5 Easy Treadmill Routines (That Really Work)

The treadmill. You’ve probably used one at the gym and may even have one sitting in your spare bedroom. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, it’s the top-selling piece of fitness equipment in the U.S., and is also the most popular among users.

“Treadmills are a fantastic alternative to outdoor workouts, particularly for people who feel a little unsure about being outside,” says Therese Iknoian, author of Fitness Walking and editor-in-chief of SNEWS, a fitness news service.

“They’re a safe, secure, controlled environment. The treadmill allows you to stop when you need to.  You can control the hills, you can control the speed,” says Iknoian.

But many people find the treadmill boring, or wonder if they’re getting the most out of their treadmill time.

If that’s you, relax. Treadmill workouts don’t have to be dull. In fact, they can be one of the most efficient, challenging, calorie-burning routines around.

The key: intervals. Instead of trudging along a steady pace, mix up your speed and get off the treadmill every few minutes to do exercises on the floor.

Intervals, Intervals, Intervals

Intervals keep boredom at bay and keep the heart pumping, says Cindy Wasilewski, fitness manager at The Lodge at Wooloch, a destination spa in Hawley, PA.

“You get people working at a maximum intensity level on the treadmill, and you keep things moving with interval training,” says Wasilewski.  “Doing the interval[s] is the best workout that there is to keep your heart rate up and burn the most calories.

It’s important to keep track of how hard you’re working on a treadmill,  given that treadmill running is somewhat easier than running outside.

“When someone is on a treadmill, he or she doesn’t have to fight air resistance or wind to move forward,” Iknoian says.  “If you don’t have to overcome any resistance to go forward, logically then you aren’t working as hard.”

But if you’re pushing yourself on the treadmill, you may work out longer. On the treadmill, “you have to make a really distinct effort to go slower by pushing the button,” Iknoian says.  “It’s not like you’re outside, where all you have to do is slow down.

Below are treadmill routines for  people who have an hour, 30 minutes, or only 20 minutes to devote to exercise.

Besides a treadmill, you’ll need hand weights and a stability ball for the floor exercises. As always, check with your doctor before you start any new exercise program

60-Minute Treadmill Workouts

If you’ve got an hour, here are two different treadmill workouts to try. Wasilewski, who designed both workouts, calls the first one the “No Excuses” routine because it delivers maximum results for the time investment. The second workout is an interval trek, designed to boost cardiovascular endurance.

The Perceived Exertion rate referenced in these workouts is a scale of 0-10 used to  measure the intensity of exercise. For example, 0 (nothing at all) is how you feel when at rest, while 10 (very, very heavy) is how you feel after extremely strenuous exercise.

No-Excuses Routine

Start on the treadmill:

Time                Intensity/Speed                 Incline        Perceived Exertion
5 min.               3.5 mph – warm-up              1%                Level 2-3
1 min.               4.5 – speed walk/run             6%               Level 6
2 min.               3.5 – walk/slow jog               4%               Level 4
1 min.               4.5 – speed walk/ run            6%               Level 6-7
2 min.               3.5 – walk/slow jog               4%               Level 4
1 min.               4.5 – speed walk/run             6%               Level 7
2 min.               3.5 – walk/ slow jog              4%               Level 4
1 min.               Slowly take it down to stop   1%               Level 2-3

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