One thing that should always be considered before you make a treadmill purchase is how high the ceiling is in the room where you are going to use it. Many people keep their treadmills in the basement, and that is usually the area of a home with the lowest ceiling clearance. So a little measuring before you decide on a purchase can make a big difference, depending on which machine you are interested in.
As a general rule, for a normal treadmill, I would plan on the belt sitting about 6″ off of the ground without incline. Of course there are several makes and models that have a belt that is much closer to the ground, but if you can’t find the specs online for the belt height of the treadmill that you are interested in, and have no way of obtaining an accurate measurement, 6″ is usually a pretty safe bet. For these regular treadmills, the incline will probably max out at 10-15%. This should amount to about 6″ of height when the belt is at it’s highest. So for a regular treadmill, plan on the maximum height being around a foot tall.
If you are considering an incline trainer, or any treadmill that features decline, the belt will sit higher than a normal treadmill to allow the belt to slope downwards when it is declined. For example, if you are getting a NordicTrack X9i Incline Trainer, the belt height at 0% incline is around 12″ tall! So be aware that some machines will sit up higher than others when they aren’t in use. Now, when you try to use an incline trainer at full incline (up to 40% for some machines), add on as much as 18″ to your 0% measurement. So the X9i turns into a two and a half foot tall belt!
The next step is to know the height of the tallest person who will be using the treadmill. Always add about an inch to their height to account for their running shoes.
After obtaining these height measurements (belt at full incline and the height of the tallest user including an extra inch for shoes) add them together and subtract that height from your ceiling height! Now add 6″-12″ of extra space so that your head doesn’t hit the ceiling, and you’re done. For example, I am 6′ 1″ tall. My basement ceilings are 8′. If I wanted to install a NordicTrack X9i in my basement, I would add 2′ 6″ to 6′ 2″ (my height plus shoes). We are already at 8′ 8″. So this incline trainer will not fit into my basement, if I was planning to use the full incline on it. But if I wanted to get a regular treadmill and use it at it’s max incline, then I would add 12″ to 6’2″ and I would be at 7′ 2″. Subtract that from my ceiling height, and I have a generous 10″ of clearance.
If you are unsure about height clearance, it is always a good idea to ask a representative from the company you are thinking about buying from. For some reason, the belt height isn’t usually displayed in the specs for a machine, but the other measurements such as the footprint of the belt are. But it is very easy to email or chat with a representative online about the height requirements, and know for sure before you place an order that your treadmill will fit in it’s allotted space. If you are buying a treadmill in-store, or are buying a used treadmill locally, take careful measurements of your ceiling height before you go to take a look, and bring a tape measure with you to measure the belt height.
I hope this has been helpful for some of you who are struggling to decide whether or not that new treadmill will fit into the space that you have allotted for it!