Question about motorized treadmills?
Some motorized treadmills are flat. Others are sloped uphill, in order to simulate uphill hiking or uphill running. If both types of treadmill are run at the same speed, does the uphill slope significantly enhance the workout?
The slope can significantly increase the work done. There are a variety of charts around the internet which show calories burned per distance and slope. One example shows a flat mile jog burning 119 calories, a 1% slope burning 125, a 4% slope burning 144, and a 12% slope burning 199. These extra calories reflect the greater work being done.
The other advantage of a slope is it gives you some variety, not just in your routine, but also in the muscles that are doing the work. If you run the same speed and slope all of the time, your body can get used to it. Most treadmills these days can vary the slope and many have programs which can throw various patterns of speed and slope at you.
I have a treadmill like this that adjusts incline. Higher incline works the muscles harder in the legs and also gets your heart rate up and does indeed work you harder. I like to vary the pace and incline when I use the treadmill to simulate what I do when I'm running trails etc. and the ground is obviously never truly flat .
Even at the same speed. Say you are walking along normally at 3 or 3.5mph or so - moderate pace. Flat, you probably won't run out of breath or break much of a sweat for awhile, Put the incline up to 10 or 15% and you will quickly realize how much faster 3.5mph feels lol. I tend to run/jog 4 to 5mph at lower inclines and slow it down for the higher inclines.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I was trying to approach this question from a simplified physics perspective. Here are a couple of examples.
While standing up, you burn more calories than when you are sitting in a comfortable chair, even though no real work is being done. Why? Because human muscles are not conventional electric motors. Your muscles are burning calories in order to maintain your upright position. Ditto for wall-sits, which are popular with skiers.
From a physics perspective, ordinary walking consumes calories, simply because your center of mass is fighting gravity, in moving up (and down again) an inch or so every step. This is true, even if you have a mild tail wind.
Beyond that, walking 'uphill' on a treadmill does not do any extra work.
Essentially, no real work is being done when you maintain your vertical position on a treadmill, or in trying to go 'uphill' on an escalator that's going downhill at a velocity thats equal and opposite to your 'groundspeed'.
In walking 'uphill' on a treadmill, you rely more on the big quadriceps (thigh) muscles, which are doing precious little real work, but are nevertheless consuming extra calories. In level walking -- on the ground, or on a treadmill -- the gastrocnemius muscles, in your calves, are doing a bit more real work In both examples, the butt muscles play active roles.
Biology sometimes makes basic physics more complicated!
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