What is Incline?

This page provides extra insight on all facts and terminology related to treadmill incline!

Incline terminology

There are 3 different ways in which treadmill incline can be defined:

1. Levels (which is usually a number)
2. Percentage (%)
3. Degrees (°)


Levels are the number of stops between the minimum incline and the maximum incline of a treadmill.

The level values do not necessarily translate to a percentage (%), or degrees (°) of incline, and you will need to contact the manufacturer for the details. Some manufacturers use levels to enable granular control over the incline without the need to implement a digital system on the display screen.


The percentage incline is defined as, for every 100 metres forward, you climb a number of metres up.

So, for instance, a 2% incline would mean: for every 100 meters you run, you climb 2 meters vertically.

This is the easiest way to think about real-world incline.


And, finally… the most complicated one! The degree of the incline is defined as the angle (in degrees) of a slope in relation to the direction of gravity. So, for instance, at 0° a treadmill’s running board would be level with the ground, and at 2.9° it will have a 5.0% incline.

The good news is that the use of degrees is uncommon, however, it is good to understand the difference. Importantly, that degrees and percentage are not the same thing, but one can be used to calculate the other.

Degrees vs Percentage

There is a direct relationship between degrees and percentage incline which is defined as follows:

To convert from degrees incline to percentage incline use:

percentage = tan(x°) × 100

To convert from percentage incline to degrees incline use:

degrees = tan-1(x%/100)

Calculate the true incline with minimum and maximum measurements 

Once you have measured your minimum and maximum incline with the Kinni inclinometer, input these values into this spreadsheet to understand what your incline level really means! 

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