Forget running — this six-move treadmill workout builds strength in just 12 minutes

Woman running on a treadmill during treadmill workout, left arm forward right arm back
(Image credit: Getty images)

Sorry, a treadmill workout without running? Yep. Whether you use one of the best treadmills for home or the gym, give this six-move 12-minute treadmill workout a go the next time you jump on one — without any running involved. 

The benefits of running are well-known, from better cardio fitness and stronger bones to improved mood and lower-body strength (find out if running builds muscle here). But what if we said you could build strength all over and burn calories on a treadmill without actually having to run? Good news for the anti-runners, because these six moves don’t involve endurance runs, sprints, or any notable running at all, for that matter. 

The workout comes from London Fitness Guy, whose “six moves to try using a treadmill” workout is the perfect antidote if you don’t have space to do walking exercises. He says, “A treadmill can be a pretty handy tool! Here are six exercises that use the treadmill a little differently.” I’m in.  

This quick and effective 12-minute treadmill workout is a brilliant option for strength training and non-cardio days in the gym. Grab a pair of the best cross-training shoes to cushion your feet during your workout and follow along with the video below. Timings are 30-40 seconds with no rest between exercises, but I’ve taken some artistic license and added three rounds with a minute’s rest between, totaling 12 minutes. The rounds are just guidelines and should scale up or down depending on your fitness level and desired workout length.  

London Fitness Guy’s six-move treadmill workout 

If you’re looking for ways to use your treadmill without clocking up the kilometers, this six-move treadmill workout should be your go-to. Exercises include: walking lunges, bear crawls, side step squats, deadmill sprints, the farmers carry, and plank walks.

I know we said no sprints, but for this deadmill sprint exercise, turn off your treadmill and treat it like a speedy sled walk using your legs to power the resistance of the tread. You can hold the sides or front of the treadmill and focus on driving movement through your glutes, quads, and hamstring muscles. I can guarantee it kicks up a serious lower-body burn and gives you the shaky post-leg-day day feeling resulting from muscle fatigue.

With no support from the treadmill, deadmill sprints require your muscles to do all the work. The exercise closely mimics a sled push, which research has found is a great tool for improving sprint power and is commonly found in resistance sprint training. Great news if you’re a runner, but this will also help build strength, power, and endurance in your legs for other exercises like squats. 

It’s no surprise that you require core strength in every exercise, as your core will switch on to help drive and support each movement, especially during bear crawls and plank walks. These are specific core exercises anyway, but they also require you to stabilize your stomach muscles to move the treadmill yourself if you choose to up the ante and switch your machine off. For the farmer’s carry, I recommend holding a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells to increase the intensity in your leg muscles and shoulders.

You can perform the short session as a standalone workout for 3-4 rounds or add this to an existing routine. I recommend this upper-body dumbbell workout if you want a well-rounded full-body workout or tacking it onto the end of the best treadmill workouts if you fancy a leg-day finisher after your cardio. However you decide to do it, the routine will work your core hard, burn calories in a short time, and contribute towards building full-body strength when used as part of a regular training program. It’s a sweat fest!

Next up: I tested the most popular Meta Quest 2 fitness game, and these are the best running apps for home and gym workouts.  Also read about how this fitness writer did 100 dumbbell chest presses a day for a week — and here's what happened.

Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.