Over recent years, you might have noticed a few unfamiliar pieces of kit like treadclimbers cropping up in your local gym.
What is a treadclimber and why should you care?
Well, in the most basic sense, a treadclimber is similar to a treadmill. Where a treadmill has a single track, though, treadclimbers have a pair of narrow tracks that move over pedals, also known as treadles.
Basically, it can be used as a series of moving steps that simulates the motions of you walking up the stairs at the speed that you set. Users of treadclimbers, however, have more options when it comes to the features on this versatile cardio machine.
Adjustability is where the magic comes in…
With a maximum incline of 40%, you have the option to ratchet up the slope and use the machine as a treadmill for walking, as a stair stepper, or even use it as an elliptical machine. This versatility means that, while treadclimbers are certainly not cheap, you’re getting a great deal of overall value.
What should you look out for when you’re on the buying trail, then?
- Budget: We typically don’t mention price in our buying guides since price always plays a role in any buying decision. With treadclimbers it’s more relevant, though. These things are not cheap so you should establish first whether one of these machines falls within your budget. If not, don’t worry. You can choose from plenty of other fitness machines that come in cheaper. If you’re happy with the investment required, check closely for the price of all machines in your range. That should narrow down your options while ensuring you stay on budget. Expensive options will have extra features that will play a part in the design and price, but overall, users will get a high intensity training option for their home.
- Dimensions: Size matters and that’s certainly the case with treadclimbers. Many of these machines are really bulky. Others are quite compact and fold down when not in use. Focus firmly on the space you have available at home. Make certain that you only consider treadclimbers that will fit into this space. If not, you’re asking for a headache when your package arrives
- Fitness Level: Think closely about your fitness level, too. If all you need is a vigorous walk on an occasional basis, you’ve got no need to seek out a line-topping machine. Equally, if you’re looking to engage in a serious weight loss program and you plan to hit the machine hard, it makes sense to look for something more robust that comes with the feature to push you to your limit and gives you the range of motions that your muscles will need.
- LCD: The screen should be clear and easy to read, ideally backlit since so many gyms are pretty gloomy. Make sure you can see everything you need at a glance. Make certain, too, that the interface is easy to use and responsive
- Noise: Last but certainly not least, think about whether or not noise is an issue in your home gym. If so, avoid some of the models that kick out more of a racket. The high-quality ones will ideally be more quiet and give you less noise than even traditional treadmills.
To summarize, here are the core benefits of a treadclimber:
- Gentle and low-impact, ideal if you have knee injuries
- A superb supplement to help you achieve better overall heart health
- Completely customizable with a broad spread of workout programs suitable for all experience levels
- A superior method of calorie-burning than you’ll find with most home workout machines
- Target multiple muscle groups for a comprehensive, whole-body workout without any jarring impact
- Many space-saving models available if you’re tight for room
If you feel those benefits could be worth the considerable price tag, we’ll push ahead now and break down the leading treadclimbers at your fingertips.
Top 5 Best TreadClimbers
1. Bowflex TreadClimber TC200
First up in our quest for the best treadclimber is the Bowflex TC200 from industry legend Nautilus. What makes this versatile training tool stand out, though?
The TC series share common features but differ in terms of programming and top speed along with other minor differences. The TC200 starts out at a pedestrian 0.5mph but you can push on to 4.5mph at the upper end. If you’re looking to burn calories and lose weight, this is a robust approach to cardio. Remember that you’ll need to eat sensibly, as well, and maintain a calorie deficit if you’re looking to lose weight.
Great Bluetooth connectivity gives you the scope to share data with friends via your favorite fitness app. MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, and Google Fit are all supported. You can also track your progress in the free TreadClimber app available for iOS and Android.
If your goal is burning calories, you’ll find you get almost double the effect from your cardio workout compared to spending similar time on a regular treadmill. Your fitness goals will be easier to achieve with an effective workout on a treadclimber.
If your goal is torching calories, you’ll find you get almost double the effect from your cardio workout compared to spending similar time on a regular treadmill.
The LCD is easy to read at a distance and comes backlit so it’s perfect even in poor lighting. Choose from 5 fitness programs and get all the benefits of a great cardio session without any of the damaging impact.
While no treadclimber is cheap, we’d advise you consider how much you would otherwise spend on a gym membership. If several people in your family are likely to use the machine, it suddenly starts to seem like great value rather than prohibitively expensive. However, if everyone is at a different level of fitness, it might make more sense not to subject everyone to an impact workout and start from the bottom up.
Things We Like
- Choose from 5 workout programs for a varying degree of intensity
- Much more effective for calorie-burning than a treadmill
- Bluetooth connectivity allows you to easily share data
Things We Dislike
- Makes quite a lot of noise in operation
2. Bowflex TreadClimber TC20
Now updated in the form of the TC200 above, the classic T20 – this model – is still up for grabs if you move quickly. Is it still worth the investment?
In a word, yes. With a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, there’s no excuse not to workout just because you’re a little on the heavy site. The TC20 will support you every step of the way as you get an intense burst of cardio without wrecking your joints. If you suffer from knee injuries or lower-back pain, these machines are a great way to make sure you stay mobile.
As with all treadclimbers, you’ll enjoy an adaptable machine giving you everything from a gentle stroll to a more punishing whole-body workout. Of all the machine we look at today, this older model is perhaps the least versatile. If you’re just starting out, this makes a solid entry point.
Speed-wise, you can set the machine at anywhere from 0.5mph through to 4.5mph at the upper end. The LCD lets you see what you need at a glance with speed, time, distance, and calories burned displayed along with your heart rate.
This machine measures up at 31.5 x 55.25 x 55 inches and tips the scales at over 200 pounds. You’ll certainly need some help offloading and installing it. Once set up, this is not the kind of machine you’ll want to shift around so get placement right.
Crowned by a dependable 3-year limited warranty, you might need to dig deep but you can buy with complete confidence.
Things We Like
- Get a workout with triple the intensity of a non-inclined machine
- Generous 300-pound load-bearing capacity ideal for almost anyone
- Low impact training that’s remarkably easy on your joints
Things We Dislike
- Not the most versatile cardio machine
3. Bowflex TreadClimber TC5000
The powerful Bowflex Treadclimber TC5000 is another winning entry from the deep TC bench. What makes this particular model so good?
Well, if you’re looking for a cheap treadclimber, this is certainly not for you. The TC5000 is expensive but built correspondingly and with performance to match.
Anyone hunting for a space-saving machine is out of luck, too. This beast is big so make sure you have the room to accommodate.
Assuming that your budget and placement are OK, you’ll get a treadclimber capable of up to 4mph giving you a robust and calorie-torching workout that outperforms alternative fitness gear.
You can choose from an array of 12 resistance levels meaning you can start out gently and remain confident you can still find workouts challenging enough as you get fitter and stronger.
As with all treadclimbers, you’ll enjoy all of these benefits without punishing your joints. Low-impact exercise can still be highly effective for weight loss purposes. All you need is the right equipment, the right attitude and, of course, the right diet.
This machine is sized at 46 x 30 x 55.25 inches. Weighing just 185 pounds, this is one of the lighter machines we look at today.
You get the standard Nautilus warranty with the motor covered for 5 years, electronics and other components for 3 years, and 2 years backing of the hydraulics. This allows you to buy without any niggling concerns about imminent repair bills. Build quality is solid and lifespan impressive.
As long as you have a more flexible budget, the Bowflex TC500 is one of the best treadclimbers you can find.
Things We Like
- 12 resistance levels so you can mix things up
- User-friendly even if you’re a complete beginner
- Length warranty with motor backed for 5 years
Things We Dislike
- Certainly not a cheap or entry-level machine
4. Bowflex Max Trainer Series
The last Bowflex machine we look at today, the Max Trainer is reasonably compact so makes a smart choice if you’re operating within tight space constraints. Weighing 150 pounds, it’s heavyweight but not as cripplingly so as some of the beefier machines we look at today.
Despite these reasonably slimline dimensions, you’ll get a remarkably powerful addition to your home gym. As with all treadclimbers, you’ll get a much more intense workout than you could achieve using a treadmill or an elliptical machine. You can also benefit in much the way you would by using a step raiser but with added versatility thrown in.
If you want a ruthless cardio session but you don’t want to jolt your joints or strain old injuries, treadclimbers offer the ideal solution. You can expect to burn more than double the calories than you would using much regular fitness equipment if you go the treadclimber route.
If you’re prepared to invest in the paid subscription, you can enjoy even more flexibility. Build out customized workouts and really personalize the experience.
You can see all key metrics on the large, backlit screen. This is great news if your gym is gloomy and you struggle to see what you need. The built-in media rack gives you plenty of space for your smartphone or your tablet so you’ve got everything you need closeby. The machine comes with an incline trainer and a good speed range to help both beginners and advanced athletes use it for their calorie burning needs.
You get the usual Nautilus guarantee so you can rest easy. The motor is backed for 5 years, with other parts covered for 3 years.
While it’s not exactly a giveaway, the Max Series allows you to buy into that Bowflex brand heritage without spending a fortune.
Get a vigorous but low-impact exercise program started at home for less than you might imagine with this stellar treadclimber from an industry giant.
Things We Like
- Space-saving model ideal for apartments or small home gyms
- Benefit from a great calorie-burning burst of cardio with low impact
- Media rack and full color display for your complete convenience
Things We Dislike
- Paid subscription required for customized workouts
5. Star Trac 8 Series TreadClimber
Last but absolutely not least in our hunt for the best treadclimber, we’ve got something outside the Bowflex bench.
The Star Trac 8 Series TreadClimber is a compact machine best reserved for more occasional use. If you plan to engage in a more sustained and boisterous cardio program, you’re better sticking with something more solid and robust.
Ergonomics are uppermost with this machine. The hot bar lets you control everything you need in one place. This allows you to focus on burning those calories rather than struggling with a complicated interface.
Since this is a slimline and relatively lightweight unit, it makes a wise choice if you live in an apartment or you have a home gym with limited space. There’s no need to compromise on your fitness program just because you don’t have acres of room.
While this machine is not an industrial-grade unit built to heavy punishment, maximum load-bearing capacity is exceptional. At 350 pounds, this machine is man enough for pretty much anybody.
If you run quite a sweat when you’re burning those calories, you’ll appreciate the integrated fans. Make sure you stay properly hydrated and benefit from the cooling effect so you can push yourself even harder without overheating. The contact grips on the handles provide wireless heart rate monitoring, as well, to ensure that you know when you’re pushing yourself too hard and need to slow down.
Measuring up at 36 x 83 x 83 inches, the Star Trac has a fairly small footprint considering the heavyweight performance it delivers. Build quality is also impressive. As long as you keep your machine properly maintained, you should get years of happy service.
Treadclimbers work especially well if you need to shift some excess pounds. The incline means that you can get more fat-burning effect than if you used a treadmill or an elliptical machine. And the best part? You can achieve these cardio goals without causing any undue stress on your joints. Treadclimbers are perhaps the ultimate low-impact machines giving you enormous rewards with very little downside.
Things We Like
- Hot bar gives you ergonomic, one-touch control
- Compact unit perfect is space is at a premium
- Enjoy the benefits of a treadmill, stepper, and elliptical combined
Things We Dislike
- Not the most heavy-duty treadclimber
Treadclimbers: Are They Worth The Hype?
While treadclimbers can be an excellent way to get a proper workout, are they worth the hype that they’re getting? The closest alternative you would find to a treadclimber would be an incline treadmill. So how does a treadclimber hold up against an incline treadmill?
Joint Impact Cardio
If you have weak knees, you might be better off sticking with something that’s easier on your joints. However, high impact cardio is known to make your bones stronger and denser. If you have no problems with your joints, this might be a good thing for you. In this case, a treadclimber would be a better option than an incline treadmill.
If you’re trying to improve your athleticism and speed, using an incline treadmill would be a better option than going with a treadclimber.
For example, if you’re a football or basketball player and you’re looking for gym equipment to improve your performance, a treadclimber might not be your best option. Choose an incline treadmill if the results you’re looking for translate to on-court speed and agility.
Speed and Safety
While using both a treadclimber and an incline treadmill can be unsafe if you use it at a higher speed than you can keep up with, an incline treadmill will be more forgiving if you bite off more than you can chew.
It’s also easier to run on an incline treadmill than it is on a treadclimber. If you increase the customizable speed too much on a treadclimber, you might end up hurting yourself. Keep this in mind the next time you try to set up a personal speed record.
Because a treadclimber comes with discrete steps compared to the continuous slope of an incline treadmill, cardio is more intense on the former.
If your sole purpose is to burn calories and get the most sweat out of a workout, going for a treadclimber will help you shed the extra pounds more quickly than an incline treadmill. Increase in stamina is another plus that you’ll definitely enjoy when you’re working out on a treadclimber over a conventional treadmill.
While you can set up the speed of an incline treadmill to as fast as humanly possible for you to run, there’s a certain limit when it comes to obtaining the same speed on a treadclimber.
An incline treadmill will let you enjoy high speeds that can lead to agility and speed that will carry over outside the gym. However, a treadclimber will have a lower ceiling when it comes to speed and intensity.
While you can find options for arm engagement in both treadmills and treadclimbers, they’re more common in the latter. For a complete body cardio, a treadclimber with arm engagement would be a better choice.
Well, you should be perfectly placed now to determine which of these treadclimbers makes the best fit.
If you have a more flexible budget and you’re looking for a rugged machine capable of sustained punishment, stick with the Bowflex line from Nautilus. For anyone looking for a lighter machine priced more keenly, the Star Tac is a solid choice.
We hope our guide to the best treadclimbers you can buy in 2021 has helped you make an informed decision about which of these options will be the right fit for you. We also have a large number of articles, reviews, and buying guides on our website that you should definitely check out if you’re interested in similar topics.
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