The Best Treadmill Workouts For All Ages And Fitness Levels

There is no denying the effectiveness and appeal of going out for a walk or a run. These simple activities are great for your health, fitness, and weight loss. And best of all, you can do them almost anywhere and anytime, no special equipment required.

Unfortunately, walking and running outdoors is not always convenient. High summer temperatures or winter rain, snow, and ice, can make walking and running outdoors less than enjoyable. Some people simply prefer to work out indoors where they can watch TV which they exercise.

Treadmills are a great alternative to walking or running outdoors. Whether you want to tone up, get fit, or lose weight, here are ten different workouts you can do on your treadmill.

1. Beginners Walking Workout

You should walk before you run, or so the saying goes! This is especially true for treadmill workouts. If you do too much exercise too soon, you could just end up tired and sore. That could be enough to put you off exercise for good.

For this workout, simply set your treadmill to flat and walk for 15-20 minutes. Try not to hold on to the handrails and adjust your speed so that you are slightly out of breath but are still able to talk.

As the weeks pass and you get fitter and more used to treadmill training, increase the duration and speed of your workouts. Don’t force these progressions – only increase the difficulty of your workout when you feel ready.

2. Beginners Walk-Jog Intervals

If you’ve never run on a treadmill, you’ll probably be surprised to discover it feels very different to running outdoors. The most obvious difference being that rather than running forwards, you stay in place, and the treadmill belt passes underneath you.

Introduce and get used to treadmill running gradually with walk-jog intervals. This workout lasts 20 minutes and is ideal for beginners.

  1. Walk for three minutes to warm up
  2. Jog for one minute (e.g., 5 mph)
  3. Walk for two minutes (e.g., 3 mph)
  4. Jog for one minute
  5. Walk for two minutes
  6. Jog for one minute
  7. Walk for two minutes
  8. Jog for one minute
  9. Walk for two minutes
  10. Jog for one minute
  11. Walk for two minutes
  12. Walk for two minutes to cool down

How fast should you walk and jog? That’s up to you! Just make sure you stay within your limits and never get too out of breath. Your breathing and heart rate should speed up, but you should be able to talk as you exercise.

3. Beginner Walk And Jog hill workout

Most treadmills have an incline adjustment to replicate walking or running uphill. The steeper the incline, the harder you’ll have to work. Try not to hold the handrails and lean back during this workout. That cancels out any benefit to walking or running uphill. Instead, lean forward into the hill and pump your arms. This workout lasts 26 minutes and is ideal for beginners/early intermediates.

  1. Walk for five minutes to warm up – incline 0
  2. Walk for two minutes – incline 4 (e.g., 3.5 mph)
  3. Jog for two minutes – incline 0 (e.g., 5.5 mph)
  4. Walk for two minutes – incline 6
  5. Jog for two minutes – incline 0
  6. Walk for two minutes – incline 8
  7. Jog for two minutes – incline 0
  8. Walk for two minutes – incline 10
  9. Jog for two minutes – incline 0
  10. Walk for five minutes to cool down – incline 0

Couple in gym working out on treadmills4. Intermediate Two Steps Forward, One Step Back workout

This 30-minute workout involves walking, jogging, and running to take you through a wide range of intensity levels. For every two speed increases you make, you get to reduce the speed once too. These back-off periods mean that you’ll be able to work longer and harder than you would if you ran at a constant pace.

Work your way down the following list, increasing and decreasing the speed as instructed. If this workout looks too tough for you right now, feel free to make the increases smaller, e.g., half a mile per hour instead of one. Alternatively, do fewer increases and stop at a lower speed such as 10 mph.

  1. Walk/jog for four minutes to warm up
  2. 4 mph for one minute
  3. 5 mph for one minute
  4. 6 mph for one minute
  5. 5 mph for one minute
  6. 6 mph for one minute
  7. 7 mph for one minute
  8. 6 mph for one minute
  9. 7 mph for one minute
  10. 8 mph for one minute
  11. 7 mph for one minute
  12. 8 mph for one minute
  13. 9 mph for one minute
  14. 8 mph for one minute
  15. 9 mph for one minute
  16. 10 mph for one minute
  17. 9 mph for one minute
  18. 10 mph for one minute
  19. 11 mph for one minute
  20. 10 mph for one minute
  21. 11 mph for one minute
  22. 12 mph for one minute
  23. Jog/walk for four minutes to cool down

5. Intermediate Decreasing Distance Interval Workout

5k (about three miles) is a classic running distance. It’s a popular fun run distance and, for many people, is about as far as they ever want to be able to run. This workout involves running 5k but in four stages. This makes it more manageable and also more interesting than running 5K non-stop. Best of all, you have to run faster as the workout progresses, which makes it uniquely challenging.

  1. Walk/jog for 5 minutes to warm up
  2. Run 2000 meters as fast as you can (e.g., 7 mph)
  3. Walk for 2 minutes (e.g., 4 mph)
  4. Run 1500 meters as fast as you can (e.g., 7.5 mph)
  5. Walk for 1.5 minutes (e.g., 4 mph)
  6. Run 1000 meters as fast as you can (e.g., 8 mph)
  7. Walk for 1 minute (e.g., 4 mph)
  8. Run 500 meters as fast as you can (e.g., 9 mph)
  9. Jog/walk for 5 minutes to cool down

6. Intermediate Run And Squat Workout

Just because you are using your treadmill for your workout doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to running. Why not combine your treadmill with other exercises to make your workout more fun and interesting?

This program combines treadmill running with bodyweight squats to provide your heart, lungs, and legs with a time-efficient fat-burning workout.

  1. Walk/jog for five minutes to warm up
  2. Run 500 meters as fast as you can
  3. Do 50 bodyweight squats*
  4. Run 400 meters as fast as you can
  5. Do 40 bodyweight squats
  6. Run 300 meters as fast as you can
  7. Do 30 bodyweight squats
  8. Run 200 meters as fast as you can
  9. Do 20 bodyweight squats
  10. Run 100 meters as fast as you can
  11. Do 10 bodyweight squats
  12. Walk/jog for five minutes to cool down

*To do bodyweight squats, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your hands on your hips. Push your butt back, bend your knees, and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Keep your head and chest up, and do not round your lower back. Stand back up and repeat. And yes, it’s perfectly normal for your thighs to ache and burn during this workout!

7. Intermediate 400-Meter Sprint Workout

400 meters is a classic running distance in athletics. One lap of a standard running track and equal to a quarter of a mile, 400 meters is too long to be a full-on sprint, but short enough you can run it pretty fast. Running 400 meters as fast as you can will leave your heart pounding, your chest heaving, and your legs burning!

For this workout, once you are warmed up, run 400 meters as fast as you can, and then walk to recover. Start your 400 meter runs every third minute. In other words, if it takes you 85 seconds to run 400 meters, you get to walk for 95 seconds before it’s time to run again.

  1. Walk/jog for five minutes to warm up
  2. 0 minutes – run 400 meters as fast as you can
  3. Walk until the next three-minute mark
  4. 3 minutes – run 400 meters as fast as you can
  5. Walk until the next three-minute mark
  6. 6 minutes – run 400 meters as fast as you can
  7. Walk until the next three-minute mark
  8. 9 minutes – run 400 meters as fast as you can
  9. Walk until the next three-minute mark
  10. Walk/jog for five minutes to warm up

8. Advanced Sprint And Bodyweight Exercise Circuit

Turn your treadmill work out into a full-body training session by combining simple bodyweight exercises with treadmill sprints. This workout leaves no muscle group untrained, and all you need is an exercise mat, and the willingness to push yourself hard!

  1. Walk/jog for 5 minutes to warm up
  2. Treadmill sprint 1 minute
  3. Push-ups 1 minute
  4. Lunges 1 minute
  5. Planks 1 minute
  6. Treadmill sprint 2 minutes
  7. Push-ups 1 minute
  8. Lunges 1 minute
  9. Planks 1 minute
  10. Treadmill sprint 3 minutes
  11. Push-ups 1 minute
  12. Lunges 1 minute
  13. Planks 1 minute
  14. Jog/walk for 5 minutes to cool down

Push-ups – kneel on the floor and place your hands down flat, shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back and extend your legs so that your body forms a straight line. Brace your abs, bend your arms, and lower your chest to within an inch of the floor. Push back up and repeat. Getting tired? Bend your legs and rest your knees on the floor to do three-quarter push-ups.

Lunges – stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Take a large step forward, bend your legs, and lower your rear knee to within an inch of the floor. Push off your front leg and return to the starting position. Do your next rep by leading with the opposite leg. Alternate legs for the duration of your set.

Planks – kneel down and rest your forearms on the floor. Move your feet back, so your legs and body form a straight line. Tense your abs. Hold this position but not your breath for the prescribed time.

9. Advanced 5k Time Trial

Time trials are basically races against the clock. The aim is that, after your warm-up, you simply run as fast as you can over the designated distance. You should be right on the cusp of your top speed and, if you run any faster, you’ll soon have to slow down. This is called your anaerobic threshold and should be your fastest sustainable pace.

This type of workout is short, sharp, and uncomfortable, but it’s also an effective way to boost your running speeds and fitness. You should finish this workout feeling like you could not have run it faster.

  1. Walk/jog for 5 minutes to warm up
  2. Run 5k as fast as you can
  3. Jog/walk for 5 minutes to cool down

running on treadmills10. Advanced Tabata Sprint Intervals

Tabata sprint intervals are a type of high-intensity interval training – HIIT for short. Invented by Japanese sports scientist Izumi Tabata, this workout only lasts four minutes (plus warm-up and cool down) and was designed for Olympic athletes. Four minutes might make you think this is an easy workout but, done right, Tabata sprint intervals should feel like the longest four minutes of your life!

If you are an advanced exerciser who is also very competent at running on a fast-moving treadmill, this killer workout could be for you. It is definitely not recommended for beginners or even intermediate exercisers!

  1. Walk and jog for five minutes to warm up
  2. Sprint for 20 seconds
  3. Rest for 10 seconds*
  4. Sprint for 20 seconds
  5. Rest for 10 seconds*
  6. Sprint for 20 seconds
  7. Rest for 10 seconds*
  8. Sprint for 20 seconds
  9. Rest for 10 seconds*
  10. Sprint for 20 seconds
  11. Rest for 10 seconds*
  12. Sprint for 20 seconds
  13. Rest for 10 seconds*
  14. Sprint for 20 seconds
  15. Rest for 10 seconds*
  16. Sprint for 20 seconds
  17. Rest for 10 seconds*
  18. Walk/jog for five minutes to cool down

*Don’t slow or stop your treadmill. Instead, carefully jump your feet out to the side and stand on the running boards to rest. When your ten seconds recovery period is up, put your hands on the handrails and carefully lower your feet back on to the still-moving treadmill belt. Practice this at lower speeds before committing to sprinting.

Bottom Line

To get the most from your treadmill, you should do your best to increase the difficulty and duration of your workouts gradually. That’s how you get fitter – by challenging your body a little more week by week. If you always do the same workout, your fitness will plateau, and you may even get bored of doing the same thing over and over again.

Use these workouts to inject some variety into your treadmill training, and gradually work your way down the list as your fitness and confidence improve. However, don’t try to do too much too soon; that’s a good way to end up sore and injured. Slow but deliberate progress is always your best option!

 

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