Since it is much harder than flat running, you can't expect to train as long on an incline.
Most modern treadmills come with built-in incline functionality, allowing you to increase the effort of your workout by increasing the angle of your run. You may see incline numbers represented in either percent grade or percent incline, but the terms are interchangeable. A 10-percent grade on a treadmill is the same as a 10-percent incline. While a higher incline makes your workout more challenging, you'll need to adapt the incline to your fitness level and goals.
Incline Versus Grade
The incline of a treadmill, hill or mountain trail is found by determining the slope, which is commonly expressed as rise over run. If you walk across a 50-foot base, but end up 10 feet higher than you were at the beginning, you've traversed a 20-percent incline. Percent incline and grade are the same thing, so no matter which you see represented on the treadmill monitor, you have a simple formula to work with.
What it Means for You
Instead of getting bogged down in the mathematics of various inclines, slopes and gradients, all you need to determine is which incline you want to train at. The steeper the incline, the more difficult your workout will be. If you're not looking to increase your effort considerably, but just want to get in a good cardio workout as if you were running outdoors, set the incline to 1 percent. A 1-percent incline on a treadmill most accurately reflects running on a flat surface outside, according to researchers at the Chelsea School Research Centre.
Benefits of the Incline
Aerobic training of any kind can help you burn calories, reduce stress and manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. But if you want to give your muscles a better workout and burn more calories in the process, consider ramping up your incline. Running at an incline recruits approximately three times as many muscle fibers as running on a flat surface, helping you develop more power and full-body coordination.
Although running on an incline is an effective way to train for a variety of sports and fitness goals, it is significantly more challenging than running on a flat surface. Because your muscles have to work much harder at an incline, they need more time to recover following a workout than they would after a leisurely jog around the park. Additionally, your running mechanics will change at an incline, most noticeably where your hamstrings are concerned. Stretch liberally before you run uphill and pay attention to warning signs of overtraining such as cramps or muscle strains.