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You invested in a home gym treadmill, now what? It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to figure out a good running workout. After all, you need to factor in your goals, time constraints, current fitness level and more. 

As a former competitive track athlete and current certified personal trainer, I have a good grasp on the best treadmill workouts for everyone from beginners to running athletes. I guarantee there’s at least one workout on this list that will help you out! 

Why You Should Trust Us

At Garage Gym Reviews, we know treadmills. We have tested and reviewed some of the best treadmills for runners, like the ProForm Pro 9000. In fact, we put these machines through an extensive testing process that involves us actually doing running workouts on them. At the same time, I myself ran track competitively for years and have spent even more time learning about energy system development and how it can be expressed through running. What better place to start than crushing a workout on a treadmill?

Before You Start: Warm Up

Warming up doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is definitely necessary. We warm up to increase our core body temperature and prepare our tissues for impact and movement. This is good for your body whether you are going to hit some hard interval training or just go for a light run.

My go-to warm-up before I start any kind of running includes:

  • 20-30 toe raises
  • 20-30 heel raises
  • 20 each single leg pogo hops
  • 20 high knees in place
  • 20 butt kicks in place
  • 10 leg swings each side

Once the exercises are done, I like some light jogging for 2-3 minutes to loosen up and feel ready to go. 

Coop running on the AssaultRunner Elite treadmill

Terms To Know

Describing how you feel when you run can be tough. Any daily run could range from “happy, on top of the world, I’m literally Usain Bolt,” to “My legs are on fire and someone stole my lungs.” 

I get it. 

 

With that in mind, descriptions help us all keep track of our effort levels. Here are a few terms I like to use to describe my effort when I run or walk, listed from least to most intense:

Stroll: Casually walking, no pace in mind
10%
Power walk: long strides, arms moving deliberately, definitely can’t do this forever.
20%
Easy jog: just picking the heels up, starting to get the heart rate up but still very relaxed.
30%
Conversational pace: moving with a purpose, but I could still talk to somebody running next to me.
50%
Tempo pace: picking up speed and finding a rhythm. No more talking. That pace right before the legs start to burn and demand more oxygen (also known as the aerobic threshold)
70%
Hard effort: running at about 85% of my absolute maximum effort. This can’t be sustained very long.
85%
All-out sprint: maximum effort that can’t be sustained more than 10-15 seconds.
100%

Use these terms to help you follow the effort guidelines in the following workouts!

Best Treadmill Workout for Endurance 

If you’re looking to build your endurance with treadmill running, give this workout a try:

25 min. Tempo Run:

  • 5 min. easy jog
  • 10 min. conversational pace
  • 5 min. tempo pace
  • 5 min. easy jog cool down

How to Progress From Here:

We can always make progress by covering more distance in the same amount of time, meaning we’ve upped the intensity of the workout. For example, if I covered 2.7 miles in this workout last week, I’ll try to get up to 3 miles total when I repeat it this week. I’ll do that by pushing the pace a bit more in the conversational section (which should feel like a comfortable pace).

However, with the goal of endurance and maintaining speed, I’ll eventually want to increase the duration of the workout. This can be as simple as adding 2.5 minutes to the tempo section and an extra 2.5 minutes to the cool down. 

To make sustainable progress, I recommend alternating weeks when you change variables like intensity and duration. To lay it all out:

Week 1: Follow as written and record distance covered.

Week 2: Follow as written and aim to increase distance covered by 10% over week 1 (increasing intensity)

Week 3: Add 5 minutes to the workout (in the faster sections if you’re feeling good!) and record distance (increasing duration)

Week 4: Follow week 3’s structure and aim to increase distance covered by 10% (increasing intensity)

Best treadmill workouts for endurance

Best Treadmill Workout For Walkers

Sometimes a walk on the treadmill is a great way to unwind, cool down, and just be at peace with yourself while moving at an easy pace. Other times, you turn it into a workout that kicks your glutes. Either way, walking is an excellent form of movement we should keep up with every day. Here’s my go-to for that:

  • 5 rounds consecutively:
    • 3 min. high incline walk, emphasizing long strides and upright posture
    • 2 min. high incline backward walk, making sure to hold onto side supports until you find a rhythm with it. This will burn those quads!

We can all benefit from more movement. Heck, we even launched the Garage Gym Review’s One-Month Walking Challenge to promote more walking!

How To Progress From Here:

To make progress on this, you can take a few different approaches:

  • Add more rounds
  • Add more time to each section, starting with adding just a minute in each section
  • Walk at a steeper incline
Best treadmill workouts for walking

Best Treadmill Workout For Sprint Intervals

Intervals are an effective way to jack up the heart rate and test your ability to recover quickly. A good running program should have a balance of the longer, steady state runs and the short burst high-intensity interval training sessions. 

To start off, I like intervals in a 1:2 work:rest ratio. This means that you rest for twice as long as you are working. Over time, we work toward more of a 1:1 (equal work and rest) or even 2:1 (double the work when compared to the rest). 

Here’s an example of a 1:2 work: rest HIIT treadmill workout:

  • 5 min. conversational pace warmup
  • 4 rounds:
    • 1 min. hard effort
    • 2 min. rest (step off the treadmill or go down to a walking speed)
    • 30 seconds hard effort
    • 1 min. rest
    • 15 seconds maximum effort
    • 30 seconds rest
  • 5 min. easy jog cool down

How To Progress From Here:

Work toward a shorter rest - you don’t have to jump straight to 1:1. Just shaving 5 seconds off each rest time is progress! 
best treadmill workouts for sprint intervals

Best Treadmill Workout For People With Limited Time

You’re in a pinch but still want to break a sweat. This is the time for quick intervals. Bust out your folding treadmill and let’s go to work! This is the best workout if you have just 15 minutes:

  • 3 min. conversational pace warmup
  • 5 rounds consecutively:
    • 30 seconds hard effort
    • 30 seconds easy jog
  • 3 min. easy jog cooldown

How To Progress From Here:

If you’re looking for a workout on limited time, increasing duration probably isn’t an option. In that case, run faster! No need to overcomplicate things. Stick with the same 30:30 (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy) and aim to cover the same distance from round 1 to round 5. 

Over time, that distance will be greater. You can also work with preset interval workouts that may be on your treadmill. Some are more extensive, such as the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill which works with the iFIT app for on-demand programming!

best treadmill workouts for people with limited time infographic

Best Treadmill Workout for Targeting the Lower Body

One heavily overlooked aspect of the treadmill is its ability to make bodyweight movements more difficult. This primarily comes from the incline, which makes you work that much harder against gravity! To burn all the muscles in those legs from your calves to your hamstrings to your glutes, set the treadmill to a high incline and be ready to move in all directions: 

  • 3 rounds:
    • 2 minutes walking forward, taking long and fast strides each step.
    • 2 minutes sidestepping facing left, focusing on pulling yourself forward with the top leg
    • 2 minute walking backward. Make sure you hold onto the side supports when you do this one!
    • 2 minutes sidestepping facing right
    • Rest 1 minute

How to Progress From Here:

We can always increase the duration and intensity of a hill workout. For example, you could increase each section to 3 minutes, or you can add more rounds to your workout. 

To make things more intense, you can move at a faster walking pace. Or, consider holding a pair of light dumbbells or walking with a weighted vest for parts of the workout.

best treadmill workouts for targeting lower body infographic

Best Treadmill Workouts FAQs

How long is a good workout on the treadmill?

There’s no “magic number” for a good cardio workout. Generally, a good workout takes long enough for you to reach a heart rate or effort level that challenges you, then working to sustain that effort level. If you are hitting a high-intensity workout, you can sweat, burn calories, and really get your heart working in just 10 to 15 minutes.

Is 30 minutes on the treadmill enough?

Thirty minutes is more than enough, but it always comes down to your goal. I like to think less in terms of pure duration, and think more in terms of density. How much work are you getting done in those 30 minutes? Is this a low-intensity walk? Or is this 30 minutes of intervals? All this to say, 30 minutes is likely enough provided you are consistent with your workouts multiple days per week.

How do you lose belly fat on the treadmill?

So many people fall in love with the fat loss or fat-burning setting on home treadmills. 

However, spot fat reduction is a myth, so nothing you do on the treadmill will necessarily target your belly fat. However, a consistent schedule of training three to four times per week, doing a balance of longer runs, short intervals, and walking will help change your body composition. 

If you want to accelerate this process, work strength training into your routine. You can do this through adding in push-ups and squats to your treadmill routine, or incorporating days of just weight training. 

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