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As a certified personal trainer, I know that walking is one of the most underrated and underutilized forms of exercise. But when TikTok confirms it? Now maybe people will pay attention!
Enter the Hot Girl Walk, popularized by college student Mia Lind, and the 12-3-30 workout, created by YouTuber Lauren Giraldo. Both of these walking workouts were (and still kind of are) viral hits on social media, and have served to break the stigma that walking isn’t a good enough workout. While yes, you should definitely be strength training, and doing other forms of intense exercise if you so choose, increasing your step count has tons of benefits.
Whether your goal is to increase your activity level, shed a few pounds, or improve your mental health, walking can help you. In this article, I’ve created a treadmill walking workout for weight loss—a month-long plan to help you jumpstart your treadmill walking workout routine. Plus, we’ll discuss the real secret behind walking’s effectiveness. Let’s dive in.
Benefits of Walking on a Treadmill for Weight Loss
Whether you do it on a treadmill or outdoors, getting your steps in each day is a great way to become a healthier human. You hear the magic number of 10,000 steps per day as the goal you should hit, but recent research has actually shown that adults who got 7,000 steps per day reaped many of the same health benefits.
At a basic level, walking is a way to increase non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. NEAT includes everything you do each day that isn’t sleeping, eating, or purposeful exercise, and it makes up a majority of the calories your body burns.
Purposeful exercise, like going for a run or taking a HIIT class, is definitely beneficial, but if weight loss is your goal, increasing NEAT is the most efficient way to go. Take this example from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM): Someone who weighs 145 pounds will burn approximately 102 calories per hour sitting at a computer to work, but that same person will burn 174 calories an hour if he or she works while standing.
A treadmill walking workout for weight loss is a low-impact way to increase NEAT, support your weight loss goals, and also improve other health markers. And according to GGR editor and certified personal trainer Amanda Capritto, it’s suitable for just about anyone.
“On a treadmill, you can increase your speed, incline, and duration as needed to place yourself in a proper calorie deficit for weight loss,” Amanda explains. “Plus, walking on a treadmill doesn’t put quite as much stress on the joints as walking on pavement, thanks to the cushioned deck. This means people with joint discomfort may be able to walk for longer on a treadmill than they can outside.”
What other benefits can you expect to see from this type of cardio workout?
Improve Overall Health
The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, which translates to five 30-minute sessions per week. Increasing your activity level via aerobic exercise has been shown to improve your heart health, including blood pressure and heart disease risk, reduce your risk of other diseases like diabetes, and even support your mental health.
Support Weight Loss
As you may have guessed, a treadmill workout can indeed help support your weight loss goals. According to Harvard Health, a 150-pound person walking at 3.5 miles per hour on a treadmill will burn about 133 calories in 30 minutes. While this may not seem like a lot, as a complement to a proper diet, you’ll be well on your way to your weight loss goals—especially if you can build up to an hour of walking at a time.
Strengthen Lower Body Muscles
If you’re a beginner, a treadmill walking workout for weight loss can help build strength in your lower body. Major muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves will help you walk, and if you’re walking on an incline, those muscles will work in overdrive.
Advantages Over Walking Outside
If you walk outside, many times it can be an absolutely pleasant experience—getting fresh air, feeling the sun on your face, and having plenty to look at. However, outdoor walking is not always preferable. Weather can be a concern, and there can be potential safety issues, including potential harassment, cars and bicyclists, and the dark (if you can only exercise in the early morning or late at night).
“Walking on a treadmill may be extra beneficial since it allows you to better control your pace and incline without the variables you might endure outdoors,” Amanda says.
Treadmill Walking Tips
If you’re ready to tackle a treadmill routine, make sure you’re prepared.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Choose running or walking shoes with the right amount of support.
- Make sure you’re hydrated beforehand, and bring water with you.
- Create a Spotify playlist or choose a podcast to pass the time.
- Familiarize yourself with the machine before you get started. Know how to start and stop, adjust the speed and incline, and know where the emergency stop is, just in case.
Treadmill Walking Weight Loss Workout Plan
Below, I’ve created a four-week treadmill walking workout plan based on my experience as a certified personal trainer who has helped clients achieve weight loss goals. This is perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to reap the benefits of taking more steps daily. There are five workouts per week, but of course, adapt this to fit your schedule and fitness level.
For all of these workouts, I recommend starting with your incline on 1%—research has shown that this best replicates the conditions of walking or running outside (due to lack of air resistance indoors), and our goal is always for exercise to help you perform better in everyday life.
RPE, or rating of perceived exertion, is a way for you to measure the intensity of your workout. It ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 being very light activity and 10 being maximal exertion. Use your heart rate as a guide, and base the speed of the workouts below off of your RPE.
1: Very Light Activity
2-3: Light Activity
4-6: Moderate Activity
7-8: Vigorous Activity
9: Very Hard Activity
10: Maximal Exertion
Focus on the amount of time on the treadmill this week, working your way up to 20 minutes of working time with a 5-minute warm-up and cool-down.
Day 1: 5-minute warm-up, 10 minutes at 4 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 2: 5-minute warm-up, 12 minutes at 4 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: 5-minute warm-up, 14 minutes at 4 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 5: 5-minute warm-up, 16 minutes at 4 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 6: 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes at 4 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 7: Rest
Focus on speed this week by paying attention to your RPE. In two of the workouts, you’ll rotate between high-intensity intervals and periods of recovery, also called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. A HIIT treadmill workout can be advantageous for total calorie burn as well because of the high-intensity intervals.
Day 1: 5-minute warm-up, 15 minutes of interval training (2 minutes at 7 RPE, 3 minutes at 3 RPE), 5-minute cool-down
Day 2: 5-minute warm-up, 10 minutes at 5-6 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes of interval training (2 minutes at 7 RPE, 3 minutes at 3 RPE), 5-minute cool-down
Day 5: 5-minute warm-up, 12 minutes at 5-6 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 6: 5-minute warm-up, 10 minutes at 5-6 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 7: Rest
Now that we’ve been playing with time and speed, let’s add incline to the mix.
Keep the speed fixed during these workouts, but adjust the treadmill incline as high as you can manage. I’d recommend at least a 5 percent incline here, and work toward progressive overload—try to add a percentage or two to your incline level by the end of the week.
Day 1: 5-minute warm-up, 15 minutes at a high incline at 6-7 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 2: 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes of interval training (2 minutes at high incline 8 RPE, 3 minutes recover), 5-minute cool-down
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: 5-minute warm-up, 15 minutes at a high incline at a 6-7 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 5: 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes of interval training (2 minutes at high incline 8 RPE), 3 minutes recover), 5-minute cool-down
Day 6: 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes at a medium incline at 5 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 7: Rest
Let’s mix it up now! Incline, speed, and distance work coming up.
Day 1: 5-minute warm-up, 30 minutes at 4-5 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 2: 5-minute warm-up, 15 minutes of interval training (2 minutes at high incline 8 RPE, 3 minutes recover), 5-minute cool-down
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: 5-minute warm-up, 30 minutes at 4-5 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 5: 5-minute warm-up, 15 minutes at a high incline at a 6-7 RPE, 10 minutes at 5 RPE no incline, 5-minute cool-down
Day 6: 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes at 5-6 RPE, 5-minute cool-down
Day 7: Rest
If after you complete this month’s worth of workouts you’re looking for more ways to progress, I’d suggest starting over at the beginning, but adding time to all of the individual workouts. So for instance, Week 1 Day 1 has you starting with 10 minutes of working time—bump that up to 15 minutes with the same 5-minute warm up and cool-down.
To reach 10,000 steps per day, you’d have to walk for approximately an hour. Keep that in mind as your ultimate goal.
Final Thoughts on Treadmill Walking Weight Loss Workout
Walking on a treadmill can be beneficial for a plethora of reasons:
- Treadmill walking at a moderate pace can help support fat loss.
- It can also help strengthen your lower body—especially if you’re incorporating Incline walking workouts—and improve your overall health.
- All you need is 30 minutes a day (or less!) for this introductory treadmill walking workout plan.
- Experiment with speed, distance, and incline to take advantage of all a treadmill can offer you.
FAQs About Walking on a Treadmill for Weight Loss
Can you lose weight walking on a treadmill for an hour?
Walking on a treadmill for an hour can help support weight loss, yes. While increasing your activity level is an important component of any weight loss goal, nutrition is also integral, so ensure that you’re consuming the appropriate amount of calories and nutrients as well.
How long should I walk on a treadmill to lose weight?
This depends on a lot of factors, including how much weight you have to lose and what your fitness level is. A range of 7,000-10,000 steps per day has been shown to provide optimal health benefits, and that would take approximately one hour to complete. With a goal of 60 minutes per day in mind, start slow and work your way up if this isn’t feasible right away.
Can you lose belly fat by walking on a treadmill?
Walking on a treadmill can support fat loss, yes. But unfortunately, it’s impossible to spot-reduce fat. You’ll need to rely on a caloric deficit to lose weight overall, which would contribute to a reduction in belly fat.
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