When it comes to burning calories, losing fat, and having a killer cardio session, most individuals default to one of two options:
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Steady-State Cardio (elliptical, cycling, jogging, etc.)
But, there's another form of cardio that helps increase heart rate, calorie expenditure, and fat burning while also being easier on the joints than HIIT and better for muscle recovery and growth than steady-state cardio -- walking on an incline.
Today, we discuss why walking on an incline while on a treadmill or even outdoors provides multiple benefits, whether your goal is to lose weight or build muscle.
Top 8 Benefits of Incline Cardio
Walking on an incline is more challenging for your lungs and legs, which means the cardiovascular system has to work harder to pump blood and oxygen to your muscles to keep them working optimally.
This makes incline cardio an excellent cardio training option for individuals looking to get cardiovascular exercise benefits without having to perform HIIT or boring steady-state cardio.
Increased Fat Burning
The main reason people perform cardio is to help increase energy expenditure and burn fat.
You’ll be pleased to hear that incline cardio burns more fat than regular walking.
The reason incline cardio increases fat burning is that when you walk uphill or on an incline, you increase the amount of work your muscles and cardiovascular system does compared to regular walking.
To carry out this increased workload, your body has to burn more calories, which ultimately helps fat loss!
Muscle Building Benefits
It’s long been believed that performing too much cardio can impair muscle building and strength gain. And there is research showing that cardio can directly blunt muscle and strength gains.<2>
However, it's important to realize that not all cardio forms equally impair strength and muscle building.
HIIT and long bouts of steady-state cardio (jogging, running, etc.) can cause greater wear and tear on the muscles, joints, ligaments, and connective tissue, eating into the body's recovery capacity.
On the other hand, walking causes very little wear and tear to the soft tissue, thereby adding little training stress for the body to deal with.
So, not only does walking help you burn more calories, it does so while also supporting the muscle recovery and growth process!
As a bonus, walking on an incline can help strengthen the calves, thighs, and glutes.
After an intense workout or even on a non-training day, walking can help boost recovery by increasing circulation and blood flow.
Increased circulation delivers essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates) that muscle tissue needs to repair and recover while removing metabolic waste products generated from exercise.
Walking on an incline also helps stretch the Achilles tendons and calves, which may help fit folks who deal with foot problems like plantar fasciitis.
More Glute and Hamstring Activation
For those looking to build and tone their backsides incline cardio may be just the thing to add to your training as research indicates that walking on at least a 9-degree incline can increase hamstring activity by 635% and glute activity by as much as 345% when compared to walking on a flat surface. <2>
Easy on the Joints
Compared to other forms of cardio (jogging, HIIT, etc.), which can be harsh on the joints and connective tissue, incline cardio (and walking in general) is a low-intensity form of exercise that’s effective for burning calories and body fat while also being easy on the joints.
Requires No Equipment
Unlike other cardio options, walking on an incline can be done without any equipment whatsoever. All you need is to get outdoors and find a hilly part of town or park to walk through.
This is a great option for those who may not have access to a gym and those who don't have cardio options in their home gym.
We are all creatures of habit to some degree or another.
And while habits can be beneficial for sticking to your diet, training, or work productivity, at times, it can lead to boredom and your training becoming stale -- which means you're not going to push yourself as hard or derive as much enjoyment from your training.
Incline cardio offers a novel training stimulus for many individuals, injecting some much-needed novelty into their programming, spinning both the mind and body to actively engage and adapt.
How to Add Incline Cardio to Your Workout Program
One of the great things about incline cardio is that it can be seamlessly added to your workout program -- no matter how basic or advanced it may be.
It’s low impact, can be done anywhere, and is suitable for just about all fitness levels.
If you're not accustomed to walking on an incline, take it easy. The first few times you attempt it as incline cardio will offer a unique challenge to your lower body musculature and cardiovascular system.
If you perform incline cardio on a treadmill, start on a low incline and gradually increase the degree of incline as you improve over the coming days and weeks.
FYI, most treadmills can be adjusted to a zero to 15% incline, equivalent to a very steep hill.
You can also scale up or scale down your incline cardio's challenge, depending on how your body is feeling following a tough workout.
For instance, if you’ve just tackled a high-volume leg day, you may want to walk on a lower incline and/or walk a shorter distance.
Other days when you’re feeling more recovered, you can go for longer or more challenging walks.
Regardless, it's a good idea to occasionally vary your incline cardio as it changes which regions of the muscles you emphasize during the workout. It also helps prevent overuse injuries.
The Best Supplements for Incline Cardio
As we mentioned at the outset, fitness enthusiasts traditionally use cardio as a means to increase energy expenditure to lose body fat.
Here at SteelFit®, we’ve created an extensive line of premium-quality supplements to help you power through your incline cardio workouts and get the results you want.
Some of our top-selling fitness supplements for cardio include:
Steel Sweat® is a great-tasting thermogenic pre-workout supplement formulated specifically to increase calorie burning during exercise.
The ingredients in Steel Sweat® have been meticulously chosen to help increase performance while combating oxidative stress.
Steel Sweat® contains high-potency, research-backed ingredients known to increase thermogenesis, boost metabolism, optimize energy expenditure, and increase fat burning.
Steel Burn™ is a stimulant-free fat loss supplement delivering 3 grams of Carnipure® L-Carnitine per serving.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid that serves a critical role in helping our cells burn fat for fuel.
Steel Burn™ comes in liquid form, tastes delicious on its own, or can be added to your favorite pre-workout supplements, such as Steel Sweat® or Steel Pump®.
Incline cardio excels at challenging the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
What better supplement to use to help further firm up those troublesome areas than SteelFit® Buns of Steel®?!
Buns of Steel® is a topical toning and cellulite-removal cream that can be applied 15 minutes before training to help reduce fat and improve skin quality and appearance.
- Wilson JM, Marin PJ, Rhea MR, Wilson SM, Loenneke JP, Anderson JC. Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(8):2293-2307. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31823a3e2d
- Franz, J. R., & Kram, R. (2012). The effects of grade and speed on leg muscle activations during walking. Gait & Posture, 35(1), 143–147. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.08.025