It's that time of year where it's dark before you've even finished work, temperatures are dropping into the minuses, and the thought of leaving your house for a walk or run is unbearable. But whether you're training for a marathon, looking to shed some weight, or you're just getting started on your fitness journey, a treadmill cardio session can be just as effective as one done outdoors.
In this blog, we'll touch on some different training sessions you can do on a treadmill to get that heart rate pumping and achieve your goals.
One of the keys to endurance training is mixing up your running sessions so you continue to challenge your body in different ways. A good treadmill running plan will consist of several runs per week. These runs should be mainly interval training or slow, steady jogs, with one speed session mixed in per week; this should give your legs and lungs time to recover in between your speed sessions, increasing your aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
For example, a suggested schedule for someone training for a sub 60 minute 10km race could look like the below:
You can download a PDF version of this workout here.
Next, I will go through a range of different workout sessions you can do on a treadmill to help you achieve your running goals.
Introductory Workout For Beginners
When first stepping on a treadmill, it's important to take the time to build up your workouts slowly. Treadmills are fantastic for fitness, but you can always stop if you're tired, unlike the outdoors.
Begin by starting at a brisk walking pace. I always recommend adding a 0.5 incline to the treadmill, as this better simulates running outdoors and will help protect your knee joints.
Once you're comfortable on the treadmill, begin adding a minute of slow jogging in between every two minutes of walking. Then, once you're feeling comfortable with this, switch it around. Now you should be doing one minute of walking for every two minutes of a slow jog. Remember, it's all about steady progress.
If you're not quite ready to go to all-out running, keep the walking minute in there but increase the speed slightly for the running minutes. Keep building this until you're ready to try 10 minutes running without a break and without walking time.
Remember, you can always preset your workout time on the treadmill, so you don't need to worry about keeping an eye on the time. Plus, it always helps the motivation seeing that clock get closer to zero.
You may be out of breath. You may be sweating, but it's good! It means it's working. Remember, every day you do it, you get fitter, you get stronger, and you can push yourself further.
This one is a more advanced treadmill workout, so I would only tackle this once you can run for 20 minutes without stopping.
Intervals are fantastic for getting the heart rate pumping and burning calories long after the workout's finished.
The workout should last a total of 20 minutes, so start with a quick five minute warm-up on the treadmill at a relaxed pace. A relaxed pace should be where you could talk to someone if you were running with them. You're then going to need to set the treadmill to 45 second intervals. If it's easier for you to keep track of, this could be one minute. I choose 45 seconds because it splits nicely into ten sets of intervals over the 15 minutes.
You'll start with 45 seconds at your comfortable running pace. So if, for example, you usually run at around 5 minutes per km (12kmph), you should do the first 45 seconds at about 5.27 per km (11kmph). After 45 seconds is over, you should speed up to where you are almost at a sprint. So in the above instance, the 2nd 45 seconds should be at around 4.17 per km (14kmph).
Repeat this ten times to hit the 15-minute mark. Then do a quick five minute cool down, getting slower and slower until you're barely above a walk to make sure the leg muscles are properly cooled down.
Hill Runners Workout
This one's a real calf burner but another fantastic HIIT workout that will shed those calories.
Start with your five minute warm-up to loosen your legs.
Increase the incline on the treadmill (I usually go for anywhere between 7 & 10 degrees) and sprint for 30 seconds.
Drop the incline down to 4-5 degrees and jog for one minute.
Then increase the incline slightly higher, around 10-12 degrees and sprint for another 30 seconds.
Reduce the incline to 0.5 degrees and jog for one minute.
That's one set complete. Go for five (or ten if you're feeling strong) sets and finish with a five minute cool down.
An excellent workout for long-term endurance and building speed, the pyramid treadmill workout will push you to your limit! The idea is to increase your speed on the treadmill until you reach a point you can't go any faster and then decrease the speed gradually.
Start at a speed that's no more than a brisk walk and complete one minute.
Every minute you should increase the speed by an interval of 1kmph. So if you started on 5kmph for the first minute, after 60 seconds, you go up to 6kmph. Simple right?
Continue this until you're at a full-on sprint.
The last increase you should feel like it is as fast as you possibly can go for a whole minute. Once you've reached your peak or the top of the pyramid, begin your slow descent.
Every minute reduce the speed by 1kmph again until you return to a slow walk for a two minute cool down.
With these workouts in your arsenal and a MuscleSquad treadmill, you can smash any running goal you set your mind to.
A couple of parting tips to help you maximise your sessions:
- Preset the intervals when possible before starting your workout. This will save you trying to press the buttons while at a full sprint.
- If the pace gets too much before your minute is up, you can always safely hop onto the side barriers of the treadmill and decrease the speed while standing there.
- Incremental gain is all about steady progress. Don't let yourself get in a routine of doing the same length or speed of run each workout. Every session, try and go for slightly longer or increase the speed or incline slightly.