Best Incline Trainers

Last Updated - Sep 30, 2020

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 to 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... Read More

2. NordicTrack Commercial X32i

The NordicTrack Commercial X32i is as good as it gets when it comes to incline trainers. I’m not talking about the standard 12 to 15% incline of conventional commercial treadmills here. This thing goes up to an incline of 40%, which makes it a seriously aggressive training unit. Like all NordicTrack units of late, it’s integrated with iFit, the brand’s streaming training service. Your purchase includes includes a 30-day Family Membership. This treadmill comes equipped with a 32″ touchscreen, which is among the largest for a home treadmill. Considering the interactive style of the iFit workout package, this is the... Read More

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3. Freemotion i22.9 Incline Trainer

The Freemotion i22.9 Incline Trainer packs a lot of action into one unit. Read our review below. 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-inch (or longer) tracks or treadles, and some have extra-wide 22-inch 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 »
NordicTrack Commercial X32i Non-Folding4.95-starsOver $2,500See best price »
Freemotion i22.9 Incline Trainer Non-Folding4.2-starsOver $2,500See 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.

Best Incline Trainers FAQs

Is incline walking good for fat burning?

Walking or running on an incline is a great way to increase the intensity of your workout, which can help you burn fat fast. When walking or running on an incline, your body is working harder and burning more calories than if you were doing the same on a flat surface. Incline training can be a more efficient way of reaching your fitness goals.

What is a good incline setting for beginners?

Incline settings for optimal results will vary depending on your fitness level and goals. A good place to start is 2% - 3% incline and gradually increase the incline as necessary. Always listen to your body or consult a physician or fitness trainer.

Is incline training on a treadmill better for your joints?

In general, walking or running on a treadmill is better for your joints than running outdoors. According to a study by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, increasing treadmill incline by 3% reduces the impact that the legs must absorb by about 24%.