The Treadmill Mistake You're Probably Making

Photographed by Aaron Richter.
One of the greatest perks of running on a treadmill is being able to train on an incline that you can adjust. But, not all treadmill runners take advantage of this feature, and those who do may not be doing it right.

Jason Fitzgerald, Strength Running founder and a certified coach for USA Track & Field, spoke with Women’s Health about how great inclines can be. As he explained, “changing up your treadmill’s incline changes the muscles you emphasize during your workout.” It also “increases the aerobic demand of the run [helping you develop more endurance], and boosts muscular strength, which can help prevent injuries.” But, keep in mind that steeper isn’t always better. Joy R. Miles, a certified coach for the USA Triathlon, told Women’s Health, “if you have any issues with hip flexor tightness, high inclines can cause irritation to those muscles.”

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Beginner treadmill runners should focus on a moderate incline. Fitzgerald suggests “inclines of 2-4% before moving up.” For those preparing for a outdoor race, Fitzgerald suggests a “1-1.5% incline” to compensate for the harsher conditions — such as wind — that you’ll face once you’re running outside.

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Remember: No matter which incline you choose, if it is steep enough that you need to hang on to the treadmill, it’s too steep. Fitzgerald explains that “by reducing activation of the leg muscles, hanging on essentially defeats the purpose of increasing incline...you should never set the incline or speed so high that you can’t move hands-free, [with] your body forming a straight line.”

Click through to Women’s Health for more information about treadmill inclines. (Women’s Health)

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