Do You Need Incline and Decline Capability on Your Treadmill?

Incline and Decline Treadmill CapabilityA lot of people ask us about incline and decline training, and specifically if it’s something that they need to have in order to get a good workout in on their treadmill.

The short answer is, even if your treadmill had zero incline capability (and very few don’t these days, even the most inexpensive ones) you could still get a good workout in. You can walk, jog or run at various speeds for varying lengths of time and burn calories, get your heart rate pumping and tone up the leg muscles.

However, incline and decline treadmills let you take your workout to the next level, and more closely mimic an outdoor run, which many runners seek when it comes to an indoor workout.

When you run outside, unless you are going around a track, you will likely encounter some hills and some dips along the way. They may be brief or prolonged, but it’s very unlikely that your one, two or five mile outdoor run will be completely flat.

By having the ability to raise and lower the incline of your treadmill, your indoor run becomes more like your outdoor run, which has many advantages besides just making your workout a little more interesting.

Let’s look at a few of them…

Incline and Decline Treadmills – Main Advantages

Workout Variety

The addition of incline and decline capability means you can vary your workouts, and variety is always good when it comes to your fitness routine. You can manually change the slope of the belt, and you also have built in workout programs on most newer treadmills that take advantage of the incline and treadmill capability. You’ll find hill workouts, calorie workouts and interval training among other programs that automatically change the incline and or decline to challenge you throughout your routine. You can also create your own custom programs on many treadmills, choosing whatever incline and decline levels you’d like.

Muscle Targeting

Of course you can work your legs on a flat treadmill, but decline and incline treadmills allow you to target leg different leg muscles, giving you a much more effective workout. Think about how your legs feel after climbing a few flights of stairs. Think about the muscles that are engaged when you’re running downhill. You can hit all of those muscles effectively, and by raising and lowering the incline you’re hitting them in different ways. You just can’t do that on a regular treadmill.

Enhanced Cardio

One of the biggest advantages of incline and decline treadmill training is the increased cardio output. Running uphill is obviously more of a challenge than running on a flat surface, so it’s a more of an intense workout especially at the highest incline levels. But decline training is also a cardio boost, as you need to keep yourself from falling forward, a challenge you don’t have on a flat surface. Don’t believe me? Try a half hour run on a flat surface. Then try a downhill one. Which one had you huffing and puffing afterwards?

Incline/Decline Treadmills are More Expensive

One of the only drawbacks of incline and decline treadmills is the fact that they tend to be a bit more expensive than treadmills without that capability. Most treadmills will give you at least 10 degrees of incline, but you’ll pay more for 15, 20 or 30%.

The Incline Trainers from NordicTrack like the popular X11i offer the most incline capability on the market, at a whopping 40%, as well as decline down to 6%, also more than any other treadmill.

But these advanced cardio machine are definitely on the pricey side, starting at around $2,000 for the base model all the way up to $4,300 for the top of the line model.

So although the added capability is nice, it may not be within your budget to get a treadmill with steep incline and/or decline capability.

The bottom line here is that incline and decline training is beneficial, but not an absolute must, especially if budget is a concern. You can find some great treadmills on the market without much incline and zero decline, and still get a great walking, jogging or running workout.

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