Incline Trainer Vs. Treadmill

An incline trainer is a specific type of treadmill that offers steeper incline grades, sometimes as high as 40 percent. However, an incline trainer is not simply a treadmill with extra incline capability. Although similar in many ways, treadmills and incline trainers have different features, functions and benefits.

An incline trainer simulates hiking more than running. (Image: Arttanja/iStock/Getty Images)


Young woman using incline trainer (Image: nPine/nPine/Getty Images)

The identifying feature on an incline trainer is the steep grade. Depending on the brand and model, a standard treadmill offers a maximum incline of 10 to 15 percent. Incline trainers offer a maximum grade of 20, 30 or even 40 percent. Some incline trainers, such as the NordicTrack models, function similar to a treadmill, offering an entire range of incline settings between 0 and 40 percent. Other models offer a higher, but limited incline. The ProForm XT 70 has only two incline settings: 10 or 20 percent.


Incline treadmill controls (Image: Robert Cabrera/iStock/Getty Images)

Standard treadmills are ideal for walking or running workouts. If you are a consistent runner, you can maintain a quick pace at even a 10 or 12 percent incline. A workout on an incline trainer simulates hiking more than walking or running. Most incline trainers support a maximum speed of 10 or 12 mph so you can run on these machines. However, the steep incline, angle of the console and deck design make running less comfortable than on a standard treadmill.

Treadmill Benefits

Young woman running on treadmill (Image: Estudi M6/iStock/Getty Images)

If you are an avid runner, a treadmill provides the most options for you. At 55 to 60 inches, the decks are on a standard treadmill are typically longer than the decks on an incline trainer, which are usually 50 to 55 inches long. The longer deck allows for more comfortable strides, especially for taller runners. You may feel cramped if you run or sprint on an incline trainer.

Incline Trainer Benefits

Women working out on incline trainers (Image: Luca Francesco Giovanni Bertolli/iStock/Getty Images)

Manufacturers market incline trainers as intense calorie burners. If you increase the incline from 0 to 40 percent, you will burn five times the calories. If you walk 2 mph for 20 minutes at a 0 degree incline, you will burn approximately 74 calories. At a 20 degree incline, you will burn about 236 calories and at a 40 degree incline, you will burn almost 400 calories. Although these numbers will vary depending on your age, weight and fitness level, in general, you will burn more calories at a higher incline traveling at the same pace. If you are not an avid runner, an incline trainer offers you a convenient way to increase your workout intensity and calorie burn without increasing your speed.

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