Health Fitness

Pros and cons of incline trainers and incline treadmills

Incline trainers (also known as incline treadmills) are a relatively new exercise equipment innovation that combines the treadmill with the stepper. It is a treadmill in function but a stepper in type of training. Essentially it’s a treadmill that offers a very steep incline for intense simulated “hill climbing” workouts.

Some incline treadmills incline up to 40%. Some incline trainers also offer a downhill option to simulate downhill walking or running.

What’s so good about an incline trainer?

If you’ve ever exercised on a stair or stair climbing machine, you’ll appreciate the intensity and effort required to do a “climbing style” workout. That’s what incline treadmills offer, but they also offer the features and benefits of a regular treadmill. Yes, you can set them to lower inclines to work like a normal treadmill.


  • Burn more calories. The steeper the slope, the more calories you will burn.
  • If you don’t like to run, but want an intense workout, incline treadmills will work for you.
  • Low impact training option. Do an intense workout while walking, which has much, much less impact than running or jogging.
  • Downhill running and running replica. Running in real life includes running downhill, which uses different muscles than running on flat or uphill terrain. Some incline treadmills offer descending inclines.
  • If you get an incline trainer with iFit technology, you can run or walk on simulated terrain all over the world. Imagine the tremendous training opportunities. You can train for a specific breed in your home. If you’re running the Seattle Marathon, which has hills, then program the Seattle Marathon route into your iFit Live with Google Maps and you can run the Seattle Marathon terrain right at home.
  • The best of both worlds: An incline trainer is really just a treadmill that offers a very steep incline. You can still run on these machines.


  • Shorter walking platform. No incline treadmill I’ve found offers a 60″ long deck. That said, you can still comfortably run on 50″ to 55″ decks (a common running deck length).
  • If you set it up with a very high incline (more than 15-20%), it may have to be hung by the handles. I find that holding on to the handles while exercising reduces effort. Enduring is a help that I like to avoid. I prefer to set the incline to a lower degree and not have to hold onto the handles. When training on steppers, I set the workout to a lower speed so I can get through the workout without hanging on the handles. That said, don’t compromise your safety by not holding on to the handles.

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