Incline Treadmill Reviews

Incline Treadmill ReviewsEditorial Team5What are incline trainers? Well, incline trainers are hybrid fitness machines that combine the uniqe charms of treadmills, ellipticals and stair stepp

What are incline trainers? Well, incline trainers are hybrid fitness machines that combine the uniqe charms of treadmills, ellipticals and stair steppers into a single machine. While they replicate the motions of these machines, they are gentler on joints. Workout variety is made possible by a wide range of slope settings. Typically the maximum slope is 40%, which is double the max slope available on the best traditional treadmills.

Incline trainers also offer some big benefits in addition to being low-impact and versatile. Fitness gurus advise that incline training burns calories remarkably faster than exercising on a traditional treadmill. When a steep enough slope is selected, walkers can burn just as many calories as runners do. Incline training is also excellent for muscle definition and toning the cardiovascular system.

The most popular incline trainers are made by Bowflex and NordicTrack.

NordicTrack X11i Incline Trainer

NordicTrack X11i Incline Trainer

BowFlex TreadClimber TC200

Bowflex TreadClimber TC200

What We Like:

  • Efficient Calorie Burn: Incline training gets results faster than regular treadmill training because it requires a greater range of muscle motion. For example, walking at a 25% incline burns calories at approximately three times the rate of walking on a flat surface. Incline trainers can rise to 40% grades.
  • Multipurpose: Incline trainers can work as alternatives to three types of cardio trainers: ellipticals, stair steppers, and treadmills.
  • Excellent Muscle Toning: The variety of slope settings makes targeted muscle toning possible.  Low resistance settings can be used for sleek muscle definition and high resistance settings can be used for building more bulk.
  • Low Impact Motion: Incline trainer tracks tend to be well-cushioned. More importantly, compared to running or walking flat the movement in incline training is relatively low impact. One reason for this lowered impact is the way users’ feet stay in contact with the treadles instead of repeatedly pounding a track. Another reason is that walking on an incline shifts body weight so that less pressure is exerted on hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Workout Programs: Incline trainers are equipped with motivating workout programs. Some even include iFit technology, which uses a wireless Internet connection to download workout programs with standard, video, and Google Maps Street View formats.
  • Compact Design: Incline trainers take up less space than most treadmills because they don’t need to accommodate long running strides. They have footprints less than 5 feet long and three feet wide.
  • Portable: In addition to requiring little floor space, incline trainers are built with transport wheels for easy repositioning.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not All for Runners: Incline trainers generally aren’t useful for runners. Some incline trainers (like Bowflex TreadClimbers) have two-part tracks (treadle sets) that are more conducive to smooth pedaling than training with repetitive impact. They also tend to have relatively low top speeds. They are ideal for power walking, but only support speeds of less than 5 mph.

Our Verdict:

Incline trainers are excellent treadmill alternatives for people who can afford mid-range to expensive workout machines. Users will achieve their fitness goals more quickly than they would with traditional home treadmills, the calorie burn is remarkably rapid, and the muscle toning effects are excellent. These machines are versatile too and could be considered three-in-one cardio trainers. However, incline trainers are generally not suitable for runner because of their shorter tracks and/or low top speeds.

For more details about specific models, please refer to our updated list of the best incline trainers.

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Our Running Guru
Amanda Brooks
Amanda Brooks
Running Guru