Does Running On An Incline Burn More Calories

When it comes to burning calories, there are many factors to consider. One question that often comes up is whether running on an incline burns more calories than running on a flat surface. As an avid runner myself, I’ve always been curious about this topic. So, I decided to dig deep into the research and share my findings with you.

The Science Behind Calorie Burn

Before we dive into the specifics of running on an incline, let’s briefly understand how our bodies burn calories during exercise. When we engage in any physical activity, our muscles require energy to perform the work. This energy comes from the breakdown of calories stored in our bodies, primarily in the form of carbohydrates and fats.

During aerobic activities like running, our cardiovascular system delivers oxygen to our muscles, allowing them to convert stored energy into usable fuel. The more intense the exercise, the more oxygen and energy we require, resulting in a higher calorie burn.

The Impact of Incline

Running on an incline adds an extra challenge to the workout. As you increase the gradient, your muscles have to work harder to propel your body forward against gravity. This increased effort translates into a higher energy expenditure and, ultimately, a greater calorie burn.

Several studies have shown that running on an incline can significantly increase calorie burn compared to running on a flat surface. One study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado found that running uphill at a 10% incline increased calorie burn by nearly 50% compared to running on a level surface.

Another study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences compared calorie burn during running at different inclines. The researchers concluded that running on a 5% incline burned approximately 29% more calories than running on a flat surface at the same speed.

It’s worth noting that the calorie burn increase is not solely due to the incline itself. Running uphill also engages more muscles, particularly in the lower body, including the calves, quads, and glutes. The activation of these muscles contributes to a higher metabolic demand and, consequently, greater energy expenditure.

Other Benefits of Running on an Incline

Besides the potential for increased calorie burn, running on an incline offers additional benefits. It strengthens your leg muscles, improves cardiovascular endurance, and can simulate race-like conditions. Uphill running can also help you build mental toughness and improve running technique.


It’s safe to say that running on an incline does indeed burn more calories compared to running on a flat surface. The additional effort required to overcome gravity results in a higher energy expenditure and increased muscle activation. So, if you’re looking to amp up your calorie burn and challenge your body in a new way, consider incorporating some uphill running into your routine. Lace up those shoes and hit the hills!