How A Manual Treadmill Can Teach You To Run, And How To Use One Properly (Even At A Desk).

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Fitness, Podcast

Last year, I posted an article entitled “How To Turn Your Desk Into A Calorie Decimating Workstation“, and created the video “How Should You Stand At A Standing Desk?” 

In both those resources, and on many podcasts (including this one on “How To Burn More Fat At Work), I've talked about and featured a special kind of treadmill called a “TrueForm” treadmill.

See, when I set about to modify my standing workstation into a treadmill desk, I ran into a two big problems, namely…

1. Treadmills Have Motors.

Treadmills with motors – the kind you’d normally need for running, and the kind typically used at treadmill workstations – are not only big and bulky, but produce enormous amounts of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and “dirty electricity”, which has been linked to brain fog, altered cellular metabolism, cancer risk, and much more.

In addition, a treadmill belt that runs on a motor allows you to walk and run while leaning slightly backwards and engaging in a full-on heel strike, which alters your running and walking gait, destroys your biomechanics and can actually turn you into a worse runner or a sloppy walker.

2. Manual Treadmills Are Too Slow For Running.

So a non-motorized treadmill (also known as a manual treadmill) is a good solution compared to a motorized treadmill. But the problem is that most manual treadmills only reach a maximum speed of 3.5-4.0 miles per hour, and this means that you can never use a manual treadmill for running. Since I wanted to intersperse short fitness and metabolism boosting sprints into my walking workday, (e.g. stopping every hour to do a brief 2 minute sprint, or doing a bit of jogging in between consults and phone calls) this means I’d have to buy and find space for two separate treadmills – one for walking and one for running!

So over several months, I searched high and low for a treadmill that is A) a manual treadmill without a motor; B) compact enough to fit under my standing desk; and C) didn’t produce electrical pollution and D) could operate at both casual walking paces, light jogs and high running speeds.


The solution that I eventually found is something called a “TrueForm treadmill” made by Samsara Fitness. The unique looking TrueForm has several extremely unique characteristics that set it apart from any treadmill on the face of the planet, and is unlike any treadmill you’ve ever tried.

First, there is no motor and there are no buttons. The treadmill is entirely manual and is powered by you, which means that you are not only exposing yourself to zero electrical pollution and saving 100% on electrical costs, but also moving far more naturally due to the non-motorized belt design.

When you walk on a TrueForm treadmill, you burn more calories, get better balance (especially if you don’t use the rails) and build stronger leg and core muscles, since you’re doing the work instead of a treadmill motor. And the faster you move, the faster the treadmill goes, just like when you walk, jog or sprint outside.

But it gets even better, because the TrueForm treadmill is the first and only treadmill to actually teach you the skill of running. This is because the only way to really get the belt moving is to lean slightly forward, strike with your mid to front-forefoot, and maintain a high cadence, which means your body learns to run exactly like the most elite runners on the face of the planet run. This honestly took me a little bit of getting used to, because I’m used to being able to “lean back” and be lazy on a treadmill, and frankly, this treadmill instead forces you to move with pristine form.

Finally, the rails are removable. And although TrueForm is legally required to send you the treadmill with the rails attached, you can take them off for the ultimate balance-enhancing experience as you walk, jog and run.

best treadmill desk



So that's great and all, but can this thing really teach you how to run with proper biomechanics? On today's audio podcast, I get Jeff Vernon the owner of Samsara Fitness on the show and we address this question and much more.

You'll discover:

-How the Trueform actually works, and why it is shaped the way it is…

-How to use a manual treadmill properly…

-Specific drills you can do on a manual treadmill to enhance your running form…

-What a standard running treadmill won't work on a stand-up desk…

-The difference between the different Trueform models (the low-rider, the enduro and the performance)…

-Why the Trueform is different than other manual treadmills, and why it's “built like a tank”…

-And much more!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Jeff or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

34 thoughts on “How A Manual Treadmill Can Teach You To Run, And How To Use One Properly (Even At A Desk).

  1. Prakash says:

    Awesome Thanks for sharing this information

  2. Thanks for sharing the valuable article about Manual Treadmill.

  3. Aman says:

    The blog is really good. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Good information. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. feedback says:

    “…produce enormous amounts of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and “dirty electricity”, which has been linked to brain fog, altered cellular metabolism, cancer risk, and much more.”

    – Utter BULLSHIT!

    You’re an illiterate imbecile.

  6. Varun Sharma says:

    Thanks for sharing the information related to manually treadmill. It really helpful.

  7. morvi says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I try this my on Treadmill.

  8. Nisha Batel says:

    Treadmill is the best one that i have used. Thanks for the blog post and mainly for the routine.

  9. Very Useful article. Thanks a lot for writting up this blog

  10. Krishan says:

    A manual treadmill is more use full then automatic.

  11. Ankit Jais says:

    I am gonna start work out from tomorrow!
    Thanks for the motivation!!!

  12. Sonam says:

    Thanks for all the details about how to use Manual Treadmill properly. Can you please suggest the best manual treadmill under 15K. I want to buy a treadmill for my father.So please suggest the best one

  13. Jatin says:

    This was really cool! Thanks for the write-up. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a manual treadmill till now

  14. Varun Sharma says:

    Very informative article. Thanks for the post. It’s really helpful.

  15. 5600 for a non motor treadmill. Talk about profit margins. Thing probably cost 400 to make. Same with the Woodways. If they were smart and not greedy,they would cut the prices and sales would jump. Profits would be more in the long run. Then again,they would have to work harder,and who wants that right?

  16. op says:

    nice, thanks for update

  17. Swathi Raj says:

    Perfect and amazing article. Thanks

  18. Mayur says:

    Thank you, Brian, for such a detailed article. I have an Amazon review website and thinking to start video reviews of products as well.
    YouTube traffic and Internet penetration is going crazy and this is the best time to take advantage of it

  19. jack says:

    Wish they can be also found in India, I am facing exact problem you told here, but still I prefer Manual treadmill over motorized.

  20. Jack topp says:

    My gym trainer told me if I run on trademill my knees will be weaker in future.
    Is it true. ?

  21. Sonali Raj says:

    This is a very informative blog about the treadmill. Thanks for publishing. I eagerly waiting for your next publication.

  22. Peter says:

    Good information. Thanks for sharing :)

  23. Jeannine Faulkner says:

    where can i buy this treadmill? i am in alaska. How fast can i fast on it? How much does it weigh?

  24. Inhousegym says:

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information about using a manual treadmill. it’s really good to see you are motivating people for a workout.
    Treadmill is really a good machine for a better workout for every age group of people. One can also get a treadmill on rent or treadmill for rent easily if he/she can’t buy it.

  25. Androulla says:

    Hi Ben, quick question.

    The Trueform looks awesome, but out of my price league. Is there a cheaper alternative which has similar attributes? I’m looking for a smooth manual treadmill which is simple to use but effective, and this one is making me scratch my head.


  26. Swapnil says:

    Wish they can be also found in India, I am facing exact problem you told here, but still I prefer Manual treadmill over motorized.

    1. Shuvam Dutta says:

      Thats wonderful. Manual treadmill actually can benefit more for cardio workouts. There’s lot of option always available.

  27. Carl says:

    Edit: it seems that I did not adequately proof read my extremely long post very well… There are several commas missing, one here, one there, and oh yes also over down there as well.

    Also the word “you” appears randomly in one spot, it was a vestigial “you” from a previous wording of that paragraph

    The word “consider” is also misspelled at some point.

    This was typed on my smartphone, with gusto, late in the wee-hours of the morning…

    God speed you to the completion of your first treadmill-desk and best wishes in general!

  28. Carl says:

    As of this month I now have a sweeet manual treadmill desk up and running!! I am utilizing a cheaper Fitness Reality TR-3000. It retails for a whopping 179.99 ish (I got mine used!!)

    It is suprisingly nice!! 46″ belt, 3 incline settings, and 8 level silent magnetic resistance.

    This is a traditional low tech manual mill and thus you are basically perpetually moving uphill! Step for step I bet it would best a fancy curved one in terms of calories burned hands down!!

    If you run on it and i do mean run, (I have not tested max speed on the highest incline setting but im guessing 6-7mph easy) it is pretty easy to control, set incline to high resistance to maybe 3-4 and off you go up a 13% grade until you eventually have to give up!!

    Walking is another matter you really have to focus on your pace and sometimes vary the resistance as you are basically balancing your effort against gravity pulling you back down “the hill”

    It takes a good bit of concentration and balance! I can still read the internet just fine while I walk.

    Many cheaper models have no resistance device and IMO would be unusable for a desk rig, without resistance you are quickly “encouraged” to walk faster, and then begin jogging. To prevent this you have to hold on to the rails and that precludes the use of a mouse and keyboard.

    Anyway I can’t say enough good about my rig! For a desk I got some genuinely fancy HEAVY thing with a height adjustment knob (like a manual car window) the table top is a U shaped affair of SOLID PLATE STEEL!! 1/4″ it weighs like 100 pounds! It is very nice to have it wrap around for elbow resting while typing, however running is a bit hampered by this design. The plate steel top is sturdily bolted to the legs with 16 bolts, i have concidered replacing it with plywood that does not wrap around because i want to be able to drop the resistance to 0 and break out into a merry sprint without nailing my arms on this desk top which is quite literally sledge hammer proof!!

    If you are are creating a home office or work in a laid back environment and already have a nice desk, slap a double-stack of cinder blocks under the corners and BAM! Youre good to go!

    (A lot of people dont have unlimited means and would still love to get into better shape! A bit of creativity goes a long way. But please try to keep things sturdy! Injury or damage to equipment is a real possibility with a treadmill-desk)

    I digress

    I added a gibbons mounts dual monitor arm (which i also highly reccomend) a microsoft ergonomic keyboard and a cheapo “velocifire” vertical mouse and you I have got a mad ergo liposuction machine of the gods!

    Getting a small fan soon, tonight I added an auxiliary miniature travel mouse to use as a handheld scroll wheel for reading! I’m hammering out the quirks as i go..

    And yeah a fancy curved surface contraption might be a bit more mellow, but I like the endless hill climb! Fitness awaits at the top of the mountain!

    About two years ago my brothers GF was freaking out like “i want a woodway, I want a woodway!!” Needless to say they could’t afford one! They got a handmedown Nautilus machine from my dad instead. It is a fine thing if less rare and goes up to some ridiculous speed like 15mph.

    I considered hand crafting a “wood-way” for them, out of WOOD lol. I do woodwork as a hobby and am quite crafty. I envisioned a bunch of rollerblade wheels (cheap at goodwill) mounted in a curved line to the inside of each side of a sturdy 2×12 wood box. With a strap and plank rig similar to a tank tread for the walking surface, and a large roller cylinder at each end… I budgeted it at about 100$ but lost interest…

    An enormous 2×4 and plywood hamster wheel also came to mind… Similar concept in terms of the curved arc shaped running motion, fewer moving parts, muuuuch cooler!!!! If you really got it up to sprint speed and then fell down you would probably be carried loop-de-loop several times just like… well… a hamster.

    I dont think it would work well with a desk like my trusty TR-3000, but it would save me a trip to the nearest amusement park…

    On that note, goodnight everyone.

    I hope my posting helps someone! I had more than one adventure cobbling this rig together and it really works well! As they say.

    “Its not so much the destination as the journey!”

  29. Chloe Turpin says:

    Thanks for the info! I knew nothing about treadmills… now, thanks to you, I know!

  30. wellshii says:

    5600 for a non motor treadmill. Talk about profit margins. Thing probably cost 400 to make. Same with the Woodways. If they were smart and not greedy,they would cut the prices and sales would jump. Profits would be more in the long run. Then again,they would have to work harder,and who wants that right?

    1. Chloe Turpin says:

      I fund a manual, at an online ‘garage’ sale for $50.00 After reading this, i am definitely getting it! :D

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