3 of the Best Treadmill Workouts for Any Fitness Level

Treadmill WorkoutsTreadmills can be a great tool on the path to excellent cardio fitness. A quick look, however, reveals that the majority of people all seem to be doing the same monotonous thing. It’s a serious problem.  Many people use the treadmills for a 20 minute jog at a comfortable pace and then wonder why they aren’t seeing the results they want.  The thing is, done the right way, treadmill workouts can be extremely efficient, challenging and effective. You just have to think about cardio in a new way.

HIIT Treadmill Workouts

Heres’s your key to the cardio kingdom:  Interval training (sometimes called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT). Interval training (on a treadmill or any other equipment) is when you go at a comfortable pace for a certain period of time and then ramp up the difficulty for another period of time. For example, you could sprint for 30 seconds and then jog for a minute. The jogging period is used for recovery while the sprinting helps you burn loads of calories while dramatically improving your aerobic fitness.

Interval training is the perfect way to get in a great workout in a very short amount of time. You can fit a very challenging and effective workout in under 30 minutes, sometimes even 20 or 15.  Best of all, you’ll feel amazing.

Find Your Workout Exertion Range

The beauty of these workouts below is that they meet you where you are fitness-wise.  You can judge the challenging periods by your heart rate or RPE (rate of perceived exertion).

Heart Rate

Treadmill Workout

*From the American Heart Association. Figures are averages, use only as general guidelines.

To find your ideal heart rate ranges you’ll need to do a little tracking.  Using a heart rate monitor either on your treadmill (if it has one) or on your smartphone (there are apps that can check your HR) you can accurately track your heart rate during the harder periods.  You’ll want to be at around 80%-90% of your max heart rate then during the recovery period you can cut it back down to about 60%. Adjust these ranges based upon how you feel during the first workout. There’s no shame in cutting down to 75% and 50% as you’ll adapt the more workouts you complete.  For more information check out the American Heart Association’s page here.

Rate of Perceived Exertion

Zero (“0”) on the RPE scale is sitting down not moving and completely relaxed where 10 is giving it all you can give. Using RPE you’ll want to be at either 8 or 9/10 during the challenging time and then around 5 or 6/10 for the easier time.

You can split these workouts baed on how long you’re planning for your workout to last. The longer the workout then the less intense the harder periods will be while the shorter workouts will call for more demanding work.

Always Warm Up

Before each and every workout it’s important to complete a warm up to get the muscles warmed up, blood flowing and heart pumping. This will put you at a lower risk of injury and also make you more capable during the workout.

These workouts are kept as simple as possible so that you don’t get confused during the session. A lot of people make the mistake of overcomplicating interval training and then end up with their mind spinning while they’re trying to concentrate on exercising.  The idea is to get an effective workout, not make it a hassle.  *And of course, be sure to check with your physician before starting any workout regimen! 

60 Minute Treadmill Workout

Warm Up:

  • 5 minute warm up starting from walking and ending with jogging at a comfortable pace.

Stage 1:

  • 3 minutes of working period (7/10 RPE or 70% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 3 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 2% incline
  • Repeat 3 times

Stage 2:

  • 5 minutes of working period (7/10 RPE or 70% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 2 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 2% incline
  • Repeat 2 times

Stage 3:

  • 3 minutes of working period (7/10 RPE or 70% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 3 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 2% incline
  • Repeat 3 times

Cool Down:

  • 5 minute cool down starting with jogging at a comfortable pace and ending with walking.

30 Minute Treadmill Workout

Warm Up:

  • 5 minute warm up starting from walking and ending with jogging at a comfortable pace.

Round 1:

  • 3 minutes of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 6% incline
  • 3 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 4% incline

Round 2:

  • 2 minutes of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 6% incline
  • 2 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 4% incline

Round 3:

  • 1 minutes of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 6% incline
  • 1 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 4% incline

Round 4:

  • 2 minutes of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 6% incline
  • 2 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 4% incline

Round 5:

  • 3 minutes of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 6% incline
  • 3 minutes of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 4% incline

Cool Down:

  • 5 minute cool down starting with jogging at a comfortable pace and ending with walking.

20 Minute Treadmill Workout

Warm Up:

  • 5 minute warm up starting from walking and ending with jogging at a comfortable pace.

Stage 1:

  • 30 seconds of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 1 minute of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 30 seconds of working period (9/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 30 seconds of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • Repeat 2 times.

Stage 2:

  • 1 minute of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 1 minute of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 1 minute of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 1 minute of rest period (5/10 RPE or 50% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline
  • 1 minute of working period (8/10 RPE or 80% Max Heart Rate) at 5% incline

Cool Down:

  • 5 minute cool down starting with jogging at a comfortable pace and ending with walking.

That’s it!  Remember you may need to adjust the workout to fit your own needs. That’s totally normal.  And of course, make sure you talk to your doctor before doing any new exercise routine (the idea is to get better, not worse!).  Overall, have fun and enjoy the benefits a great treadmill workout can provide.