Incline Treadmill Workout for Weight Loss

Woman running on treadmill in gym

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Walking on a treadmill is a good way to lose weight. However, if you want to really kick your weight loss into overdrive, you may want to consider doing an incline treadmill workout instead. Why? Because you'll burn more calories.

Increased Calorie Burn When Using a Treadmill with Incline

There are several factors that determine how many calories you'll burn while exercising on a treadmill. Some of these factors include your current weight and how long you work out. Another is the intensity of the exercise, which is where an inclined treadmill comes into play.

By walking, jogging, or running uphill, your body is forced to work harder. It requires more energy (calories) to make it up the incline. The greater the incline, the harder it works. The harder it works, the more fat you burn. This is why some athletes engage in hill workouts.

35-Minute Boredom-Buster Treadmill Workout

This workout involves spending 35 minutes on a treadmill for boredom-busting cardio fun. You'll change your speed and incline many times to make the workout more interesting while doing two important things: burning more calories and building more endurance in a short period of time. 

The speeds and inclines listed below are only examples and range from walking speeds to running speeds. Increase or decrease the speed and/or inclines to fit the suggested perceived exertion and, of course, your fitness level. For a longer workout, go through the workout twice.

Time Instructions Ending Speed/Incline Perceived Exertion
10 min Warm up at a steady pace. 3.0–5.0 mph / 1% incline 4-5
5 min Baseline: Increase to a moderate pace, just out of your comfort zone. 3.5–6.0 mph / 1% incline 5-6
1 minute Increase speed and incline 1 increment every 15 seconds. 3.9–6.4 mph / 5% incline 7-8
1 minute Remain at above speed and incline. 3.9–6.4 mph / 5% incline 8
1 minute Lower speed and incline 1 increment every 15 seconds. 3.5–6.0 mph / 1% incline 6-7
1 minute With speed at baseline, increase incline every 15 seconds. 3.5–6.0 mph / 5% incline 7-8
1 minute Remain at above speed/incline. 3.5–6.0 mph / 5% incline 8
1 minute Speed at baseline, decrease incline every 15 seconds. 3.5–6.0 mph / 1% incline 7-8
5 minutes Above Baseline: Get a little more out of your comfort zone for this segment. 3.8–6.3 mph / 1% incline 6-7
1 minute Set incline at 2% and increase speed 1 increment every 20 seconds. 4.1–6.6 mph / 2% incline 7-8
1 minute Remain at the above speed and incline. 4.1–6.6 mph / 2% incline 8
1 minute Decrease speed every 20 seconds. 3.8–6.3 mph / 2% incline 7-8
1 minute Sprint or speedwalk as fast as you can! 4.0–7.0 mph or higher / 2% incline 9
5 minutes Cool down. 3.0–4.0 mph / 0% incline 4
Total Time 35 Minutes

Boost Weight Loss by Not Using the Handrails

Research reveals that you expend more energy when you don't use the handrails while walking on a treadmill, and that amount increases even more if that treadmill is on an incline. Therefore, if your goal is to lose weight, it's helpful to do the treadmill incline workout without the handrails if you can.

Handrails can assist with balance, making the treadmill safer if this is a concern. An inclined treadmill can sometimes change the way you walk. So, if you find that you frequently stumble or lose your footing while doing your workout, prioritize safety over weight loss and use the rails.

If you'd like to reduce your reliance on the handrails, this can be accomplished slowly over time. Start by not using the rails for 10-30 seconds at a time. Work to increase these time periods to the point where you don't use the handrails at all.

Incline Treadmill Workout Safety

Before doing an incline treadmill workout, it's important that this type of training is safe for you to do. Talk with your doctor before beginning this or any other weight loss exercise program to ensure that your health and physical condition can support the designed routine.

Once your doctor gives you approval, slowly increase your inclines and treadmill speeds. Aim to increase your running mileage by no more than 5% to 10% per week. This helps reduce your likelihood of injury.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Hofmann C, Dougherty C, Abkarian H, Fox M, Juris P. The reduction of metabolic costs while using handrail support during inclined treadmill walking is dependent on the handrail-use instruction. Intl J Exerc Science. 2014;7(4).

  3. Miranda D, Hsu WH, Petersen K, et al. Sensory enhancing insoles modify gait during inclined treadmill walking with load. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(5):860-8. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000831

  4. Vincent H, Vincent K. Considerations for initiating and progressing running programs in obese individuals. PM&R. 2013;5(6):513-19. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2013.03.008

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."