Most treadmill users tend to fall into two camps: They’ve never touched the + button on the treadmill or its hit to the max because lets face it, that must be the most effective workout right? As the weather turns and using a home treadmill becomes more appealing it’s a good time to look at your work out and what it’s really doing for your muscles.

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A zero incline will mimic running outside on a flat surface, so your leg muscles will work in the same way as they would outdoors but without the wind to contend with. If you were to up the incline to 1.5 ish then this should reflect a level of wind resistance.

As you increase the incline additional muscle actions are required to push you uphill – this will burn more calories, The American College of Sports Medicine notes that for every 1 percent of grade, you increase your calories burned by about 12 percent.

Another study showed when people walked at a nine-percent incline, they increased the activation of their gastrocnemius (a calf muscle) by 175 percent, their biceps femoris (a quad muscle) by 635 percent, and their gluteus maximus by 345 percent, compared to when they walked at zero incline (Franz & Kram, 2011). Although you work all of these muscles at low inclines, as the treadmill’s steepness increased, so did how hard the muscles had to work.

However the effect of a high incline on the body can be detrimental, particular for those who may suffer from any issues such as hip flexor strain. Pushing yourself too high can also lead to bad posture – always ensure you can move your hands comfortably and freely with your body forming a straight line. It can also exacerbate lower back pain, so if you are feeling any discomfort always hit the – button to stop any potential further damage.

While there are considerable benefits to an inclined workout, in fact, running a variety of inclines forces the body to continually engage different muscles providing a better, all round workout. It also increases the aerobic demand of the run helping you develop your endurance level. After all, the aim of a treadmill work out is to mimic an outdoors run which would not remain flat from start to finish or at a the same uphill/downhill gradient.

So mix it up! Most treadmills are programmed with a choice of workouts that you can set to increase to the level of inclination that best suits your ability. Check out our range of running machines available for you to buy at prices of up to 70% less than a main dealer.