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The best treadmill workouts for every type of runner

Woman running on a treadmill in a gym
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether you’re new to treadmill training, or you’re looking to mix up your indoor miles to reach a certain goal, planning your workout before you step onto the treadmill can help. Just getting onto the treadmill and moving at the same pace can quickly get boring. That's why we've rounded up the best treadmill exercises to help you mix things up and keep it interesting. Best of all, these treadmill workouts can easily be adapted to any treadmill, without the need for a smartphone or a Wi-Fi connection. 

Because every runner will have a different goal pace, we’ve broken the workouts below down by times and efforts, rather than minute miles. As a guide, an easy pace is one where you can comfortably chat to a friend — the aim of easy miles is to not put the body under too much pressure while adding all-important mileage to your training plan. Easy miles shouldn’t be more than a four out of 10 in terms of effort. 

The best treadmill workouts 

People running on treadmills at the gym

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best treadmill workout for beginners 

If you’re new to running on the treadmill and you’re looking for a workout that’ll help you build your fitness, this treadmill workout will gradually build your pace up, with walking intervals in between each set. 

5 minutes: walk or jog to warm up
2 minutes: turn the treadmill to your 3 out of 10 effort and jog
1 minute: walk to recover
2 minutes: add one speed level and jog (so if your last interval was at a 3, this should be at a 4)
1 minute: walk to recover
1.5 minutes: again, add one speed level on from your last interval and jog
1 minute: walk to recover
1 minute: add one level on from your last interval. This should be your fastest and be a 7 out of 10 effort.
1 minute: walk to recover
45 seconds: do the same speed as your last interval for this final short burst.
1 minute: walk to recover
5 minutes: walk or jog to cool down 

The best HIIT treadmill workout 

HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, has proven to be one of the most effective ways to torch calories in a short amount of time. As its name suggests, HIIT training involves intervals of high intensity, followed by rest. This treadmill workout will help raise your heart rate and build your fitness. 

5 minutes: walk or jog to warm up
1 minute: fast pace run, should feel like a seven out of 10 effort
1 minute: recover at an easy pace
Repeat the steps above 10 times
5 minutes: walk or jog to cool down 

The best treadmill workout to try at an incline 

Like running up hills, training at an incline can help you build strength in your legs, which is important as a runner. Running at an incline will work your quads, glutes and calves more than running on the flat. Research has found that it burns more calories, too. Think about taking shorter steps when you are running on an incline and avoid leaning too far forward.  

5 minutes: warm-up at an easy pace
1 minute: increase your pace and run with the treadmill set at a 2% incline
1 minute: holding your pace, up the incline to 4%
1 minute: now up the incline to 6%
1 minute: 60-seconds at 8% incline - you can do this!
2 minutes: Drop the incline and return to your easy pace for 2 minutes recovery
1 minute: increase your pace and raise the incline to 2%
1 minute: holding your pace, raise the incline to 4%
1 minute: holding your pace, raise the incline to 6%
1 minute: 60-seconds at 8% incline
2 minutes: Return to the flat and jog it out for 2 minutes recovery
1 minute: increase your pace and raise the incline to 2%
1 minute: holding your pace, raise the incline to 4%
1 minute: holding your pace, raise the incline to 6%
1 minute: 60-seconds at 8% incline
2 minutes: Return to the flat and jog it out for 2 minutes recovery
5 minutes: cool down at an easy pace

The best walking treadmill workout

One of the most popular walking treadmill workouts is the viral ‘12-3-30’ TikTok treadmill workout, which was made famous by social media star, Lauren Giraldo. It’s now been shared by more than 2.7 million people, who have raved about the results of this easy-to-remember cardio workout. I tried the 12-3-30 treadmill workout, too. Here’s how to do it: 

Warm-up for 5 minutes with a brisk walk on the treadmill at 0% incline
Set the treadmill to a 12% incline
Turn the speed to 3mph
Walk for 30 minutes
Cool down for 5 minutes, walking on the treadmill at 0% incline

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past four years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.