Treadmill Speed vs Incline – Which is Better for Weight Loss?

Are you trying to lose weight with your treadmill workouts and can’t decide whether to increase your treadmill speed or incline for best results? Are you thinking – Treadmill speed vs incline. Which is better for weight loss? Which one will provide the greatest impact on your weight?

This article compares the benefits of both treadmill speed vs incline and provides tips on which is most effective for weight loss.

Optimize Your Workout Routine

When it comes to running or walking on a treadmill, two key variables can significantly impact your workout. They are the speed and incline of the treadmill. You will want to find the perfect balance to create the best workout.

Both settings play a crucial role in determining the intensity and effectiveness of your workout. A treadmill will help you burn calories, as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness, and endurance. Understanding the relationship between treadmill speed vs incline is essential for optimizing your workout routine.

Treadmill Speed vs Incline: Which is More Effective for Weight Loss?

The treadmill can be a valuable addition to your fitness routine when you want to shed those extra pounds. Both speed and incline can be effective in weight loss, but there are some key differences to consider. Let’s evaluate the benefits of both speed and incline so you can better grasp their impact on weight loss.

Treadmill Speed vs Incline - Speed

Treadmill Speed

Speed determines how fast you are moving and how many calories you are burning. Increasing your speed will help you burn more calories and improve your cardiovascular fitness. However, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase your speed to avoid injury and build your endurance.

The speed setting on a treadmill refers to the rate at which the belt moves, measured in miles per hour (mph) or kilometers per hour (km/h). It directly affects the pace at which you run or walk and has a direct impact on calorie burn, cardiovascular fitness, and muscular endurance.

Light to Moderate Treadmill Workouts

For beginners or those focusing on light to moderate exercise, a speed range of 2-4 mph (3.2-6.4 km/h) is generally recommended. This pace allows for a brisk walk or a light jog, providing a solid foundation for burning calories and building cardiovascular fitness.

Increase Intensity with Speed

As you progress in your fitness journey, increasing the treadmill speed can enhance the intensity of your workout. Moderate to vigorous exercise is typically achieved within the range of 4-7 mph (6.4-11.3 km/h) for most individuals. This speed range allows for a challenging run, elevating heart rate and calorie expenditure.

HIIT Workouts and Weight Loss

Speed on the treadmill directly influences the intensity of your workout and the number of calories burned.

Higher speeds require more effort, which leads to increased calorie expenditure. Sprinting at these faster speeds pushes the limits of cardiovascular endurance and helps to improve speed and increases your calorie burn.

What is HIIT?

HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and active recovery periods. Incorporating HIIT workouts into your treadmill routine can elevate your heart rate, boost your metabolism, and maximize calorie burn. For example, a HIIT workout could involve sprinting at a high speed for 30 seconds, followed by a slower recovery jog for 60 seconds, repeated for several rounds.

Engaging in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at faster speeds has been shown to be particularly effective for weight loss. HIIT helps break down glucose in the body for energy.

An example of HIIT would be a Hill Sprint:

  • Warm-up for 5 minutes at a comfortable pace.
  • Set the treadmill for a challenging 6-8% level and sprint for 30 seconds.
  • Reduce the speed and recover by walking or slow jogging for 90 seconds.
  • Increase the hill sprints again to a higher level (e.g., 10-12%)
  • Sprint for 30 seconds
  • Recover for 90 seconds.
  • Repeat sequence 2 to 3 times.
  • Cool down with a 5-minute walk.

For advanced runners or individuals looking for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), speeds exceeding 7 mph (11.3 km/h) can be utilized.

Treadmill Speed vs Incline - Incline

Treadmill Incline

Incline refers to the tilt or slope of the treadmill, simulating uphill running or walking. It is typically expressed as a percentage or degrees. Most home treadmills with incline have an incline of up to 10%. Better quality treadmills may exceed that.

The incline setting is an excellent tool for targeting specific muscle groups, increasing calorie burn, and adding variety to your workout routine.

Walking or running on an incline engages more muscle groups, primarily the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. It also places additional demand on the cardiovascular system, making your workout more challenging and increasing calorie expenditure.

Begin with Incline

For beginners, setting the treadmill incline at 1-2% can help simulate outdoor conditions and slightly increase the intensity of the workout without placing excessive strain on the joints. Adjust the incline level based on your fitness level and goals. You can gradually increase the incline as your fitness improves.

Gradually Increase Incline

As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the incline. Setting the treadmill incline between 3-5% provides a moderate challenge and further engages the lower body muscles. It also improves calorie burn, muscular strength, and endurance.

Intense Treadmill Workout

For advanced users or those looking for an intense workout, higher incline settings, such as 6-10%, and above, can be used.

This steep incline closely mimics hilly terrain and significantly elevates the intensity of the exercise. It increases calorie burn, helps build lower body strength, and challenges your cardiovascular system.

Adjusting Incline Provides Increased Challenges

Incline is the angle of the treadmill deck and determines the intensity of your workout. Increasing the incline will make your workout more challenging and help you burn more calories than you do when walking on a level treadmill.

It also targets different muscle groups, such as your glutes and hamstrings. However, to avoid injury, it is best to start with a low incline. Gradually increase it as you build endurance. A steep incline is great for advance users.

Incline settings on the treadmill simulate uphill running or walking and can be highly effective for weight loss.

Building Lower Body Strength

Walking or running on an incline increases the intensity of your workout. It engages more muscle groups and requires more effort – particularly in the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. This leads to a higher calorie burn compared to exercising on a flat surface.

In fact, studies have shown that walking at a moderate speed on a steep incline can burn more calories compared to running on a level surface at a higher speed. The additional effort required to overcome the incline challenges your cardiovascular system, promotes fat burning, and helps build lower body strength.

For advanced users, incorporating steeper inclines into their workouts can further intensify the calorie burn and muscle engagement.

Finding the Perfect Balance

To maximize the effectiveness of your treadmill workout, finding the right balance between speed and incline is crucial. The optimal combination depends on your fitness goals, current fitness level, and personal preferences.

Treadmill Speed vs Incline

If your goal is to burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness, a moderate speed (4-6 mph or 6.4-9.7 km/h) combined with a moderate incline (3-5%) can provide an effective workout. This combination ensures an elevated heart rate, engages the major muscle groups, and promotes calorie burn.

For individuals looking to build lower body strength and endurance, a slower speed (2-4 mph or 3.2-6.4 km/h) coupled with a steeper incline (6-10%) is ideal. This combination focuses on muscular engagement, especially in the glutes and hamstrings, while still encouraging weight loss.

Speed and Incline Have Increased Benefits

Combining speed and incline can create a more challenging and effective workout. For example, increasing your speed and incline at the same time will help you burn more calories and improve your cardiovascular fitness. However, it is important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, especially if you are a beginner.

Both speed and incline play significant roles in weight loss on a treadmill. The ideal approach is to combine these variables to create a well-rounded workout routine. For example, incorporating intervals of high-speed sprints with lower-speed recovery periods on an incline can provide a challenging and effective workout for weight loss.

Targeted Workouts

Adjusting the speed and incline can help you target specific areas of your body. For example, increasing the incline will target your glutes and hamstrings, while increasing the speed will target your cardiovascular fitness. You can also adjust the speed and incline to create interval workouts, which can help you burn more calories and improve your endurance.

Personal Goals

Your personal goals will determine how you adjust the speed and incline on your treadmill. If you are looking to lose weight, you may want to focus on increasing the incline. HIIT is the quickest way to achieve weight loss goals and by combining intervals of speed and incline.

Treadmill Speed vs Incline - Safety

Safety When Using a Treadmill

Safety should always be a top priority when using a treadmill.

  • It is important to start slowly and gradually increase your speed and incline to avoid injury.
  • Avoid stepping on or off the treadmill while the belt is moving.
  • You should also make sure to wear proper footwear.
  • Use the safety features on your treadmill, such as the emergency stop button.

Tips for Your Treadmill Weight Loss Plan.

  1. First, vary your workouts to prevent boredom and keep your body challenged. This can include changing up your speed and increase the incline or reduce it to a level surface.
  2. Add other exercises, such as walking lunges or side shuffles, to target different muscle groups to add variety to your workout.
  3. Additionally, be sure to track your progress and adjust your workouts as needed to continue seeing results.
  4. Finally, consider your diet. Remember that diet plays a crucial role in weight loss, so be sure to pair your treadmill workouts with a healthy and balanced diet.

Consistency and Progression Are the Key

By finding the optimal balance between speed and incline, you can tailor your treadmill workouts to your fitness level, preferences, and weight loss goals. It’s important to remember that consistency and progression are key. Gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts over time will help you continue to challenge your body and see ongoing weight loss results.

Safety Precautions

Consider your fitness level and any underlying health conditions before engaging in high-intensity workouts.

Beginners or individuals with lower fitness levels should start with moderate speeds and gradually increase intensity to avoid overexertion or injury.

Avoid stepping on or off the treadmill while the belt is moving.

It is important to use proper form and safety precautions. Treadmills come equipped with a safety key which you should fasten to your clothing while using the machine. If the safety key becomes disengaged, such as in case of a fall, the safety key will dislodge and stop the treadmill.

Both Speed and Incline Contribute to Weight Loss.

Treadmill speed, especially when incorporated into high-intensity interval training, increases calorie burn.

Incline workouts, on the other hand, engage more muscles and elevate the intensity of your exercise, resulting in higher calorie expenditure.

Treadmill speed vs incline. Which is better for weight loss?

Ultimately, the most effective approach for weight loss is to combine these factors strategically, ensuring a balanced and progressive treadmill workout routine. A healthy diet is also important for sustainable weight loss.

Read more treadmill posts below.

You can even set up a standing desk and workout on a treadmill while working at your desk for more calorie burn!

Disclaimer: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioners. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.

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2 thoughts on “Treadmill Speed vs Incline – Which is Better for Weight Loss?”

  1. Clicking on the site took me to a place where I need to be and that is fit. The site is encouraging and informative with great insight into getting fit. Love the idea of easing into fitness at home. The articles are easy to understand and encourages someone who is recovering from surgery to continue getting fit, even beyond therapy. Thank you so much for creating this site. 

    • Hi Keith, Glad you found this website. As time goes by we find our body needs maintenance. Some times through surgery and sometimes we need a boost to get our health back otherwise. Walking is the most basic form of exercise and it does a lot to increase our longevity. In the climate where I live, I can not get outside year round due to the extreme fluctuation of weather conditions. A treadmill allows you to walk inside, and one with an incline increases muscle strength and endurance. Thanks for stopping by!


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