There’s really no room for debate that running on a treadmill is a great way to burn calories, lose weight, and just improve overall cardiovascular health in general.
But all of us aren’t built for running.
Fortunately, there are other great ways to use a home treadmill – like walking against a steeper incline.
Incline walking puts less stress on our joints and can be more comfortable than jogging or running at fasters speeds and depending on the angle, you can even burn more calories walking against an incline than you can running.
This all sounds great (and if you’ve found your way here, you’re probably already sold on the merits of incline walking), but all treadmills aren’t built equally.
Some treadmills are much better equipped for incline training than others.
And that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this article.
In this guide, I’ll go over all the specs and features you should look for when choosing an incline treadmill for your home.
I’ll also share my picks for the best incline treadmills currently on the market, based on the specs and features discussed.
After reading, you’ll know everything you need to in order to choose the right option for your home gym.
Let’s start from the beginning.
|#1 NordicTrack Commercial X22i||-6 - 40%||4.0 CHP||2.5"||22" x 60"|
|#2 NordicTrack Elite Treadmill||-5 - 40%||3.6 CHP||2.5"||22" x 60"|
|#3 Sole TT8||-6 - 15%||4.0 CHP||3.0"||22" x 60"|
|#4 Horizon 7.8 AT||0 - 15%||4.0 CHP||2.36" / 1.8"||22" x 60"|
|#5 Sole F85||0 - 15%||4.0 CHP||2.75" x 2.36"||22" x 60"|
|#6 ProForm Pro 9000||-3 - 12%||3.6 CHP||1.9"||20" x 60"|
|#7 Nautilus T618||0 - 15%||3.5 CHP||2.75"||20" x 60"|
How To Choose An Incline Treadmill
Choosing a treadmill for incline training purposes isn’t really that different from picking any other home treadmill – the only real exception being that you’ll be paying more attention to how steep its incline settings go.
That said, there are other things you should be looking for too.
With a few exceptions (as you’ll see on this list), most home treadmills max out with a 15% incline, but that still doesn’t mean all these treadmills are equal when it comes to incline training.
Other specs, like motor strength, roller size, and running surface size should also be considered and we’ll be going through each of these on their own.
Additional features, like consoles, bluetooth, and workout programs are obviously worth considering too, but that all depends on what you’re looking for.
Price and warranty are always big considerations too.
If you’re looking for more general treadmill buying info, you might want to check out my complete treadmill guide, but for now, let’s get back to incline treadmills.
Home treadmills can come with manually adjustable or power adjustable inclines.
Manually adjusted inclines are found on budget models and you normally only get a few settings to choose from.
With this setup, you have to adjust your incline setting before you start working out (and have to stop and get off the treadmill any time you want to adjust it).
Power adjustable inclines are found on most mid-range to higher-end treadmills and with these, you can control the incline throughout workouts from the console.
The incline range available will vary from treadmill to treadmill, but most home models max out at a 15% incline.
NordicTrack is an exception though and has a few treadmills that can reach 40% inclines (and FreeMotion has some that can reach 30% I believe).
Some treadmills also offer decline settings, allowing you to mimic the feel of walking downhill.
If you want a treadmill that can reach crazy incline settings, then it makes sense to compare incline levels between treadmills, but I would argue that it makes sense to compare motor strengths too.
Regardless of what incline setting you’re at, having a stronger motor is going to make for a smoother overall experience.
And that’s because stronger motors work more efficiently than weaker ones.
Basically, the more horsepower a motor has, the less it has to work to keep up with demand – which makes for a smoother feel and often a quieter workout.
Most home treadmills come with motors in the 2.0 – 4.0 HP range, but if you’re looking for a serious incline trainer, I suggest going with one with at least 3.0 HP under the hood.
Just like with running, that extra strength is going to come in handy when walking against steeper inclines.
Roller size probably doesn’t get the respect it should, but I’m on a mission to change that.
A treadmill’s rollers are the pieces that allow the belt to move across the deck and having larger rollers is usually a good thing.
Larger rollers make more contact wit the belt, which not only puts less stress on the belt (and rollers themselves), but it also tends to make for a smoother feel.
Home treadmills often come with rollers somewhere in the 1.9″ – 3″ range, with higher-end treadmills usually coming with 2.5″ or larger rollers.
Roller size probably shouldn’t be the first priority when choosing an incline trainer, but for me it’s certainly near the top.
As is running surface size.
This spec isn’t specific to incline trainers, but it’s important for all treadmills so it’s worth mentioning here.
This spec refers to the physical dimensions of the treadmill’s belt, essentially telling you how much usable space you’ll have during your workouts.
And having a larger running surface is never a bad thing, unless I guess you prefer the cramped feel of a small treadmill.
Comfort is important, but if a treadmill’s running surface is too small, you might actually find yourself having to shorten your stride to make sure you don’t step off the edge of the belt.
And that will almost certainly deduct from your overall workout enjoyment.
Running surfaces are measured in inches (in this country anyway) and usually written as “width x length”.
Most higher-end treadmills will come with running surfaces in the 20″ x 60″ range because this size fits most users comfortably, but there is some variance from brand to brand.
Ok, I think that covers our bases regarding which specs are most important to look for when comparing incline treadmills.
You’ll also want to consider warranty of course, but again, that’s universal for any treadmill (and don’t worry, I kept warranty in mind as I came up with this list).
So, without further ado, here we go…
The 7 Best Incline Treadmills For Home Use
#1 The NordicTrack Commercial X22i
When it comes to incline trainers, I had to put a NordicTrack machine in the top spot because there really aren’t any other brands that I’m aware of that offer a complete incline training series.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that NordicTrack’s a legit brand either.
Anyway, the Commercial X22i is one of 3 incline trainers in NordicTrack’s lineup and honestly, any one of these trainers could’ve landed this top spot.
Ultimately, I went with the X22i because I think it offers a great combinations of specs and features for the price, but there’s no wrong answers here.
First and foremost, the X22i can reach a top incline setting of 40%, which is the highest incline setting I’ve come across on any treadmill.
But it can also reach a decline setting of – 6%, allowing folks to train downhill as well.
Under the hood, the X22i is packing a 4.0 CHP motor, so motor strength won’t be an issue at all with this model.
It also comes with large, 2.5″ rollers to help protect the belt and maintain smooth operation over time.
And with a 22″ x 60″ running surface, users of all heights will be able to walk or run as fast as they like without having to shorten their stride.
The X22i comes with impressive performance specs, but it’s also loaded with additional features too, including a 22″ HD touchscreen console, iFit workout streaming, AutoAdjust incline/speed control, bluetooth, and plenty more.
This treadmill is designed for streaming, but if you don’t like the idea of an ongoing membership fee, you can still use it without an iFit membership too (just know some features won’t be available).
The biggest downside is that NordicTrack’s warranty could be a little longer (10 year frame, 2 year parts, 1 year labor), but if you’re looking for a serious incline treadmill with awesome console features, the Commercial X22i is a great choice. See full review.
#2 The NordicTrack Elite Treadmill
Yup, another NordicTrack treadmill made the list… hey, I told ya they dominate this category.
Anyway, the Elite Treadmill is their newest incline trainer to date and it comes with a few subtle differences from the Commercial X22i just mentioned.
For one thing, the Elite Treadmill is quite a bit sleeker than the older X22i and X32i models, coming with a redesigned frame and lower step-up height.
It also comes with the option to choose between a 22″ or massively large 32″ HD touchscreen console (which is quite a bit larger than the tv I had in my dorm room).
Speaking of the console, on the Elite, the console can rotate, making it a lot easier to view off the treadmill workouts (of which iFit offers a ton).
When it comes to performance, there are a few differences too.
Under the hood, the Elite comes with a slightly weaker, 3.6 CHP motor, but it’s still plenty strong to fuel all incline workouts.
The Elite can reach the same astounding 40% incline, but it’s decline is only down to -5%, but that’s still more than most treadmills offer.
This treadmill also comes with 2.5″ rollers and a 22″ x 60″ running surface, so no real differences there.
And besides the option to choose your console size, all of the additional features on this treadmill are pretty identical to those found on the X22i.
This model is also backed by the same NordicTrack warranty mentioned above.
The biggest downside here is the cost – there’s no getting around the fact the Elite is quite pricey, but if you’re looking for a sleek treadmill with crazy incline capabilities, the Elite Treadmill could make a lot of sense. See full review.
#3 The Sole TT8
We’re switching things up a little and moving on to another great brand, Sole Fitness.
That’s a bit of an understatement really, I’d go as far as saying Sole’s one of my favorite home brands. And that’s mostly because Sole creates heavy-duty machines that are easy to use and built to last.
It doesn’t hurt that they back ’em with amazing warranties either.
Anyway, when it comes to treadmills the TT8 is one of their highest-end models to date.
This treadmill can’t reach the crazy angles the NordicTrack incline trainers mentioned above can, but with a max incline up to 15% and the ability to decline down to -6%, the TT8 can still hold its own with most home treadmills.
Especially when you consider it’s got a 4.0 HP motor under the hood, 3″ rollers, and a 22″ x 60″ running surface.
And with an assembled weight of well over 300 lb and a weight capacity of 400 lb, the TT8 is easily one of the heaviest-duty treadmills in this price range.
Speaking of price, this treadmill is quite a bit cheaper than both incline treadmills mentioned above.
The TT8’s console is pretty simple compared to the massive screens found on the X22i and Elite, but with a 10″ Android based touchscreen, it’s no slouch either.
Other features include bluetooth speakers, a USB charging port, several built-in workout programs, and heart rate monitoring compatibility.
And as I said, Sole’s warranties are no joke.
The TT8 is backed with the following home guarantee: lifetime frame/deck/motor, 5 year parts, and 2 year labor.
It’s also backed by a light commercial warranty too.
Overall, if you’re looking for a heavy-duty treadmill with an industry leading warranty, Sole’s TT8 would make a wonder incline trainer. See full review.
#4 The Horizon 7.8 AT
I’m gonna be honest, once we get into the middle of a list like this, it gets harder and harder to really rank these treadmills because they start to become more similar.
Regardless, Horizon’s 7.8 AT is a wonderful treadmill that easily deserves a spot on this list.
I also happen to have this treadmill in my personal home gym as we speak and can attest to how well it works for incline training.
This treadmill scores highly with its 22″ x 60″ running surface and 4.0 CHP motor, but it’s also ridiculously heavy-duty for a $2k treadmill (this beast weighs in at around 318 lb and has a weight capacity of 350 lb).
The 7.8 AT comes with a top speed of 12 mph and a top incline of 15%, so it’s definitely got what it takes to challenge users of all skill levels.
These performance specs are great, but what really makes this treadmill convenient for incline training are the quick touch buttons and dial speed/incline controls.
With the quick touch buttons, you can instantly jump to preset inclines (and/or speeds) rapidly, but I find myself using the dial control more because they’re almost as fast.
I know it’s a small thing, but it’s the small things that make all the difference, right?
Anyway, Horizon offers a great warranty on this treadmill too – lifetime frame/motor, 5 year parts, 2 year labor.
The console on this treadmill isn’t HD or touchscreen, but it’s brightly-lit and very user-friendly and comes with several nicer features (like bluetooth, USB charging, and several built-in workouts).
Overall, if you’re looking for a heavy-duty, convenient incline treadmill that won’t destroy your budget, Horizon’s 7.8 AT is a smart choice. See full review.
#5 The Sole F85
The F85 is very similar to the 7.8 AT in most every way and I wouldn’t say there’s any clear cut winner between the two – I happen to own the 7.8 AT, so I ranked it a spot higher, but there’s really no wrong answer here.
In terms of performance the F85 is pretty identical to the 7.8 AT.
It too comes with a 22″ x 60″ running surface, a 4.0 CHP motor, and a really heavy-duty frame.
And the F85 has the same 12 mph top speed and 15% max incline found on the previous treadmill.
The rollers one the F85 are actually a bit larger than the 7.8 AT’s, but the biggest difference between these 2 treadmills is found in the consoles.
Sole upgraded the console the F85, giving it a 10″ touchscreen display that’s Android based and comes with built-in entertainment apps, as well as Sole’s STUDIO app that gives you access to streaming workouts.
And if you don’t want to worry about a monthly fee, don’t worry – the F85 comes loaded with all of Sole’s standard workout profiles too, so you’ll still have access to plenty of workouts without STUDIO.
There have been some complaints about Sole’s software, but Sole seems to be fixing some of the bugs that users complained about with earlier versions.
The F85 is also backed by Sole’s great warranty mentioned earlier (which is identical to Horizon’s).
Overall, there’s not much not to complain about here.
The F85 is considered by most to be one of the best home treadmills on the planet and I agree whole heartedly.
If you’re looking for a rock-solid incline trainer with more a more sophisticated console, this one could make a lot of sense. See full review.
#6 The ProForm Pro 9000
The Pro 9000 is ProForm’s most advanced treadmill to date and it comes with a pretty impressive bang for your buck ratio.
ProForm is owned by the same parent company that owns NordicTrack, so the Pro 9000 (and all other ProForm treadmills) is also equipped for workout streaming through iFit.
More specifically, this treadmill is rocking a 22″ HD touchscreen console, making it very easy to view all workouts and metrics during workouts.
Not bad for a treadmill well under $2k.
And when it comes to performance, the Pro 9000 is no slouch either.
This treadmill comes with a 3.6 CHP motor, a top speed of 12 mph, and a 20″ x 60″ running surface.
And even though the Pro 9000 only tops out at a 12% incline, it can also reach a -3% decline for downhill walking – something most treadmills can’t offer.
It also gets bonus points for the interactive training feature that allows the iFit instructors to automatically control the incline/speed settings during your workouts.
ProForm offers the same home warranty NordicTrack does (10 year frame, 2 year parts, 1 year labor), which isn’t awful, but it’s not nearly as generous as the Horizon and Sole guarantees just mentioned.
Overall, the Pro 9000 isn’t as heavy-duty as the treadmills mentioned above, but if you’re looking for a more affordable way to access iFit, it could still be a great option. See full review.
#7 The Nautilus T618
Rounding out my list is quite possibly one of the most underrated treadmills out there.
Well, I say that because I don’t hear much about it anymore, but maybe people do still realize how awesome a deal it is…
Anyway, what I think I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to forget about classic brands like Nautilus, what with all the fancier machines coming out these days, but good ol’ Nautilus still remains one of the best budget-friendlier brands around.
And their T618 is a great example of what I’m talking about.
The T618 costs just over $1k, but it’s easy to forget that when you start looking at this treadmill’s performance specs.
I mean, this treadmill comes with a 3.5 HP motor, a 20″ x 60″ running surface, a top speed of 12 mph, a top incline of 15%, and a weight capacity of 350 lb.
It also comes with 2.75″ rollers, which is crazy for a treadmill in this price range.
The console on the T618 is pretty basic looking, but it comes loaded with a ton of workout programs and it is bluetooth compatible.
And it does have quick-touch speed/incline buttons to make your incline training a little more convenient.
Oh, Nautilus even backs this treadmill with a surprisingly awesome warranty: 15 year frame/motor, 5 year parts, and 2 year labor.
5 year parts on a $1200 treadmill… wow.
So, if you’re looking for a powerful incline treadmill that’s easy to use and very easy on the wallet, Nautilus’ T618 is certainly worth checking out. See full review.
Well, I guess that about does it.
When it comes to incline treadmills, if you’re looking for insane slopes, NordicTrack is likely your best bet – their incline trainers can reach much higher inclines than any other home treadmill I’ve come across.
If you’re not as concerned with sheer steepness, you’ve got a little more thinking to do.
Horizon and Sole both offer several great, moderately priced treadmills that are backed by great warranties and ProForm offers more affordable access to iFit streaming.
And last, but not least, Nautilus’ T618 is a powerhouse for such an affordable treadmill.
Regardless of which treadmill you go with, I encourage you to do your homework and consider all the important performance specs mentioned above.
I hope you found this guide helpful and if nothing else, I hope this shows there are plenty of great incline treadmills to choose from.
Now get out there and start climbing those slopes!