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4 of the Most Effective Treadmill Workouts for Runners

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Working out on a treadmill sounds easy enough but it can get a lot more difficult depending on what type of routine you are following. You can have some very high intensity sessions working from the treadmill that are very effective for runners for different reasons. You can do workouts for either boosting muscle, heart capacity, endurance and losing weight. 

This guide will be going through 4 great treadmill workouts you can add to your routines to improve different areas of your body. If you are already working out on the treadmill but aren't seeing any type of results then keep reading this because changing up your workout could be the answer for you.  

Lady on treadmill

Warming Up

 Your warm up is one of the most important parts of the whole workout because it gets you ready for the intensity you're doing.

You need to make sure your muscles are warm to prevent any types of injury like pulls or strains which can set you back a while in training.

Many people also think that stretching is not really used before you workout and only after but this is not the case. Stretching before you work out is the best way to make sure you are all loose and ready to start without any stiffness.

It is also great for your flexibility. You want to make sure you are stretching and warming up your whole body as well even if you think you are training something specific. 

Four great examples which will be very effective for your running:

1. Interval Runs

Using the 30 second sprint intervals is a very effective method for any runner because over time it will start to improve different areas of your body.

This is a lot of fast paced work where you'll be getting your sweat on in no time. These types of treadmill workouts tend to go really fast as well because of the short intervals.

You need to make sure you do a good warm up before doing this type of training for up to 5 minutes worth.

When you start you want to be doing 30 seconds of intense sprinting where you give your all, thenyou want to be resting for 90 seconds with a slow jog to catch your breath and this will be repeated for 20 minutes.

If you are a beginner, this is what you will be working towards. 

2. Hills and Flats

With this particular workout on the treadmill, you will be mixing it up between your walking and running. You will be working a lot of your muscles throughout this workout but mainly your glutes when tackling the high inclines.

To start, you want to be doing your 5 minute warm up to get yourself going. With this exercise you are increasing the time each time you go up and down on the incline.

You want to be starting off at 2% incline for a 1 min walk, then decrease the incline to 1% for a 1 min run at a decent pace for you. You will continue to follow this to 3% incline walk for 2 mins and a 1% incline run.

This can keep increasing each time progressively which will really start to work those legs doing different paces every few minutes.

Always remember that you can't forget your cool down at the end of each of your workouts because you do not want a build up of lactic acid in your muscles or to feel still and unable to move the next day.

3. Pyramid Workout

This workout is similar to the last with the progessive amount of work you do on the treadmill. This exercise burns a lot of calories because you will be mixing just normal paced running with hard running and also walks in between.

This is also great for controlling your breath when doing different intensity work. It is called a pyramid because it goes up and down.

You are starting off at a 30 second regular paced run with then a 30 second walk. This goes up to 1,2,3,4 minutes of regular paced running with the same amount of time walking after each one.

This then goes back down with the fast paced running. You will have 4,3,2,1 mins fast running each time followed by the same amount walking.

You will then finish off with a good cool down for a few minutes making sure all of your muscles are loosened. 

Throughout all of these different treadmill workouts, you need to make sure that you are staying hydrated and you have had something small to eat beforehand.

You do not want to be eating too much before doing this kind of workout because it can make you feel quite sick and heavy on your feet.

Just having a small snack and lots of hydration is the perfect combination for an effective workout.

You also don't want to overload on calories beforehand because these exercises will be reducing calories but you need to make sure what's going in and out are balanced.

4. Three-Two-One

This is a challenging treadmill workout. Run at a fast pace that is close to your 5k race pace, then keep increasing the pace with each interval.

Start out at 3 minutes at your 5k race pace and follow with a 1 minute recovery pace.

Next, run 2 minutes and increase your 5k race pace by .31 mph (0.5 kph), followed by another 1 minute recovery pace.

Finally, run 1 minute at your 5k race pace plus .62 mph (1.0 kph), followed by a 2 minute recovery pace.

Repeat the workout once or twice.

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To be effectively improving with your workouts, it is not just the exercise that you need to be focusing on. You need to also look at what you're consuming on a daily basis.

As I said previously, you need to make sure you have a balanced input and output. In most cases, people are eating more than what they are training, meaning they aren't losing as many calories as they are eating.

Therefore, if you find yourself not making too much progress, look at your diet. By eating more healthy food it is more about your metabolic rate and how quickly you can digest food.

The more unhealthy food you eat, the slower your metabolism system will be which is why you will put on weight.

If you are not a great fan of eating fish for health, there are other options like eggs because they are high in protein and very good for you.  

Your nutrition is not only what you eat but also wha you drink. Drinking alcohol and drinking anything fizzy filled with sugar is not good for your health journey.

A lot of alcoholic drinks include a lot of calories and there is a ridiculous amount of sugar in fizzy drinks.

Therefore, it is always important to make sure you are drinking enough water each day and not consistently drinking alcohol or fizzy to maintain your fitness level.

High Protein Foods


Overall, people think that using a treadmill is a boring way to either build muscle or enhance your endurance but there are ways to make it more interesting.

These progressive, high intensity workouts are just the way to do it. Intervals are one of the best ways to workout on a treadmill because it is testing your body and making you work hard after a very short break over and over.

Hopefully this guide has helped you understand how great treadmills can be for your workout routines and is something that you should be adding in as a regular part of your routines.

The importance of fitness does not just come down to your physical fitness because you need your energy and hydration to be able to even get through a workout.

You should never lose sight of the importance of nutrition and keeping the inside of your body healthy too. 

Man running on a treadmill

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 20 Minute Treadmill Workout Effective?

Most HIIT workouts typically last 4 to 20 minutes, so they are quite short. HIIT is also very effective! You can burn a lot of fat and build muscle without spending hours at the gym. The 20 minute treadmill HIIT workout is perfect for the busy working person.

What is the 12/3 30 Treadmill Method?

The 12-3-30 workout is pretty straightforward: You set a treadmill to a 12-percent incline and 3.0 speed and walk for 30 minutes.

“I found 12 incline, 3 speed, for 30 minutes on a treadmill was easy enough for me to do frequently but still challenging enough for me to feel accomplished after,” Giraldo said.

What Treadmill Speed Burns Fat?

Run at 8 to 10 mph, or until you enter your fat-burning zone. Run for 15 to 30 minutes at this heart rate.

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