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Treadmills vs. Incline Trainers

A treadmill and incline trainer might look similar at first glance, but each offers you a number of different fitness challenges. Whether you're training for a marathon or trying to shed off a few pounds, having the right cardio machine will make all the difference. Here are some features to consider, so you can decide which one will help you reach your goals.


Incline Trainer


Up to 15%Up to 50%


N/AUp to -6%

Deck Cushioning




Training modes



Advantages of Treadmills

  • Best for runners - If you're planning to do serious running, a treadmill delivers the needed cushioning and speed to keep you comfortable and working hard.
  • Varied training - The number of different training modes will help you vary your cardio program to keep pushing your body and avoid workout boredom.
  • Large deck - The running deck on treadmills is larger, allowing you to obtain a longer stride as you jog or run.
Advantages of Treadmills

Limitations of Treadmills

  • Limited incline - If you're trying to train for runs on big hills, a treadmill is typically restricted to a maximum incline of 15%.
  • No decline - Running downhill works different muscle groups and requires training, but a standard machine lacks this function.
Limitations of Treadmills

Incline Trainers

Advantages of Incline Trainers

  • High max incline - Walking or running at steep inclines has been proven to burn more calories than performing those same activities on flat ground.
  • Decline - The negative gradient works different muscles to prepare your lower body for the rigors of undulating terrain.
  • Best for walkers - If your body can't handle the stress of running but you still want a strenuous workout, the intense incline and decline will help get your heart pumping.
Advantages of Incline Trainers

Limitations of Incline Trainers

  • Reduced cushioning - Most incline trainers don't have as much deck cushioning as treadmills, making them harsher on your joints when running.
  • Slower - Incline trainers often don't have the same max speed as a standard treadmill.
  • Smaller deck - Since these machines assume you'll be using an incline or decline, they've shortened the deck to account for the change in stride length.
Limitations of Incline Trainers