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Does Walking on an Incline Burn Belly Fat? (Science-Based)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 30, 2022

As a long-time fitness trainer, I always recommend my clients who want to lose weight quickly increase the intensity of their cardio exercise.

As many of them use treadmills in the gym, I usually suggest raising the incline to challenge their muscles and burn more calories.

And since I always strive to help them reach their weight loss goals faster, I set aside a few weeks to study the science of fat burning on inclines.

I also spoke with my colleagues at Total Shape to see if my research findings were consistent with their years of experience as sports experts.

Quick Summary

  • Walking on an incline helps burn excess calories because it engages more muscles in the body, including the posterior chain, which can enable you to lose weight faster.
  • Exercise tips such as increasing speed, extending duration, and maintaining good posture can help increase the number of calories burned and accelerate weight loss.
  • When combined with a healthy diet and fat-burning supplements, walking on an incline can lead to a high-calorie burn rate and faster weight loss.

Can an Inclined Treadmill Help You Lose Fat?

A man running on an inclined treadmill

An inclined treadmill can help you lose more fat, including in the belly area, because it simulates walking uphill, which raises your heart rate more than walking on a flat surface.

Researchers have found that an increased heart rate due to intense exercise correlates with the increased burning of calories per minute [1].

Also, walking uphill during a treadmill workout at the same pace as regular walking may increase endurance, improve performance, and increase lean muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, you can hasten the process of losing body fat even while at rest [2].

How to Maximize the Use of Incline Treadmill for Fat Loss

A man setting up a treadmill

You can get the most out of an incline treadmill in terms of fat loss by increasing the velocity and duration of your workout, as well as keeping your whole body properly aligned and balanced throughout.

High-intensity workouts can cause your heart to pump more blood, making it beat faster and reach its maximum capacity.

According to research, working out at 65 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR) allows you to enter your fat-burning heart rate zone [3].

When your body is in fat-burning mode, your body’s metabolic rate increases and shifts to converting fat as an alternative fuel source.

You should keep in mind that holding on to a treadmill's handrails may lessen weight loss benefits because you burn fewer calories.

When you don't hold onto the railings, you learn to balance and align your whole body, allowing you to build better posture while working out. 

The correct posture makes a treadmill workout for fat loss less tiring and more efficient. It reduces fatigue because correctly aligned muscles require less physical effort, so you can exercise longer with more energy [4].

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What Are the Other Benefits of Walking Uphill?

Walking uphill has other benefits, including reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving glucose control [5].

Furthermore, walking can help burn belly fat safely by strengthening and toning your lower body and core muscles without placing any pressure on your knees.

"Incline walking can strengthen leg muscles while introducing less joint load or pressure to the knee."

- Henry Wang, Professor, Ball State University

Furthermore, exercising on an incline treadmill can improve your mood and lower symptoms of depression, leading to a more stable immunity and better well-being [6].

Are There Any Risks?

A person running on an inclined treadmill in the gym

The risks associated with uphill incline are minimal, but they are more significant for people with joint and spine problems and weak bones, who are more likely to trip and fall [7].

As with all cardio exercises for fat loss, you should consult a certified personal trainer or a physical therapist if you have known anatomical abnormalities before beginning the workout regimen.

Also, working out at a moderate pace is the key.

The risk of injury from using an incline increases if you overdo it, such as doing a workout for longer periods or at a faster pace than you are comfortable with.

FAQs

How Many Calories Can I Burn by Walking an Incline?

Walking on inclines can burn up to 500 calories daily, depending on your weight, walking speed, and degree of incline.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a 70 kg individual can burn about ten more calories per mile for every five percent increase in incline [8].

How Long Should I Walk on an Incline to Reduce Weight?

If you want to reduce weight, you should be able to walk on an incline for an hour every day. This can help you burn 3,500 calories per week.

According to research, one pound of fat has about 3,500 calories. If you can burn some extra calories, you can burn more unwanted fat [9].

Is Incline Walking Effective for Weight Loss?

Incline walking is effective for weight loss because it helps to increase endurance, gain lean muscle mass, and cause your body to enter a fat-burning zone.

However, you may need to hit an incline treadmill for an hour every day to lose excess pounds.

This is why I always tell my clients to support their treadmill walking with natural fat burners.

We’ve thoroughly tested these products and documented pretty consistent results, which is why we advise you to examine our lists and find the one that suits your needs.


References:

  1. https://www.bio-conferences.org/articles/bioconf/full_html/2020/10/bioconf_pes2020_00033/bioconf_pes2020_00033.html
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0966636211002827
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19855335/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27494342/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5358029/
  6. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-walking-most-underrated-form-exercise-ncna797271
  7. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2016/07000/risks_of_treadmills_in_health_fitness_facilities_.7.aspx
  8. https://summitmd.com/pdf/pdf/090626_aps09_970.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4035446/

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