Pros and cons of incline trainers and incline treadmills

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

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

What’s so great about an incline trainer?

If you have ever worked on a stair climbing machine, you will 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 on lower slopes to work like a normal treadmill.


  • Burn more calories. The steeper the slope, the more calories you will burn.
  • If you don’t like running, but want an intense workout, incline treadmills will do the trick.
  • Low impact training option. Get an intense workout while walking, which has a much less impact than running or jogging.
  • Repeat walking and running downhill. Running in real life includes running downhill, which uses different muscles than running on flat ground or uphill. Some incline treadmills offer downhill slopes.
  • If you get an incline trainer with iFit technology, you can run or walk on simulated terrain from all over the world. Imagine the tremendous training opportunities. You can train for a specific race at home. If you’re running the Seattle Marathon, which has hills, schedule the Seattle Marathon route on your iFit Live powered by Google Maps and you can run the Seattle Marathon terrain at home.
  • 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 deck. No incline treadmill I’ve come across offers a 60 “long platform. That said, you can still run comfortably on 50” to 55 “platforms (a common length of running platform).
  • If you place it on a very high incline (steeper than 15-20%), it will likely need to hang from the handles. I find that holding onto 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 I exercise on steppers, I set the workout to a lower speed so I can do the workout without hanging onto the handles. That being said, don’t compromise your safety by not holding onto the handles.

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