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Treadmill VS Incline Trainer: Exploring the Differences and Benefits

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When you think about cardio or burning those extra calories, running on a treadmill is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Although recently, incline trainers are also gaining quite attention for cardio workouts. But what is the difference between a treadmill vs. incline trainer, and which one is the better fit for you? In this article, I’ll dive deep into all the differences between the two machines and discuss their pros and cons. So continue reading ahead to find out more.

So which is better: incline trainer or treadmill? The main difference between an incline trainer vs treadmill is its incline range, which is up to 40 degrees for incline trainers and 10-15 degrees for treadmills. It makes incline trainers a better fit for intense cardio and faster calorie burning.

treadmill vs incline trainer

What Is A Treadmill?

A treadmill is an exercise equipment that is used for cardio training. It has a continuously moving belt for the user to run or walk on. This belt is powered by a motor, the speed of which can be adjusted based on your preference.

Whether you’re at a public gym or making a home gym, treadmills are an absolute staple. This is because of their ease of use and how they’re proven to show promising results in a wide range of users and positively impact work performance and physical activity.

It is used for cardio training or as a warm-up before strength training exercises.

What Is An Incline Trainer?

Let’s start comparing the difference between an incline trainer and treadmill.

An incline trainer is pretty similar to a treadmill, except the belt used in it is inclined at an angle of up to 40 degrees. It simulates the path of a steep hill. The difference between an incline trainer and treadmill is that it requires much more effort and intensity, so more calories are burned in less time, making it great for low-impact yet more efficient workouts.


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Incline trainers are generally used at gyms but can also be used at home. They are beneficial for activating the glutes, hamstring, and calf muscles without putting much impact on the knees and other joints. Using such equipment is great for runners as it helps in muscle activation.

runner in blue on treadmill torokhtiy

Treadmill Vs. Incline Trainer

Now that you know what both these exercise equipment are for, let’s talk about some factors that set incline trainers apart from regular treadmills. Here are those factors, along with their brief description.

1. Structure

A regular treadmill has a straight deck. It may give you an incline range of up to 15 degrees. Treadmills come in various structural sizes ranging from foldable, compact treadmills to bulkier and sturdier options used in public gyms.

On the other hand, an incline trainer is bigger and needs considerable space for it. Since incline trainers offer an incline up to 40 degrees, they have a wider range of training options, from simple running to intense uphill climbing.

incline trainer

2. Motor

The simple straight deck of a treadmill makes it easy to run even when not much power is provided. It does not require a very powerful motor.

Alternatively, an incline treadmill motor is much more powerful, and this additional power is necessary to maintain a smooth and sturdy user experience even at a 40-degree incline.

3. Calorie Burn

The number of calories burnt on an incline trainer is much greater than the calories burned on a treadmill during the same time period. This is because you are working against gravity on an incline trainer, and muscle activity is greater.

Calories Burned Calculator

4. Workout Type

Jogging and running on a treadmill is a high-impact workout. During such exercise, the impact on the joints is much higher. Alternatively, using an incline trainer is a low-impact exercise and is better for joints.

5. Price

The comparison of the price of an incline trainer vs regular treadmill shows that incline trainers are more expensive as compared to regular treadmills.

DifferenceTreadmillIncline Trainer
MotorLess powerfulMore Powerful
Calorie BurnComparatively lessHigher
Workout TypeHigh impactLower Impact
PriceLess expensiveMore pricey

Treadmill Vs. Incline Trainer: Summary

Still confused about which one suits your requirements? In this section, we will summarize the pros and cons of each machine to help you decide whether a treadmill or incline trainer is the better fit for you.

1. Pros/Cons Of Treadmill


  • High impact, just like running
  • Easy to use
  • You can multitask while using it
  • Compact

Could be better:

  • It allows reduced muscle engagement
  • Lower calorie burn

2. Pros/Cons Of Incline Trainer


  • Results in higher calorie burn
  • Low Impact
  • Strengthens ankles and improves mobility
  • Engages more muscle groups including hamstrings, calves, and glutes

Could be better:

  • It takes up more space
  • It is pricier as compared to regular treadmills

Our Recommendations

There’s a wide variety of brands offering good quality treadmills and incline trainers. It gets very difficult to find out which one is better. That’s why we are here with honest treadmills and incline trainers’ reviews.


  • Type: Treadmill
  • Best for: Running, walking
  • Dimensions: 74.3’’D x 35.1’’W x 59.1’’H
  • Item weight: 249 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
  • Warranty: 10-Year Frame, 1-Year Parts, 1-Year Labor Warranty
  • Main features: 7’’ display, 3.0 CHP motor, ProShox cushioning, iFit

The Pro-Form Carbon TLX may not be the most compact treadmill out there, but at least you won’t feel restricted while using it. It weighs 249 pounds in box and it can support up to 300 pounds of weight. The dimensions are 74.3” D x 35.1” W x 59.1” H, which makes it ideal for people of all heights. The spacious belt measures 20’’x60’’.

Photo by @proform

Once you’re done with using it, simply fold it and store it away.

And that’s not it. The treadmill offers interactive training sessions, and you can stream global and studio workout sessions on it, which makes your workouts a lot more personalized and productive.

2. NordicTrack x22i Incline Trainer


The NordicTrack x22i Incline trainer is a top-notch trainer with an incline range of 40% to -6%. This treadmill weighs 417 lbs, and its dimensions are 70L * 39W * 72.5H. The maximum user weight capacity is about 300 lbs. You also get a 22-inch smart HD touchscreen.

norditrack x22i incline trainer at home
photo by @ahappypace

Although you might consider it pricy, the range of angles and veridicality of angles that it offers is unmatched.


Are Incline Trainers Better Than Treadmills?

Incline trainer vs treadmill: which one is better? If you want to engage more muscles and do a low-impact exercise, then using an incline trainer is better than using a treadmill. But if you want to have compact equipment and be able to walk or jog, then treadmills are better.

Are Treadmill Incline Workouts Effective?

Incline workouts are very effective, especially if you want fast calorie burn and want to train your glutes, hamstring, and calf muscles.


An incline trainer takes up more space and is pricey, but it is great if you want to do low-impact exercise to train your lower body muscles and burn more calories. Alternatively, a treadmill offers high-impact exercise just like a run, and lesser muscles are involved.

Let us know in the comments if you would prefer to opt for an incline trainer or do you want to stick to your standard treadmill.

Also read:


  1. The Effects of Walking while Working // NCBI:
  2. The effects of incline // PubMed:
  3. Predicting the Metabolic Cost of Incline Walking // NCBI:
  4. Low Impact Exercise // Teacher Retirement System:
  5. Effects of Treadmill Incline // PubMed:

Why Trust Us?

With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

By trusting the recommendations of our certified experts in coaching, nutrition, dietology, and sports training programming, as well as scientific consultants, and physiotherapists, we provide you with thorough, well-considered, and scientifically proven content. All the information given in the articles concerning workout programming, separate exercises, and athletic performance, in general, is based on verified data. We ensure that you can rely on our professionals’ pieces of advice and recommendations that can be treated as personalized ones which will benefit you and fully meet your needs.

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Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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