While it’s relatively common to find a high-end treadmill with an incline option, it takes a rare model to simulate both uphill and downhill treks. Treadmills with both options give the user a more nuanced simulation of outdoor exercise, often varying between a 10- to 15-percent uphill grade and a 2- to 3-percent downhill tilt. Treadmills that feature this type of simulated terrain adjustment tend to be more expensive than other treadmills.
How It Works
Treadmill manufacturers simulate uphill motion on a treadmill by including incline and/or decline controls on the dashboard of the machine. When activated, treadmills with an incline function tilt the deck so that the front is higher than the back. The machines with decline options tilt the opposite direction as well, making the front of the deck dip below the level of the back of the deck. The potential for decline tends to be significantly less than the angle of incline.
Treadmills are often considered simulation exercise machines because they move at varying speeds, prompting a range of physical outputs form the user. Incline and decline options take the fantasy a step further, allowing the user to feel like he or she is climbing hills and then walking back down them. Using these machines, those training for hilly race courses or training their muscles for long hikes in the mountains can tailor a workout specifically for their fitness needs.
Breaking the Monotony
Let’s face it, running on a treadmill can get a bit boring. For those trapped inside due to extreme weather, the lack of variation in their running or walking routine can become monotonous. Having the option to climb and descend simulated hills can help alleviate this boredom. Some higher-end treadmills even feature simulated real-world treks using elevation-calibrated maps. This allows the runner to run more or less the same course that they are training for -- even the hills. Some treadmills have preset workouts, allowing the user to read a book or watch a movie while the programming automatically adjusts the speed and angle.
Many treadmills don’t have any angle adjustment options. Those that do tend to be on the expensive side of things. Treadmills with an incline option alone tend to be in a fairly high-price bracket, while machines with both incline and decline tend to land in the luxury category.