How to Set Treadmill Incline to Mimic Wind Resistance

How to Set Treadmill Incline to Mimic Wind Resistance

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Raise your treadmill's incline for a more realistic running workout.

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Running on a treadmill is easier than running on a flat, outdoor surface, in large part because you don't encounter wind resistance indoors. Even when outdoor air is calm, the act of running forward creates wind resistance that requires an additional 5 percent energy output, according to "Running Times." A 1996 study written by researchers from Chelsea School Research Centre, University of Brighton determined that you can raise the treadmill's incline to simulate wind resistance.

Simulating Wind Conditions on the Treadmill


Warm up for your treadmill session as you normally would.


Leave the treadmill flat if you usually run slower than 8 mph, because wind resistance is not significant at that speed.


Raise the incline to 1 percent if you run between 8 and 11.2 mph on the treadmill.


Increase the treadmill's incline to 2 percent if you run faster than 11.2 mph, which is the equivalent of running a mile in 5 minutes, 21 seconds.


  • Running coach Rick Morris writing for the website Running Planet recommends limiting the treadmill's incline to 2 percent for standard running workouts in which you're only trying to compensate for wind resistance. Anything further, he says, amounts to a hill training workout.
  • As an added bonus, running on an incline also burns extra calories. If you weigh 176 pounds, for example, you burn an extra 5.3 calories for every mile you travel at 1 degree of incline while moving just 3 mph.


  • Consult a physician before you start a treadmill running program.