Walk, Don’t Run, up that Treadmill

You may think walking on a treadmill is boring, but there’s a way you can make it a lot less monotonous and more realistic. Set it on an incline.

In some cases walking on an incline can be a more effective choice for training than jogging or running, especially when you’re coming back from an injury or find running painful or just not much fun.

It’s also a killer way to train for hiking all the wonderful trails we have in Greater Prescott! Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • It’s a full-body workout — Walking up hills challenges all of your muscles, especially key ones in your core and elsewhere. It also sends benefits up and down your posterior chain, which includes the spine muscles, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
  • Strengthening these is not just important for walking and running, it also improves your posture and overall athleticism.
  • You get the same benefits as running — Incline training pushes your heart rate much higher than walking on a flat surface, and it continues to climb as you climb even when your pace is slowing, studies have shown.
  • It can top out giving you the same calorie burn as running a similar distance, without the pounding on the knees that give so many sprinters so much trouble.
  • Easy to train in the gym — Most treadmills can be programmed to give users anywhere from a 0% to 15% grade, making it simple to track your heart rate, calorie burn and endurance as you continue to challenge yourself.

It’s more difficult to know what the grade is when you’re out walking and hiking in the real world, but there are helpful mapping apps like MapMyWalk, On the Go Map and ASICS Runkeeper that can track the elevation changes on your route.

While incline walking is easier on the knees than running, it does demand more of that posterior chain. So, if you notice pain in your lower back or lower leg muscles, take it slow and increase your grade in small increments such as 0.5% to get acclimated to it.