Air Runner vs Treadmill: What’s the Better Workout?

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Treadmills have long been one of the most sought after types of home gym equipment. In fact, they are even one of the most popular types of equipment in a traditional gym.

There are several reasons treadmills have become so popular. For one, running happens to be one of the most effective exercises for those looking to burn many calories in one sitting. Also, they offer the ability to get a highly effective workout while taking up less space than other equipment.

Due to their popularity, you will find a lot of different treadmill manufacturers throwing in all kinds of bells and whistles into them. There are two distinct types of treadmills you can choose from. One would be a traditional motorized treadmill and the other would be a manual treadmill.

By the end of this article, you will be able to understand the differences between the two so you can make a good purchasing decision based on your specific needs.

Key Differences Between Manual Air Treadmills and Traditional Treadmills

How Air Treadmills Work

air runner overview

1. You Power It

One of the main differences between a motorized treadmill and a non-motorized treadmill is the lack of a motor. In fact, you are the motor. Therefore, you will be providing all of the requisite power needed to operate the treadmill. Because of this, you will get in a much higher caloric burn in the same amount of time that you would on a traditional motorized treadmill.

Studies show that non-motorized treadmill running is associated with higher cardio-metabolic demands [1]. This is primarily due to the fact that you are constantly having to expend energy throughout the entire workout in order to keep the belt moving.

Thus, your speed will be dictated by the effort you are putting in rather than you keeping up with the moving belt.

2. Fewer Bells and Whistles

You will typically find that the manual treadmills have far fewer bells and whistles than you would find on the more expensive motorized treadmills. The motorized treadmills are typically packed with all kinds of different costly yet useful features.

However, you can find some manual style treadmills like the Rogue TrueForm and the Assault AirRunner that offer a lot more quality and features that you would normally only find on motorized alternatives.

How Motorized/Traditional Treadmills Work

traditional treadmill overview

1. Motor

As the name suggests, a traditional motorized treadmill is one that has a motor.

As a result, you are typically going to spend a lot more because of this. The motor works to move the belt and the runner is tasked with maintaining the pace.

For motorized treadmills, you won’t have to put in as much consistent effort and it is not necessarily as effective for specific types of training because of the included motor.

2. More Features

This is one of the major things that you can expect to be different when it comes to buying a motorized treadmill. These treadmills are much more costly which enables manufacturers to pack in a lot more features. \

Likewise, because they require electricity anyways, you will be able to get different features including built-in consoles, apps, and more.

If you are looking for the most feature-rich offering, you will find that the motorized treadmills are likely going to offer much more in this regard.

Our preferred motorized treadmill? We’d start with the Echelon Stride:

Learn more and check current Echelon Stride price.

Air Running vs Treadmill Running – Which One Fits Your Preferences?

Who Should Consider Air Running/Manual Treadmills

1. Higher Intensity Athletes

You will typically find high-intensity athletes looking to use air running or manual treadmills. This is especially true when it comes to the curved-belt treadmills in the marketplace.

These treadmills are much better suited towards those looking to incorporate high-intensity workout sessions into their workouts because they enforce optimal running posture and technique.

However, most of all, they don’t require you to have to worry about different settings or buttons. Instead, you will be in full control at all times of your intensity.

Thus, it can make it much closer at resembling running on the road rather than something completely different.

2. Short Bursts

As mentioned, higher intensity athletes are going to be much better suited towards this type of treadmill. No one is going to want to do full endurance runs on a manual treadmill as it will completely wear you out. Thus, long-distance runners would be better suited towards a motorized treadmill.

Who Should Consider Motorized Treadmills

1. Long-Distance Runners

As mentioned, if you are a long-distance runner, you would be much better suited to choosing a treadmill that is motorized. You are going to be able to get a lot more out of the treadmill with a motor because it will give you the opportunity to pace yourself.

When you are running on a treadmill with a motor, you can put yourself on cruise control and not have to worry about maintaining a pace or setting a new one.

Instead, you will be able to keep up with the pre-determined speed that you set and nothing else.

2. Walkers

If you are someone who is looking to primarily utilize the treadmill to simulate walking, you might want to stick to a treadmill with a motor. That way, you will put less stress on your joints and you will be able to get yourself a much more stable experience.

Pricing Comparison of The Different Types of Treadmills

Air Treadmill Pricing Options

In general, you are going to find manual treadmills to be much cheaper. In fact, you can find manual treadmills that start at under $100. However, as you continue to seek out more quality offerings, you may find the higher end of the spectrum to closely resemble what you would find when searching for one with a motor.

For instance, the Assault AirRunner starts at $3,699 and the TrueForm Runner starts at $5,695.

These treadmills are gaining in popularity because they offer much better build-quality than other manual treadmills and they feature a curved deck which helps you develop the proper running technique.

Our top choice for Air Runner? We’d start with the Rogue TrueForm:

Check current TrueForm pricing options.

Motorized Treadmill Pricing Options

You will find motorized treadmills to be much more expensive on average. This is primarily due to the fact that they contain rather expensive motors in them. After all, the motor itself can be very expensive depending on the size of it and the power it provides.

Likewise, you will find a lot more features packed into some of the traditional motorized treadmills in the marketplace. Thus, it can be expected to be much more expensive on average because it is giving you pricier components.

However, as mentioned, you will find some of the higher quality manual offerings to be just as expensive as some of the mid-tier and even higher-end motor treadmills.

Want an affordable treadmill that takes up minimal space, is easy to store, and can be used to stream live and on demand workouts?

We recommend starting with the Echelon Stridelearn more and check current price at their website.

Summary: Which Treadmill Should You Buy?

You should buy an Air Runner if…

  • You want to incorporate more high interval and high-intensity training into your routine. If you are someone into cross-fit or you are looking to incorporate more explosive training sessions, you will absolutely want a manual treadmill like the Air Runner.
  • You want a treadmill that is not going to require a lot of maintenance. With a manual treadmill like the Air Runner, you won’t have to worry about replacing the deck after repeated use or even adjusting the belt tension.
  • You want a treadmill that is going to help you maintain the proper running posture.

Looking for the best Air Treadmill? We recommend starting with the Rogue TrueForm:

You should buy a motorized treadmill if…

  • You are looking for a treadmill and you are much more of a long-distance runner. You aren’t going to want to buy and use a manual treadmill if you are looking for something that can help you with long-distance training.
  • You want all of the bells and whistles that you will find on some of the higher-priced motorized treadmills that are available. You won’t find some of the features that you can get with a motorized treadmill on a manual treadmill.
  • You are looking to buy a treadmill to walk or you are simply looking for something that isn’t going to place too much strain on your joints.

Wondering which motorized treadmill is a best buy? We recommend starting with the Echelon Stride:

Learn more and check current Echelon Stride pricing options. 


  2. See our top alternatives to the Peloton Tread
  3. Read our review of the Echelon Stride