How to Perform a Treadmill Interval Workout

If you are looking to exercise for any sporting event, weight loss or for fitness purposes, a treadmill interval workout provides you the best option. They help you overcome key challenge associated with treadmill exercises such as boredom of running indoors and excessive strain on your heart. But which are the best treadmill interval exercises? Well, in this article, you will get the answers you are looking for. It will give the top treadmill interval workouts for beginners.

Treadmill Interval Workout

Treadmill Interval workout for beginners #1

This workout will last for 21 minutes and is best for beginners on a treadmill. However, advanced trainers may perform it as part of their warm up process. It is meant to help one burn more calories, build endurance and cardio strength.

Workout Instructions

  • For each ‘work set’ you will perform, adjust the settings on your treadmill (speed, resistance, incline, ramps, etc.) such that the intensity of the work sets will increase with time but gradually. Note that you should be exercising out of your comfort zone, but take care not to put too much strain to an extent of feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
  • For all your ‘rest sets’, decrease those same settings till you are back on a moderate pace and allow yourself adequate time to fully recover before you get to the next work set.
  • Ideally, for you as a beginner, you should stay at an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) of 6-7. The RPE helps you track the intensity of your workout on a scale of 1-10. During rest, maintain it at a scale of around 4-5. This means that you won’t have a huge jump from work to rest and vice-versa and this is good for your heart as a beginner.
  • Stay on the treadmill for up to 21 minutes and move on for a big rest.


Interval training for beginners # 2

This treadmill interval workout is a buildup on the one above, only that it will require you to take your intensity level up for all the outlined parameters in workout 1. The instructions are similar except that;

  • During your work set, your RPE level should be at 7 and during rest sets, you should lower it to 5.
  • Further, you need to stay on the treadmill for 25 minutes. Stay on this workout for at least 7 days before moving on to the one below. These increased settings allows for higher intensity resulting to more strength.

Treadmill interval workout for beginners # 3

This workout is a step up from the treadmill interval workout above. The instructions are the same only that;

  • Your listed RPE level should be at 8 during work sets and 6 during rest sets. At this point, you may start being breathless but still you should be able to stay on the treadmill.
  • You should stay on the exercise for 30 minutes; not 25 minutes
  • By the time you are performing this exercise for the second week on a row, you will have gone far on your path to being a semi-advanced treadmill interval workout performer. Your body should be fit and as long as you maintain a healthy diet, there should be no accumulation of fat in your body.

Treadmill Interval Workout

The challenging 30 minutes interval training

Now let us look at a challenging 30 minutes treadmill workout to shake up your fitness up a little more. This treadmill interval workout is suitable for both runners and walkers and can be adjusted to almost any fitness level. Here is the plan;

For the first 5 Minutes

Incline your treadmill at a 1% incline and warm up. If you are a walker, aim for a speed of 3-3.5 miles per hour and if you are an experienced runner, target a speed of 5 Mph.

Minutes 5-10

This is the step at which this treadmill interval workouts kicks into gear. If you are a walker, set your top pace at a maximum of 4mph; this should be a quick pace but without moving into a jog. For runners, set a speed of 6mph and an incline of 2%. By the end of the 10minutes, you will be feeling hot and your heart rate will be high too. So, you need a short recovery period.

Minutes 10-12

This marks a 2 minutes recovery. For both runners and walkers, lower your pace to 3 mph and adjust the incline to 2 percent. A great idea during this recovery period is to take a talk test. This works well particularly if you are in a group. Chat a bit with your neighbor and try to maintain the conversation. Challenging isn’t it? If you are finding it very easy to chat, you are simply going at a low speed, so you should slowly increase it.

Minutes 12-24

This is actually the most challenging session of this 30 minutes treadmill interval training. During these 12 minutes exercise, you will be taking intervals of 2 minutes each; the first 2minutes should involve your top walking or running pace. In the following 2 minutes interval, bring down our speed back to anywhere between 5-1 mph. An example for runners; during the 1 minute between 12-13, run at 7mph and for the second minute 13-14, run at a speed of 6Mph. Repeat this cycle for 6 times to make your total time count to 24 minutes.

Minutes 24-27

During this time, walk or run at a pace slightly above your top speed. Try and cover as much distance as possible.

Minutes 27-30: Cool down and finish

Perform this treadmill interval exercise once in a week. Ideally, incorporate it into any of the beginner treadmill interval workouts listed above in which you are in. It will help you fast track your performance.

Lastly, remember to finish any of the protocol in this article with a slow walking cool down for about 10 minutes. Ideally, this should be followed by legs; hamstrings and calves. If you feel you are doing less, a great idea would be to incorporate some traditional weight training sessions such as hiking or long walks. Regular flexibility training will also come in handy. However, note that no matter how hard you practice and how good your workout regime is, results are only achievable if you stay focused and stick to your plan. Fitness cannot be achieved in one day.

For an even more intense treadmill workout, check out our article on HIIT Treadmill Workouts.

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