If you’d like to burn the calories running offers but an old injury or sore joints are slowing you down, let me suggest incline walking.

As I write, Randy is once again moving our treadmill into another room (the baby loves to climb it), so it’s off to the garage I go.

I have been burning big calories on a treadmill for the past 5 years. When I first joined the gym, I walked in with this goal in mind and having no clue what to do.

I tried the elliptical machines, but they made me feel clumsy. I pedaled stationary bikes for a while too, but for me they seemed boring.

I had been avoiding the treadmill, because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to burn many calories walking. My back doesn’t always agree with me running (it tends to inflame a previous torn disc and crushed vertebra). But, I figured I may as well try it out…

I got on the treadmill thinking I would just walk fast to burn more calories, but I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. Plus, it didn’t feel like I was working my muscles enough. I knew if I wanted to burn the big calories I was looking for, I’d have to be running on it. I was bummed.

I came home complaining to Randy about my frustrations. He suggested I try incline walking. Well, being new to the gym and treadmills altogether, I had never thought of that. Randy said he raised the treadmill to maximum incline one day just to experiment and claimed it really targeted this leg and butt muscles. My eyebrows raised at this point, because I’m always trying to find a good rear type exercise. He said, too, that it wasn’t long before he could feel the burn and had to break.

Bingo! That’s what I wanted, incline walking! I finally found a great, fat burning cardio workout that targeted my legs and bum region while not having to run. 😀

I went to the gym and tried it out. I walked for about 3-5 minutes to warm up my muscles (stretched first too), then I raised the incline up a few blips to 4%. Incline walking at about 3.5 miles per hour, even at a 4% raise, I could feel the difference and see the calorie meter moving faster – I could dig that! I burned a third more calories than the day before walking for the same amount of time… And better yet, my back wasn’t pinching!

I recorded a few 20 minute incline sessions on our treadmill walking at a pace of 4 miles an hour so you can see the numbers: (this doesn’t include warm up or cool down time, full 20 minutes are at 4mph and incline stated)

  • zero incline = 128.4 calories burned
  • 2% incline =138.8 calories burned
  • 4% incline = 146.5 calories burned
  • 6% incline = 158.5 calories burned
  • 8% incline = 168.5 calories burned
  • 10% incline = 177 calories burned
  • 12% incline = 189 calories burned

I weigh approximately 125 pounds, so if you’re weight is similar, these are the numbers you could expect to see at a 4mph pace with incline. If you weigh more, the calories burned will be higher. Weigh less, and the calories burned will be less. Walking at 4.3 mph or 4.5 mph makes quiet a difference as well.

Like I said, I did not include warm up or cool down times. My work out consists of about 3 minutes to warm up, 25 or so minutes incline walking at 10%, and 12%, and cool down for about another 3 minutes. Total work out takes me 30 – 35 minutes and I generally burn 300 calories.

I started checking into incline walking and its benefits, especially for people like myself with joint injuries. Actually, I found it to be highly effective:

Andrea Cespedes, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer with degrees from Princeton and Columbia University writes, “Adding an incline or speed increases the amount of calories you burn in your treadmill workout. A 150-lb. woman can burn 800 calories in an hour running up a five-percent incline at 6 mph, as opposed to 550 calories in an hour running at the same speed on a flat treadmill. Hill running (or walking) also improves leg strength, efficiency of movement, form and aerobic conditioning.”  Treadmill Incline vs Speed

I took my time the first week keeping a 3.5 mile per hour pace at a 4-6% incline (make sure always to stretch, warm up, walk, cool down, stretch). I kept up this pace for the week, and as my leg muscles adapted, I increased speed and inclination weekly. I was amazed at how much strength and muscle I was able to build – good for burning fat even at rest. 🙂

Now, I am incline walking at 3.8 to 4.5 miles per hour (depending on my mood and music) and at full incline (that’s 12% on our treadmill, others at the gym reach 15%) and generally burn 225 – 500 calories depending on time spent per session. I do, though, spend at the very the least 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week.

Once I reached my top speed and incline, I continued for about 6 weeks and then took a break – 1 week off. When I returned to the gym, I again tried the ellipticals for a bit and then stationary bikes… I wanted to keep my muscles from getting too used to the treadmill.

Then, I head back to the treadmill and start climbing all over again. I get the best results there.  I’ve milled (as I like to call it) so much over the years that Randy bought me a treadmill of my own (it’s getting a little crazy around here with so many children and it’s just easier for me to have one here at home).

So now it looks like I’ll be incline walking, or milling, in our blasted hot garage for the summer, maybe fall too… Well, whenever the baby stops climbing actually. Living here in Florida, I think I may need a barn fan after all!

Happy milling!

Incline Walking vs Running – This Guy Should Try Walking!