Treadmill Incline vs TreadClimber: Which is better?

Amanda Brooks | Last Updated - Apr 21, 2015

Have you ever wondered if you could get the same workout from a treadmill incline as you could from a TreadClimber?

As will most fitness questions, the answer is…it depends on your goals. Are you interested in training for a specific event? Simply want to move a little more? Have knee or join pain issues?

Comparing the TreadClimber and Incline Trainer

Following is a quick break down of the key differences and information about each option:

Standard Treadmill
Average incline is 10-15%
Checkout best treadmills for running at home to see a broad spectrum.

  • Easily utilized for a variety of workouts from walking to running to hiking.
  • Generally provides a set of programmed workouts.
  • Most comfortable motion for those beginning a new workout program.
  • Safest option for those with coordination or mobility issues.

Incline Trainer
Example: NordicTrack Incline Trainer x9i
Goes up to 30-40%

  • Allows you to increase heart rate without running
  • Billed as burning 5X’s the calories as walking without an incline
  • Requires building up strength to utilize the full incline
  • Extremely stable and can also be used for running
  • Many built in programs and options such as iFit

Example: Bowflex Treadclimber

  • Two belts which actually alternate up and down throughout the workout which has the effect of combining the treadmill, stair climber and elliptical in to one workout.
  • Low impact workout
  • Max speed of 4.5mph – these machines are for walkers only
  • Most do not come with programmed workouts
  • Less pounding on the joints than a treadmill, but also requires a bit of coordination.
  • It’s often described as climbing up a mountain {minus the rocks} and a little less fluid motion than an elliptical.
  • Unlike ellipticals where your feet never leave the pedals, the TreadClimber requires you to pick your feet up as you increase the speed of the machine
  • At 42 inches it is not long enough for taller walkers

Regarding the increased calorie burn that is marketed, it’s important to note how they calculated that figure:

TreadClimber – Their marketing uses the following comparison:  TreadClimber at 3.2 mph at level 12 vs the treadmill at 6.2 mph and 0% incline.  Both are not beginner workouts and should be taken in to account if calorie burn is the primary driver.

Incline Trainer – The 5X calorie burn is comparing walking at 2.0 mph on 0% incline to using the 40% incline on the Incline Trainer.

  1. TreadClimber vs. Treadmill – While both can be utilized for great walking workouts, the TreadClimber will limit any advancement on speed or progression of intensity. The TreadClimber will be a low impact long term workout solution for those who do not wish to run and do not want to increase overall intensity.
  2. TreadClimber vs.  Elliptical – Both options provide for low impact workouts which feel more comfortable to many users who are concerned about their knees or other injuries.  The primary difference is the addition of the arms to the elliptical, which can be another important method of increasing calorie burn. However, on both machines users who focus on swinging their arms will be engaging their core and still require additional strength training to truly train their upper body.
  3. TreadClimber vs. Incline Trainer – Both treadmills will allow the user to increase intensity without increasing impact on joints, however the TreadClibmer should not elevate the heart rate to the same degree as using the highest settings of the Incline Trainer.


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Our Running Guru
Amanda Brooks
Amanda Brooks
Running Guru