Personalized Workout & Meal PlansGet Started
Fact checked by Andrew Lenau ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
April 04, 2023
Exercising on a treadmill represents a very effective, joint-friendly form of cardio. Doing so on an incline takes your workout to the next level, allowing you to burn more calories and work your lower body muscles more intensely. An incline treadmill workout is only as good as the machine you're running on.
In preparation for this review article, we've gone deep into the incline treadmill market, testing and evaluating a range of makes and models to reveal the seven best incline treadmills available for home users. To help you identify the ideal incline treadmill to meet your training goals, we've separated those seven best incline treadmills by category. This article also includes a comprehensive buyer's guide and the answers to the most common incline treadmill questions.
** This post may contain affiliate ads where we make a small commission on purchases made at no cost to you. We only recommend products we think you will find valuable.**
Over the course of my 35 years as a personal trainer, I've used and recommended a lot of brands of treadmills. Yet, for at least the past five years, I've been directing people to the Sole website more than any other. And the one model that I recommend people consider first is the F63.
The Sole F63 has a 3 HP horsepower motor that is capable of 12 mph. That power level means you won't experience any stuttered movements or delays when you're changing the speed levels. You also get 15 levels of auto-adjustable incline to meet the intensity training needs of any fitness level.
The frame of the F63 is impressively solid and sturdy, so you won't have any concerns with the machine wobbling when you are using it at an incline. Sole provides an unbeatable lifetime warranty on the frame, which tells you volumes about how rugged it really is.
The Sole F63 comes with six preset programs, including cardio, fat loss, and HIIT workouts. Other features include a cooling fan and speakers built into the module, easy speed change, and incline buttons on the arms. The large, user-friendly console provides you with a running readout of your speed, incline, time, distance traveled, calories, pulse, and pace. There's also an integrated tablet holder so you can use your tablet to watch your favorite streaming entertainment services while you're working out.
The maximum user weight on the Sole F63 is 325 lbs. This is a folding machine that can be easily wheeled away for storage. The running deck is larger than you'd normally find on treadmills at this price range, being 22" x 60". That's sizeable enough for all but the tallest runners.
NordicTrack is a leading name in the home fitness industry, and the Commercial 1750 is the company's top-selling treadmill. This model has recently added some upgraded features, including a new 14" touchscreen that allows you to access hundreds of workouts with an iFit subscription.
A 3.5 HP motor powers the NordicTrack 1750 and has a max speed of 12 mph. That level of grunt ensures a very smooth and quiet operation. The 22" x 60" running bed provides ample room to stride out without impeding your running gait. Another feature I appreciated was the shorter step-up height to the running bed than you find on many treadmills. I work with many elderly folks, and the lower step-up height can be a game changer for them.
The incline on this treadmill ranges from -3% to 15%. That's more than enough of a range to meet the training needs of even the most elite trainer. The 14" touchscreen is very user-friendly, and it also tilts 360 degrees. That allows you to follow along as you are doing workouts both on and off the machine.
Premium audio speakers and an auto breeze workout fan add to the enjoyment and comfort of your workout. Your purchase also comes with a 30-day trial subscription to iFit for five different users.
The Commercial X32i is the premium-level incline home treadmill offered by NordicTrack. It's the evolution of the NordicTrack Elite treadmill, designed to be more feature-packed in every way. For a start, it's got a crazy maximum incline level of 40 degrees. To put that into perspective, most people would be seriously challenged at 7 degrees! You can also set the running bed to a max decline of -6 degrees.
The X32i also gives you a 32-inch HD SmartScreen. That is easily the largest screen I have ever seen on a treadmill. It'll give you an unparalleled crisp viewing experience as you follow along with iFit workouts (provided you've got a subscription).
This treadmill makes use of NordicTrack's Reflex cushioning system to reduce joint impact. This system responds to the user's weight so that lighter runners will induce a more shallow reflex response while heavier users will produce a deeper reflex response.
The super powerful 4.25 HP motor provides one of the most natural, smooth, and quietest treadmill experiences you will find, even at the maximum incline level. The running belt is longer than just about any other home-use treadmill you'll ever come across, with a length of 65 inches and a width of 22 inches. Better still, this extra-long belt has high-spec balanced rollers to keep your workout feeling natural.
The max user weight on this treadmill is 300 lbs, which is pretty low for a treadmill in its price range.
Your purchase of the NordickTarck X32i includes a chest strap heart monitor that allows you to get precise heart rate monitoring. You also get an iFit 5-person subscription free for 30 days.
The Bowflex Treadmill 22 is a beast of a treadmill. It weights in at 336 and has dimensions of 85" L x 39.6" W x 70" H. However, this is also a foldable treadmill, so you'll be able to collapse it up to a more compact storable size. The folded dimensions are 70" x 39.6" x 44.5". The soft drop folding system makes it easy to fold the machine away after your workout, which in my opinion, is part of what makes this the best folding incline treadmill available on the market today.
The "22" in the name of this treadmill refers to the 22-inch touchscreen, which is a key feature. This screen allows you to follow along in style with the massive array of workouts that are available through the JRNY app, which you'll have to pay a monthly subscription to access.
One thing I like about the touchscreen on this treadmill is that it sits pretty high on the frame. As a result, you're not having to gaze down as you're running. This helps to maintain a more upright posture. On the downside, the screen does not pivot to the sides, so you won't be able to get a good view of your instructor if you're doing an off-the-machine workout to the sides of the treadmill. You can, however, tilt the screen up and down.
The running deck on the Bowflex Treadmill 22 measures 22" x 60". That should be long and wide enough to allow all but the tallest users to achieve full, unrestricted running movement. The motor on the Bowflex 22 has a max rating of 4.5 HP. At the top speed of 12 mph, it still feels rock solid, with no jerkiness. The solid frame on this unit can handle up to 400 lbs of user weight, which is the highest you'll find on a home-use treadmill.
The incline range on this treadmill runs from -5% to 20%. For more cardio options from Bowflex, check out our full article.
The first thing you'll probably notice about the NordicTrack Commercial X22i is that the motor is housed at the back of the machine, under the deck, rather than at the front. This makes it look more slimline and ensures that your foot won't kick the front cover that hides the motor. In terms of incline, this machine matches that of the more expensive X32i, providing you with a 40% incline and a 6% decline. I have personally run on this machine at the max incline of 40% - and could only handle 20 seconds of it!
The steep incline is ideal if you're an athlete who does a lot of sprint training and hill work.
The 22-inch touchscreen on the NordicTrack Commerical X22i provides very good graphics and resolution. That really brings the outdoor locations where many of the JRNY workouts are filmed to vivid life.
This is not a folding treadmill. It's also pretty heavy and not that user-friendly when it comes to moving it. Extra features include three adjustable fans and adjustable storage areas for things like your water bottle and car keys.
The max user weight on the X22I is just 300 lbs, which is pretty low for a treadmill at this level. It has a 4 HP motor that provides up to 12 mph of smooth speed without any jerkiness or stuttering. When you buy this treadmill, you get a one-month free family subscription to iFit.
The ProForm Pro 9000 is a solidly performing compact treadmill that gives a wide range of incline options. You can adjust it between a 12% incline and a 2% decline, which will be plenty for most people. It has a large, 22-inch touchscreen that allows you to get a clean, crisp view of the thousands of workouts available through iFit.
The compact footprint of this treadmill makes it a good choice for people with limited space for their workout equipment. The dimensions are 77.3" long x 59.6" high. It weighs 263 lbs. Despite the relatively small footprint, you still get a 22" x 60" running deck, which is pretty impressive.
The all-steel frame of the ProForm 9000 is impressively solid. It won't wobble or feel insecure, even when you are training at the max incline angle. The 3.6 CHP motor allows for a max speed of 12 mph and archives a relatively quiet, jerk-free movement.
The Horizon 7.0 AT Treadmill represents excellent value if you're looking for a quality running machine that offers plenty of incline adjustment and extra functionality and that folds. It's got a 3 CHP motor that provides a max speed of 12 mph. The running experience is relatively fluid and jerk free, though you may experience some slight stuttering at the top speed and max incline angle.
The running deck on this incline trainer has dimensions of 60" x 22". That's bigger than you find on most treadmills priced under a thousand dollars, which typically have a length of 55". Horizon employs a three-tier cushioning system on this machine that does a very good job of reducing the impact on your joints, especially when you're running at a high incline.
The big trade-off with the Horizon 7.0 AT is that it has a small 7" screen. This is not a touchscreen, so you won't get the best viewing experience. You can, though, use your tablet or other devices to access fitness and entertainment apps if you want to.
Horizon provides an impressive lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, three years on parts and electronics, and 12 months on labor.
The ability to increase the incline of your treadmill running bed allows you to increase the intensity of your workout. The extra effort you'll need to exert will provide some tangible benefits. Here are five reasons to train on a treadmill with incline capabilities.
When you run or walk on an incline, your heart needs to work harder to pump blood to the muscles. This increases the heart rate so that the heart gets stronger and improves its ability to pump blood.
Running uphill also makes the body consume more oxygen, which can help to enhance lung function and the body's capacity to absorb and use oxygen.¹
Running uphill forces the body to work against gravity, which uses more energy from the muscles and increases calorie expenditure. Running on an incline causes the muscles in the legs, glutes, and core to contract more frequently, putting more strain on them and increasing their metabolic rate.
Running uphill is harder than running downhill, which makes the workout more intense and helps you burn more calories. Your stride lengthens when you run uphill to assist in pushing the body up the incline. This requires more energy and increases calorie expenditure.
Running uphill increases your body's need for oxygen. Over time, this will help you burn more calories and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
Running on an incline treadmill requires more muscle recruitment. That's because the legs, glutes, and core muscles must work harder to move the body up the elevation. As a result, more muscle fibers become active, boosting muscular recruitment and development.
Running uphill requires a lot of work from the quad muscles in the front of the leg, which pull the body up the gradient. The glutes also need to work in conjunction with the quads to move you forward and upward.
When running uphill, the hamstrings near the back of the leg are more heavily recruited to support the body than when you are running on a flat surface.
Running on an incline also helps balance the body and maintain good posture by increasing the activation of the core muscles.
Because an incline treadmill simulates the natural elevation fluctuations you would encounter when jogging outside, it benefits you by bringing your running experience closer to actual terrain. This makes the training more difficult and can help you get fitter overall and run faster.
Running on an incline treadmill works the muscles at the rear of the body, such as the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, strengthening the posterior chain. These muscles are vital for proper running performance because they stabilize the body and produce running power.
An essential muscle group for running efficiency is the glutes since they produce power and move the body forwards. Jogging on an incline treadmill activates your glute muscles more than running on a flat surface does.
The hamstrings must be fully engaged when running uphill to help pull the body up the incline. As a result, the hamstrings become stronger and are better able to stabilize the body and provide power during running.
Running on an incline treadmill also calls for more activation of the lower back muscles in order to stabilize the body and maintain good posture. This strengthens the lower back and reduces injury risk.
Despite the obvious benefits of exercising on an incline treadmill, there are some potential downsides that you need to be aware of. Here are a couple of things to be aware of before you make the decision to invest in an incline treadmill.
Because running uphill demands more muscle activation in the hips and lower back to help support the body and maintain appropriate posture, using an incline treadmill may impose extra strain on these areas. This heightened demand on the muscles may result in heightened tension in the joints and connective tissues, raising the possibility of injury or discomfort in these regions.
Incline training can also produce higher stress on the hip and lower back joints and connective tissues, which over time, may result in more wear and tear. Due to the greater stress on the hips and lower back during incline treadmill exercise, there is a higher chance of developing tendinitis or bursitis.
Running on an incline treadmill may place undue stress on the shins. That's because of the increased pressure on the muscles and connective tissues in the lower legs. This may cause discomfort, pain, and possibly an injury like shin splints.
Running on an incline treadmill needs greater muscular activation, especially in the shins, which support lifting the body up the incline. The muscles may experience additional stress and even become injured as a result of this increased demand.
The incline treadmill market is saturated, with the quality ranging from very poor to outstanding. Unless you go into the market with knowledge and a game plan of what to look for, you'll likely end up with a machine that is not up to standard. Here are the nine key things to look out for:
The build quality of an incline treadmill should be the first thing you look for. You want a sturdy treadmill with a solid frame and foundation that can hold your weight and endure the force of running.
The frame should be constructed of sturdy, long-lasting materials like steel or aluminum. Look for a treadmill with a weight capacity that is suitable for your body weight because this is a sign of the treadmill's general durability and stability. As a general guide, you should avoid incline treadmills with a max user weight lower than 300 lbs.
There should be little to no swaying or wobbling while using the treadmill. If you are unable to test the machine out before buying, look for user reviews and check how stable the machine is when at a maximum incline.
There should be no fractures or weak spots in the frame's welding, which should be sturdy and long-lasting. The frame's finish needs to be consistent and smooth, with no sharp edges or protruding burrs that could cut someone.
Look for a treadmill with a wide range of incline settings, from flat to steep, to provide a challenging workout and better replicate outdoor terrain.
To give you more control and the ability to customize your workout, look for a treadmill that allows for incremental inclination adjustments as opposed to just a few preset possibilities.
There shouldn't be any jerky or jarring movements in the incline adjustment mechanism that could interfere with your workout. Check user reviews to find comments on this aspect of the treadmill's performance.
To avoid accidents, look for safety measures like automatic shut-off if the incline becomes too steep.
Look for a treadmill with a wide range of speed settings, from slow to fast, that allows you to train at your preferred running pace. The treadmill should allow for incremental speed modifications as opposed to just a few preset options.
There shouldn't be any jerky or jarring motions in the speed adjustment mechanism, which could interfere with your workout. Look for a treadmill with a speed range that is appropriate to the desired elevation settings because steep inclines can make you go more slowly.
Several extra features are available when purchasing an incline treadmill that might improve your training. Here are a few features to look out for:
Cup Holders: A built-in cup holder can keep your water or another beverage close by and easy to reach throughout your workout.
Screens: A lot of treadmills have built-in screens that provide exercise data, including speed, distance, duration, and calories burned. Choose a screen that is large and simple to read.
Built-in Exercise Programs: Some treadmills include preset workout programs that automatically vary the incline and speed settings to offer a diverse and challenging workout. Choose a treadmill with routines that are suited to your level of fitness and your desired outcomes.
Apps: You can connect some treadmills to fitness applications like iFit or Peloton, which offer extra training programs, coaching, and other features. Search for a treadmill that works with the apps you like.
Music: Look for a treadmill with built-in speakers or headphone ports that provide the ability to listen to music or podcasts while you're working out.
Heart Rate Monitoring: Some treadmills include built-in heart rate monitoring capabilities that let you keep tabs on your heart rate and modify your workout as necessary to stay in the fat burning zone. Look for a user-friendly treadmill with reliable heart rate monitoring.
Determine how much available space you have available before buying a treadmill. Don't forget that you'll need at least a one-foot clearance all around the machine to allow for ease of use. Check the dimensions of the machine, including its length, width, and height.
The running surface needs to be wide and long enough to allow you to stride out without restriction. Foldable treadmills allow you to store the machine in a small space, such as under a bed or in a cupboard.
The weight capacity of an incline treadmill is a good indication of the build quality and frame sturdiness. As a general guideline, the max user weight should be 50 lbs heavier than the weight of the heaviest expected user. Treadmills with a max user weight of fewer than 300 lbs tend to be of lesser build quality.
The warranty is an important factor to take into account when purchasing an incline treadmill since it protects against flaws and malfunctions and can show how confident the manufacturer is in the quality of their product.
Many manufacturers provide you with a lifetime frame warranty. You should expect at least ten years of coverage on the frame, two years on parts, and 12 months on labor. A good motor warranty is 5-10 years.
Before shopping for an incline treadmill, decide on your spending limit. Then be sure to adhere to it to avoid going overboard or becoming distracted by more expensive versions. Decide which characteristics are important to you, then search for a treadmill that fits within your price range and includes those features.
Spend a little more, if necessary, to get a treadmill made of high-quality components with a solid reputation for dependability and longevity. Take into account the brand's reputation and the warranty conditions.
Expect to pay around $1,000 for a quality budget incline treadmill. A premium model will stretch your budget to around $4,000. For a more in-depth breakdown of the price of treadmills, you can read our full article about it.
Verified user reviews are very useful when purchasing an incline treadmill as they offer insight into the machine's longevity and function in actual use. Look for trends in the reviews that indicate how well the treadmill holds up over time, how dependable it is, the level of sturdiness when running at a steep incline, and the lack of jerkiness when adjusting incline and speed settings.
Based on our extensive research and first-hand experience, the overall best incline treadmill right now is the Sole F63 from Sole Fitness. Its combination of motor power, smooth running experience, value for money, and incline options (there are 15 levels of auto-adjustable incline) are simply unbeatable.
The best incline for you will depend on your fitness level and your training goals. A moderate incline is considered to be 3-4%, while 5-6% is generally regarded as steep. Anything above 6% is considered to be very steep.
Working out on an incline treadmill targets the lower body muscles and the core. It will provide an effective workout to your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, all of which work against the treadmill incline to propel you forward. Your core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, intercostals, and erector spinae, work to keep your body stable and maintain an upright running posture.
Yes, walking on an incline treadmill can help with weight loss since it burns more calories and engages more muscles than a flat treadmill. The intensity of walking on an inclined treadmill can increase your heart rate, speed up your metabolism, and help you burn more calories. Larger muscle groups such as the glutes, quadriceps, and calves, which burn more calories than smaller muscles, can also be more successfully targeted by incline walking.
While walking on an incline treadmill to lose weight, it's essential to maintain a constant speed and an elevation level that challenges you without overtaxing your body. For the majority of users, a moderate incline of 3–4% is an excellent place to start while performing cardio exercises because it offers a little bit of a challenge while still being comfortable enough to do for prolonged periods of time.
Yes, due to the additional features and parts required to achieve the incline function, incline treadmills are typically more expensive than standard treadmills. Incline treadmills cost more to manufacture because their chassis, motors, and mechanics are more complicated than those of standard treadmills. The price of high-end incline treadmills may also increase due to the inclusion of advanced features, including larger screens, more built-in exercises, and interactive technologies.
An incline treadmill will allow you to take your treadmill workouts to the next level, increasing the intensity, burning more calories, and working your muscles harder. The pay-off will be a more effective workout and a fitter, stronger you.
In this article, we've identified the seven best incline treadmills in today's market. Our overwhelming favorite is the Sole F63. For around $1,000, this machine provides your 15 incline levels, a powerful 3.0 HP motor, six preset programs, and a user-friendly feature-packed console.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
November 29, 2023
November 28, 2023
November 28, 2023
At SFS we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases, killer workouts, actionable fitness content and more. As our motto goes - "You don't have to get ready if you stay #alwaysready!"