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Incline Training: 10 Benefits of Going up

If you want a killer workout, go up. Incline training works more muscles, it challenges your body, and it can be done indoors or outdoors. Don’t mosey on flat surfaces; hit the hills for a better workout. Check out the 10 benefits of incline training.

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Ways to Add Incline Training to Your Workout

There are many ways you can add incline training to your workouts. Whether you get fit indoors or outside, you can find a hill to climb. To add incline training to your workout, check out these methods:

  • Do interval incline training courses on the treadmill (not all treadmills have incline options, so choose one that does).
  • Set the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike to the hill setting.
  • Go for a hike.
  • When you go for a walk outside, make sure the route includes inclines, even if the hills are slight.
  • Give trail running a try.

10 Benefits of Incline Training

Now it’s time to go up and reap the rewards. Here are the top 10 benefits of incline training:

1. You burn more calories

That is the number one benefit most want to hear. When you walk on an incline or run uphill, you increase the intensity of the activity and your heart rate goes up. As a result, you burn more calories faster.

2. Improves hamstring and glute activity

A 2012 study revealed that walking on at least a 9-degree treadmill incline increased hamstring activity by 635 percent when compared to walking. When evaluating the glutes, activity increased by as much as 345 percent.

3. Promotes increased hip, knee and ankle muscle activity

The same study revealed increased hip, knee and muscle activity on inclines.

4. Reduces the load on your extremities and joints

When you walk on an incline, stress on the knees decreases, according to a 2014 study. All gradient levels, from 5% to 20%, revealed a decrease in the internal knee-abduction movement. The study also revealed increased activation of the quadriceps and leg muscles without adding stress on the knee.

5. Improves lung function

When you run or walk outside on an incline, you increase your lung capacity. Physical activity strengthens the respiratory muscles and improves blood flow, which promote effective and efficient oxygen use. Overtime, your body will have the ability to handle the increased load, thus increasing your lung function.

6. It is a great recovery method

After an intense workout, walking on an incline can aid in recovery. When you have a hard day at the gym, keep moving to recover and improve blood flow.

7. It curbs boredom

If you are bored, you won’t return to the gym. Why would you? If you are bored with your workout, you are not challenging yourself or switching it up. Aim to challenge yourself daily and to keep it interesting so you are inspired to keep going. You can add variety to your workout with any of the incline methods listed above.

8. Encourages you to push yourself harder

When you work out on an incline, you push yourself to keep going. The workout intensifies and your ambition kicks into gear. Not only will you work more muscles and burn more calories, but you will train your mind to overcome obstacles too.

9. Alleviates stress on your shins

When you walk on an incline, you reduce your risk for shin splints. The decreased load on the legs and effective use of the leg muscles decreases the stress on the shins.

10. Increases your speed

You get faster. When all of the benefits of training on an incline collide, you get faster. Your legs will be stronger, your breathing will improve, you reduce pain, and as a result, you increase your speed.

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Franz, J. R., & Kram, R. (2012). The effects of grade and speed on leg muscle activations during walking. Gait & Posture,35143-147. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.08.025

Haggerty, M., Dickin, D. C., Popp, J., & Wang, H. (2014). Full length article: The influence of incline walking on joint mechanics.Gait & Posture391017-1021. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.12.027