Benefits of Using Incline on a Treadmill

Using a treadmill without incline makes walking or running even easier than running outside on a level surface. That’s because there is no wind resistance and a motorized treadmill assists with movement versus your own body pushing and pulling itself. To increase the challenge level of any treadmill workout, consider incline. Using incline is a wonderful way to increase calorie burn and build muscle during each treadmill workout. Most treadmills have incline settings anywhere from .5% to 15% and 1% is considered to be the same resistance level as an outdoor surface without incline.

The #1 Benefit of Using Incline on a Treadmill

Weight Loss

Anyone who plans to use a treadmill for weight loss should make sure that the model they buy is equipped with an incline motor. The incline motor is separate from the belt motor and often carries its own warranty. It helps the treadmill to move between high and low inclines with ease. Some treadmills even come with programs that change the incline randomly so that the exerciser’s body never gets used to the incline of their workout. If the user is changing the incline themselves, it is important to make changes slowly (such as .5% to 1% every two minutes).

Workout intensity is a major key to weight loss. In general, trainees should keep their heart rate between 70% and 85% of their maximum heart rate for the biggest calorie burning effect. Exercising at 90% or higher can cause health problems such as heart attack and stroke. Exercising at a lower intensity doesn’t burn as many calories, even if the action is performed for a long period of time. Keeping track of heart rates during workouts is very important and many treadmills track this information.

Consistency is another key to weight loss. According to research compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need a minimum of half an hour of physical activity five days a week. Any exercise is better than none, but most people don’t get the exercise they need. People with treadmills in their home are more likely to workout because of the convenience.

Calories Burned

The amount of calories burned by any exerciser depends on several factors:

  • Weight: Heavier people naturally burn more calories than lighter people because they have more weight to move around.
  • Intensity: The intensity of a workout can be measured using the exerciser’s heart rate. More calories are burned because the lungs and heart are working harder.
  • Incline: Walking or running on an incline is the same as running or walking uphill, which makes the body work harder and burns more calories than a slower pace.
  • Hand Rails: Holding onto the treadmill’s hand rails translates to less calories burned overall because the machine is bearing some of the weight during exercise and moving the upper body burns more calories.

Reduced Injury Risk

Using a treadmill to workout instead of running or walking outside actually reduces the risk of injury to the knees and hips because increasing the treadmill’s incline increases the intensity level without increasing stress on the body’s joints. It also provides a stretch to the Achilles tendons and calves, which can benefit people with foot problems like plantar fasciitis. Walking at an incline can exacerbate lower back pain, so people who are feeling pain in this area should reduce the incline and build up their workout very slowly as the back muscles strengthen.

According to a study reported in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, increasing treadmill incline by 3% reduces the impact that the legs must absorb by about 24%. Running on a treadmill is already easier on the body’s joints than running outdoors, so a slight incline further reduces this stress on the body’s joints while increasing the intensity of the workout.

Incline Use

Using the incline feature on the treadmill is a great way to increase the intensity of a workout without increasing the time or speed of the workout or putting additional stress on the joints. The number of calories burned by each person depends on their weight and other body specifics, but walking or running at an incline of 2% or more burns more calories than running or walking outdoors on a level surface. Incline training offers a safe and satisfying way to hit your fitness goals faster and more efficiently.

10 Comments

  • headache chart April 23, 2019 at 7:19 am
    I dugg some of you post as I cogitated they were invaluable extremely helpful.
    • Amanda B. April 24, 2019 at 8:16 am
      Thank you Monika!
  • Mark isaacs August 6, 2019 at 1:37 am from Yeovil England
    Thanks for the information it’s been incredible helpful
    • Amanda B August 7, 2019 at 9:57 am
      Hi Mark, we are glad that you found this helpful! Thank you for the feedback.
  • Karen Ulmer August 27, 2019 at 11:52 pm from CA
    If I'm walking 50 min at a 3.4 mph pace,could I cut down the time if I use a 2% incline? I would like to burn the same amount of calories. I don't think I could keep up an incline and walk 50 min unless I cut the mph speed. I'm 66 years old if that implies.
    • Amanda B September 9, 2019 at 4:48 pm
      Hi Karen, the higher the incline, the more your body has to work which then burns more calories. You can use a treadmill calculator to see how long you'd have to walk on an incline to burn the same amount of calories you do now. You can try this one <a href="https://42.195km.net/e/treadsim/" rel="nofollow">here</a>. Make sure to keep us updated on your fitness journey!
  • SG October 24, 2019 at 10:11 am from Qatar
    Hello, Hope your good! Does incline on the treadmill pushes legs muscles strength ( does it make the legs bigger with more muscles) or it only burns calories and helps body weight loss?
    • Amanda B November 12, 2019 at 3:46 pm
      HI SG, running or walking using an incline certainly helps build leg muscle and strength. When walking / running on an incline, the calves, glutes, and hamstrings are all engaged and activated helping you get stronger. It is recommended that you use a treadmill at a 15% incline or greater for the most benefit.
  • chris brown November 13, 2019 at 7:58 pm from ny
    15%? That is the highest on most machines
    • Amanda B December 4, 2019 at 4:02 pm
      Hi Chris, machines can really vary with their incline settings. A lot of machines do max out at 15% incline but there are also plenty of treadmills that are specific to incline training and could go up to a 40% incline.

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