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A good workout routine on a treadmill may include random variations in the incline setting either adjusted by the user or with a more advanced treadmill workout program. This helps the muscles experience slight variations that enhance the workout. Some people will also alter the speed of their workouts going from brisk walk to a sprint. This is sometimes referred to as high intensity interval training (HIIT).

However, if you regularly walk outside, and particularly if you are able to do some trail walking with uneven terrain and irregular slopes, you can achieve a diversified workout without relying on continually altering your treadmill workout settings.

With that in mind, if you are only a rainy day treadmill user, you may want to consider leaving the incline at its optimum setting. This will help preserve the treadmill and keep it operating and performing well.

The optimal incline setting for a treadmill will be different for each model and for each person. One can determine the best incline by slowly adjusting the incline from zero to the maximum.

Depending on your body weight and the strength of the motor in your treadmill, at a zero incline the treadmill may have difficulty moving the belt under your feet. A treadmill with a very strong motor and well-adjusted belt can smoothly operate at zero incline with a heavier individual. However, it undoubtedly places more strain on the motor than would be desirable. For a larger individual, the zero incline setting may result in the belt stopping or slowing down. This can result in stumbling and injury.

At the maximum incline level, you may find that your bodyweight causes you to quickly slide down because the treadmill motor and belt are unable to hold your weight. The speed setting will no longer function properly because you will slide down the slope of the treadmill faster than the selected speed.

At an ideal incline, you will find that the treadmill is not overexerting the motor, and the slope is not so steep that your weight causes you to quickly slide off. The treadmill will operate more smoothly and you will enjoy your workout more. This is probably a safer setting because you will be more stable on the belt without slippage.

If you have not yet purchased a treadmill, you may want to consider a model that has a more powerful motor, better belt, and stronger deck to perform better.


  • Always consult with your physician before making any changes to your workout program.
  • Always be careful with any home exercise equipment observing best safety practices.
  • It is important to be careful when making an incline adjustment from zero to maximum. Do not to over-exert yourself or perform a level of exercise that you are not accustomed to. An unfamiliar machine setting can result in an injury from stumbling.
  • If you follow the suggestions on this page, you do so at your own risk. The above information is not advice, or meant to treat or cure. It is offered for the individual reader to make their own assessment about what choices work best for them.