Last Updated on May 11, 2021 by JP
Getting a HIIT treadmill workout, or “high intensity interval training” session, is one of the best ways of optimizing your cardio while boosting your metabolism. Running on treadmills is easier on the joints than running on concrete or asphalt. Plus you can really control the speed of your sprinting and recovery intervals.
If you have access to a treadmill with “speed interval” program button/option, this is ideal for a treadmill HIIT workout. If not, you can still make it work. The speed interval option essentially allows you to program in two speeds (as described below) and switch back and forth between them by pressing the button.
WARNING: The treadmill HIIT can be intense. If you’re not comfortable running at your top sprinting speed for 15-30 seconds on a treadmill you might want to try a different kind of HIIT workout or very gradually work up to this. *As with any new exercise regimen, check with your doctor first if you have concerns. The idea is to do good, not harm.
Always Warm Up Before HIIT Treadmill Workouts
IMPORTANT: Warm up for a few minutes as you would before doing any workout. I suggest quick walking/jogging for 3 minutes on the treadmill. You want to make sure your muscles are nice and warm to avoid injury. Also, if you have zero experience on a treadmill, I suggest a few workouts with normal running or jogging to get the feel for the machine before starting a HIIT workout.
Find Your Top HIIT Treadmill Sprint Speed
Next, find a speed that pushes you close to your max running speed but won’t have you flying off the back of the treadmill. Do this by starting at a normal walking or jogging speed then incrementally increasing the speed and running until you feel yourself reaching your max. You want to have to do a full-out sprint in order to stay on. If you have experience on a treadmill, you’ll probably know generally what your max is. Whatever speed that is will be your HIIT treadmill sprint speed. Lastly, pick a nice slow pace for the recovery portion of your workout. Treadmill speedometers may vary, but for instance, your numbers could look like this- sprint at 9.0, recover/walk at 3.5.
HIIT treadmill workout:
- Warm up minimum 2-3 minutes, working up to your recovery speed.
- Set treadmill to Sprint Speed and run for 15-30 seconds (times vary due to ability/comfort levels)
- Reduce treadmill down to recovery speed for 60-90 seconds and catch your breath!
- Repeat 8 times.
TIP: As soon as you finish a sprint interval, I recommend grabbing the handrails and quickly moving your feet off the treadmill belt onto the sides of the treadmill. This will allow you to give the treadmill time to lower its speed without having to change your pace as it does so. You have a much higher chance of getting injured if you stay on the belt during this quick speed transition. Also, due to the intensity of the sprint portion, your body will be grateful for the short period of rest. Aim to run through this routine a total of 8 times (8 sprints and 8 recoveries). If you can’t do so at first, start with as many as you can and build up as you progress.
I love adding treadmills to a fitness regimen because they’re something everyone knows how to use. We have been walking since we were able so the machine makes sense to us. Even better, treadmills provide a variety of workout options beyond your normal walk, jog or run. There are endless uses for treadmills. You can do lunges at the end of a leg day or crank up the incline and do steady state cardio. But a powerful treadmill HIIT sprint session is awesome for some serious metabolism-boosting.
The beauty of the HIIT treadmill workout is that you can get an amazing workout in around 20 minutes. This routine is ideal for days you find yourself unable to get to the gym but have a treadmill at home, or for days where your workout time is limited. High intensity exercise is no joke but your body will love it and I guarantee you’ll feel great afterward.