Elliptical machines come with different ranges of incline options. Find out the benefits of these settings and how good they actually are.
Something to note first is that incline ellipticals do not work the same way as incline treadmills.
Incline ellipticals actually raise the back rails of the pedals which tilts you forward. On the other hand, incline treadmills raise the front part of the deck which tilts you backward.
The incline elliptical benefits below range from relatively unique to these devices to more general effects that definitely deserve a mention.
1. Adds variety
Exercising is often done for the health benefits but many people also enjoy their workouts at least somewhat.
Some things that can make your workouts even more enjoyable include using new types of fitness equipment, using fitness equipment in different ways, and doing new types of exercise.
Incline elliptical machines can help with some or all of these things depending on your current exercise routine.
Enjoying your workouts more is not just something that is nice to have. It could also help you stay more consistent with your exercise routine.
Since this is so important to get the health benefits, this aspect could be a helpful addition to incline elliptical machines.
If you really like decline and incline levels, you can check out the NordicTrack 14.9 and Sole E95 which have incline options ranging from 0% to 20%.
2. Works your muscles in a different ratio
Elliptical machines, including the incline ones, offer cardiovascular workouts but you still work muscles all over your body.
You should not expect too much, if any, actual muscle growth from elliptical machines but working these muscles can still offer benefits.
Some of these include making the muscles healthier, slowing down degradation, and improving muscle endurance.
By changing the incline setting of your elliptical machine, you work your muscles in a different ratio.
I did not find any studies about this but based on my biomechanics intuition, incline elliptical machines should work your quadriceps (front thighs), erector spinae (lower back), chest, shoulders, and triceps (back upper arms) a tiny amount more.
Besides the quadriceps, the muscles mentioned have to work just a bit harder to keep your body upright.
On the other hand, the incline models will likely work your hamstrings (back thighs) and glutes (butt) a bit less compared to regular ellipticals.
Something important to note is that this different ratio is not necessarily good or bad for everyone. Whether this is actually a benefit to you depends on things like your training goals.
3. Makes certain workouts feel a bit more immersive
Some elliptical machine brands make it easy to connect their machines to workout apps.
These workout apps are basically video libraries where you can often follow elliptical machine workout classes, workout classes for other exercise types, and scenic workout sessions.
In these scenic workout sessions, you follow a video that is supposed to simulate what it would feel like walking, running, or cycling in a certain remote area.
There are also scenic workout sessions where you follow paths that go upward or downward. By being able to adjust your incline setting on an elliptical machine, these workouts can feel just a bit more immersive.
4. Helps you lose weight
This next effect is also definitely one of the regular elliptical machine benefits but it deserves a quick mention.
Having excess body fat can negatively influence your health. While it is also possible to overdo it, many people would benefit in terms of healthy by losing some weight in the form of body fat.
A popular way to do this is doing exercise. By moving your body more intensely it uses up more energy measured in calories.
Exactly how many calories you burn with an activity is hard to predict since things like your personal hormone levels, body weights, workout intensity, body composition, etc. influence it.
That being said, a rough estimation is that a 155-pound individual burns around 165 calories while using a regular elliptical machine at a moderate effort for 15 minutes.
Incline elliptical machines could be just a bit more challenging than regular ellipticals and in turn, burn more calories. However, the effect should not be that big and the numbers similar to the 0 incline setting.
Even so, it is clear that incline ellipticals can be good for weight loss.
You do want to keep in mind that other lifestyle areas like your nutrition are still important when trying to lose weight. It is possible to work out a lot and still gain weight if your other habits are suboptimal.
5. Trains balance and coordination a bit more
Elliptical machines are not the most challenging piece of fitness equipment in this area but they do require at least a bit of balance and coordination.
Balance and coordination are fitness components that can be improved by challenging yourself to safe extents in these areas.
The steepest elliptical incline settings themselves are not necessarily that more challenging for your balance and coordination.
However, moving through different incline levels will require you to adjust your balance and in turn, offer a bit more practice and benefits in this area than a regular elliptical machine.