What is the Best Incline Treadmill for Walking?

The incline treadmill has become quite popular these days, as it offers a way to get great results without having to run or jog.  Although you can use these machines in the traditional way, they offer the additional benefit of being able to ramp up the angle significantly, letting you walk your way to your fitness goals.

How do they work?  Let's take a look...

More and more treadmills, especially those in the higher price ranges, come with some sort of incline capability...usually up to 10 or 15 degrees. 

Incline treadmills, on the other hand, have much higher angling capability...25, 30, even up to 40 degrees on some machines.  Some of them come with decline capability as well, from -3 to -6%.  They are designed to help you target muscle groups you otherwise could not target, and burn a lot more calories than you would if you were walking on a flat surface.

Who makes incline treadmills?

NordicTrack Incline Treadmill with TV

There are only a few companies that make a separate line of incline treadmills in addition to their traditional models.  

One of the best is NordicTrack, which has a full series of Incline Trainers, including the base X7i model (discontinued in 2017), the mid-level X9i and X11i, the the X15i (recently discontinued) and the top of the line X22i treadmills.

You can see a general overview of the Incline Trainers here.

All 4 of these models give you all of the great features that the company packs into their traditional treadmills, with the added bonus of up to 40% incline as well up to 6 degrees of decline on all but the base X7i, which offers up to 3 degrees of decline.

Another treadmill with incline is the FreeMotion 2000 GS which also gives you up to 40% incline like the NordicTrack models, and up to 6% decline.  However, this one is a lot more expensive and not necessarily worth the added expense.

A popular variation of the incline treadmill is a 3-in-1 hybrid machine from Bowflex called the TreadClimber, which is like a treadmill, elliptical and stepper in one, and gives you the same calorie burning ability as the incline treadmill.

There are currently two of these models on the market today, the base TreadClimber TC100 and the up-level TC 200 model.

There are other hybrid trainers out there, but they are more of an elliptical combined with other machines rather than a treadmill at heart.  So if you want an incline treadmill, these are your best options.

Bowflex TreadClimber

What are the benefits of walking at an incline?

By walking at an incline rather than walking flat, there are numerous health benefits for you.  For starters, whenever you are moving uphill it gets the heart pumping much faster than it would on a flat surface.  So in that regard you are getting a much better cardio workout in.

Second, walking uphill requires much more engagement from the muscles in your lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves.  So you're targeting those muscle groups much more so than you would be otherwise.

Obviously these health effects would be even more enhanced if you were running or jogging uphill.  But you can still achieve remarkable results by simply walking on a treadmill at any angle as opposed to using it flat.  Ramping it up to 40% like you can do on the NordicTrack Incline Trainers will really let you feel the burn.

So what's the bottom line?

Incline treadmills are really great for those who want to add an uphill dimension to their workouts and really hit those lower body muscle groups.  But keep in mind that they tend to be a little more expensive than traditional treadmills.

For example, NordicTrack's regular treadmills sell for $799 to $1999.  Their Incline Trainers sell for $1599 up to $4,499.  So you're going to pay a premium for this capability.  But keep in mind you can also use these treadmills with incline the traditional way, so it's almost as if you are getting an additional machine.  If you look at it that way, it's worth the additional cost in most cases.

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