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When & How to Increase Intensity with an Incline Workout

February 8, 2017

There are many different ways to increase the intensity of your client’s cardio sessions to mix up the monotony and continuously get results. It’s easy for clients to revert back to cardio pieces that they are comfortable with because it may be the only piece of equipment they have access to. Or, it could be that they don’t know how to work the different variations of programming on the machine.

Incorporating incline training during cardio sessions with clients could be just what they need to decrease the amount of time spent exercising, and increase the calories burned during that time. Increasing the incline can have multiple benefits that will stand out to different types of individuals.

For the Client Who is Hurting

If your client feels pain while exercising, it’s up to you to help them address it and find an exercise that’s right for them. For example, if running hurts a client’s joints in any way, increase the incline on a treadmill. That way, their heart rate is elevated as if he/she were moving faster, but the impact is lighter on joints when walking or jogging rather than running.

For the Client Who Feels Uncomfortable

As a trainer, I hear all the time that people feel uncoordinated on a treadmill; when they run past a certain speed (or at all), they feel as if they are going to lose their balance and fall. This feeling often leads to clients leaning on the hand rails of the treadmill, which decreases the muscles worked during running. In doing so, clients will ultimately burn less calories than when they perform the same workout without leaning on the treadmill.

Incline training can help this type of client feel safer during their workout because they’ll be training at a slower speed as the incline gets higher. That way, they won’t feel as if they are going to fall.

For the Extremely Busy Client

We all have that client: the busy bee who doesn’t have time to do cardio more than 10-15 minutes after their weights session, or 30 minutes altogether on cardio days. Incline-capable machines such as TRUE’s Alpine Runner will allow clients to burn more calories during and after their training sessions (with the help of after-burn)and will not be catabolic to lean mass. Even your busiest client can work off the calories in a shorter amount of time with incline training.

Incline Training Provides High Intensity

Steady state cardio will yield results for a short while, but will easily and quickly hit a plateau until you continue to make workouts harder for the client. The truth is, a steady pace is just plain easier for the body to get used to because it only primarily works the cardiovascular system of the body.

An HIIT workout places stress on the body to perform the drastically different demands of different workouts. Inducing as much stress during your cardio sessions by adding incline training will elevate your client’s heart rate more quickly. They will achieve the “fat burning zone” faster and remain in that zone longer for maximal fat loss during the session and the recovery period.

For example, if you know you are going to be doing the same activity for 30 minutes straight, you have to choose a pace that you can sustain for that amount of time. However, if you are altering the incline and resistance, you can choose a more challenging setting. In the latter example, you are only pushing your body for the higher point of your interval, which can vary depending on your time frame.

How to Determine Intervals in Incline Training

You want the incline to get harder for your client before you drastically reduce it. This way, you can challenge clients to get their heart rate up quickly for two minutes and then drastically drop it down to recover. There are many different ways to structure these workouts so it ultimately depends on how much time you have with your client. If I had to give someone a number, I would say there needs to be 12-20 minutes of “fat burning heart rate” in the duration of the workout.

If you are asking your client for 30 minutes of cardio on an Alpine Runner, but are bumping the incline up and then back down from that -3% to 30% incline range throughout the 30 minutes, 12-20 minutes of that should be spent at an elevated heart rate and the rest should be decreasing the heart rate.

It’s never too early to start mixing up your clients’ cardio routine with higher inclines. They will reduce the impact on your clients’ joints, create variety in your cardio session, and burn more of calories in a smaller amount of time.

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