The reason why most people start running is to build muscles. I myself started running to reach this exact target.
At the beginning, I used to run on flat surfaces in the park. Soon after, I started looking for a bigger challenge, so I took it uphill and downhill. And that is when I started to see some results.
When it comes to build muscles by running, upward and downward surfaces have a tremendous benefit. But not everyone can do hill workouts outdoors. Luckily, treadmills incorporate incline options, and some also decline. That helps us take advantage of this type of workouts right in our homes.
It’s relevant to say that by now many researchers have undertaken the subject of working at different incline levels and how each stage determines muscle changes.
Dr. Matthew Rhea, Director of Human Movement at A.T. Still University is one of these researchers. He studied a group of 30 year old adults and the results showed that at 0% incline, no more than 20% of muscle tissue was activated in the legs area. When inclines reached 15% or more, calves, hamstrings and gluteus increased and overall muscle activation in the legs went beyond 75%.
It’s not necessary to go that far. 10% or more should have impressive muscular benefits.
For a while now, incline has no longer been a bonus. All treadmills have it, so it has become quite a common feature. And it’s great, because a walk upward puts on hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves a load that is significantly higher than walking on flat surfaces.
Incline builds more muscles in the ankles, calves, upper and lower thighs. During incline workouts, caves are lightly bent and stretched which determines the built of lean muscles. The steeper the incline, the higher your results. Try removing your hands from the handlebars, this will amplify muscle building.
On the flipside, when running or walking down a hill, certain muscles are activated to keep the body under control.
When running downhill, muscles behave differently than running at ground or incline levels. In 2004, Gabaldon, Nelson, and Thomas discovered that muscles turn into energy absorbers during decline workouts. As opposed to incline workouts, running at negative levels transforms the muscles into means of slowing or controlling the movements of the body. In order to prevent uncontrolled motions of the body, leg and hip muscles must contract.
The same Dr. Matthew Rhea showed with his study that - 3% decline at 5 mph activates the calf muscles, quadriceps and hamstrings. At ground level and even 3% incline, muscles are activated much less than at - 3% decline.
The reason this happens is because running downhill stimulates muscles that usually aren’t used. Given the fact that these muscles aren’t usually trained, knees and joints are prone to feel strained. The good thing is that treadmills have cushioned running surfaces that absorb the imminent impact.
When running at negative levels, exertion is much higher, because the body isn’t used to the type of posture decline implies. Still, it only takes a bit of training to adjust your body to negative levels.
For muscle strength, but also weight loss and cardio, incline and decline can have incredible benefits. If your schedule is too tight and don’t have the time to go up and down the hill, get your personal treadmill and make the most out of it.
This article is written by Anna Ursu, a runner and treadmill user. She also writes for RunReviews.com, a treadmill reviews site