Whether you’re working out on your at-home treadmill or going to the gym, treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of workout equipment. You can still walk or run while avoiding the dark mornings, cold weather or unfriendly terrain.
If you want to get more out of your cardio, use the incline feature on the treadmill to increase the intensity of your workout, without increasing the time or speed of the workout. Incline training offers a safe and satisfying way to achieve your fitness goals faster and more efficiently without putting more stress on your joints.
To get the most out of your cardio workouts, your heart rate should be about 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Walking on an inclined treadmill is an excellent way to keep your heart rate in the targeted range. Keeping your heart rate elevated at this level throughout a workout provides many benefits to the body. Incline walking increases the workload, raising the heart rate without having to risk aggravation of injury by running.
Walking on an incline increases leg muscle activation, stimulating the muscles of the calves, hamstrings and glutes. The muscle fibers that are triggered and worked by walking or running on an incline are called slow twitch muscles, which is tones your muscles. The greater the incline and the longer the period of time spent exercising on that incline, the faster you’ll see results.
While the number of calories burned by each person is based on individual factors, walking or running at an incline of two percent or more burns more calories than walking or running outdoors on a level surface —the body uses a greater percentage of fat for fuel. Walking at 3 mph on a super-incline trainer races between 16 and 18 percent burns 70 percent more fat than running with no incline.
Increase Overall Stamina — Body, Heart, Mind
Incline walking increases stamina mot only in your legs but also in many other areas. From your calves up to your upper thighs, there are obvious places where there will be an obvious increase. Areas that might not immediately come to mind include your lungs, brain and heart.
While working out on the treadmill, your lungs will work much harder than if you were on a level surface. In return, your lungs will become stronger and more conditioned, which is why this exercise is a great way to train for longer runs, marathons, etc.
Your brain also benefits from working out at an incline, as you’re pushing your mind and body to places you have potentially never pushed it before. You will be training and showing your brain that your body can do these intense workouts. Your brain is usually what keeps you from pushing yourself as far as you can while working out, telling you that you cannot do it. Incline training will show and train your brain to tell yourself that you can do it.
Last, your heart will gain stamina. When exercising on an incline, your heart rate will be much higher than if you were working out on a level surface. Your heart is working harder and becomes stronger. This is also a great way to lower your blood pressure, as your heart will strengthen over time to the point where it won’t need to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body.
Reduced Injury Risk
Using a treadmill to workout instead of running or walking outside reduces the risk of injury to the knees and hips because an inclined treadmill increases intensity levels without stressing the body’s joints. Running on a treadmill is already easier on the body’s joints than running outdoors, so a slight incline further reduces this stress on the body’s joints while increasing the intensity of the workout.
Incline walking provides a stretch to the Achilles tendons and calves, which can benefit people with foot problems like plantar fasciitis. Walking at an incline can also aggravate lower back pain. People who are experiencing pain in this area should reduce the incline and build up their workout slowly as the back muscles begin to strengthen.
There are so many benefits to an inclined treadmill! Start small and see how far you can push yourself with injury. If you haven’t incorporated the incline function of your treadmill into your workout, we strongly recommend doing so.
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