Does an Incline on the Treadmill Only Work Your Calves?

Does an Incline on the Treadmill Only Work Your Calves?

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A study published in the June 2000 issue of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” examined the muscle activity of participants running on a 30-percent incline or on level ground. nobis yatesy The researchers found that all of the muscles of the calf -- the gastrocnemius and the soleus -- experienced greater activity during the incline run. In addition, the rectus femoris and the vastus lateralis – two of the major muscles of the quadriceps at the front of the thigh -- and the gluteus maximus also worked harder on the hill. The only major muscle group that did not show greater activity during hill climbing was the hamstrings at the back of the thighs. 


You don’t have to charge up a 30-percent incline to get extra muscle activation in the lower body. In a 2012 issue of “Gait and Posture,” researchers from the University of Colorado found that walking on grades of 3, 6 and 9 percent all activated the glutes, quads and calves significantly more than walking on a flat belt. A 9 percent grade also activated the hamstrings 635 percent more than walking on a 0 percent grade. Muscle activation did accelerate at faster walking speeds. 

Efficiency and Speed 

nobis merideth By stimulating more muscle fibers in your thighs, calves and buttocks, running on an incline on a treadmill makes you a stronger runner or hiker. Hill running teaches you to be more efficient with your stride so when you do hit a flat belt, you go faster. Your body also learns to use energy and oxygen more effectively. Even if you'd rather walk uphill, you will build leg strength and raise your heart rate more readily than if you trudge along on a flat belt. 


Many people suffer from weak glute muscles, which can cause issues with your Achilles, knees, shins and illiotibial band. Walking on an inclined treadmill trains the glutes 345 percent more than running on a flat surface, nobis womens according to the University of Colorado study. In addition to the hill training, add in strength moves such as single-leg squats and single-leg deadlifts to make sure the glute muscles stay strong and you stay injury-free.

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