Incline trainers (also referred to as incline treadmills) are a relatively new exercise equipment innovation combining the treadmill with the stepper. It’s a treadmill in function but a stepper in workout type. Essentially it’s a treadmill that offers a very steep incline for intense “hill climbing” simulated workouts.

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

What’s so great about an incline trainer?

If you’ve ever worked out on a step or stair climbing machine, you’ll appreciate the intensity and effort required to do a “climbing style” workout. That’s what incline treadmills offer – but also offering the features and benefits of a regular treadmill. Yes, you can set them to lower inclines to function just as a regular treadmill.


  • Burn more calories. The steeper the incline, the more calories you’ll burn.
  • If you aren’t into running, but want an intense workout, incline treadmills will deliver.
  • Low impact workout option. Get an intense workout while walking which is much, much lower impact than running or jogging.
  • Replicate downhill walking and running. Real life running includes running downhill which uses different muscles than running on flat or uphill terrain. Some incline treadmills offer downhill gradients.
  • If you get an incline trainer with iFit technology, you can run or walk terrain simulated from all over the world. Imagine the tremendous training opportunities. You can train for a specific race in your home. If you’re running the Seattle marathon, which has hills, then program the Seattle marathon route in your iFit Live powered by Google maps and you can run the Seattle marathon terrain in your 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 that I’ve found offers a 60″ long deck. That said, you can still comfortably run on 50″ to 55″ decks (a common running deck length).
  • If you set it at a very high incline (steeper than 15 – 20%) you’ll likely need to hang onto the handles. I find holding onto handles while working out reduces effort. Holding on is an assist which I like to avoid. I’d rather set the incline to a lower grade and not need to hold onto handles. When I work out on steppers I set the workout to a lower speed so I can do the workout without hanging onto handles. That said, don’t compromise your safety by not holding onto the handles.