The AssaultRunner is fun to use outdoors, but it’s not easy to move.
Credit: Garage Gym Reviews
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The aptly-named AssaultRunner is exactly what its name suggests: A running machine that attacks your legs and lungs. Created by niche fitness brand AssaultFitness, the AssaultRunner is the manual treadmill that makes an appearance in most local and global CrossFit events.
But is the Assault Runner the best manual treadmill on the market, or are there better options? We answer this question and others you may have about this notorious machine in our AssaultRunner review.
TL;DR: AssaultRunner Review
What we love: The AssaultRunner is constructed with the durability we’ve come to expect from AssaultFitness products. In addition to being well-built with a steel frame, this machine also features an easy-to-navigate monitor, sturdy handrails, and newbie-friendly side beams.
What we don’t: Our biggest complaint about the AssaultRunner is the price. At about $3,000 for the basic model, the AssaultRunner may be less expensive than competitor manual treadmills. But considering that the machine costs three to four times as much as the other cardio machines you’ll see in a CrossFit gym—like the Concept2 RowErg or SkiErg—its price still makes us raise a brow.
The Chalk Up: The AssaultFitness take on the manual treadmill, the AssaultRunner, is a great investment for any home or commercial gym owner looking for a durable, easy-to-use manual treadmill to add to their collection of fitness equipment.
Experts in CrossFit Cardio
Cardio is one thing. CrossFit cardio is another. The type of cardio equipment used in CrossFit workouts and competitions is very different from what most commercial gyms have. As a team of people who have been competing in CrossFit for, collectively, more than a decade, we know our stuff when it comes to CrossFit cardio machines like manual treadmills.
AssaultRunner Pros and Cons
- Intuitive, easy-to-use LCD monitor
- Does not require an electrical outlet
- Handle and wheels for easy transport across gym
- Quite quiet
- Max user weight is 350 (Pro) or 400 (Elite) pounds
- Very user-friendly warranty policy
- Two models to choose from
- Can help you improve your running form
- Great for high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Large running surface
- Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
- Require more mental focus
- Steep learning curve
- Takes up a lot of space
- Probably won’t use as much as an air bike or rower for CrossFit
- Very heavy and tough to move, even with casters
|Max User Weight||400 lb||350 lb|
|Assembled Dimensions||69.9 “ L x 31.7” W x 64.4” H||69.9” L X 31.7” W X 64.4” H|
|Product Weight||290 lb||290 lb|
|Water Bottle Holder||Yes||No|
|Warranty||10 years on frame, 3 years on moving parts, 1 year on labor||5 years on frame, 3 years on moving parts|
Using The AssaultRunner
The AssaultRunner is a slat-belt treadmill. That means that unlike motorized treadmills, which usually have one single belt that rotors round-and-round, this one has a number of slats. This may look a little foreign, but the precision ball bearings ensure a smooth run.
The side rails are about 6 inches wide, which is wider than most feet. This is great because you’ll end up standing on the side rails on this machine more than you would a motorized treadmill, especially as you get the hang of it. Transparently, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to using this machine. Where you look, your foot placement on each step, and how your foot strikes the belt all impact exactly how fast you’re moving.
The handles are also sturdy… very sturdy. This is great because as you adjust to the mechanics of the AssaultRunner, you’ll probably use the handles for stability as you start and stop your run.
The console, which is battery-operated, is pretty darn simple. A variation of the monitor on the AssaultBike, this monitor shows you time, distance, watts, speed, and calories. You also have the option to program a calorie or distance goal, or to set-up intervals.
Personally, I’m a big fan of this monitor. Sure, it’s far simpler than the big fancy HD touchscreen on the Peloton Tread. But simple is exactly what I need when I’m in the middle of a WOD.
Worth mentioning: If you’re a handyman or woman, you can set this machine up on your own. But given the size of some of the parts, you’d be wise to phone a friend (or two). All in all, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to put together.
AssaultRunner Pro Vs. AssaultRunner Elite
There are two versions of the AssaultRunner: Pro and Elite.
We will get more into the differences between the two versions below. But transparently, our point of view is that for most CrossFit home gyms, the AssaultRunner Pro is perfectly adequate.
Why? Because the two machines function the exact same. The biggest difference is price—the Pro rings up at $2,999 while the Elite rings up at $3,999.
Bluntly, that extra grand doesn’t get you much.
The only additional features that the Elite model provides are:
- Built-in water bottle holders
- UV-protected console
- Sweat-resistant coat on the handles
- Longer warranty
That said, because of the longer warranty, the AssaultRunner Elite may be the better option for gym owners who are expecting to have a lot of foot traffic.
Footprint And Portability
The AssaultRunner Pro and Elite are basically the same size and shape as any other treadmill you’d find in a commercial gym—meaning, they’re quite large.
The AssaultRunner Pro and Elite measure in at 32 inches wide and 76 inches long. Don’t have good spatial awareness? That’s about the same amount of space as a yoga mat.
As treadmills go, the AssaultRunner is pretty heavy at 280 pounds. But luckily, you don’t have to be able to lift that weight to cart the machine across your gym. The Assault Runner has built-in transport wheels that allow you to move the machine wherever you need it.
However, we wouldn’t say it’s easy to move. Even with the wheels, you really don’t want to have to move this thing around much. And we’re not alone in this: Several customer reviews still say the machine is tough to move around despite the wheels.
Construction And Durability
If you’re reading this, odds are high that you’ve ridden on an AssaultBike. After all, the AssaultBike was the official bike of CrossFit from 2015 to 2020. (It’s since been replaced by the Rogue Echo Bike.)
As such, you already have a sense of just how durable and sturdy AssaultFitness products are. The AssaultRunner is no exception.
The heavy-duty frame of this curved treadmill is primarily made from steel. The outer frame of the machine is plastic, but it’s durable enough to withstand frequent use. (And should something go wrong, it’s covered under the warranty.)
The best part? The machine will last without much labor on your end.
AssaultFitness recommends that gym owners clean the tread and tighten the screws once a month. Though, if this is a purchase for your home gym you may be able to skip some months. The corrosion-resistant hardware means you shouldn’t have any issues with sticky bolts.
The monitor on the AssaultRunner is identical to the monitor on the AssaultBike. In one word, it’s basic.
With the press of the start button, the computer console allows you to keep track of a variety of metrics, including distance, speed, calories, time, and watts.
This monitor is also Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible, which allows you to easily connect your heart rate monitor. This feature is a huge perk for anyone who incorporates heart rate zone training into their regime, as well as anyone interested in getting more data about heart rate, recovery, and/or workout strain.
If you’re a CrossFit fanatic, you might be disappointed that this monitor doesn’t have quite as many display options as the PM5 on the Concept2 RowErg and SkiErg. But of all manual treadmills on the market, the monitor on the AssaultRunner is the most intuitive.
For people planning to incorporate the runner into the middle of their workouts, its simplicity makes it King.
After all, when you’re wiped from doing a set of wall balls, ring muscle-ups, or any other functional fitness movement, the last thing you want to do before hitting the next part of your workout is to play tech wizard.
It seems that people who did their due diligence before purchasing the AssaultRunner were happy with their purchase.
On the AssaultFitness website, the AssaultRunner Pro earned an average of 4.5 out of5 stars from 147 reviews and the AssaultRunner Elite earned an average of 4 out of 5 stars out of 39 reviews.
For both versions of the machine, the majority of the complaints that brought down the average rating weren’t about the machine at all, but about customer service, which a handful of people felt was lacking.
Another handful of customers were frustrated that they ordered the machine when a deal was not going on, and that AssaultFitness would not honor the deal retroactively.
Our suggestion: If a good deal is what you’re interested in, sign up for the AssaultFitness newsletter. That way you’ll be notified as soon as a special deal is going on.
Warranty, Financing, and Returns
AssaultFitness offers really stellar warranties on all of their products, AssaultRunner included. But unfortunately, their return policy is not super customer-friendly. More on both of these below.
The warranties on the AssaultRunner differ between the AssaultRunner Pro and AssaultRunner Elite. Actually, the warranties are one of the main differences between the two machines.
- Pro: 5 years on frame, 3 years on moving parts
- Elite: 10-year frame warranty, 3-year moving parts warranty, 1-year labor warranty
To be honest, the returns are slightly less customer-friendly. When you purchase the AssaultRunner from the official AssaultFitness website, you have only 30 days after the date of purchase to return it. Given that the company says it takes 7 to 10 days to ship and likely takes an additional 5 to 7 days to get delivered, this is a very tight turnaround.
All returned products must be in original packaging and in new condition. If the product is not in its original packaging, you’ll be charged an aggressive 20% restocking charge. All refunds will also be less shipping, freight, and handling costs incurred in both directions.
One perk of this machine is that there are financing options for this manual treadmill. Assault Fitness partnered with Affirm to offer convenient 3, 6, and 12 month financing options. You can learn more about the options here.
The Sitch on Manual Treadmills and CrossFit
If you’ve flown to Miami for Wodapalooza, to Madison for the CrossFit Games, to Knoxville for any one of the Semifinals, or simply live-streamed the functional fitness events to your laptop, you’ve seen athletes run on the AssaultRunner.
But what is the AssaultRunner, exactly? To understand what the AssaultRunner is, you have to understand what manual treadmills are, generally speaking. Let’s get started.
Think about the last time you ran on a treadmill. You probably plugged it in, flipped the “on” switch, then chose the speed you wanted the running belt to move. These treadmills are known as motorized treadmills.
Manual treadmills do not have an electrical cord, start-and-stop switch, or speed buttons that motorized treadmills have. (Whoop for less electrical consumption!)
To get the belt to start on this nonmotorized machine, you have to get it to move manually (hence the title, ‘manual treadmill’).
How? Well, by moving!
This type of treadmill uses your bodyweight and the friction of your feet on the running deck to get the belt moving. The power, speed, and strength of your own stride determine how fast you move.
If this description is making manual treadmills sound harder than motorized treadmills, that’s because they are tougher—both mentally and physically.
While you can totally zone out on a motorized treadmill and keep moving at the same exact speed, you don’t have that luxury on a manual treadmill. On a manual treadmill, whenever wavering focus causes your stride to slow, you simply start running more slowly.
But all that extra mental work pays off physically, according to science.
One 2018 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine and Sports showed that, on average, people worked about 30 percent harder on manual treadmills compared to those running on motorized treadmills.
How very like CrossFit to pick a machine that’s harder than the standard, amiright?!
Also worth noting is that manual treadmills can help you improve your running form. The curved running belt forces you to strike with your midfoot and maintain a consistent stride and proper posture.
AssaultRunner vs. TrueForm Trainer and Trueform Runner
Once you’ve decided that you want a manual runner, you’ll see that there are three companies that reign supreme: AssaultRunner, TrueForm and up-and-comer Tru Grit Fitness.
TrueForm makes two different manual treadmill models: The TrueForm Trainer and the TrueForm Runner.
However, just as there is little difference between the AssaultRunner Pro and the AssaultRunner Elite besides price, there is little difference between the TrueForm Trainer and TrueForm Runner besides price.
The TrueForm Trainer rings up at $3,995 and the TrueForm Runner rings up at $6,899. As such, here we’ll be comparing the AssaultRunner Pro to the TrueForm Trainer.
The TrueForm Trainer is a great piece of equipment. The shallow deck on the TrueForm Trainer is designed to encourage runners to strike the belt with their mid-foot, which is where you should be striking your foot!
Like the AssaultRunner, the TrueForm Trainer is durable and sports sturdy handles and panels that you can use to step on and off the machine.
The main place the AssaultRunner outshines the TrueForm is the monitor. The TrueForm monitor only displays speed, distance, time and heart rate. You can’t track calories burned or program in an interval workout. Given that the TrueForm Trainer costs $3995, this oversight is disappointing.
Another difference between the two machines is that the TrueForm Trainer will jack your heart rate up a smidge more than the AssaultRunner. Why? Because the belt on the AssaultRunner is heavier, which means once you get it moving it will move faster without as much user exertion.
It’s also worth mentioning that the AssaultRunner is slightly larger, so if you’re tight on space you’re going to want to eye the dimensions to figure out which is best for your space.
AssaultRunner vs. Tru Grit Fitness Grit Runner
Are you on a budget? The Tru Grit Fitness Grit Runner is your best bet. It costs just $1,999 and True Grit Fitness often runs sales on their website that reduce the cost even more.
To be clear, the machine does feel lower quality than the AssaultRunner Pro (or the TrueForm Trainer). The main material on the machine is plastic, which is less durable than the solid steel that makes up much of competitor manual treadmills. But for someone looking for a machine for their home gym, wear and tear isn’t as big a factor.
The Tru Grit Fitness Grit Runner does, however, have one additional feature that you might think is neat: It has a resistance lever that allows you to play around with resistance the way you might on a motorized treadmill.
Ultimately, however, we think you’d be wise to save up a little longer and take your runs outdoors until you have the dough to drop on the AssaultRunner Pro.
AssaultRunner Review: The Chalk Up
Both the AssaultRunner Pro and AssaultRunner Elite are great options for anyone looking to add a manual treadmill to their box or home gym. Both models are durable, have user-friendly monitors, and can be used for an excellent endurance and sprint workouts.
But at the end of the day, for most people reading this, the AssaultRunner Pro is the better investment than the AssaultRunner Elite, which costs an additional $1,000. After all, the two models are basically the same.
Is the AssaultRunner worth it?
Ultimately, it depends. If you live somewhere where you can play outside all year round, it may not make sense for you to drop 3K on a running machine—especially if you’re building out your CrossFit gym on a budget.
If, however, you live somewhere with a wretched winter, you’d be wise to buy a treadmill. Additionally, if you have hopes of competing at the highest levels of CrossFit, you need one of these to practice on.
Is the AssaultRunner better than a motorized treadmill?
Manual treadmills are better than motorized treadmills for CrossFit athletes specifically, since those are what’s used in competitions.
Manual treadmills require greater physical exertion than motorized treadmills. That means stride-for-stride, you’ll experience great muscle activation and calorie burn on a manual treadmill compared to motorized treadmills.
Physical benefits aside, you can also take the AssaultRunner outside, which is awesome.
Can you walk on an AssaultRunner?
Yes! You can run on the AssaultRunner. If you dare, you can even walk on your hands on the AssaultRunner. (We didn’t tell you to try this.)
You can go any speed you want on the AssaultRunner. But be warned that whether you’re walking, galloping, running, or walking backward on the AssaultRunner, it’s probably going to feel harder than it would on a regular ‘ole treadmill.
Is the AssaultRunner good for beginners?
While there is a learning curve to manual treadmills, the AssaultRunner is a good buy for all skill levels, provided you take the time to learn how to use it properly.
What is the maximum speed on the AssaultRunner?
Since the AssaultRunner is powered solely by you, the max speed is as fast as you can go. It’s not like motorized treadmills, which have defined speed levels.