Treadmill Interval Training

Tamsen Butler
Women on a treadmill

Treadmill interval training helps increase your stamina by challenging your cardiovascular endurance. This training consists of high intensity exercise alternated with lower intensity exercise in specific timed intervals. Though these workouts can be done outdoors as well, the advantage to using the treadmill is you can easily control and measure your speed and intensity.

Using a Treadmill for Interval Training

First, get comfortable with the settings on your particular treadmill. Treadmills can differ in their capabilities, such as incline and speed, and some treadmills (particularly those at busy gyms) have time limits and will automatically stop after a specific period of time. Any treadmill training will be better when you understand how to use the machine; ask a fitness professional to explain the settings, or if your treadmill is for at-home use, review the user's manual before using.

Sample Treadmill Interval Workouts

Though these workouts vary in their intensity, they are all interval workouts because you switch from lower effort to higher effort and then back down. Repeat the sequences of the workouts for as long as you want to exercise, aiming for 30 minutes each session if possible. Listen to your body and adjust effort accordingly.

Beginner Walking Training

The speeds suggested here can be adjusted to your capabilities; if a comfortable walking pace for you is slower than 2.5, then do your preferred pace. The goal is to walk comfortably - not to match a suggested pace.

  1. Warm up for five minutes at a comfortable walking pace (2.5-3.0 MPH, or whatever you can manage and still talk comfortably).
  2. Increase the incline to 1% for three minutes.
  3. Increase the speed to a faster walking pace for one minute (one that feels like you're nearly jogging, around 3.5-4.0), and raise the incline to 3%.
  4. Lower the speed to your beginning comfortable pace and bring the incline back to 1% for three minutes.
  5. Repeat step 3.
  6. Repeat step 4.
  7. Cool down at your beginning pace, no incline for five minutes.

Intermediate Jogging Training

  1. Warm up for five minutes at your comfortable walking pace.
  2. Increase the incline to 1% for four minutes.
  3. Increase the speed to your jogging pace (around 4.5-5.5) for one minute, and raise the incline to 5%.
  4. Lower the speed to back to a fast walking pace (around 3.5-4.0) and bring the incline back to 1% for four minutes.
  5. Repeat step 3.
  6. Repeat step 4.
  7. Cool down at your comfortable walking pace, no incline, for five minutes.

Advanced Running Training

With the advanced workout, you will reach a breathless (not able to speak a full sentence without taking a breath) state. If you begin to feel lightheaded, you are working out too hard and need to lower the intensity a bit. Keep a consistent incline throughout this workout; you decide if you want no incline, a little incline, or if you really want a challenge with an increased incline.

  1. Warm up for five minutes at a brisk walk.
  2. Increase the speed to your jogging pace for one minute.
  3. Increase the speed to a running pace (6.0+) for one minute.
  4. Reduce the speed to your jogging pace for one minute.
  5. Reduce your speed to a brisk walk for one minute.
  6. Repeat step 2.
  7. Repeat step 3.
  8. Repeat step 4.
  9. Cool down at your comfortable walk for five minutes.

Advanced HIIT Training

This advanced HIIT workout requires endurance and strength and is not suitable for beginners. If at any point during this workout you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or can't seem to catch your breath, gradually cool down with a walk at a comfortable pace; don't simply stop moving and sit down. Keep the incline consistent throughout this workout.

  1. Warm up for five minutes at a brisk walk.
  2. Increase your speed to your jogging pace for one minute.
  3. Sprint (6.5+) for one minute.
  4. Decrease your speed to your jogging pace for one minute.
  5. Walk at a brisk pace for one minute.
  6. Placing your feet on the side rails of the treadmill, drop into deep squats for one minute. Take care to keep your feet firmly planted on the rails and your weight into your heels.
  7. Repeat steps #2-#5.
  8. With your feet on the rails and your body facing away from the console, grasp the handles of the treadmill and hoist yourself up, using your upper body to support you as you do bent knee lifts for one minute (demonstrated in video below).
  9. Repeat steps #2-#5.
  10. With your feet on the rails and your body facing away from the console, grasp the handles and drop into tricep dips for one minute.
  11. Repeat steps #2-#4.
  12. Regress to a comfortable walking pace for five minutes to cool down.

Weight Loss Training

Exercise can help if your main goal is to see the scale move downward, but dietary changes are what will really kick-start your weight loss. Do this workout in conjunction with a caloric deficit and strength training for best results.

  1. Start at your comfortable walking pace for five minutes.
  2. Walking at a brisk pace (or jogging), increase the incline by 1% every 60 seconds until you reach 10% incline.
  3. Stay at the 10% incline for five minutes.
  4. Decrease the incline by 1% every 60 seconds. As the incline becomes more manageable, increase your speed.
  5. When you return to your starting incline of 0%, run fast or sprint for 60 seconds.
  6. Repeat steps #2-5 once or twice.
  7. Cool down with a comfortable walking pace for five minutes.

Interval Training Considerations

Adjust the incline during your advanced treadmill interval training as you get stronger and faster. You can also increase the length of your workouts, but remember that there is a difference between interval training and typical endurance training. It's a good idea to check in with your physician before starting a new exercise regimen - especially one that is so taxing on the cardiovascular system like interval training.

Treadmill Interval Training