Horsepower Hoopla. What is the Real Deal on Fitness Treadmill Motors

Why is the Horsepower Rating so important?

The amount of horsepower a fitness treadmill has is going to be a good indicator of how much work the treadmill will be able to do.  With all of the different manufacturers of treadmills and treadmill models the end user has to pay attention to the little nuances of the description of horsepower.  The heavier the user, the more users of the fitness treadmill, and the types of usage are all going to dictate how much horsepower the end  users will need.

What are the Types of Horsepower Ratings?

  1. Peak Duty – This is the maximum amount of horsepower that a motor can generate for a short period of time before dropping off
  2. Continuous Duty – This is the more functional horspower rating and the one that you need to look for when evaluating a motor.  This is the amount of horsepower that is generated without a drop off in regular use.
  3. Other Types of HorsepowerMany times you will see Treadmill Duty, Club Duty, or Commercial Duty as the main horsepower rating.  Avoid treadmills with this rating system, because no one knows what they really equate to.  These are many times made up ratings by manufacturers to hide the fact that they have a motor of poor quality.

Treadmill Horsepower and Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)

Since continuous horsepower is the rating that you have to look for there is one other component that is very rarely mentioned that should go hand-in-hand with the horsepower rating.  That is going to be the Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) that the motor works at.  What many of the lower end manufacturers have figured out is that the consumers are getting more educated and are not falling for the old marketing tricks that used to work.  What they are doing now is taking a very small motor and working it at a higher Revolution Per Minute (RMP) in order to get a higher continuous horsepower rating out of the motor.  

Problems Assciated with a High Revolution Per Minute 

  1. The treadmill motor has to do more work, so it will end up wearing out the wear and tear components more quickly.
  2. The motor will generate more heat that is trapped in the motor compartment and can adversely affect the lower electronics
  3. The motor can end up making more noise while in use.

Other Things to Consider About Horsepower and Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)

For most users, you should look for a continuous horsepower rating of between 1.5 and 2.5 at an RPM of 3,000-4,000, which there should be a sticker on the motor stating what the RPM’s are, the Horsepower, the Amps, and the Insulation Class.   Even though this tip really doesn’t have much to do with horsepower it is something to keep in mind and it is the amount of amperage the circuit has that you put the treadmill on.  Most treadmills will run fine on a 15amp circuit, but it is recommended for most manufacturers that you put the fitness treadmill on an 18-20 amp dedicated circuit.  This will just help in preventing the pre-mature replacing of wear and tear items such as the walking belt and deck and will keep your piece of fitness equipment running smoothly for years. 

In closing, your main types of horsepower are peak and continuous duty with continuous being the more important rating to look for.  In conjunction with the continuous horsepower you also have to look for the amount of revolutions per minute (RPM) that the motor runs at as well.  If a treadmill is the right piece of cardiovascular fitness equipment for your needs, then protect your interest for the future and make sure you purchase a machine that will handle the amount of usage you will throw at it.

For information on how to choose a fitness treadmill click here

– The Staff at

“For all Your Fitness Equipment and Exercise Equipment Needs”.


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