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The Best Workout on an Incline Trainer

by
author image Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.
The Best Workout on an Incline Trainer
Incline trainers create challenging workouts. Photo Credit Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

When working out on an incline trainer, the forces of gravity either serve as loyal assistants or formidable challengers. This type of workout either assists your performance of the more challenging exercises, or adds challenge to the easier exercises. The distinction "incline trainer" is actually a misnomer, since this type of exercise facilitates workouts in both the incline or decline position.

Incline Trainer Types

The words "incline trainer" refer to aerobic or resistance training equipment. Treadmills exemplify aerobic incline trainers. Users program them so that they provide a gradual incline, a steady incline or an incline at intervals. Some machines have a decline feature, which simulates the effects of walking or running downhill. Strength training incline trainers come with a cable-based resistance system. Like some of the aerobic incline training equipment, resistance training incline machines are usable in the incline or decline positions.

Incline Treadmill Benefits

Incline running develops muscular power, strength and endurance while increasing stride frequency and speed according to running coach Brian Mackenzie. It also increases caloric expenditure and muscle activity in the calf, hamstring and gluteal muscles, says Dr. Matthew Rhea, Director of Human Movement at A.T.Still University. In an article published in the winter, 2009 edition of "Fitness Solutions," Rhea reports that running 3 mph with an 18-percent incline results in the same heart rate as running 7 mph on a flat surface. Despite its many benefits, incline treadmill training may cause hip and knee pain. Use it sparingly, or use it as an interval training workout.

Incline Treadmill Workout

Interval training provides similar benefits with less injury potential. Begin at a moderate speed, and warm up for 10 minutes at a one percent incline. Set the treadmill at a three percent incline, and run for two minutes. Go back to a 1 percent incline, and continue running for another five minutes. Set the incline at 4 percent, and run for another two minutes. Return to 1 percent and run for five minutes. Then, set the incline for 5 percent, and run for five minutes. Cool down by running for two minutes at a 4 percent incline, two minutes at a 3 percent incline, two minutes at a 2 percent incline and two minutes at a 1 percent incline. As you gain strength and endurance, increase the height of each incline. If your treadmill has a decline feature, run downhill for another 10 minutes. Decline running works your muscles eccentrically, causing them to lengthen as they contract.

Incline & Decline Abs

Tight necks, hip flexors or lumbar regions interfere with your ability to perform full range abdominal exercises. In most abdominal exercises, gravity befriends you when you keep your head on the high end of the incline trainer. Your hip flexors play a less crucial role in this position, which makes it easier to perform full sit-up exercise. In contrast, keeping your head on the low end challenges your abdominal muscles.

Pilates Abdominal Workouts

Many novice Pilates students complain that during the Pilates 100 exercise, which requires you to keep your upper body in a flexed position for 100 counts, their necks give out long before their abdominal muscles. Keeping your head on the high end of the trainer alleviates the problem. Assume a supine position, and reach for the cable handles, pulling them down so that they are next to your hips. Lift your upper torso, and pump your arms up and down, breathing in for five counts and out for five counts. Perform the exercise for 10 cycles, or 100 counts. Advanced Pilates students add challenge to the half-roll-back exercise, by sitting with their knees bent and their feet on the high end, holding the cables for added resistance, rolling back to form a C-curve in the spine, and rolling back to the starting position.

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