We test and review fitness products based on an independent, multi-point methodology. If you use our links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Read our disclosures.

Are you tired of doing your same ol’ treadmill workout? Would you like to spice it up a bit while trying to achieve your weight loss goals? If so, you’re at the right place. Say goodbye to your boring cardio workout and say hello to a new treadmill workout routine that incorporates a bit of strength training. 

As beneficial as treadmill workouts are, sometimes we want to do an activity that lets us better maximize our time. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough time in the day to spend 30 minutes on treadmills and another 30 minutes doing dumbbell exercises. So what can you do? Well, you can bring a pair of dumbbells to the treadmill to better tackle your upper body and more. Treadmill-dumbbell workouts are a fantastic way to add some variety, build some muscle, and get a pump. Therefore, keep reading to discover how to make your typical treadmill routine into a full-throttle full-body workout. 

Benefits of Adding Weights to Your Treadmill Workout

Before I jump into how you can make strength training a part of your treadmill workout, let’s point out why you should. 

It Maximizes Your Time

Most of us have pretty busy schedules and are already trying our best to squeeze in a workout session. While hopping on the treadmill checks off the cardiovascular endurance box, it doesn’t exactly help us build muscular strength. Fortunately, with a treadmill-dumbbell workout circuit, you’ll get the best of both worlds without adding another workout session to your day. 

Builds Your Upper-Body Strength 

A treadmill alone can’t build your upper-body strength, but completing a few overhead presses and tricep extensions can. Doing strength workouts for your upper body makes you stronger, faster, and much more powerful. In addition, it can boost your athleticism and enhance the results you get from doing a treadmill workout. 

Now, you’re probably wondering, how exactly is that possible? Well, when you build your upper body and lower body strength, studies show that you also improve your running efficiency. As a result, you may be able to run faster and longer because you’ll have reduced muscle fatigue and better endurance.  

Coop doing dumbbell curls in a home gym

Assists With Weight Loss

Treadmill workouts alone help with weight loss, but adding in dumbbell exercises will do even more. Weight training builds muscle, and muscles are much better at burning calories than fat. In fact, one study found that weight training allows you to burn calories hours and possibly even days after your workout. 

Strength training is especially useful in reducing visceral fat, aka stubborn belly fat. This type of fat can increase your risk of several chronic conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, and even colorectal cancer. So if you’re looking for a smaller midsection and want to reduce your risk of several chronic diseases, add strength training to your treadmill workout. 

Gain More Muscle

If you’re looking for a workout routine that will boost your glutes or bulk up your leg muscles, doing treadmill exercises alone won’t cut it. Running on a treadmill does require you to use repetitive weight-bearing motions that activate your hamstrings and more, but it’s not quite enough to promote muscle growth. Fortunately, adding weights to your treadmill workout could do the trick. A study published in the Journal of Exercise Science found that adding muscle training and sprints to your running routine can build muscle mass.

person doing bicep curls on a treadmill

How to Safely Incorporate Dumbbells and Treadmills

At this point, you’re probably pumped up about all the benefits associated with adding dumbbells to your treadmill workout and want to get started. But before you go off and purchase a 50-pound weight from Amazon, hold your horses. The last thing you want to do is cause an injury by implementing dumbbells incorrectly. 

The most common mistake people make is opting to use the heaviest weights they can find, but this isn’t necessary. While on the treadmill, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that you shouldn’t use wrist weights that are greater than 3 pounds. Doing so could place excess stress on the arm and shoulder muscles, as well as your elbow and wrist joints. So if you’re going to incorporate wrist weights during your treadmill workout, 1 to 3 pounds is enough to up the intensity and increase your heart rate. 

Hand weights are another option, but I don’t recommend using a dumbbell too heavy for your fitness level. For some people, holding a weight in their hand is very uncomfortable since it’s not the most natural movement. You also have to maintain a tight grip to avoid dropping them on your foot or treadmill, which isn’t the safest thing. 

In addition, keep in mind that you wouldn’t have the ability to quickly grab your cell phone, take a swig of water, or change the music because your hands would be completely occupied. Therefore, we’d suggest only using the dumbbells when walking on the treadmill and using the wrist weights if running. Ankle weights are a good option, too, especially if wrist weights aren’t that comfortable for you or you have balance issues. 

Consider a weighted vest if wrist or ankle weights aren’t cutting for your fitness level. It’ll certainly up the ante on your cardio workout. Plus, according to one study, using a weighted vest on the treadmill can help reduce bone loss and improve stability. 

Try This: Treadmill-Dumbbell Workout Circuit

For this workout circuit, grab a pair of dumbbells and set them on the floor near the treadmill. Be sure to place them far enough away that you wouldn’t trip on them. I’d suggest starting out with 2.5- to 10-pound weights, but choose whatever matches your fitness level. 

Note: All dumbbell exercises will take place off the treadmill for this circuit workout

The Warm-up: 

  • Step on the treadmill and walk for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Pause the treadmill and do an overhead shoulder stretch on both sides. 
  • Do arm circles by rotating your arms back-to-front ten times and then front-to-back ten times. 

RELATED: Dumbbell Leg Workout

The Circuit Workout: 

Treadmill-dumbbell workout circuit

3 to 5 Rounds:

  • 2-minute warmup on the treadmill 
  • 8 to 10 reps of overhead press
  • 2-minute run
  • 8 to 10 bicep curls
  • 2-minute run
  • 8 to 10 tricep extensions

Add a 3 to 5-minute cool-down at the end. 

Try This: Treadmill-Dumbbell HIIT Workout

Ready for some high-intensity interval training? Go ahead and grab a set of dumbbells (you can also use resistance bands). You should be able to complete this workout in 12 minutes. 

The Warm-up: 

To get your body ready for this treadmill-dumbbell HIIT workout, walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes. Be sure to set the incline to two and speed to 5 MPH. 

Treadmill-dumbbell workout HIIT

The Treadmill-Dumbbell HIIT Workout: 

  • 1-minute jog 
  • 30-second sprint
  • 30 seconds of front squats
  • 1-minute jog
  • 30-second sprint
  • 30 seconds of overhead presses
  • 1-minute jog
  • 30-second sprint
  • 30 seconds of bicep curls
  • 1-minute jog
  • 30-second sprint
  • 30 seconds of thrusters
  • 1-minute jog
  • 30-second sprint
  • 30 seconds of crab walks
  • 1-minute jog
  • 30-second sprint
  • 30 seconds of lunges

Try This: Treadmill-Dumbbell Arms Workout

If you’re going to do a treadmill-dumbbell arm workout, it’s better and safer to walk instead of run.

Treadmill arm workout

The Workout

 Pick some dumbbells at a weight that’s comfortable for you and do each exercise for 1 minute: 

  • Walk on the treadmill
  • Complete dumbbell Zottman curl 
  • Walk on the treadmill
  • Complete overhead press 
  • Walk on the treadmill
  • Complete bicep curls
  • Walk on the treadmill
  • Complete hammer curls 
  • Walk on the treadmill
  • Complete dumbbell curl 
  • Walk on the treadmill
  • Complete close-grip push-up 

FAQs About Treadmill-Dumbbell Workouts

Can you use dumbbells while on a treadmill?

Yes, but do so with caution. For example, only use dumbbells when walking on the treadmill, and don’t go for the heaviest weight you can find. 

How can I walk on a treadmill with dumbbells?

The best way to walk on a treadmill with dumbbells is by finding a weight that you’re comfortable with. Don’t go for the tiniest one you can find, and don’t grab the biggest one in your set, either. Instead, before getting on the treadmill, hold different sizes in your hand while walking in place to see which one feels right. Whichever one you decide on, keep a tight grip on it to avoid it slipping out of your hands. 

Is holding weights on a treadmill good?

Holding weights on a treadmill can be incredibly helpful if you’re looking to build up your strength and endurance. However, if the thought of holding weights makes you uncomfortable, consider other options like wrist weights, ankle weights, or a weighted vest. None of those require you to actually hold on to a weight and may be safer to use while on a treadmill.

Further reading

Rogue Echo Bike vs. Assault Air Bike: The Superior Home Gym Air Bike Cover Image
Rogue Echo Bike vs. Assault Air Bike: The Superior Home Gym Air Bike

The Rogue Echo Bike and Assault Air Bike are two of the most popular air bikes on the market today. We've used both extensively in our home gym and commercial gym over the past three years. Although either is a good choice over the older style air bikes, the Rogue Echo Bike and its belt-driven system is our recommended choice for most home gym owners. Read more

What’s the Best Kabuki Strength Discount Code in 2023? Cover Image
What’s the Best Kabuki Strength Discount Code in 2023?

Looking for a deal on some of the best and most unique strength training equipment? We have the best Kabuki Strength discount code to help you. Read more

Get Equipped to Train Clients Outside the Gym Cover Image
Vulcan Absolute Kettlebells Review Cover Image
Vulcan Absolute Kettlebells Review

Vulcan Absolute Competition Kettlebells are some of thebest kettlebells available for the price. They're casted extremely well and have a very competitive price. We definitely give our recommendation. Read more