You’re looking for a new treadmill, but a standard machine isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. If you want to take exercising to a new height, an incline treadmill could be the answer.
In this article, I’ll discuss important information you’ll probably want to know before you buy one. In addition, I’ll give you an overview of the best incline treadmills for home use.
Quick Overview of our Top 5
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.
What is an incline treadmill?
William Staub designed the first home treadmill in the 1960s. Since then, it has become one of the most popular home exercise machines used in the US.
However, the earliest treadmills, and also the most basic models today, usually only allow you to walk or run horizontally. While this may be suitable for some, it’s probably not what you want. Else you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.
Incline treadmills allow you to increase the incline of the belt, either manually or electronically. Some of the more advanced models also include a decline feature, simulating the feeling of running or walking downhill.
Here is a useful video demonstrating it in action, together with some handy tips:
What are the benefits of incline treadmills?
In the next few paragraphs, I’ll discuss the benefits of using the incline feature on a treadmill.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy exercising on the treadmill. But, there are times when my legs are still happy to carry on, but my head thinks there’s probably something more interesting I could be doing.
An incline adds variety to your workout, especially if you have a machine with an automatic incline. Varying your regular workout routine with an incline session makes things a bit more fun.
Simulates outdoor running or walking
Some people enjoy outdoor running but prefer the safety and weather-friendly aspects of exercising indoors. If that sounds like you, an incline treadmill could be beneficial.
These treadmills simulate outdoor uphill and in some cases downhill running or walking. This is especially useful if you want to prepare yourself for an outdoor running race or a long walk in an area with a lot of hills.
Targets different muscles
If you are looking to work your leg muscles, of which you have over 20, an incline could help. Changing the incline or decline targets different muscle groups compared to exercising on a flat surface.
As a result, you will train individual muscles in a variety of ways, which leads to a more complete workout.
Burns more calories
Running on an incline generally requires more energy than running horizontally (at the same pace).
Therefore, you’ll usually have to walk or run for a shorter amount of time to burn the same number of calories. So, it’s an efficient way to burn more calories in less time.
Reduces the need for speed
I know some people are a bit afraid of treadmills. They have probably seen videos of accidents on the internet, which might occur when the speed is set too high.
Incline treadmills allow you to increase your heart rate and put more ‘pressure’ on your muscles without raising the speed. This might be useful for users who want an effective and at the same time safe workout without increasing the need for speed.
What to look for in an incline treadmill?
When choosing your machine, there are some factors you might want to consider.
Different machines usually have different incline levels. These are generally measured in percentages.
There are some machines like some incline trainers that can elevate up to 40 percent; however, they are usually the exception rather than the norm.
In general, usually many incline treadmills have an incline of around 12 to 15 percent, some a little bit less. If you want to replicate outdoor running at a higher pace (8 MPH+), one percent is considered sufficient. Going higher than 1% will provide more intense workouts, but isn’t necessary to compensate for the lack of wind.
Raising the incline to seven or eight percent can be useful if you are training for a specific walk or run. For example, when you know, you will be encountering similar uphill conditions on the route.
Manual Vs. electric
The incline is either controlled by manual adjustment or electronically. Manual adjustment involves getting off the treadmill and manually adjusting a bar or feet. An electronic incline can be changed while on the machine itself (by choice or automatically by a program).
If you are trying to replicate changes in terrain, you’ll probably want to go for an electronic incline. If you don’t care to pause your workout, a manual incline may suit your needs as well.
Running on an incline will increase pressure on the feet, ankles, knees, and hips more than exercising horizontally.
Treadmills with a cushioned belt usually increase comfort and make the running experience more pleasant. So, this is especially important for runners.
Incline Treadmill Reviews (our top 5)
In the last part of this article, I’ll review my top 5.
ProForm Pro 2000
With its feature-packed design, the ProForm Pro 2000 could be a good choice for the serious runner.
The Pro 2000 has an incline which goes up to a maximum of 15 percent. In addition, it also has a decline with a maximum of minus three percent. This may make it an attractive choice for a runner looking to replicate outdoor uphill and downhill running.
Its powered incline feature means the belt can be raised or lowered by pressing the incline or decline buttons. This is a useful benefit for a person who wants to concentrate solely on running. It also has pre-programmed incline workouts, meaning you do not have to do anything to change the speed and incline of the belt.
ProForm’s patented ProShox system, which consists of shock absorbers under the belt, reduces stress on the joints while exercising. The ProShox system is a useful feature for the runner who spends a lot of time on the machine or those with existing joint issues.
The Pro 2000 weighs 320 pounds and measures 77.16 inches by 39.15 inches by 70 inches and has a weight capacity of 300 Lbs. So, it’s a relatively heavy and large machine, which is also especially useful for runners.
NordicTrack C 990
With its seven-inch web-enabled touch display, the NordicTrack C 990 may appeal to the tech-loving runner. The display is especially useful for iFit.
iFit enables routes to be planned through Google Maps. This places you on a virtual road, seeing your progress in real time on the screen. Even the zero to twelve percent incline will adjust according to the chosen route. So, iFit offers a simulation of exercising outdoors.
Furthermore, the FlexSelect belt offers custom cushioning. You can adjust the FlexSelect the way you like. Activating the cushioning makes the belt feel softer. You can also choose the less flexible option, which makes the belt feel similar to running outdoors.
The C990 weighs 215 pounds, which is relatively lightweight for a 79.5″, 35.5″, 60.3″ machine. This makes it a bit easier to store. Please note, 215 pounds is still quite heavy!
The TR1200i is a foldable treadmill with a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.
The patented EZfold technology uses ‘hydraulic shocks’ to make folding easier. Additionally, the soft-drop system makes sure the belt doesn’t drop too fast. This makes it a good choice for users who fold and unfold the belt on a regular basis.
The belt has an incline of 15 levels. You can adjust it with the buttons on the left-hand side of the console. Please note, 15 levels isn’t the same as 15 percent!
Furthermore, it offers 21 different workout programs. They vary from specific weight loss programs to heart rate programs which you can use for heart rate controlled workouts.
The Nautilus T614 has a motorized incline of up to 12 percent, 22 workout programs and a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour. So it probably offers more than enough variety for most users.
What makes this treadmill stand out is the goal tracking feature. With this feature, you can set personal exercise goals.
The goal tracking system is beneficial if you want to reach a specific goal, for example; walk or run X amount of miles in 30 days time.
XTERRA Fitness TR150
However, I personally wouldn’t recommend this model for (very) serious runners, because they’ll probably want more programs and higher maximum speed.
With 12 workout programs and a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour, the TR150 is still challenging for a lot of runners. However, I personally wouldn’t recommend this model for (very) serious runners, because they’ll probably want more programs and higher maximum speed.
In my humble opinion, it’s a good choice for recreational runners, joggers, and users who want to use their machine for walking.
In my opinion, the best incline treadmill is the ProForm Pro 2000. What makes this model stand out is the fact that it has an incline of up to 15 percent and a decline of 3 percent.
The 3.5 CHP Mach Z commercial (!) motor, a weight capacity of 350 Lbs and a 22″ by 60″ belt, makes it a good choice for most runners. This also makes it more than suitable for walking.
The speed and incline change relatively fast and smoothly, which is useful for interval training and during workout programs.
For these reasons, I recommend this model.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you’ve got any questions, please leave a comment down below. I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions!