Incline Training for Weight Loss

Inclined training helps burn calories and strengthen your leg muscles, both keys to a thinner you.
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Losing weight is an uphill battle, and this is especially true when it comes to incline training. It’s an effective weight-loss strategy that is suitable for people of just about any fitness level. Walking, jogging, cycling, inclined treadmill work and stair steppers are all good examples of incline training methods that can help you fight the battle of the bulge.

Outdoor vs. Indoor

    You can exercise on an incline both indoors and outside. If you have access to a treadmill, you’re ready to get started. Experiment with 3- to 5-percent inclines and gradually increase it over a period of weeks as your fitness level improves. Weather permitting, head outdoors and find a moderate grade to jog or walk up. You could also run intervals up a steep hill -- sprint hard on the way up and walk slowly back down; repeat this five to eight more times.

Calories Burned

    You’ll burn significantly more calories training on an incline than you would on a flat plane, assuming equal speeds. For example, a 160-pound person walking at a brisk 3.5 mph would burn about 314 calories per hour, while the same person would burn 657 calories walking on a stair treadmill. The reason for the increased calorie burn is the amount of energy required to propel your body up a slope. It’s a tougher battle against gravity compared to exercising on a flat plane.

Anaerobic Effect

    Inclined training burns a significant number of calories, and it also has an anaerobic effect. Ramping up the incline helps challenge your leg muscles far more than flat-plane exercise. While flat treadmill exercise activates about 20 percent of your leg muscle tissue, exercising at a 15-percent grade recruits about 75 percent of your leg muscle tissue. Muscle tissue naturally burns more calories compared to fatty tissue, so increasing the lean mass in your legs can help turn your body into a more efficient calorie burner. This leads to weight loss over time.

Fat Calories

    When trying to lose weight it’s your excess body fat that has got to go. Exercising at an incline is one of the best ways to target and burn fat calories rather than your body’s main source of energy, carbohydrates. Specifically, walking at a slow pace and a steep incline is the way to go. For example, jogging at 5 mph on a flat surface helps you burn 1.9 fat calories per minute, but walking at 2 mph on a 21-percent incline will help you burn 6.5 fat calories per minute. Additionally, a 2010 study conducted at Colorado State University found that slower-paced inclined training was as effective at helping people lose weight as faster-paced exercise on a flat surface. Inclined training was also found to be easier on the lower-body joints, knees, tendons and muscles.

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