Treadmill Hill Training – Reach Your Fitness Goals Faster

If your treadmill offers a 10%, 12% or perhaps a 15% incline, treadmill hill training is a convenient way to boost your calorie burn rate as well as increase your endurance and build strength.

Most machines these days come with at least some incline capability, either manual or power, which gives you the ability to ramp up your training and reach your fitness goals much faster.

What are the Benefits of Running Steep?

In addition to the many health benefits of a treadmill hill workout, you also have a primary tool to use for race training, since running hills will help you with your overall speed and pace, as well as other improvements you may not realize.

Rarely will you be running a race with no incline whatsoever, unless of course you are on a track.

While you know that running (or even doing a brisk power walk) using an incline promotes cardiovascular and aerobic conditioning, it also:

  • Improves leg strength
  • Increases overall body conditioning and toning of the legs
  • Improves speed since hill training also increases stride length and frequency
  • Improves endurance and running economy
  • Burns more calories through use of the large leg muscles
  • Improves lactate threshold tolerance
Treadmill Hill Training - Woman Running at a Steep Incline

A Sample Hill Workout

Using incline intervals is the best way to prepare for treadmill hill training.

A typical, gradual run will start out on a flat belt for two minutes, increase the incline to level 2 and run for two minutes, increase to level 4 for two minutes, and continue until you reach the max incline on your treadmill.

Use the same intervals as you decrease elevation back down to the zero level. Walk or run at a pace that is challenging but not so taxing that you cannot keep up the pace through the entire workout.

We found three other samples for you at the Active website.

You can really do any type of training you'd like, as long as you don't overdo it.

Start with the lower inclines and work your way up.  It might take some time until you are able to reach the steepest levels, and you may never reach the highest ones.

That's OK.  Just do what feels comfortable for yourself and don't worry about what anyone else is doing.

Some Good Options For Your Hill Training

If you really want to ramp things up as much as possible, we would take a look at the NordicTrack Incline Trainers.  

These give you up to 40% incline and 6% decline, so you can really do a true hill workout with these machines.  

They also have a ton of built in programs that will automatically change the incline for you, so you don't have to do it manually.

If you don't need that level of flexibility, then you can just go with any of our top treadmill picks, as they all have at least 10% incline capability which is plenty to replicate any hills you will encounter outside.

You can look at the other treadmills from NordicTrack, as well as any of the models from Sole, Horizon and ProForm.  All of them have built in hill programs that you can choose that raise and lower the incline based on your inputs.

Power incline is always more convenient than manual, so if you can find a model with automatic ramp changing capability you will definitely be much happier.

Manual changing, which is usually only three levels, requires you to stop your workout and get off the machine to make the changes.  Obviously that takes you out of your routine, which most people find annoying.

So we recommend spending an extra $100 or so to get a treadmill with power incline that you can change with the touch of a button while you workout.  It makes for a much more enjoyable training session.

Hill Training - Summary

If you are not in the best of shape, talk to your doctor first before starting a hill training program.  Make sure you are healthy enough to do this type of workout routine.

Remember, start out slow and have the goal of finishing. If it is too easy, then increase the pace on your next workout.  Don't go right up to the highest levels thinking you can handle it.  You may be able to, but just make sure with gradual increments first.

Intervals are a challenging method of working out and will help you reach your fitness goals that much faster, so they're definitely worth looking into.

Of course running up hill is a well-known training regime when outdoors, but you can simulate much of this effective and productive method at home using treadmill hill training.

Give it a try to today and see how you can ramp up your cardio and target additional muscle groups in your legs.

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