Treadmill Incline vs Speed Which is most Preferred Feature

Which is better for your fitness routine – incline or speed? When you’re on a treadmill, the level of incline and speed can both be adjusted. However, the degree to which these are changed affects the intensity of your workout. Therefore, it’s important to know what each does so that you can choose what will work best with your fitness goals.

This article explores how they compare and provides tips for making it easier to decide treadmill incline vs speed which suits you best! 

What’s the Difference Between Incline and Speed on a Treadmill?

A treadmill incline is when the surface of the belt angles upward. Running or walking at an incline causes you to lift your legs higher than normal, making your workout more intense. Adjusting the speed of a treadmill means changing how fast you run or walk.

So, an incline and speed combination on a treadmill is when you run or walk at a certain speed while the machine changes the incline angle to make your workout easier or harder. When using a treadmill, especially one without different stride length settings (most treadmills have these now), it’s important to choose the correct in-cline setting to run or walk correctly.

If you’re unsure about your settings, try a quick Google search using your machine’s model name and brand. Most models have user manuals with guides for setting up the incline and speed functions!

Sometimes, Installing an Incline by Cranking Up the Belt is Necessary

Just like how you can set the incline and speed separately on a treadmill, it’s possible to control the inclination of your belt elevation by manually cranking up or down on the rear roller position.

This is more common on older treadmills that don’t have electronic incline controls.

However, some people prefer this feature since they think it’s easier to manipulate the control panel. Be aware that the treadmill incline can be adjusted in different settings, depending on your fitness goals and abilities. Here are some common incline angles:

When To Change Incline Settings On a Treadmill

According to Fitbit’s support site, there is no definite answer for this regarding incline settings. So before starting your workout, consider your fitness goals and where you are in your fitness journey.

The best thing to do is try varying incline angles with a few different speeds. Most treadmills will have default incline settings calibrated for certain intensity levels, but once the belt moves, it’s easy to change the angle to what feels right.

If you’re unsure, choose a starting point and increase it or decrease it in small increments until you find the one that feels best for your fitness goals.

Benefits of Incline of a Treadmill

  • It is a great way of increasing your fitness level
  • A better workout than running at the same speed on flat surfaces
  • It makes it easier to change workout levels before and during workouts
  • It is a good way of running hill sprint
  • Different levels can help improve your speed and endurance
  • Incline workouts are suitable for beginners and advanced runners
  • Hill sprints or runs are an excellent way to burn calories, provided you do not lose control.
  • It’s workouts are suitable for beginners and advanced runners.
  • Different levels can help improve your speed and endurance

Running on a treadmill at an incline level will make it difficult to hold on to the bars.

If you are a beginner, it is recommended to get into the habit of holding onto the bars, as controlling your speed and incline levels might be difficult for you when you are first starting.

Benefits of Speed of a Treadmill 

  • Different speeds allow you to burn more calories.
  • Speed workouts can help improve your stamina and endurance
  • You will have the ability to maintain a faster pace at higher incline levels
  • Speed training will help tone your lower body muscles
  • Speed training can also provide an excellent cardio workout
  • You will maintain a constant speed throughout the workout, which can help you monitor your progress and efforts.

Running on a treadmill at high speeds without holding onto the handrails can be difficult for some people. Use caution when running at high speeds because it can cause you to lose control of your balance and fall off the treadmill.

Treadmill Speed Incline Combination

Here are a few combinations of speed and incline that you can try for your next workout:

  1. 5.0 mph 3% incline (great for beginners)
  2. 7.5 mph 2% incline (for intermediate runners and athletes)
  3. 8.0 mph 2% incline (good for advanced runners and athletes)
  4. 15-7 speed intervals with 1.5% incline level (speed training workout)

Is it necessary to have a treadmill with an adjustable incline?

We answer that it depends on the running you do. If you run mainly for weight loss, we recommend a treadmill with a flat running area. If, however, you are an avid runner who is working on rapidly improving your endurance levels, we would recommend that you choose a treadmill that has 3-12 percent incline settings. It will work wonders for your cardiovascular system.

Train Harder on a Treadmill with More Incline or Speed Levels

In comparing incline and speed levels, choose the one that fits your fitness level. For example, if you are still at an early stage of your running or walking exercise journey, it is advisable to stick between two different incline settings and two different speed levels.

This is because incline will help you build muscle and endurance while speed is needed to increase your heart rate for weight loss or burning fat fast.

Informal training experts suggest that incline features can also be used as a motivational tool by setting them up in percentages. For example, a 10% incline can be set up for walking, and after 30 minutes, it is time to increase by 5%, then will automatically keep you motivated.

You can do the same with speed as well. For example, while at 3 miles per hour (mph), you can increase your speed every 15 minutes bound by a range of 10%.

According to treadmill experts, incline and speed levels have different purposes. For example, the treadmill’s speed helps determine how quickly you burn calories or lose weight, while incline builds strength and endurance.

American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends using a treadmill for 30-60 minutes at around 3 mph with varying degrees of incline for better results. This is based on set standards.

However, if you are looking for a more efficient workout, an effective interval training routine can help you burn 50% more calories than the standard 30-60 minutes treadmill workout. Interval training consists of alternating between high and low speeds with incline levels every minute or after every two minutes.

According to experts, a good place to follow is running at 5.5 mph, then increasing the incline by 1% every minute for 12 minutes while walking in between periods of running.

Then, you can decrease the incline and increase speed (6 mph), following the same pattern for 12 minutes.

This interval training program will involve 36 minutes but with increased effectiveness. Although it is better to choose a treadmill that has a range of incline and speed levels, you can still have an effective workout if your treadmill only has one or just a few options for the two features.

According to Forbes expert Dr. Wayne Westcott, incline training on a treadmill does not build strength and toning muscles. Instead, Westcott makes use of routines that combine different exercises with a treadmill inclined at 10%. The combination of the two makes it more effective in burning fat and builds strength and endurance.

Westcott recommends doing 30 minutes interval training that involves running on a flat surface for three minutes, increasing the incline to 5% for the next three minutes, and repeating the pattern for at least 20-25 minutes.

As you can see, both speed and incline are necessary for training your body to gain results from it. A treadmill review can help you find one that suits your preference of either speed or incline, as they have their own set of challenges that will push your limits and get you closer to your fitness goals.

What do I Choose Between treadmill incline vs speed?

I choose both because they both have their own benefits. I use speed more for walking while incline, mainly when running on my treadmill. For me, the incline feature is more important than the speed features because it helps me build stamina on doing intervals which is a great workout routine that builds endurance and muscle tone simultaneously.

It depends on your needs as a treadmill user. If you are a beginner who wants to lose weight, speed is best for you, but if want a longer-lasting workout that builds muscles and endurance, the incline is the way to go.

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