treadmill incline

Treadmill Incline: Definition, How to and More

Treadmill incline means setting the running surface at an elevated angle. Treadmills with auto incline allow you to adjust this setting according to your training goals and level of fitness. Most treadmills come with an incline (percent) setting ranging from 1% – 15%.

Using this feature is a sure way of creating the hill climbing or hill running sensation, which burns more calories. Apart from incline function, some machines are also designed to have a decline option. Both decline and incline on treadmills will help you to vary your cardio training intensity. Below we’ll discuss more about this feature and how to use it effectively in your weight loss journey.

Setting Incline

Depending on the brand, some treadmills such as Nordictrack can be adjusted automatically when you are on the move. On other brands you’ll have to do it manually. This means that you will have to set your incline before you start your workout.

How to use incline on treadmill

treadmill incline
Treadmill incline

Warming up

Warming up is essential for all exercises. Before you increase the incline on a treadmill, You should warm-up for five minutes by doing jumping jacks, jogging and squats.

Go Slow on the Incline

Start the workout at a slow speed as you gauge your physical ability to sustain pace. Do not force yourself to run at the same speed you do while on a leveled/flat belt. 

Maintain Proper Body Posture 

Keep your body in the natural running form and slightly lean forward. Avoid learning backward when the treadmill is on the incline. Aim at taking shorter steps and find your rhythm. Long strides will wear you down much faster, and this may make you not complete your workout. 

Let Go of the Handrails

Holding the handrails may cause you to exercise at a slower speed. If you find yourself having to hold onto the handrails, consider reducing your speed or all together take a break. 

 Changing Intensity

For more intensity, you will increase either your speed, duration, or the incline percent. Also, you can use a treadmill with decline for the decline/downhill feature.  It is advisable that you only move one level at a time.

Cooling Off

Don’t just jump off the trainer. To end your treadmill incline workout, finish by setting the incline to zero percent, and slow walking speed, then keep walking for about five minutes to cool off. 

Treadmill with Incline: Muscles Worked

inclining treadmills
  • Quadriceps: These are  found on the front part of your thighs and are responsible for extending your leg. A treadmill that inclines works the quads harder as compared to running on zero slopes. Also, if you want your quads to bulk rapidly, we recommend you also try a calf raise machine. 
  • Hamstring: It is located at the back of your thighs. As you pull your leg, they help you to extend the thigh.
  • Glutes: We are talking about your butt. They are recruited when your workout involves an incline. They help you maintain stability by enhancing balance at the pelvis. 
  • Calves: Pushing your foot away from the ground recruits the calf and other muscles on your lower leg.
  • Abs and entire back: are always worked when walking or running. Inclining treadmill workouts will put more pressure on these muscles to tighten and help you maintain an upright posture.
  • Upper arms and shoulders: are also engaged in this exercise. Walking and running needs you to swing your hands which works your shoulders.

Calories Burned in Treadmill Incline 

The amount of calories burned during an incline treadmill cardio training is influenced by: 

1. Treadmill Incline Percentage

 The more the incline, the more intense your workout. Raising your incline percent will make the exercise much harder and result in burning more calories. 

2. Speed

How fast can I run on a treadmill? Running the same distance on an inclined treadmill in  around 15 minutes will burn more calories than a slow paced 1 hour run.

3. Stride length

You will burn more calories when you take shorter strides than when you opt for longer ones. This is because, with shorter strides, you hit your feet on the floor more times than long strides.

4. Your weight

The heavier you are, the more calories you burn. A more substantial body will require more energy to carry the body mass. This is how weight translates to more calories.

5. Proper form

Failure to maintain the appropriate running form or walking form will result in burning fewer calories. For example, holding on to the handrails makes you not burn maximum calories. The improper way makes the cardio training less efficient. 

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Treadmill Incline

incline percent
  • Holding onto the Handrails

Many people are tempted to hold the handrails for support as they work out on an inclined treadmill. Avoid this at all costs. You will always achieve more by walking or running slower without holding the handrails that when you go faster, gripping them.  

  • Starting off at high speeds

A few people start running at top speeds around 8 mph. This can be dangerous. Whether you are running on a small compact treadmill or the larger treadmill with wide belt, always begin by setting the trainer at a slow pace as you get on it and then increase the speed gradually. This will save you from possible injuries. 

  • Poor Walking or Running Posture 

Do not look down or hunch your shoulders while on your equipment. This is not a proper running form, and it may lead to neck, shoulder, and low back pain. Keep your eyes fixed to the front, head held high, and neck aligned with the spine. Poor posture will not allow you to take a deep and complete breath.

 It will also encourage a lousy sitting posture, which is a rampant problem for day-long office workers. Do not lean forward; instead, keep an upright position. Always check that you are maintaining the right position. 

  • Long Strides

Fight the temptation of making longer strides. Over-striding may result in your foot stepping far beyond the safe zone, and you may trip and fall. Treadmill inclines must not be done for speed; instead, concentrate on your heart rate and achieve your goals. Long strides can easily throw you off balance. 

  • Poor Hand Positioning 

If your arms are not positioned and moved well during your low impact training, you will strain your neck and shoulder. Don’t let your hands hang loosely straightening downwards. 

Angle your arms at 90 degrees and keep them moving in sync with the opposite leg. Proper hand position and motion will help you in getting your rhythm as you train.

  • Not Understanding Your fitness equipment Features  

Please don’t step on a treadmill until you are sure you fully understand its features and how to make adjustments. It’s not enough to know the on/off button. 

There is more to a trainer than that. The vital treadmill features you have to know how to adjust include speed, incline, pulse monitor, apps, and preset programs. This will enable you to use the treadmill more efficiently. 

  • Speed

Many people get it wrong when it comes to speed. I’ve been there. Take it slow for a minute or two. Check your pulse as you make every stride. Set the right pace that will get your heart rate up and leave you sweating during your cardio training.

Treadmill Incline Benefits

  • Good for Cardio 

This feature is superb in raising and maintaining your heart rate to the recommended 65 – 85 percent. This ensures that your cardiovascular muscles work to the optimum and pump more  blood to the muscles as you work out. It also goes a long way in reducing your blood pressure. 

  • Amazing Muscle Builder

Whichever exercises or a doing on a regular machine that inclines, you will end up well built physique.

  • Reduce Risk of Injury

When running outside, you are exposed to injuries from uneven ground, traffic, and other surface-related risks. Another benefit of using this treadmill eliminates risk of injury. The handrails and the speed adjustment feature provide you with a safe environment for exercise. 

  • Increased Aerobic Capacity

Incline treadmill workout increases your lung capacity. The high intensity of the physical activity will train your respiratory system. A well functioning lung ensures efficiency in oxygen supply and uptake. 

  • Benefits on abs 

 This cardio training raises your heart rate and increases oxygen uptake. This makes your body shed more fats and convert into the much-needed energy for the activity. Incline training will help you lose fat in your abs and every other part of your body.


  • Is incline on a treadmill a good workout? 

This training is the best way of getting better fitness results from running. The incline feature helps increase the intensity of your exercises and push you to the next level. It helps you burn more calories. 

  • Is walking on an incline good for weight loss 

Walking on uphill will only help you lose weight if you do it vigorously enough to raise your heart rate. It’s also important to add other strength training activities to help you lose fat rapidly.

  • How fast should you walk on a treadmill to lose weight? 

Try to walk at a pace of 4 mph for about 30 minutes at least 4 or 5 times a week. This will help you lose weight and stay fit.

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