Incline on a treadmill: what it means

The numbers indicated on the console are what we usually refer to as incline in a treadmill. They range from 0 to 15 and we assume they are a percentage of slope, but does this actually hold true? The truth is that if we look closely at the treadmill from the side, we realize that it is not perfectly horizontal.

At the very least, I think that is what happens. Let’s get to the point, how do I know which number corresponds to which button on the console? When the ground moves under your feet and the belt moves back, you feel it more than when they are horizontal.

You don’t have that part of the action because the ground doesn’t move backwards like a treadmill belt does… How do you figure out which % of inclination corresponds to the buttons on the console?

It’s easy, just watch this: OK, now that we have all that out of the way, let’s talk about speed. This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in exercise machines. When people say that they want to get fast on a treadmill, what they really mean is that they want to go as fast as they can without running.

Treadmills are measured in MPH (Miles Per Hour) and it is very important that you understand this. If you are running on level ground at a constant speed of 4 MPH, you will travel a distance of 1 foot every.00025 seconds. That means that it will take you 10 seconds to go 2 feet, 20 seconds to go 6 feet, etc.

Now, let’s pretend that you start out walking at a slow pace on level ground and then you decide you want to run. What will happen is that after about 30 seconds, you will be running at about the same speed you were walking… and… you will continue to do this until you decide you want to walk again.

I do so:

Mark two points on the side of the treadmill: one at the end of the belt and one 100 cm ahead (length = 100).

Then I measure with a ruler the height with respect to the floor of the dot (h in the photo), let’s say 19 cm.

Then I measure the height with respect to the floor of the dot (h2) with the ruler, let’s say 39 cm.

So point h2 has risen from point h by 20 cm (elevation = 20).

To know the percentage you can do this: (elevation / length) * 100 = 20%

(20/100) * 100 = 20%

By repeating the measurement, you get to know the real% of incline to which the various buttons on the treadmill correspond.

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