What Muscles Does The Treadmill Machine And Treadmill Incline Work

Working out is not an easy task and when you decide to exert that kind of effort on something it is reasonable to want to know exactly you will be working on.

Fortunately for you, treadmills are one of the best pieces of workout equipment that work a wide array of muscles. Furthermore, it also helps different parts of your body function better.

Especially your cardiovascular system. Even better yet you could do a workout while actually working on your treadmill if you would like to. 

And if just walking or running is not your style then no problem there are plenty of different types of workouts that you can perform on a treadmill.


What Muscles Does The Treadmill Machine Work?

Here is a quick summary of the contents that we will be discussing:

  • Predominate Muscles Worked
  • Secondary Muscles Worked
  • What Muscles Does The Treadmill Incline Work?
  • Maximize Benefits Of An Incline Treadmill Workout

Predominate Muscles Worked

  • Cardiovascular System
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Glutes
  • Abdominals


Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system is usually worked by getting your heart rate to its optimal range and keeping it there. 

This is easily done on the treadmill by simply running at a pace that causes your heart rate to elevate to its target range.

Once there you just coast as best you can and keep it in the range.

However, any sort of cardio even light cardio will help to work out your cardiovascular system so do not get discouraged if you have difficulties keeping a highly elevated heart rate.


The treadmill definitely workouts your quadriceps but how much they are actually targeted depends on what exactly you are doing on the treadmill.

For example, I have known plenty of people that incorporated lunging into their treadmill workout to emphasize the targeting of their quadriceps.

Furthermore, the form you use when running can impact the amount of stress you put on your quadriceps. As greater forward extensions of your legs can help to target them more specifically. 





 The harder you run on the treadmill the more you will work your abdominals.

The reason this happens is that they are trying to stabilize your entire body and as you run faster the more instability happens.

So to correct this instability and keep your body balanced your abdominals must do their job.

However, if you want to try and target your abdominals more you can definitely try to bring your knees to your chest while either walking or running.

This is also a great way to increase the difficulty of your workout if you are looking to change things up.

Secondary Muscles Worked

  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Pectorals
  • Arms

It may seem odd that these muscles are being used considering that it seems that running and walking are just a leg workout.

However, when you run and walk you will usually swing your arms back and forth. Which is one of the ways the body helps to stabilize and move you forward.

The cool thing about you doing this is that the muscles in your back, shoulders, pectorals, and arms must get involved to make that happen.

Granted it is not the toughest workout you put them through but it is certainly not a negligible effect.

What Muscles Does The Treadmill Incline Work?

Using the incline functionality is a great way to up the difficulty of your treadmill workout.

Furthermore, many people love to use an incline treadmill as a way to tone up when the summertime is rounding the corner.

So what all does the incline treadmill work?

Well, it targets pretty much all the same muscles you would have worked doing the normal treadmill.

However, it does bring some additional stress to some and benefits that you may not have expected.

Such as the following:

  • More Instense Cardiovascular System Workout
  • Prevents Boring Workouts
  • Easier Way To Do High-Intensity Interval Training 
  • Lower Impact Training
  • Full Stretch On Your Calf Muscles
  • Increased Calorie Burn
  • Faster Workouts

More Intense Cardiovascular System Workout

Well for starters it will work your cardiovascular system at a higher intensity than your regular stroll on the treadmill.

Which I think is a great plus as you can get away with just walking on an incline instead of actually running or jogging.

This leads to you being able to slowly build into a more intense workout without harming yourself your first few times.

Prevents Boring Workouts

One of my personal favorite benefits of using the incline functionality on a treadmill is that it helps keep me from getting bored.

Usually, I can walk or jog for a decent amount of time before my body decides it has had enough. But I use to give up before that even happened because I was simply bored.

However, nowadays I simply adjust the incline on the treadmill to create something similar to that of a high-intensity interval training session.

Which helps to take out any boring aspects that were there before.

Easier Way To Do High-Intensity Interval Training 

A really cool feature about using incline is since it makes the workout difficult you can switch between a high incline and no incline to create a HIIT workout for yourself.

Furthermore, a lot of treadmills actually come built-in with this as a workout option and if you have one that does I would highly recommend giving it a shot.

Because if you do a HIIT workout this way you will be more likely to complete it if you are a beginner than many of the other variations.

Especially the extreme ones where you have to sprint and then walk and then sprint again.

Lower Impact Training 

Thanks to the incline functionality allowing you to increase the intensity of a workout without having the need to run you can actually avoid a majority of the impact caused by running or jogging.

Making the incline a great way for those who a prone or concerned about suffering an injury but are still wanting to take the intensity up a bit.

All you need to do is just remember to set the treadmill to a decent walking pace and then add in the incline and you are good to go.

Full Stretch On Your Calf Muscles

Personally, I have been reading up a lot on the benefits of fully stretching out a muscle while working it out. Making sure you get the full extension on any muscle can really help the development.

Fortunately, the incline will cause your calf muscles to get a full stretch that will intern help them to grow faster and look better.

Increased Calorie Burn

Walking on an incline treadmill increases the amount of calorie burns significantly compared to doing that same workout without the incline.

Calculations were done in this article on LiveStrong about how the difference in calories burned between the two and the results are quite impressive.

They took a person of 150 pounds and depending on how much incline was put into place the individual would burn up to 50% more calories!

Faster Workouts

If you are looking to optimize your workout time and spend as little time working out while still getting the most out of it then using the incline is definitely for you.

All you need to do is add the incline to your usual treadmill pace and you should be able to get the same results within 75% of the time spent depending on how much of an incline you add.

Maximize Benefits Of An Incline Treadmill Workout

Be sure to let your hands swing freely when using your treadmill on an incline as it will allow help you not only burn more calories but build more muscle as well.

And remember when working out on an incline you do not need to run as hard as you normally wood the incline is adding a significant amount of difficulty to your workout already.

So all that heavy sprinting you can put to the side for now unless you really just want to go all out.

Which if that is the case more power to you.

In Conclusion

I was wondering, what muscles does a treadmill work?

I found that using a treadmill is great for all skill and activity levels. It uses a lot of the muscles in the body and really gets the blood pumping and the calories burning.

The main muscles used are the Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves, Glutes, Abdominals, and not to forget the Cardio Vascular System!


If you have a treadmill it is very important to protect your investment so that you get the most sweat for your money!

A crucial maintenance step is to make sure that your treadmill belt is properly lubricated, I wrote an article about how to do this that I figured could be helpful so I will link it below.

How to Apply Treadmill Belt Lubricant

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