Does an Incline on the Treadmill Only Work Your Calves?

Adjust the incline when using a treadmill to intensify your workout.
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Treadmills are dependable fitness tools because you don't have to worry about inclement weather preventing you from getting in your workout. Using an incline on the treadmill not only works your calves, but it helps build other muscles, burn calories and improve cardiovascular health. Another benefit of treadmills is customizing an exercise routine that fits your needs. Adjust the incline, speed and even use the preset workouts to reach your fitness goals.

Leg Muscles

    Treadmill exercise provides muscle-building benefits for the calves, as well as the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. These benefits are realized further when walking or running with the treadmill on an incline. According to a study from A.T. Still University, walking on a treadmill at an incline of 10 percent or more will improve the muscles' benefits for a more intense workout. All of the major leg muscles are worked when walking or running on the treadmill at an incline. The calf muscles are activated when pushing off from the toes to propel the leg forward. The quadriceps help extend the leg at the knee and push the front leg down, which moves the body and brings the rear leg forward. The glutes hold the pelvis steady in addition to keeping the legs, pelvis and torso aligned. The glute muscles also play an integral role in extending the hip while propelling you forward. The primary function of the hamstring is to decelerate the lower leg on the right or left side of the body.

Calories and Fat

    Increasing the incline on a treadmill burns more calories than walking or running along a 0 percent grade. For example, a 150-pound person completing 3 miles in one hour will burn an additional 92 calories with a 5 percent incline. Increasing the speed also burns additional calories, but these calories are mostly stored carbohydrates, rather than fat. Raising the incline and exercising at a slower pace activates more muscles to burn larger amounts of fat.

Cardiovascular Health

    Adjusting the incline on a treadmill increases your heart rate without having to increase the speed. Getting your heart rate up with regular exercise has a variety of health benefits. Exercise improves your cardiovascular health, which reduces your risk of a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, heart attack and stroke. Weight loss is another benefit, which keeps you looking and feeling great.

Considerations and Safety

    To prevent injuries, learn how to use the settings on a treadmill before exercising. Familiarize yourself with the incline and speed functions. Most importantly, learn how to stop the treadmill. Most treadmills are equipped with a safety key. Clip the key to your clothing. If you trip or fall during your workout, the key will be pulled out and the treadmill will stop. You can also pull the key out manually. Other treadmills have emergency stop buttons. Once you're comfortable with the treadmill, try out the preset training workouts. Rolling hills, steep climbs or interval workouts can be customized to your fitness level. And be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.

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