by and take your mind off your sweat and sore feet.
The Top 3 Treadmills For A Heavy Person Comparison
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Sole TT8 – Best Overall Treadmill For Heavy Person
If a 350-pound user capacity is not quite enough for you, never fear, we have an even more heavy-duty option! The TT8 is SOLE’s top-of-the-line offering and offers a strong platform for runners up to 400 pounds. This is the most heavy-duty treadmill I know of that is meant to do more than provide a rehab experience. Nearly all treadmills with higher capacities top out at 4mph. Not so here. With several different workout program options (including two custom ones based on your heart rate) you will never get bored or have a poor workout.
The features on this machine are very similar to the F80 above, just a little bigger and more heavy-duty. If you need the extra weight capacity (or just like the bigger LCD readout screen) then this is the best option for you!
Best High Capacity Folding Treadmill
If you are looking for the best all-around treadmill, this is it. Whether you are super heavy, extremely thin, or somewhere in between you cannot do better than the SOLE F80 for the price, capacity, and features!
While there are literally a hundred areas where this treadmill beats out the competition here are some of the more important ones (at least in my opinion):
- Features and Ease of Use: This machine has several built-in entertainment options, ergonomic controls, and even folds up for easy transport/storage!
- 15 Levels of incline and speeds that adjust in .1 mph increments. The almost infinite variability of this treadmill ensures that it will be useful to both beginners and seasoned runners. This is one of the main reasons I advise against purchasing one of those super-cheap high capacity treadmills because, once your fitness improves, you’ll be faced with buying another treadmill!
- Extra large LCD workout display. The large lighted screen will that you will always be up to date while working your way through one of dozens of pre-loaded programs!
- Last but not least, the extra wide track, super sturdy base, and strong frame all add up to a treadmill that can support users up to 375 pounds!
So, long story short, if you are in the market for a big man treadmill, you cannot do better than this one. It is the best treadmill for the money and the one that will last you the longest!
Best Budget Treadmill with a 400 Pound Capacity
If you’re just warming up to the idea of a treadmill, there are several types that can prove less of a shock to your wallet than the above options.
This treadmill boasts an impressive four hundred pound capacity and can maintain a (less impressive) speed of 4mph. If you are obese or haven’t walked a significant distance for a long time, 4mph will be more than sufficient for a long time and is fast enough to lose weight and get fit. In fact, 4mph is the speed recommended for maximum effectiveness when speed walking as it burns more calories than a light jog and can be easier on your joints!
As you would expect at this price point, this treadmill is high on function but low on features. it does have an LCD readout that displays time, distance, calories burned, speed, and your pulse but you won’t find any blue tooth connection or build in speakers here.
In two areas, however, this treadmill really shines and actually beats out the other two options in this review:
- It is the smallest and lightest treadmill. In a world where heavy duty treadmills weigh in at around 300 pounds this one is smaller, folds up easier, and can be shifted without giving yourself a hernia
- It has the best warranty. A 1 year warranty on the frame and a 5 year warranty on the motor makes sure that you will never be left without a working treadmill if it randomly fails on you!
Given its no-nonsense take on features and very functional layout, I can highly recommend this treadmill as the best budget option for men over 300 lbs.
If treadmills are more expensive than you expected, check out this article about The Advantages of Walking Outside.
7 Tips For Choosing A Treadmill for Big and Heavy People
If you’ve been on our site for very long, you’ll probably recognize a theme in our recommendations. We love to recommend industrial or commercial items for home use. After all, if you’re a big and heavy person, it makes sense to buy an item that’s overbuilt because it’s is intended for use by thousands of people, many of them overweight or obese. We have recommended commercial items ranging from dining chairs to bunk beds and treadmills are no different.
Two of the treadmills we recommended are actually from the same brand, SOLE. Even if you’ve never heard of them, you’ve probably been on a SOLE treadmill.
Not only do they make some of the best treadmills for big and heavy guys, but they provide treadmills for many gyms throughout the US. Their treadmills are able to withstand the abuse of thousands of sweaty overweight people so they should last for a hundred years or more in your hands! There are a number of things that make their Light Commercial line the perfect treadmill for a heavy person. Look for:
1. Wide Running Surface
Let’s face it, fitting on a skinny track is for skinny people. In fact, if you buy a cheap treadmill you might find it difficult to walk comfortably between the safety rails.
The average treadmill has a track that measures 18-20″ wide. A wider track (22″ in this case) allows a “wider” person to fit on it and maintain a more natural gait.
2. Sturdy Base
The last thing a big guy wants is a treadmill that’s wallowing around underneath him. Especially if you live in an apartment. The larger the overall deck size, the more stable a treadmill is likely to be.
This results in a more enjoyable and safer running experience.
3. High Horsepower Motor
The high horsepower motor a treadmill has the less stress it will be under every time your foot hits the mat and strains the motor. While there are some treadmills out there that claim a 500lb capacity with a 1/2hp motor just remember, there are kitchen sink garbage disposals with more power than that.
If you are over the weight limit of a treadmill, every footfall can cause the mat to slow down slightly until the motor catches up. Look for a motor that is at least 2.5hp that is coupled with a heavy flywheel if you’re going to be running on your treadmill.
Walking exerts far less force on the mat so, if your treadmill is meant only for walking, a lower horsepower motor is probably fine.
4. Excellent Warranty
If you’re a heavy person, take my advice and become one of those people that returns substandard products. As a big guy I tend to expose any flaws or weak points in a product. If I’m within the weight capacity, I expect that product to function as it should.
Top-notch customer service and a 30-day money-back guarantee make a SOLE treadmill a risk-free purchase. What’s more, if something were to break, they are a name brand and you can order replacement parts directly from them. There are some cheaper models of treadmill available but if they break (when they break…) you’re out of luck and have to replace the entire unit.
5. Long/Easy To Grab Handle
Remember when you were a kid and got running too fast down a hill? You literally had no choice but to run faster or reshape your face on the ground. Now imagine doing that on a treadmill… Having long handles that are easy to grab, even when you’re tired, will provide an excellent failsafe that will keep you off your butt.
6. Feature Rich Running Experience
One of the best ways to spend time on a treadmill is to get distracted. I’ve watched shows, listened to podcasts, and even read books. A good treadmill maker knows this and loads its treadmills with Bluetooth capabilities, speakers, etc.
7. High Weight Capacity
If it can’t support your weight, you can’t use it. Because there is ambiguity about how weight capacities are figured (and no industry standard) we would recommend getting the heaviest duty treadmill that you can reasonably afford.
Whatever brand or price range you’re looking in, if you can put a checkmark next to all of those items then you’ve found a treadmill that will serve you well!
Get started on a treadmill as a big guy or overweight beginner.
The most important thing to remember when you first start walking on a treadmill is that you need to be in it for the long term. While some people (bodybuilders for example) cycle their weight significantly on a regular basis, most of us would just be happy with a long slow decline. I have always found it helpful to simply add a treadmill session to my day and then go about my life as usual. The results will come.
Long term consistency trumps short term intensity.Tweet
One of the most helpful things you can do to stay on track and chart your progress is to find and use a treadmill program for overweight beginners. When performance is measured, performance improves. If you know exactly what you will be doing every time you step onto the treadmill is will be much easier to lace up your shoes.
So let’s get walking!
Treadmills are, without a doubt, my favorite way to improve my cardio and drop some pounds without leaving the house. Walking has always felt more applicable to my life than riding a stationary bike or loping on an elliptical. So, if you’re serious about getting in shape, clear the floor space and order that treadmill!