In this post, we are going to explain what treadmill HIIT is all about, how it can benefit you, and give you some tips on how to create your own HIIT session on your running machine.
Between lockdown(s) and Christmas, a lot of people are starting to notice that their jeans are tighter…the people who still wear non-elasticated bottoms, that is. Zoom has excused us from the shame of not being able to comfortably zip up our trousers because anything from the waist down is no longer seen.
However, one day the virus will be behind us and we will need to be able to fit into our clothes again. If you are carrying a bit of extra weight and are ready to do something about it, we are here to help.
What is a treadmill HIIT workout program?
HIIT is a form of training that involves regular spurts of high-intensity activity with short breaks in between. HIIT workouts can involve strength training, cardio or a blend of both. One of the major benefits of HIIT is that it is an extremely efficient way of training because, by exerting maximum effort, you get more from your workout than you would if you trained at a lower intensity for the same period.
Not only can you save some serious time (HIIT takes roughly half as long as a medium-intensity workout for roughly the same calorific effect), the effect on your muscular and cardiovascular systems are greater too.
Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training on your running machine
Recent studies agree, HIIT gets your heart pumping and, thanks to its short rest periods, keeps your heart rate elevated throughout the session. This promotes fat burning and is a great way of shedding excess pounds.
Compared to less intense endurance training, you can reach a higher heart rate and sustain it for longer. This is why HIIT is more efficient than working out at a constant pace.
Does HIIT treadmill exercise burn fat?
According to science, losing fat with normal aerobic exercise isn’t the easiest task in the world or the most efficient way to lose body fat. Studies have shown that a much better way to lose those extra pounds is through HIIT training. So using your treadmill, with a bit of HIITT knowledge is going to lose more weight than just hopping on and following one of the pre-set programs.
So, in short, it’s been shown that steady-state exercise programs aren’t the top dog when it comes to losing weight. In fact, their effect can be pretty insignificant. Instead, if you’ve got a treadmill and are looking to burn fat, HIIT is the best, most efficient way to do it.
How do you do HIIT on a treadmill?
HIIT can be used in almost any type of workout, but here we are concentrating on HIIT with a treadmill. The equipment needed is limited to a treadmill and good old-fashioned pen and paper to plan out your workout and record your performance.
If you are new to exercise or to HIIT, it is important to take things slow and build up your ability and confidence. Remember, it is important to train consistently so pushing yourself beyond your limits in a single session and then avoiding the treadmill for a week is not a good idea.
Start with a good warm-up
The starting point for any workout is a good warmup. Spend at least 5 minutes walking briskly or gently jogging (depending on your fitness levels) to loosen up your legs and get your heart rate rising.
20 minute HIIT treadmill workout for beginners
For a 20 minute workout,
- Begin with a 1-minute medium-intensity jog, brought down to a 1-minute brisk walk (x2)
- 1-minute run brought down to a 1-minute jog (x2)
- 2-minute run, 90-second recovery (brisk walk or gentle jog)
- 2-minute medium-intensity jog
- 2-minute run, 90-second recovery
- Finally, a 3 minute run giving it everything you have got left in you
Cooling down after a high-intensity running session
Make sure to do a 5-minute recovery to end and stretch after you get off the treadmill.
Mixing things up
The workout framework we have given you is just a starting point. As you progress and become fitter, it will change. As your stamina increases, you can start to play around with the length of the medium-intensity jogging and the full-on runs.
You can shorten the recovery period incrementally, for example reducing by 10 seconds, and shift this time to the exercise intervals.
Another way to challenge yourself is by adjusting the incline settings on the treadmill. This will make it more difficult to run at the same speed and will push your leg muscles to perform harder, thus increasing the benefits of your training session.
HIIT treadmill workout tips
The sky is the limit once you start mixing up the training intervals and incline intensity, there really is no end to the possible combinations you could use to create a workout.
With all of this creative freedom, it would be a shame to follow the in-built programs available on most treadmills. There is nothing wrong with them per se, but you will get more from your workout if you tailor it to your exact fitness levels. Incremental changes create small wins (for example, running at full speed for an extra 10 seconds) that will push forward your progress. In-built programs rarely manage this.
They will either train you too hard or cut you off before you reach the sweet spot for progress.
HIIT treadmill speed and incline
Before we end this post, here is a quick reminder of the golden rule of treadmills: to mimic the natural effects of wind resistance that you would encounter when jogging outside, always use at least 2% incline. It really makes a difference!
References & Further Reading
- Study: Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Continuous Endurance Training
- NHS have a great guide on running for beginners
- NCBI – A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running
- How to oil your treadmill
- What’s better – a treadmill or elliptical?
- How fast should I run on my treadmill?
- Study: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- This survey shows just how many people quit their treadmill and other training early on in life.