If you’re into treadmills, there’s a good chance you already know about and probably use incline often. But, what incline should you walk on a treadmill?
If you’re just starting out, though, you’re most likely wondering which incline is ideal and what exactly walking at an incline can do for you.
Whatever your level of experience is, you’re here to see what different inclines do.
The incline is the reason I love treadmills so much; it adds so much versatility. If you’re dealing with those nasty plateaus, changing the incline will do the trick and your walk will feel like an actual workout again.
Let’s take a stroll and see how to choose treadmill incline levels that are right for you and what workouts you could do.I’m inclined to say - “Let’s do this!”
What incline should you walk on a treadmill? The sweet spot is anywhere between 1% and 5%. This will simulate outdoor walking conditions and won’t put a lot of stress on your joints.
4 Factors to Consider When Choosing the Incline of a Treadmill
In my experience, the vast majority of people think – the higher, the better. I understand why that would make sense, because as you up the incline, you feel like you’re progressing.
But the problem with that attitude is that you never learn what different inclines do. More often than not, a lower incline is ideal for the result you’re working towards and you’re exhausting yourself with a high incline for no reason.
There are a few factors to consider before you choose the best incline to walk on a treadmill.
1. Level of Fitness
2. Intensity of the Workout
3. Impact on Joints
If you have joint issues, it would be best to keep the incline at 5% max because a higher incline will put quite a bit of stress on your ankles, hips, and knees. But keep in mind, walking at an incline is actually good for your joints.
4. Muscles Targeted
Tips From the Champ
Olympic Weightlifting Champion
Main Incline Ranges Explained
1. Flat (0%) Incline
If you want the experience of walking outside, but want to stay in your living room, a 0% incline is what you need. If, on the other hand, you still want the challenge of an incline, starting with 0% is a great way to warm up.
2. 1% to 3%
This one is ideal for beginners. It will still feel almost like you’re taking a walk outside, but it will be slightly more challenging than that. You’ll feel this incline in your calves and quadriceps, but it won’t up the intensity of your workout too much.
3. 4% to 6%
With this one, you’ll start to feel that burning in your hamstrings and glutes a lot more than you would at a lower incline. The intensity is right there in the middle – not too crazy, but not like you’re taking a light stroll. It’s ideal if you want to increase your calorie burn.
4. 7% to 10%
If you’re walking on this incline, you’re doing a lot more than just taking a walk. Your glutes, hamstrings and calves are engaged, and you’ll notice that you need to put in a lot more effort into your walk. 7% to 10% builds strength and endurance.
5. 11% to 15%
This incline means business and will really increase the intensity of your walk. Or maybe I shouldn’t even call it a walk because you won’t feel like you’re just walking anymore. This one engages all of the muscles that lower inclines do, plus the core. Leg strength, calorie burning, cardiovascular fitness… All of these benefit from a high incline.
3 Incline Walking Workouts
If you think all you can do on your treadmill is run or walk the same way every time – think again. I have a few workouts that will make your walks far more interesting.
1. Pyramid Incline
For this one, start on a 0% incline and warm up. After 5 minutes of warming up, increase the incline to 2% and then walk for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes have passed, increase the incline to 4% and walk for 4 minutes. Keep increasing the incline by 2% every 2 minutes until you reach a big one (10% or more). You’ll want to keep walking on the highest incline for 4 to 6 minutes and then slowly decrease the incline by 2% every 2 minutes until you get to 0.
2. Steady Climb
Your incline should be set anywhere from 6% to 8%. Walk for 35 to 45 minutes and keep your pace steady. Make sure your posture is correct and engage your leg muscles and core. If you want to spice it up a bit, increase the incline every 5 minutes.
3. Incline Intervals
Warm up for 5 minutes on a 0% incline. After you’ve warmed up, set the incline to about 4% to 6%. Walk at a moderate pace for 2 minutes on the incline, then increase the speed for 1 minute. Continue your workout by going from challenging incline intervals and increased speed intervals. Do this for about half an hour and then cool down for 5 minutes on 0% incline.
Treadmill We Recommend - NordicTrack Commercial X22i
If you’re in the market for a new treadmill, I have something exquisite to recommend. NordicTrack really outdid themselves with this one. The 22’’ inch HD touchscreen is next level. The quality is outstanding and the size… Wow. The treadmill is also quite big. Its dimensions are 70’’ L x 39’’ W x 72.5’’ H. The belt is 60’’ L x 22’’ W.
The incline options go from a -6% decline to a whopping 40% incline. My favorite thing about it is the ActivePulse technology. This will automatically adjust the incline and speed(0-12 MPH) to keep you in your target heart rate zone. You’ll need to buy the Bluetooth heart pulse reader separately.
The treadmill is joint-friendly and kin to your hips, ankles, and calves. And the dual workout fans will keep you nice and cool during longer strolls. A winner in my book!
High range of inclines
Smart OneTouch speed control
Could be better:
Sometimes lags on WiFi
Bluetooth pulse reader sold separately
Is Walking on an Incline Good for Weight Loss?
Is 12 Incline Good on a Treadmill?
Our stroll for today has come to an end and now you’re ready to set that incline to be ideal for your runs and walks. Well… What incline to run on treadmill is a topic for another discussion, but we’ve discussed walks in-depth.
I would love to hear what you think and what your experience has been like! What is the incline on a treadmill that works best for you? What is a high incline treadmill you recommend, or have you maybe tried the NordicTrack one? Do you prefer running or walking on a treadmill? What made you choose the treadmill over taking walks outside? Share your opinions and tips!
- The effects of grade and speed on leg muscle activations during walking // Sciencedirect: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0966636211002827
- A Paradigm of Uphill Running // Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3707880/
- Asymmetric walking on an incline affects aspects of positive mechanical work asymmetrically // Pubmed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35413513/
- Effects of gradient and age on energy expenditure and fat metabolism during aerobic exercise at equal intensity in women // Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9081356/
- The Effects of Grade and Speed on Leg Muscle Activations during Walking // Researchgate: http://surl.li/jlaue
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