4 treadmill workouts to torch calories, get faster and improve endurance

Turn the "dreadmill" into an exciting part of training.

Amanda Capritto
4 min read

Running on a treadmill doesn't have to be excruciating. 

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I don't know anyone who loves the idea of getting on a treadmill for half an hour. If any people like that exist, I envy their ability to enjoy running while staring at the seconds ticking by. While I'd much rather run outside, it's not always possible due to bad weather or personal safety. Plus, running on a treadmill can actually help you fast-track certain goals, such as speed -- it's easier to keep up a sprint when a machine dictates your pace. 

The treadmill doesn't have to be so dreadful: The right type of workout can actually make it fun. Or, at least so challenging that you can't even think about being bored. After you've fueled up and completed your warmup, hit the gym (or your home fitness equipment) with one of these heart rate-elevating, boredom-busting treadmill workouts. 

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1. Sprint intervals

Sprint workouts completely transform the typical 20 to 30 minutes on a treadmill. Instead of wondering how it's possible for one minute to feel like 12, you'll wonder how the workout went by so quickly. 

Plus, sprints build your anaerobic capacity (your ability to go all-out for short time periods) and, compared to low-intensity, steady-state exercise, burn more fat and build more speed

Example workout: 

  • 30 seconds of running
  • 30 seconds of rest (walk or step off of the treadmill)
  • 45 seconds of running
  • 45 seconds of rest
  • 1 minute of running
  • 1 minute of rest
  • Repeat three to five times for a total of 13 to 23 minutes. 

Read more: 5 signs you need to replace your running shoes

2. Fartlek training

I promise I did not make that word up. Fartlek training is named after a Swedish word that means "speed play." It blends speed training and endurance training to challenge you on all fronts. 

A Fartlek workout forces your body to adapt to various speeds, whereas most workouts focus on just one or two speeds (like the sprint workout described above). Also, a true Fartlek workout consists of continuous running -- your recovery intervals should be a light jog followed by a walk or complete rest.

Example workout:

  • Jog (easy effort) for 5 minutes
  • Run (moderate effort) for 2 minutes
  • Sprint (hard effort) 1 minute
  • Jog 1 minute
  • Sprint 1 minute
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Cool down or repeat

I especially love that Fartlek workouts are based on effort rather than pace, so there's no pressure to maintain a certain pace for each interval. Some days, even a slow jog feels difficult while other days you feel like you can fly, and Fartlek workouts allow for those natural discrepancies without feeling bad about your pace. 


Running based on how you feel takes away some of the pressure about pacing.

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3. Hills and flats

Nothing screams "leg burner" like a hill workout. Running -- and even walking -- up hills has profound fitness benefits. You'll build strength and power in your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. And you'll also develop core stability, elevate your heart rate and increase speed. 

Example workout: 

  • Warm up with a brisk walk or light jog for 5 minutes
  • Increase the incline to a challenging level and walk for 3 minutes
  • Lower the incline back to base level and run for 3 minutes
  • Keep repeating -- walk the hill for 3, run the flat for 3 -- for 24 minutes (four rounds).

If you have experience running hills, you can run both the incline intervals and the flat intervals. Challenge yourself by running the flats at a faster pace. The more you run or walk hills, the easier it will be to run on flat ground -- this is a great tactic to use if you're training for a flat race. 


Running and walking on an incline helps to build strength in your legs.

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4. Bodyweight HIIT 

You don't have to stick to walking or running just because you're on a treadmill. Spice things up by adding bodyweight movements between your walk/run intervals. Get creative -- focus on one muscle group or do a full-body routine. Either way, adding some resistance training to your treadmill workout will help you develop strength and power over just endurance or speed (all four are important for running). 

To perform a bodyweight HIIT treadmill workout, simply pause the run and perform the bodyweight exercises behind the treadmill. This might take some strategic choosing of the treadmill depending on how crowded your gym is, but it's definitely doable.

Example workout: 

  • 3-minute easy jog
  • 1-minute sprint 
  • 20 air squats
  • 10 v-ups or sit-ups 
  • Five pushups 
  • Repeat everything two to four times

You can always increase or decrease the reps of each movement, as well as the lengths of the running intervals, depending on your fitness level.

Feeling fired up about getting fast? Make sure you choose the best running shoes that will support your performance and get you to your goals. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.