Best Incline Trainers

Last Updated - November 19, 2019

Ideal for power walking, incline trainers are popular, versatile fitness machines which can simultaneously support cardio training, rapid calorie burn and targeted muscle toning. They’re quite low impact on joints compared to treadmills, so can be a great option for those looking for a low impact workout.

A steep maximum incline is the key feature of an incline trainer; their workout surfaces can tilt by up to 30-40%, while traditional treadmills top out at a 20% slope. The diverse slope settings of incline trainers allow them to serve as a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, or a stair stepper. If you’re looking for a machine with even more variation, many incline trainers have decline settings too.

Best Incline Trainers of the Year

Only a few fitness brands manufacture incline trainers, so shopping for one is easier than shopping for a traditional treadmill. Nevertheless, to make your search easier, below you’ll find our top picks of incline trainers for home gyms and commercial fitness centres this year. Ready to dig deeper into the details of a particular incline trainer? Click on one of the links below to read our review of each model.


1. NordicTrack Commercial X11i

If you are on the hunt for a Commercial treadmill, the X11i by NordicTrack is an undeniably impressive option. This treadmill prides itself on being able hit a remarkable incline of 40%, taking your training up a notch beyond what other treadmills offer. It’s also iFit compatible, which is a hugely popular application that transforms workouts from something that you may dread to adventurous user experiences. This should increase adherence rates for most users and if you stick with your sessions, you’ll see better results over time. What We Like: Price: This treadmill, while more expensive than some of the top... Read More

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2. FreeMotion i11.9 Incline Trainer

This high-performance trainer impresses with a 30% incline and 3 % decline, ideal for interval training and targeting specific muscle groups. Combine this capability with an ultra-powerful 5 HP motor and… Read More

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3. BowFlex TreadClimber TC100

The three-in-one Bowflex TC100 can serve as a treadmill, elliptical trainer and stairclimber. This unique fitness machine splits a traditional treadmill track across two pedals, allowing for low impact exercise with… Read More

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4. NordicTrack Commercial X32i

The NordicTrack Commercial X32i really shines when it comes to programming options. This treadmill gives you 50 built-in programs plus one year of iFit membership program access delivered via its 32-inch touchscreen. If you’re looking for guidance as you go about your workout, or just want to ensure that you don’t fall off the bandwagon because you are bored, this is a great treadmill to consider. With some highly advanced features and just a few drawbacks, this will be a good choice for most people. What we really love about this treadmill is the real road experience it gives. With... Read More

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Feeling overwhelmed or want to know more about incline trainers before you start shopping for one? Here's a quick look at the benefits and drawbacks of incline trainers, as well as some handy tips for choosing the best incline trainer for your body size and workout needs.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Incline Trainers

The five key benefits of using an incline trainer include:
  1. Joint-friendly motion
  2. Multifunctional (treadmill/elliptical/stair climber)
  3. Targeted muscle toning
  4. Fast calorie burn
  5. Cardiovascular training
The TV show The Biggest Loser showcased just how successful incline trainers can be for weight management. With Bowflex as an official sponsor, viewers saw that it’s possible to walk yourself into a fit body very quickly through incline training. If you’re wondering how much faster you can burn calories on an incline, put it this way; walking on a 25% grade burns calories about three times faster than walking on a 0% grade.

So, what are the drawbacks of using an incline trainer? There’s two potential issues which immediately spring to mind. Firstly, while these fitness machines make the most of walking, they can't always accommodate running. Secondly, incline trainers cost more than treadmills of similar quality.

Choosing the Best Incline Trainer

Bowflex, FreeMotion Fitness, and NordicTrack produce some of the top incline trainers in the industry. There are some key features you should keep in mind when choosing between models.
  • Maximum Incline: Maximum inclines for these cardio trainers range from 30-40%. You can change the incline to target different muscles, and alter the resistance level for lean muscle toning or building bulk.
  • Maximum Decline: Entry-level incline trainers support uphill training, but not downhill training. More advanced models also have modest declines, the most common being 3%; the maximum decline noted in our incline trainer reviews is 6%.
  • Machine Size: It's always a good idea to measure your available floor space before choosing a fitness machine, whatever that machine may be. Some incline trainers demand less room than treadmills, so can be an ideal option if space is a major issue. What’s more, they typically have attached wheels for easy repositioning in between workouts too.
  • Track Design: Some incline trainers look just like treadmills. Others have two long pedals (treadles) instead of tracks which promotes low-impact exercise as the user's feet don’t ever need to leave the workout surface.
  • Track Length: Sometimes the workout surface length on an incline trainer is shorter than it is on a treadmill because your stride naturally shortens when you’re walking on a slant and the extra length needed for running strides isn’t required. That said, various incline trainers now have 60” (or longer) tracks or treadles, and some have extra-wide 22” tracks too; this is seen across most of the top-rated models above.
  • Workout Programs: All the incline trainers we have reviewed offer built-in workout programming, but this varies from machine to machine; some have more than others. Additionally, some offer wireless connections for unlimited program downloads allowing you to enjoy an expandable workout program collection.
  • Extra Features: Just like the best traditional treadmills, the best incline trainers are built with all the luxury extras in mind, from cooling fans to touch screens to tablet holders. You can compare the different perks offered by each model on the manufacturers' websites and with the help of our incline trainer reviews. When comparing these, it’s important to ask yourself if the extras would really motivate you to keep exercising or if they are just luxury add-ons that bump up the price.

Best Incline Trainers: The Rundown

ModelTypeRatingPriceLowest Price
NordicTrack Commercial X11i Non-Folding4.8-starsUnder $1,000See best price »
FreeMotion i11.9 Incline Trainer Non-Folding5-starsOver $2,500See best price »
BowFlex TreadClimber TC100 Non-Folding4.8-starsUnder $2,500See best price »
NordicTrack Commercial X32i Non-Folding4.95-starsUnder $1,000See best price »

The Takeaway

There’s many incline trainers on the market that can help you comfortably walk your way to fitness. Some key differences among the models include maximum incline/decline, workout programming options and special extras. It's important to research and compare the key specs of each incline trainer within your budget to find the one that best suits your workout needs. 

Interested in a more traditional walking treadmill? Take a peek at our best treadmills for walkers list.