Best Treadmill Workouts for All Workout Levels: 2024 Guide

Boost your speed, stamina, and calorie burn with our research-backed treadmill workouts, perfect for all runners. This in-depth guide explores effective routines to enhance cardiovascular health and fitness goals.

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Overview

Getting in shape and boosting your cardiovascular fitness doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience. In fact, with the right treadmill workouts, you can genuinely enjoy your cardio sessions while torching calories and building endurance.

The treadmill is one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment available, allowing you to precisely control variables like speed, self-driven, incline, and workout duration.This guide will take you through a comprehensive selection of the best treadmill workouts tailored for different goals and fitness levels.

Whether you opt for one of the best treadmills for home use, invest in a portable folding treadmill, or need the sturdy construction of the best treadmill for heavy people, you’ll find a workout routine that fits your needs perfectly. But before we dive into the workout specifics, let’s cover a few essential basics.

Warm It Up

We’ve all been there – jumping straight into an intense workout feeling stiff, tight, and just plain unprepared. Avoiding this unpleasant scenario is as simple as taking 5-10 minutes to properly warm up before your treadmill session.

A proper warm-up does two key things: it increases your core body temperature[1] to get your muscles warm and flexible, and it gradually raises your heart rate to prepare your cardiovascular system for the work ahead. This helps prevent injury and allows you to perform at your highest level right from the start.

Here’s a good warm-up routine to follow before any treadmill workout:

  • 20-30 toe raises
  • 20-30 heel raises
  • 20 single-leg pogo hops per side
  • 20 high knees in place
  • 20 butt kicks in place
  • 10 leg swings per side
  • 2-3 minutes of light jogging

Defining the Intensity

Throughout these workouts, you’ll see terms used to describe different intensity levels. Understanding these terms is crucial for properly following the workout instructions and pushing at the right effort levels. Here’s a quick guide:

Stroll: A casual, comfortable walking pace with no specific speed in mind.

Power Walk: Taking larger, purposeful strides and pumping the arms for a brisk walking pace that gets your heart rate up but isn’t quite a jog.

Easy Jog: A gentle jogging pace where you’re just picking your feet up a bit more than a walk. Conversation is still possible at this level.

Conversational Pace: You’re moving with determination now, breathing a little heavier, but could still chat with someone alongside you. Your heart rate is elevated to around 1.5 times your resting rate.

Tempo Pace: Now we’re getting up there! You’re picking up more speed into a rhythm where talking would be difficult. You’re hovering right around your aerobic threshold before the legs really start burning.

Hard Effort: Consider this about 85% of your maximum effort. You’re huffing and puffing, and could only sustain this intensity for a few minutes max.

All-Out Sprint: Red-lining it! You’re going as fast as you possibly can, but can really only keep this up for 10-15 seconds before needing a break.
With those basics covered, let’s look at some incredible treadmill workouts!

The Endurance Builder

Goals: Build aerobic endurance, increase distance capacity

Best For: The Beginner looking to establish a solid cardio base or the Veteran building up mileage.

Nothing fancy here, just a straightforward workout focusing on sustaining a solid pace for an extended period. The structure alternates between easier recovery sections and pushing at a comfortably hard “tempo” pace.

Building Endurance On The Treadmill (Video Credit: Training Tall YouTube Channel)

The Workout:

  • 5 minute easy jog warm-up
  • 10 minutes at a conversational pace
  • 5 minutes at a tempo pace
  • 5 minute easy jog cool down

Total: 25 minutes

Using one of the best treadmills for home, this workout is perfect for gradually increasing your endurance levels. Simply focus on completing the time intervals as prescribed for the first few weeks.

Then, look to increase the total distance covered every few weeks by pushing just a bit harder during the conversational and tempo pace segments.

For example, if you covered 2.5 miles total in Week 1, shoot for 2.7 miles in Week 2 by running a little faster, then 2.9, and so on. Eventually, you can extend the tempo pace section by 2-3 minutes to further increase the challenge.

The Power Walker’s Delight

Goals: Low-impact walking workout, targeting lower body muscles

Best For: Anyone looking for a killer walking workout to fit their needs, ideal with the best treadmill for heavy people.

Don’t be fooled – walking can be just as challenging as running when you crank up the incline and add dynamic movement variations. This workout hammers the legs, glutes, and core stabilizers through five rounds of three intense walking intervals.

Beginner Treadmill Walking Workout – Interval Incline | 20 Minutes (Video Credit: Sunny Health & Fitness YouTube Channel)

The Workout: 5 Rounds of:

  • 3 minutes high incline walk (10%+) with purposeful strides
  • 2 minutes high incline backward walk (hold side rails)
  • Rest 1 minute between rounds

Set the incline to at least 10% to really make those legs burn during the forward and backward walking intervals. For the forward walks, focus on taking long, controlled strides while maintaining an upright posture. The backward walks will fire up the quads even more.

To progress, you can add more rounds or increase the time for each interval as you build up strength. For an extra challenge, try the workout while holding light dumbbells or wearing a weighted vest.

The HIIT Sprint Challenge

Goals: Develop explosive speed and power, cardiovascular conditioning

Best For: The motivated fitness junkie looking for high-intensity interval training using one of the best folding treadmills.

There’s no hiding from the intensity of this heart-pumping interval workout. The short, max effort sprints coupled with strategic recovery periods make it a metabolic conditioning masterpiece.

The BEST Treadmill Sprints Workout to Burn Fat Quickly (HIIT Training) (Video Credit: Jeremy Ethier YouTube Channel)

The Workout:

  • 5 minute conversational pace warm-up
  • 4 Rounds of:
    • 1 minute hard effort run
    • 2 minute easy jog recovery
    • 30 second max effort sprint
    • 1 minute walk recovery
    • 15 second all-out sprint
    • 30 second walk recovery
  • 5 minute easy cool down jog

Give it everything you’ve got during those sprint intervals, then allow your heart rate to recover during the walking and jogging segments. Having a folding treadmill is ideal for this type of workout, allowing you to simply fold it up and tuck it away when you need space again.

To progress, try reducing those recovery periods from 2 minutes down to 90 seconds or even 1 minute as you get fitter. The less rest, the bigger the challenge!

The Lunch Crunch Cardio Blast

Goals: Get in a fast, effective cardio workout

Best For: The professional or busy parent who needs to squeeze in exercise whenever possible. A folding treadmill is perfect here.

We’ve all been there – the day gets away from you and suddenly it’s mid-afternoon with no workout completed yet. Instead of skipping it, fire up your portable treadmill and knock out this quick but high-intensity routine.

UREVO 2 in 1 Under Desk Treadmill Review! (Video Credit: Unmatched Value YouTube Channel)

The Workout:

  • 3 minute conversational warm-up
  • 5 Rounds of:
    • 30 seconds hard run
    • 30 seconds easy jog recovery
  • 3 minute easy cool down jog

Simple as that! You’ll alternate between 30 second hard run intervals and 30 second easy recovery jogs for 5 total rounds. This hits the sweet spot of being challenging but brief enough to fit into a busy schedule.

To make it harder, extend the work intervals to 45 or even 60 seconds as you build up conditioning. Or increase the incline for some hill training too. Having a quality folding incline treadmill allows you to get this type of workout done quickly at home.

The Lower Body Shredder

Goals: Strengthen and sculpt the legs & glutes, functional training

Best For: Anyone looking for lower-body focused, multi-planar training. Ideal with the spacious belt of the best treadmills for home use.

Most treadmill workouts just have you running back and forth in the same direction. This creative routine, however, incorporates multi-directional movements like side steps and backward walking to target muscles from every angle.

Lower Body Treadmill Workout (Video Credit: Sarah Olive Bergeson YouTube Channel)

The Workout:

  • 3 Rounds of:
    • 2 minutes forward walking (normal direction)
    • 2 minutes side shuffle facing left
    • 2 minutes backward walking (use handrails)
    • 2 minutes side shuffle facing right

Benefits of Treadmill Training

While going for an outdoor run has its charms, there are several advantages to treadmill training that make it an excellent option:

Convenience

With a quality treadmill like the best treadmills for home use or a portable folding treadmill, you can get in an effective cardio workout any time, without worrying about weather, darkness, or safety concerns of running outside. Just hop on and go!

Controlled Environment

The ability to precisely set your speed, incline, and duration allows you to create very specific workout challenges. You can mimic hiking hills, alternate between intervals, or just lock into a steady pace – something that’s tough to accomplish on outdoor terrain.

Low Impact

The cushioned belts of modern treadmills reduce some of the repetitive impact forces experienced when running on concrete or pavement. This lower-impact nature makes treadmill running a great option for injury prevention or those getting started.

Treadmill Workout Tips

To get the most out of your treadmill training, keep these tips in mind:

Use the Incline

Don’t ignore the incline settings! Adding valleys and hills to your workouts by adjusting the incline builds extra strength and simulates outdoor running conditions.

Engage the Core

It’s easy to develop poor form on a treadmill by leaning on the handrails or slouching over. Keep your abs braced and avoid excessive upper body motion for better running mechanics.

Stay Focused

Treadmill running can get mentally stale. Combat boredom by using monitor programs, watching shows, or listening to music/podcasts to keep your mind engaged during the workout.

Have Fun With It!

Treadmills allow you to get creative with speed play, intervals, and directional patterns. Embrace the variety and keep things fun by mixing up your workouts.

Cool Down Properly

Just like the warm-up, the cool-down phase is important for safe treadmill training. Walk or jog easily for 5 minutes after hard efforts to gradually allow your heart rate to recover.

Keys to Progression

One of the greatest benefits of treadmill training is the ability to continually increase the challenge over time for progressive overload. Here are some effective progression methods:

Increase Speed

The most obvious way to increase overload is to bump up the speed, whether doing steady runs or intervals. Adding just 0.1-0.2 mph every few weeks provides a productive challenge.

Extend Durations

In addition to velocity, 2021 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health[2] states, Expanding your total workout time or the length of high-intensity intervals overloads the muscular and cardiovascular systems.

Crank the Incline

Don’t underestimate the value of incline training! Raising the treadmill’s angle increases the workload for the glutes, hamstrings, and calves without adding more pounding.

Embrace Combinations

For an extreme challenge, try combining the types of progression by running at a higher incline for longer distances/times. The possibilities are unlimited.

The treadmill truly is a remarkably effective and versatile tool for burning calories, building endurance, and developing an athlete’s full fitness potential. With this guide’s workouts and tips, you have everything needed to start maximizing your treadmill training today!

Who Can Benefit from Treadmill Training?

Treadmills offer an accessible form of exercise that can benefit people of all fitness levels and goals:

Beginners

If you’re new to exercise or coming back after a long break, treadmills allow you to start at a comfortable walking pace and gradually increase the intensity as you build fitness. The low-impact nature is also ideal for avoiding injury when you’re just starting out.

Runners

Whether training for a 5K or marathon, treadmills give runners the ability to log miles year-round in a controlled environment. Specific workouts like intervals and hill training can be programmed for optimal preparation.

Strength Athletes

Cardio exercise is important for any strength athlete or physique competitor. Treadmill training provides an efficient way to improve cardiovascular conditioning without excessive joint stress from high-impact activities.

Older Adults

The cushioned, low-impact nature of treadmills makes walking or light jogging an excellent option for active aging and maintaining mobility as you get older, according to The Journal of neuroscience nursing[3] study.

Busy Professionals

Having a treadmill at home, like one of the best folding treadmills, allows busy workers to still get cardio sessions in when time is limited before or after work.

The Treadmill-Strength Training Combination

While treadmills provide an amazing cardio training tool, they can also be incorporated with strength training for a complete workout routine. Here are some effective ways to combine the two:

Treadmill Warmup

Start your strength session by doing 5-10 minutes of easy treadmill walking or jogging to raise your core temperature and get your muscles primed.

Conditioning Finisher

After your compound strength work, finish up with an intense 10-20 minute treadmill conditioning piece to get some extra calorie burn and cardio work.

Tread-Strength Circuits

Set up a timing circuit where you alternate periods of running at certain intensities with bodyweight strength movements like push-ups, air squats, etc.

Non-Competing Supersets

Superset your treadmill intervals between upper body strength exercises to get both resistance and cardio work in an efficient fashion.

Active Recovery

On your dedicated cardio training days, start with a treadmill warmup, then do your conditioning workout, finishing with some light treadmill walking to actively recover.

No matter your fitness level, goals, or available equipment, treadmill training offers an incredibly versatile tool to improve overall conditioning, body composition, and performance. With proper programming and progression, it can be a key component of an effective, well-rounded exercise routine for years to come!

Treadmill Safety Tips

While treadmills are relatively simple machines, there are some important safety precautions to keep in mind:

Proper Setup

Make sure your treadmill is on a level, stable surface away from any walls or obstructions. Secure the treadmill based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

[Related: Best Under-Desk Treadmills]

Check the Belt

Inspect the walking belt before each use to ensure there are no debris, tears, or excessive wear that could cause slipping.

Use Safety Key

Most treadmills come with an emergency stop safety key that attaches to your clothing. Use this every time in case you need to shut off the treadmill quickly.

Start Slow

Don’t jump right into your workout at top speed. Give the belt a few moments to start up and find your footing before increasing intensity.

No Distractions

Avoid using phones, reading, or watching TV when first starting out on a treadmill until you feel stable with the movement.

Stay Center

Try to run or walk centered on the belt rather than favoring the sides or front/back areas which could cause imbalances.

Cool Down

Just like the warmup, a 3-5 minute cooldown walk following harder efforts is important to avoid any dizziness or nausea from stopping too abruptly.

Stay Hydrated

Have a water bottle handy, especially for longer treadmill sessions, to prevent dehydration which can lead to muscle cramps or dizziness.

Following basic safety fundamentals like these will help ensure an effective, low-risk treadmill training experience.

What to Look for in a Quality Treadmill

If you’re in the market for a treadmill for home use, there are several key factors to consider:

Motor Strength

Look for a motor in the 3.0-4.0 HP range, which provides enough power for running without excessive noise/shaking. Cheaper treadmills often have underpowered motors.

Belt Size A belt around 20″ x 60″ gives enough room for a normal running stride without feeling cramped. Smaller belts may be insufficient for taller users.

Weight Capacity

Higher-end home treadmills have weight capacities of 300-400 lbs to accommodate all users safely. Opt for these sturdier models if you need the extra capacity.

Cushioning

Quality deck cushioning systems help absorb impact and provide a more comfortable, lower-stress running experience compared to cheaper treadmills.

Incline/Decline

The ability to incline is important for adding variety. Decline positions are less common but also valuable for comprehensive training.

Program Options

Built-in workout programs can add guidance and variety to your treadmill routines based on your goals and fitness level.

Connectivity

Many modern treadmills connect to fitness apps via Bluetooth to automatically track workout data and stream world landscapes during your sessions.

With so many options on the market, doing thorough research on home treadmill models in your budget will ensure you end up with the right machine to meet your needs and fitness goals. Major brands like NordicTrack, ProForm, Sole, and Nautilus consistently rank among the best for home treadmill quality and value.

By investing in a well-constructed, full-featured treadmill you can be sure to get an efficient, low-impact, and endlessly versatile cardio training solution for your home gym for years to come!

final wordsConclusion

Treadmill workouts offer incredible versatility to customize challenging cardio sessions for any goal or fitness level. By precisely adjusting variables like speed, incline, duration, and work-to-rest ratios, you can continually increase the difficulty of progressive overload over time.

Having a quality treadmill at home, whether it’s one of the best treadmills for the home, top-rated folding treadmills, or a sturdy treadmill built for heavy people, enables you to get an outstanding cardio workout anytime, anywhere.

The key is embracing the endless possibilities treadmills provide and using creative programming to keep your routines fun and engaging. Implement smart progression tactics like increasing speed, extending durations, raising inclines, and adjusting intervals. This will allow you to continually find that ideal workout intensity.

Make the treadmill a staple of your fitness regimen. With variety and dedication, it can forge an amazing cardiovascular base, shred calories, boost endurance, and elevate your overall conditioning to new levels. Maximize this versatile tool’s potential!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How long does it take to see results from a treadmill?
A. The timeframe for witnessing treadmill results hinges upon your fitness level and goals. Beginners can expect improvements in cardiovascular health and muscle tone within two to four weeks. However, significant fat loss may require a more extended period, potentially reaching four months or longer.

Q. What is the best treadmill exercise?
A. For a comprehensive treadmill regimen, consider integrating High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This method entails alternating brief spurts of vigorous running (30 seconds) with restorative walking (60 seconds). Execute this sequence 5-10 times to achieve a 15-20 minute workout. PLoS One[4] research suggests that HIIT can markedly enhance VO2 max, a pivotal indicator of cardiovascular fitness.

Q. Can a treadmill burn belly fat?
A. Treadmill workouts, when combined with a calorie deficit diet, can contribute to belly fat reduction. Research[5] suggests both moderate and high-intensity treadmill exercise can promote overall fat loss, leading to an average reduction of 1.75 inches in midsection circumference and a 5-6% decrease in body weight. This highlights the potential of treadmill workouts for belly fat loss as part of a comprehensive weight management strategy.

Q. Is 30 minutes on the treadmill enough?
A. Research[6] indicates that potential role of 30 minutes moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking on a treadmill, most days of the week is sufficient for significant health improvements. You can even break it up into two 15-minute sessions!

6 Sources

BodybuildingReviews avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in BodybuildingReviews, you can read more about the editorial process here.

  1. Racinais S, Cocking S, Périard JD. Sports and environmental temperature: From warming-up to heating-up. Temperature (Austin). 2017 Aug 4;4(3):227-257. doi: 10.1080/23328940.2017.1356427. PMID: 28944269; PMCID: PMC5605167.
  2. Atakan MM, Li Y, Koşar ŞN, Turnagöl HH, Yan X. Evidence-Based Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on Exercise Capacity and Health: A Review with Historical Perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 5;18(13):7201. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18137201. PMID: 34281138; PMCID: PMC8294064.
  3. Shaughnessy M, Michael K, Resnick B. Impact of treadmill exercise on efficacy expectations, physical activity, and stroke recovery. J Neurosci Nurs. 2012 Feb;44(1):27-35. doi: 10.1097/JNN.0b013e31823ae4b5. PMID: 22210302; PMCID: PMC3249605.
  4. Bacon AP, Carter RE, Ogle EA, Joyner MJ. VO2max trainability and high intensity interval training in humans: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 16;8(9):e73182. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073182. PMID: 24066036; PMCID: PMC3774727.
  5. Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305. Epub 2010 Nov 24. PMID: 21113312; PMCID: PMC2991639.
  6. Göçer E, Ardıç F, Akkaya N, Herek D. Efficacy of moderate-intensity walking provided feedback by ECE PEDO on abdominal fat in overweight and obese women: A randomized, exercise study. Turk J Phys Med Rehabil. 2017 Nov 29;63(4):340-347. doi: 10.5606/tftrd.2017.1956. PMID: 31453477; PMCID: PMC6648078.

Heather Black, CPT

Heather Black, CPT is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, & a Precision Nutrition Certified Coach.
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