What are the Best Treadmill Workouts?

B. Miller

Using a treadmill for working out can be a great way to burn fat and calories and get in shape. Many people find running on a treadmill to be much safer than running outdoors, particularly if they live in a dangerous area; in addition, there are no concerns about weather when using a treadmill. There are many different treadmill workouts that can be tried, based on one's individual needs. Each treadmill workout may offer great cardiovascular benefits.

Most treadmills feature a random-hill programmed routine for cardiovascular workouts.
Most treadmills feature a random-hill programmed routine for cardiovascular workouts.

For those just starting out, who have medical conditions, or are particularly overweight, it is best to create simple treadmill workouts that involve brisk walking. It may be a good idea to check with a doctor first to be sure that it is safe to exercise, as well as to learn in what range one's heart rate should be. Many treadmills allow one to create a pre-set workout plan, with a warm-up period with slower walking, followed by an exercise period in which one moves more quickly in order to increase the heart rate for a sustained period of time, followed by a cool-down period which is slower again.

Some treadmills have settings to help users run in ways they would if outdoors, such as going uphill.
Some treadmills have settings to help users run in ways they would if outdoors, such as going uphill.

Even if the treadmill does not allow for the creation of a workout plan, it is a good idea to follow this general rule when doing treadmill workouts. Do not simply jump on the treadmill and start at top speed, and then immediately stop; this could cause an injury such as a pulled muscle. After getting off the treadmill, it is a good idea to complete some slow stretches.

Treadmill workouts might include a mix of jogging and walking. These are a good idea for people who are trying to increase their physical fitness, but who may have difficulty running for a sustained period of time. Over time, trying to slowly increase the amount of time spent jogging versus the time spent walking is a great way to improve endurance.

Finally, one of the best treadmill workouts is simply to warm up, jog or run for a set period of time, then cool down. While running on the treadmill, switching the incline to make it feel as if one is running up a hill is a great way to work different muscle groups, and make the exercise more challenging. Again, some treadmills can do this automatically; others force the user to make the changes manually. As with any workout, it is important to regularly vary routines in order to prevent plateaus.

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Discussion Comments


I can't use the treadmill anymore because it bothers my knees, but my husband makes good use of it. He is in great shape, so he does running treadmill workouts.

He used to run down our street, but it has become unsafe. Escalating crime has forced him to exercise indoors, so the treadmill keeps him from getting flabby.

He does something that I could never do, and that is running on the highest degree of incline. I get out of breath in about ten seconds of running uphill, and my knees start to pop. I wish that I could do this workout, because his legs have become solid muscle.


@shell4life – I also do walking treadmill workouts, even though I have the physical ability to do more intense workouts. I think that longevity and persistence are key with any workout, so I don't want to commit to something extreme that I won't be able to maintain.

I have a couple of music playlists that I listen to while working out. They are tailored to determine the rhythm of my walking.

I intermix slow songs with fast ones and mid-tempo ones to keep my heart rate up without tiring out too soon. I increase the incline on some of the slow songs for an added challenge, but for some of them, I just cool down a bit.


I don't have the endurance or lung capacity to run or jog, so I just use the treadmill for walking. I start out slow to warm things up, and then I progress to a brisk walk after about five minutes.

I do ten minutes of fast-paced walking, and then I slow it back down for another five. The last few minutes of my treadmill workout are spent walking very slowly so that I can stretch my leg muscles.

I realize that I may not be burning lots of calories or building muscle this way, but it keeps me active. I think that this simple treadmill workout will help me live longer and stay positive. I have read that even simple walks every day can stave off depression.


@gravois - I've heard that a treadmill or other interval workout is really good for your heart as well as fitness goals. It doesn't necessarily have to be every time - you might do a steady pace once or twice a week and intervals once or twice. You can also do intervals on any other cardio equipment; I've done a rowing class that was interval-based, for instance.

If you are just getting started, your intervals might all be walking. You could walk faster and up the incline, then slow down and flatten out. Gradually, you can start to jog during your intervals if your health permits it. Alternating interval training with more of an endurance workout is a great way to avoid boredom.

I also enjoy working on improving my time on a set distance, say a mile or two (I usually just do one). This is a nice way to gauge the improvement in your fitness and, again, to avoid boredom. (Because let's face it - the treadmill gets reeeeally boring after a while.) Makes a nice change once a week.


The best thing about running on a treadmill is that you can engage with various speeds and inclines in a way that would be impossible on real land.

Picking the best workout depends on your goals. You need to determine if your goal is weight loss, muscle development or improved endurance.

The treadmill workout plan that I have seen the best results with involves interval training. You basically sprint for thirty seconds and then jog for a minute and then sprint for 30 more seconds repeating until you are exhausted. It really gets the heart rate going and it has made me both faster and able to run further.

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