One of a treadmill’s biggest benefits is the incline feature. A treadmill incline feature offers training options that aren’t as readily available outside. This is especially true if you live in an area with few or no hills.
Benefits of a Treadmill Incline
1. Equalizes effort
If you walk or run on a treadmill with zero percent incline, your performance is skewed compared to your performance running or walking on solid surface. The reasons for this are three-fold:
The tread belt moves which results in you not having to propel your body forward
There’s no wind or air resistance
When your foot strikes the tread belt, there’s a slight pause (or slow-down) in the tread belt movement because your foot is an opposing force.
Therefore, the treadmill incline feature presents an option to equalize the performance. Generally training on a treadmill with a 1 to 3 percent incline grade will do it.
2. Hiking simulation
If you’re a hiker, a treadmill with an incline feature (most have an incline feature) makes it easy to do uphill training and walking.
3. Burn more calories / expend more energy / more intensity
It goes without saying that training on an incline burns more calories and presents a more intense workout.
4. Workout variation
If you get tired of running at the same pace all the time, you can vary your workouts by training at an incline.
5. Hill training
If you run competitively, a treadmill with an incline offers you the option to do hill training any time you like.
6. Work different muscles
Every percent change in gradient change targets different muscles and/or works out your muscles differently. A treadmill incline feature gives you the opportunity to vary the muscles you train.
Treadmill Incline Feature Considerations When Buying a Treadmill
When you buy a treadmill, not all incline options are equal. The following are some treadmill incline feature considerations to keep in mind when choosing a treadmill.
1. Gradient range
How steep do you like to train? Most motorized treadmills top out at 12 to 15 percent gradient. If you like steep training, consider getting an Incline Treadmill Trainer that can incline to gradients from 20 percent to 40 percent.
2. Incline adjustment methods
There are 3 types of treadmill incline adjustment mechanisms on treadmills. They are as follows:
i. Incremental on the console
Incremental treadmill incline adjustment is the most common gradient adjustment, but it’s also the most inconvenient. You adjust incline up or down using arrows. The increments are generally.5 percent or levels. This means you must hit a button several times to make any significant incline adjustments.
One-touch incline adjustment is a convenience feature. The treadmill console has a full number pad and you simply hit the number, such as 4 and the incline adjusts to 4 percent (or level 4). One-touch makes it much faster to adjust your incline, which means less time not in full stride.
iii. Handlebar adjustment
Reaching to the console to make any adjustments is inconvenient because you must reach forward and therefore breaks your stride.
Some treadmill manufacturers recognize the inconvenience of reaching to the console and therefore offer treadmill incline adjustment buttons placed on the handlebar which is much closer to you. This considerably reduces interruption to your stride.
3. Replicate live courses and terrain
If you get a treadmill that is outfitted with iFit software, you can actually replicate the gradients of real-life courses and terrain. iFit uses Google Maps software to replicate a course. As you hit hills, the treadmill automatically adjusts incline to replicate the gradients. This is pretty cool.
If you buy a laptop shelf, you can easily sit your laptop on your treadmill console and watch your course using Google’s Street Level software. Again, this is only available with iFit software.
4. Incline adjustment delay
Keep in mind that when you make an incline adjustment, the change isn’t instant. There’s a slight delay. This is a safety feature so that you can acclimate to the incline change.
Treadmill incline is undoubtedly one of the best features of any treadmill because of the workout variations it offers. Don’t undermine the incline feature; when buying a treadmill look carefully at the incline feature so you get the treadmill right for you. That said, most treadmills offer an incline to some degree.
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