Benefits of Incline and Hill Workouts

Regardless of our fitness level or goals, nearly all of us have a few extra pounds that like to hang on our midsection. We would like to say goodbye to these extra pounds forever, but it seems as though regardless of how far we walk or jog we can’t seem to shake them. We see runners all over the media and have come to the idea that runners are thin. They are the epitome of fitness and health, and suggest running is the way to achieve that dream body, but perhaps there is more than one option?

There are usually 3 opinions when it comes to running: either they have an addiction to the high and wouldn’t give it up for any price, they do it for the sole motivation that it is good for them, or they hate it and therefore do not participate. So, if you don’t fall into the first category and are hoping to find an alternative activity but you don’t want to sacrifice the amazing amount of calories per hour you can burn from running? I have some good news, there is a solution, I call it “incline training”.

In our society we are in a rush and are looking to burn the maximum calories in the shortest amount of time. The key here is incline. Walking at high incline can burn nearly as many calories as running if you maintain a fast pace. So next time you want a workout but want to give your joints a rest, or just don’t feel like running, crank that incline up and start climbing that mountain to your goals.

Maximum fat utilization will occur at 21% and 2 mph, but the higher you take your incline, the greater your muscle activation will be, particularly in the glutes,  hamstrings, and calf muscles, so adjust that incline based on what level of intensity you are looking for in your workout today. While fat utilization is usually maximized at low intensity exercise, walking at a high incline makes your body feel as though it is a less strenuous activity while still benefiting you cardiovascularly. On average, heart rates are slightly higher when walking 2 mph at 24% than they are at running 6 mph at 0% incline. With equivalent heart rates, you are keeping your heart healthy as well, a benefit that walking on flat terrain can not boast. Hop on that treadmill or incline trainer and get ready to see those unimaginable results without ever running a single stride.

Happy Holidays!

Becca Capell
iFit Head Trainer

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