Most treadmills have so many features and options, you may overlook one important specification -- the user weight capacity. Almost every treadmill model on the market has a user weight limit specified by the manufacturer, normally ranging from 225 to 350 lbs. However, some higher-end treadmills can handle user weights up to 500 lbs.
The weight limit on a treadmill is the maximum user weight the treadmill can handle. This number is not related to the actual weight of the treadmill. You can usually find the weight capacity listed on the manufacturer's website or in the owner's manual. The weight limit is typically specified in pounds, though sometimes in kilograms as well.
The weight limit is an important, but too often overlooked, treadmill specification. If you exceed the weight limit, your machines running belt may work slower or stall completely. This can cause excessive drag on the motor, possibly resulting in damage to expensive parts.
Many treadmill components are factors in determining the machine's weight capacity. For example, treadmills with thicker walking decks can handle more weight. Landice treadmills, a high-end brand, have 1-inch decks, and can handle user weights of up to 500 lbs., according to the Landice website. Treadmill frames are usually made of steel, but higher-end and commercial treadmills often sport aluminum frames that can handle higher user weights. A stronger motor -- at or above 2.5 horsepower -- is also beneficial for heavier users.
When considering any treadmill, it's best to purchase one that has a weight limit that is 50 to 75 lbs. heavier than your weight. TreadmillReviews.net, for example, suggests you choose a treadmill that can handle 50 lbs. more than your body weight. This will help reduce wear on the motor and belt.
Treadmill weight limit specifications protect not only the treadmill, but also the user. If the belt drags or slows, you could trip or fall, possibly injuring yourself. You may also void your warranty if you cause damage to the treadmill due to excessive weight.