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What Does Walking On An Incline Treadmill Do? Find Out Here!

Published by Kieran
Last Updated on November 3, 2021

Is Walking With An Incline On My Treadmill Beneficial?

Treadmills are pretty wonderful exercise machines, allowing us to sprint, jog, run and walk, all by selecting the options we want from the control panel when working out.

But one of the most underrated settings on a treadmill has to be the incline setting. Walking with the incline setting on your treadmill has a huge number of benefits such as helping you burn more calories when you walk and making the intensity harder.

So as we can learn more about walking with the incline setting on your treadmill, when to use the incline settings, the benefits it has and how to work out with it, we have put together an informative guide below which should answer all of your questions.

What Is Treadmill Incline

Before we can get into more about walking on an incline with your treadmill, let's understand what this incline setting is, to begin with.

Most modern treadmills come with an incline button on the display of your treadmill, these incline options will raise your treadmills to deck up to a percent that you have selected, therefore imitating walking on a real hill or slope outside.

You have control to raise or decline the incline as you work out which is controlled by the motor, most people recommend having the incline set on your treadmill at 1% any way to imitate real-life terrain, as it is never entirely flat outside.

Typically, a treadmill will have a limit of 10-15% which should be more than enough to get your sweat on, unless you want to be climbing your machine vertically.

Benefits Of Walking With Treadmills Incline

Now we know what the incline setting on our treadmill does, we can get into the benefits of walking with on our machines and how we can use this option to our advantage in terms of muscle building and endurance.

We have listed out the advantages of walking with a treadmill set on the incline below.

  • It increases the number of calories that you burn - Walking on a treadmill with a 5% incline can nearly double the number of calories that your burn in your session compared to if you were walking with the deck flat at 0% incline. This can allow you to spend less time on the treadmill than normal but still burn the same amount of calories.
  • Improves your endurance - Using the incline on a treadmill when walking can help raise your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular endurance levels, this is great for people who want to get fitter but don't want to run on the treadmill.
  • Helps with weight loss - Uphill walking can aid in fat burn and help you lose weight in combination with a calorie defect, this is due to the high intensity of the incline.
  • Can aid in building lower body muscle - Having your machine put on an incline will activate your calves, hamstrings and glutes, helping you strength build and become more powerful with your lower body.
  • It's more realistic - No surface outside is completely flat like a treadmill, and you will be faced with different inclines, by putting your treadmill on an incline you can replicate your training outside too.
  • Can help with bone density - Incline walking on a treadmill is stress-bearing and can help make the bone tissues in your ankles and lower body stronger, minimising the chances of developing joint issues in the future.

Can You Run With The Incline On a Treadmill?

Running on a treadmill when it's set to incline can make your run more life-like as we mentioned above, it can also add to the intensity and help your burn more calories, however, you should be realistic with the incline that you set on your machine.

For example, running on a steep incline for more than a minute or two is not something you would do outside typically, so doing this on your treadmill can put stress on your joints and legs and potentially cause issues, stick to small inclines if you are running.

How To Use Incline On Your Treadmill

To use the incline setting on your treadmill, you simply press the incline button and raise it to the percentage you want. If it is your first time using the incline on your machine then you might want to start low and increase with 0.5% till you get to an incline which you are comfortable with.

Remember, you can always change the incline throughout your workout or focus on cardio then a burn out for your glutes and lower body at the end.

We have put together a basic pyramid incline workout for you to try on your treadmill below which is based on walking, this workout will get harder towards the middle, then get easier after you reach the peak of the intensity.

  • 5-minute warm-up.
  • 1% incline for one minute.
  • 2% incline for two minutes.
  • 3% incline for three minutes.
  • 4% incline for five minutes.
  • 3% incline for three minutes.
  • 2% incline for two minutes.
  • 1% incline for one minute.
  • 5-minute cooldown.

Please note all of this is done with a walking pace and is primarily for beginners, but you can apply this kind of style to a harder setting on your incline if you wish to give yourself a greater burn.

When To Not Use Incline On a Treadmill

If you are running at a fast pace, we wouldn't recommend increasing the incline past 3% on your machine, doing so can cause some unwanted strain on your joints.

We would also recommend people who have joint issues such as hip flexor or knee problems stay away from the incline setting on a treadmill. Using an incline can put a fair amount of stress on these joints and could potentially make your condition worse.

What Is a Treadmill Decline?

Some of the more expensive treadmills out there may have a decline option on their machine, this decline will tilt the treadmill's deck down to around 3% maximum.

The aim of having a treadmill decline option is so as you would be able to simulate running or walking downhill, which many people want to feel as if they are having a real-world experience.

However, the decline option should not be used often as it is very unnatural and can cause havoc on your joints, causing pain after repeated running or walking at this decline.

We would suggest going for a treadmill with only an incline, not a decline option, as the decline is not essential and will cost you more money.

Should I Choose Incline Or Speed On My Treadmill?

Whether you choose to upgrade your walk or run on your treadmill with extra speed or incline will depend on your goals.

For example, if your a walker, not a runner or you have joint issues, then you would likely choose incline over speed in this case, however, a runner needs to up their speed now and then to maintain endurance, so they would choose speed.

Incline workouts can benefit runners just as much as walkers, as it will strengthen your lower leg muscles and help with performance, however, they should avoid running at a steep incline as it is not needed.

Overall, no matter what option you choose, using incline or speed is great for getting some cardio in and working on your fitness.

Incline Workouts For You To Try On Your Treadmill

Now we have seen what incline walking can do and learnt more about running with one too, we have put together a few more workouts for you to try out on your treadmill with the incline option.

This time we have done a mix of walking and running options.

Running Incline Workout

  • 10-minute jog warm-up.
  • Steady run for 1 minute at 1%.
  • 2% for 1 minute at the same pace.
  • 3% for 1 minute at the same pace.
  • 2-minute recovery jogging.
  • Steady run at 4% for 1 minute.
  • 2 min recovery jogging.
  • 1 minute steady run at 5%.
  • Recovery jogging for 2 min.
  • Steady run at 4% for 1 minute.
  • 2 min recovery jogging.
  • Steady run at 3% 1 minute.
  • Steady run at 2% 1 minute.
  • 5 minute cool down.

Walking Incline Workout

  • 1-minute walk at 3.5 mph.
  • 1 minute walk at 4 mph at 5% incline.
  • 30 seconds, 3.5 mph at 10% incline.
  • 1 minute, 3.5 mph at 5% incline.
  • 30 seconds, 4.0 mph 10% incline.
  • 30 seconds , 3.5 mph 5% incline.
  • 30 seconds, 3.5 mph 5% incline.

Repeat all three times!

Tips For Using Incline On Your Treadmill

If you are planning to use the incline more on your treadmill, then there are some steps should be taking so as you can get the most out of your workouts and build endurance in your lower legs.

We have listed out our best tips for you to consider below.


Always warm-up before cranking up the incline on your treadmill, failure to do so can lead to muscle strain in your legs. Try doing some leg stretches too before even getting on the treadmill.

Ease Yourself In

If it is your first time getting into incline walks or runs then you need to start slowly, putting your incline up to 13% will just shock your muscles and could even cause injury.

Don't Raise It Too Much When Running

Avoid putting the incline up too high when your running, this can give your joints a hard time trying to support the upward movement and will make your legs fatigued quickly.

Ensure Your Posture Is Right

Beginners using the incline on their treadmill may try and hold on to the treadmill while walking or running on an incline, doing this can cause back issues and should be avoided, always use and incline that you keep the correct form with as this will be a better workout for your body too.

Have Breaks

When doing some intense incline sessions on your treadmill make sure to space them out during the week, repeated lower muscle work in your legs can eventually lead to burnout or even overstrain the muscles.

Use It As a Finisher

If you want to use the incline on your treadmill but not for a whole workout then you can try doing a small incline walk or run at the end of each session to burn your muscles out.

Keep a 1% Incline When Running

As we mentioned a few times already in this article, having a 1% incline will help your running on the treadmill feel more lifelike than running on a completely flat surface which is impossible to find outside.

Frequently Asked Questions About Walking On An Incline With Your Treadmill

What's the highest incline level a treadmill can have? 

This depends on the model that you buy but some of the highest inclines you can get on a treadmill are 40% which most people would not be able to use anyway!

Is it possible to lose weight by using the incline setting on my treadmill?

Yes 100%, the incline setting will allow you to burn extra fat and calories during a workout than without as your body will be working harder.

Will walking on a treadmill with an incline help grow my lower muscles?

Using the incline on your treadmill can help activate your glutes, hamstrings and calves, which in turn will lead to muscle tone and gain if done repeatedly and repaired with protein.

Last Words

To conclude, walking with the incline set on your treadmill is a great way to burn more calories, build muscle and work up a sweat if you don't want to try running on a treadmill. Just make sure you maintain the right posture when walking and ease into it slowly if you are a beginner!

About the author
Published by Kieran
A star athlete during his school days, Kieran quickly excelled at sports and in particular; football. Kieran's true passion lies in home exercise equipment, and so was was built as a source for all of Kieran's thoughts to be put down on a medium. Here he guides you through various nuances of working out at home, tips, guides, reviews and more.The only other thing Kieran enjoys more than working out, is writing about it.
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