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A treadmill with high incline is called an incline trainer. A standard treadmill may include enough incline settings to mimic a natural marathon circuit, but to reap the benefits of incline walking up a hill while indoors, you’ll need an incline trainer. An incline trainer is a workout machine that combines some characteristics from treadmills, elliptical machines and stair steppers to help you burn more calories than the other machines can individually. In addition to explaining how it works, we’ll also help you pick the best incline trainer for your needs.
There are currently only a few manufacturers of incline trainers because it is a complex and expensive machine to make. But this type of equipment can replace a treadmill and elliptical while giving you a wider variety of workouts, so the cost of one could be very worthwhile to you.
An incline trainer is shorter than a treadmill, so it will take up less floor space but will be less conducive to running. While some look a lot like treadmills, others have two long pedal-like platforms side by side so they can’t be used for running at all.
Table of Contents
- 1 Difference Between an Incline Trainer vs Treadmill
- 2 Difference Between an Incline Trainer vs Elliptical
- 3 Best Incline Trainers
- 4 How to Choose an Incline Trainer Treadmill
|Product||Rating (out of 5)||Dimensions||Top speed||Max. User Capacity||Price|
|Freemotion i11.9||5||79.50" x 37.25" x 72.25"||12 mph||400 lbs||$$$$|
|NordicTrack X11i||3.8||71.6” x 39.6” x 70.2”||12 mph||300 lbs||$$|
|Bowflex TC200 Tread Climber||4||55" x 31.5" x 62.5"||4.5 mph||300 lbs||$$$|
|Bowflex Max Trainer M7||3.7||49" x 30.5" x 65.5"||n/a||300 lbs||$$|
Difference Between an Incline Trainer vs Treadmill
While traditional incline treadmills usually incline to a maximum of 15%, an incline trainer can go up to 40%. The difference between an incline trainer and a treadmill is that at these higher inclines you don’t run but “hike” on a trainer. You can start running at a lower one and gradually make it steeper while decreasing your speed. Incline training benefits include burning more calories in the same amount of time that you walk on a treadmill, a more intense cardio workout in a shorter amount of time, and muscle toning is more targeted. Your joints are also more protected because there is no impact on the deck, which is what you have to guard against if you run on a treadmill.
Of course, if you’re an avid runner this machine is probably not for you, as you can only reach a top speed of around 4 mph on most incline trainers, except for maybe a Bowflex which has models that go up to 12 mph.
Difference Between an Incline Trainer vs Elliptical
The difference between an incline trainer and an elliptical is similar in that an elliptical can only incline so much and you’ll feel like you’re walking up a gentle to moderate slope of a hill. An incline trainer feels more like climbing a steep flight of stairs or hiking a hill, so the workout is more intense, except that your feet don’t leave the pedals/deck – just like with an elliptical but unlike a stairmaster. If you want to train for a hill course, choose an incline trainer.
Now that you know the difference between all these types of equipment, let our incline trainer reviews below guide you in picking the best one for your needs.
Best Incline Trainers
Freemotion i11.9 Incline Treadmill
The i11.9 is a heavy duty machine for serious treadmill workouts and is best suited for a gym, however, if you have the money to spend, you’ll be very happy with it in your home gym too. It’s powered by a self-cooling 5.0 hp motor located to the rear. The motor can deliver enough force to sustain workouts for a max 400-pound weight at up to 12 mph. Users can workout their leg muscles in a variety of ways; the i11.9 provides up to 30 percent incline and a 3 percent decline to simulate running downhill.
The deck is big enough for long legs at 22″ x 60″, with a lift motor providing up to 1,500 pounds of thrust. It’s a stable, smooth, double-sided tread that requires zero maintenance and has built-in cushioning to minimize the stress on hips and knees. Insta-Touch controls allow you to select speed, incline, and other options quickly and easily.
It provides some terrific functionality with Wi-Fi and a 10″ color touch HD screen. This is upgradable to 17″ screens. The quality of the built-in speakers lives up to the quality of the video. This includes Android internet browsers, Broadcastvision Entertainment and Cardio Theater. Other features include nine pre-programmed workouts, a digital workout center for customizing your exercise program and a USB charging port. Best of all, it comes with Google Maps satellite views so you can plot a course anywhere in the world and watch your progress on screen.
The i11.9 is well-made and looks sturdy and stylish. The combination of technology and quality manufacturing makes this an exciting purchase. However, be aware that as fun as it can be, it is a beast. With dimensions at roughly 79″x37″x72″ and a heavy duty steel frame, it’s a big, hefty machine and can take an hour to set up. It does not fold down and it’s not meant to be hidden in a closet. The best thing about that is you’ll be constantly tempted to get back on and get another workout because this is the best of the best incline trainers out there.
NordicTrack X11i Incline Trainer
It’s designed to provide a range of options for workout intensity. The X11i Incline Trainer is just as suitable for lighter workouts or burning away calories, providing angles all the way up to a 40 percent incline and a 6 percent downhill decline. The X11i’s dual workout fans adjust automatically to your workout intensity to help cool you down. The treadmill allows speeds of up to 12 mph, which you can adjust with a single finger via the easy OneTouch screen controls.
The 22″x 60″ tread belt is the largest size NordicTrack makes, giving a comfortable running or walking surface. Balanced 2.5″ rollers with Reflex cushioning helps to reduce wear, friction, and noise on the treadmill. It doesn’t fold away; it’s one of the larger models at a roughly 72″x40″x70″ size, so it does take up some room.
The X11i comes with a 10″ HD touchscreen display. It also includes an adjustable tablet holder so you can bring your work or games into your cardio routine. This treadmill also comes with wireless capability via Android, including Google Maps street views to provide some interesting scenery onscreen as you walk or jog along. It’s ready to download the iFit Coach software to automatically display workout stats. This app also helps you track other fitness information, including nutrition, exercise, and sleep time.
NordicTrack has been in business for some time and has a reputation for good products and service. However, it is not as solid as the Freemotion model above. What it does have going for it is the much lower price tag for almost identical features. Some x11i incline trainer reviews state that very short people will find the handlebars a bit high and that there is a learning curve with iFit. It comes with lifetime frame, motor, and deck warranties. While not the biggest and best out there, the Xlli is a sturdy, well-made machine that can provide fun cardio workouts for the whole family.
Bowflex TreadClimber TC200
Bowflex, for some reason, is sparse on information about the motor for the TC200. It can handle a 300 pound weight, but only provides speeds up to 4.5 mph, so you can’t run on this. The machine is on the smaller side with dimensions of about 55″x 31″x 62″, so home gyms should be able to accommodate it more easily that the other trainers.
However, the TC200 is a little different. It was designed as more of a 3-in-1 machine that can serve as elliptical, uphill walking treadmill, or stair-stepper depending on what kind of workout you’re looking for. While it doesn’t fold, a weight of 202 pounds and a set of sturdy wheels allow you to push it out of the way easily when you need the room.
It comes with a free phone app that provides Bluetooth connectivity for sharing your workout data. The built-in workout app provides 5 modes: Just Walk, Calorie Goal, Time Goal, Distance Goal, and Interval Training. It includes heart monitor hand grips, a tablet holder, and a USB charging port for your mobile devices.
On the whole, the TC200 is constructed for light workouts and not for running enthusiasts. It is a bit top heavy and so the frame feels a bit unstable at the top speed. It also seems pricey considering how limited the included technology is. On the other hand, the versatility of Bowlflex’s 3-in-1 machine may make up for these shortcomings. The treadles in any configuration are smooth and easy on the joints. It depends on your workout goals and expectations. If you want flexible cardio workouts or weight loss routines right at home without pushing yourself too hard, the TC200 might be what you’re looking for.
Bowflex Max Trainer M7
At first glance at may look like a strange sort of robot; and in a way, it is. The M7 incline stepper treadmill is engineered to give you some intense workouts. It doesn’t fold but it’s fairly compact, weighing in at 148 pounds with dimensions of around 49″x30″x65″. Dual-grip handle bars and a taller console make it seem bigger and badder than the previous M5 version. Bowflex is typically dodgy on specs for the motor that powers it, but it’s ruggedly built and able to support user weights of up to 300 pounds.
The real benefit of the M7 is in the programming. It allows four different user profiles with 11 separate programs and 20 levels of resistance. The M7’s computer is designed to adapt to your fitness level and set consistently higher goals for you. The M7 isn’t a slacker’s cardio machine – it will push you to do more every time. Even so, it combines smooth, low-impact motion in a machine that’s both an elliptical and a stair stepper.
The sleek LED/LCD display offers dual modes for monitoring calorie burn, resistance level, and more. The M7 comes with the Max Trainer workout app. It’s Bluetooth-compatible and will sync easily with Android and iOS devices.
On the downside, it comes disassembled into a variety of small parts that typically take 1 to 2 hours to figure out and put together properly, even with the decent set of instructions that are included. The display/console can be especially tricky without some help.
Still, the M7 is not designed for comfort and fun; it’s a rugged little machine that will help to push you into greater progress and better health. If you’re serious about getting into shape, the Max Trainer M7 will get you there.
Get the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 from Amazon now.
A similar machine to the Max Trainer is the Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical and the more advanced Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer Pro. We list the former as one of the best ellipticals for under $1000. That’s quite a bit less than a Bowflex!
How to Choose an Incline Trainer Treadmill
When deciding which incline trainer to buy, the most important considerations include:
1. Top speed: These machines are not built for running. At the most, you’ll get a top speed of 12 mph, which is enough for jogging. Some will only allow you to walk at a maximum of 4 mph. This is because these machines have to typically run for several hours at a low speed but with high incline instead of a few short bursts on a horizontal plane.
2. Maximum incline: Unlike traditional treadmills, incline trainers can incline much more – between 30 and 40%. This is what you need for hiking or uphill training.
3. Does it have decline: Not all machines will include decline but those that do offer between 3 and 6%. This is useful to have if you’re training for crossfit.
4. Tread type: Incline treadmills may have a single track set at an incline or they may have a pair of treadles(long pedals) moving alternately up and down on an incline. With the former you lift your feet to walk, while with the latter your feet never leave the pedals. The treadle design is very low impact because of this, however, short people may not find it very comfortable if the pedals are too far apart.
5. Track length: This shouldn’t matter too much if you’re only going to walk on the track because your stride length is shorter than when you run. It’s even shorter when you walk on an incline. However, a few trainers that go to a top speed of 12 mph now provide a longer track of about 60″ and even a wider one at 22″ to accommodate this.
6. Built-in programming: While all incline trainers come with some sort of workout programs, a few have many and can even wirelessly connect to an app for more downloads.
7. Extras: The most advanced models come with cool features like a TV screen with a built-in browser, tablet holder and touch screens. The basic extras you can expect are a cooling fan and water bottle holder.