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Achieving a shredded core isn’t just about performing endless crunches and sit-ups. The journey to a defined midsection requires a combination of targeted abdominal exercises, a well-formulated diet, and effective cardio workouts to lose weight, shed fat, and get lean. 

Integrating treadmill workouts with core-specific training can accelerate your progress and help you reach your fitness goals more efficiently. As a certified personal trainer (CPT) who’s tried different toning techniques to sculpt my midsection, I’m here to motivate and educate you on how to take your cardio and core training to the next level. 

RELATED: The 12 Best Ab Exercises

From sample treadmill workouts for targeting abs to nutrition tips to common mistakes to avoid, this guide will give you the inspiration and knowledge to increase your cardiovascular fitness level and sculpt the core of your dreams.

Sample Treadmill Workouts For Targeting Abs

Ready to take your boring treadmill routine to new heights? These sample workouts combine this cardio machine with core exercises to challenge your abs, lungs, and heart to keep up. 

RELATED: Best Treadmills For a Home Gym

Use these routines as inspiration rather than a strict formula. If you don’t have the requisite fitness level to sustain one minute of sprinting, cut the interval down to 30 seconds. Use a dumbbell or kettlebell for added resistance if some exercises seem too easy. 

HIIT Treadmill Workout With Core Exercises

Warm-up: 5 minutes of brisk walking

The Workout: Repeat the circuit for 20-30 minutes, resting for 2-3 minutes between rounds

  • 30 seconds of sprinting
  • 1 minute of walking or slow jogging
  • 30-second plank
  • 1 minute of walking lunges
  • 30 seconds of Russian twists

Cooldown: 5 minutes of slow walking

RELATED: 6 HIIT Treadmill Workouts

Incline Walking Workout With Ab Exercises

Warm-up: 5 minutes of brisk walking

The Workout: Repeat the circuit for 20-30 minutes

  • Walk at a 10-15% incline for 1 minute
  • 1 minute of incline walking plank (hold the handles of the treadmill while walking at an incline)
  • 1 minute of incline walking
  • 1 minute of mountain climbers (off the treadmill)

Cooldown: 5 minutes of slow walking

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Treadmill Hill Workouts

Treadmill and Bodyweight Ab Circuit

Warm-up: 5 minutes of treadmill running at a moderate intensity

The Workout: Repeat the circuit 3-4 times, resting 2-3 minutes between rounds

  • 30-second treadmill sprint
  • 30 seconds of bicycle crunches
  • 30 seconds of Russian twists
  • 30 seconds of push-ups
  • 30 seconds of leg raises or hanging leg raises (using a pull-up bar)
  • 30-second treadmill sprint

Cooldown: 5 minutes of slow jogging

RELATED: The 10 Best Bodyweight Exercises

Benefits of Treadmill Ab Workouts

Treadmill workouts offer benefits beyond cardiovascular health. They’re a versatile tool for achieving overall fitness that you can tailor to meet specific goals, including targeting your abdominal muscles.

They Can Support Cardiovascular Health and Weight Loss

Regular treadmill workouts can significantly improve cardiovascular health and help lower your risk of heart disease. These aerobic-based workouts can also be effective for weight loss1, as they burn calories efficiently to reduce body fat.

RELATED: Best Treadmill Workouts For Weight Loss

They Engage Your Lower-Body Muscles

While primarily known for their cardio benefits, treadmill workouts also engage your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. You can further activate these muscle groups by incorporating incline walking or running for a full-body workout. 

Xebex ST-6000 treadmill set to an incline with man walking normally

RELATED: Incline Treadmill Benefits

They Can Burn Calories Quickly

Treadmill workouts—especially when combined with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—can lead to significant calorie burn. HIIT workouts alternate between intense bursts of activity and periods of lower intensity, keeping your metabolism elevated2 even after exercising. Research shows that HIIT can be more effective at burning calories and reducing body fat than traditional steady-state cardio.

RELATED: Steady-State Cardio Vs HIIT

They Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

Regular treadmill workouts can also benefit your mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise, including treadmill running, releases natural mood enhancers called endorphins. A 2013 study3 on the effects of exercise and physical activity found that regular exercise is associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Treadmill Ab Workouts

To keep your mind and body happy, avoid making these common mistakes with your treadmill ab workouts. 

Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool Down

Warming up is just as important as cooling down. Skipping either critical step of the training process is a surefire way not to set yourself up for success. 

Take at least five to 10 minutes at the beginning and end of your workout to go through warm-up and cool-down exercises, including dynamic stretches and mobility work. 

woman doing hamstring stretch

RELATED: The 10 Best Warm-Up Exercises

Poor Form on Ab Exercises

Improper form during ab exercises can lead to injury and reduce the effectiveness of your efforts. Rather than just cranking out rep after rep, focus on maintaining proper form by keeping tension throughout your core as you carefully complete each movement.

Overtraining

Overtraining4 can leave your body and brain uninspired about continuing your fitness journey. Even if you would love to work out every day, you need rest days to give yourself a physical and mental break.

For beginners and some intermediate-level athletes, at least one full rest day plus one active recovery day should provide a healthy balance. 

RELATED: What Is Active Recovery?

Top Ab Exercises To Include In Your Fitness Routine

While there are plenty of ab exercises that’ll keep your core busy, these are my favorites to include in programs for my clients. 

ExerciseDescription
PlankStart in a push-up position with your forearms and toes on the ground. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels, engage your core, and maintain a neutral spine. 
CrunchLie on your back with your knees bent, lift your shoulders off the ground to engage your abs, and lower yourself back down.
Bicycle crunchLie on your back, lift your legs and alternate bringing each elbow to the opposite knee, mimicking a pedaling motion.
Leg raiseLie on your back and lift your legs up toward the ceiling, keeping them straight, then lower them back down without touching the floor.
Russian twistSit on the floor, lean back slightly, lift your feet, and twist your torso from side to side, touching the floor beside you with your hands.
Mountain climberStart in a plank position and quickly alternate bringing your knees toward your chest, mimicking a running motion.
Hanging leg raiseHang from a pull-up bar and lift your legs toward your chest, keeping them straight or slightly bent.
V-upLie on your back, lift your legs and upper body simultaneously to form a V shape, then lower back down.
Flutter kickLie on your back, lift your legs slightly off the ground, and kick them up and down in a small, controlled motion.
Sit-upLie on your back with your knees bent. Lift your torso up toward your knees, then lower yourself back down.
Dead bugLie on your back with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Then, lower your opposite arm and leg toward the floor and return to the starting position.
Toe touchLie on your back with your legs extended toward the ceiling, reach your hands toward your toes, then lower yourself back down.
Side plankLie on your side and lift your body into a straight line, supporting yourself on one forearm and the side of your foot. Hold this position for the desired amount of time.

RELATED: 14 Functional Core Exercises

Benefits of Abdominal Training

Focusing on abdominal training goes beyond aesthetic appeal. Strengthening your core muscles is essential for overall health and performance. 

Helps Enhance Your Core Strength and Stability

Strong abdominal muscles contribute to better stability and balance, reducing the risk of injury during other exercises and daily activities. Core strength is crucial for maintaining proper posture and keeping problems like back pain at bay.

Can Improve Your Athletic Performance

A strong core enhances performance in various physical activities, especially sports and weightlifting. For example, you need a strong core to execute foundational lifts like the back squat and barbell row. At the same time, you need a strong, stable core to excel on the field, court, pitch, or wherever you partake in your athletic endeavors. 

Woman performing bent rows with the Core Home Fitness adjustable dumbbells

Helps Your Posture

Good posture is essential for reducing strain on your spine and avoiding back pain. Strengthening your abdominal muscles helps maintain proper spine and pelvis alignment, leading to better posture. 

What Are The Different Abdominal Muscles?

Understanding the muscles that comprise your core is crucial for effectively targeting them in your workouts. Here are the main abdominal muscles you should know:

Rectus Abdominis

Often referred to as the “six-pack” muscles, the rectus abdominis runs vertically along the front of your abdomen. It helps flex the spine, such as when performing sit-ups or crunches and plays a crucial role in stabilizing your core.

External Obliques

Located on each side of the rectus abdominis, the external obliques allow you to twist your torso and bend sideways. These muscles are involved in movements like twisting crunches and side bends, contributing to your waistline definition.

RELATED: Oblique Workouts

Internal Obliques

Found just beneath the external obliques, the internal obliques work similarly to their external counterparts, aiding in twisting and bending movements. They also help compress the abdominal cavity, providing additional stability to your core.

Transverse Abdominis

The deepest layer of abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominis wraps around your torso like a corset. It helps stabilize the spine and pelvis, supports breathing, and compresses the abdomen. This muscle is crucial for maintaining core stability during physical activities.

Erector Spinae

Although primarily located in the back, the erector spinae is a key muscle group that supports the spine and plays a vital role in core stability. It helps extend the spine and maintain an upright posture, complementing the functions of the abdominal muscles.

Multifidus

These small muscles run along your spine and are essential for stabilizing the vertebrae. They work with the transverse abdominis to provide core stability, particularly during complex movements.

Training and Nutrition Tips For Getting Abs

Achieving visible abs requires a combination of regular training and proper nutrition. Here are some tips to help you get closer to that almighty six-pack. 

Follow a Well-Formulated Diet

Focus on a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoiding ultra-processed foods and minimizing your sugar intake can help you lose fat and achieve a chiseled midsection.

Cover Image_woman Eating Diet To Go Meal

RELATED: 67 High-Protein Foods For Weight Loss

Track Your Body Fat Percentage

Your body fat percentage is crucial in whether you have visible abs. For men, a body fat percentage of around 10% to 15% is typically needed for visible abs. 

For women, it’s around 15% to 20%. Monitor your body fat percentage regularly to track your progress and adjust your diet and training accordingly.

RELATED: How To Lose Body Fat

Prioritize Strength Training

Strength training is essential for building muscle mass and boosting your metabolism. While cardio and core exercises are important for building a sculpted midsection, you shouldn’t neglect resistance training simply to work on your abs. 

A woman performs a jerk with kcross Weightlifting Shoes.

RELATED: Benefits of Strength Training 

Monitor Your Heart Rate

Keeping track of your heart rate during workouts can ensure you are training at the right intensity for fat loss and cardiovascular health. Aim for a moderate to high intensity for the best results. According to the American Heart Association, your target heart rate can help determine the optimal intensity for your workouts.

RELATED: Fat-Burning Heart Rate Zone

Mix Up Your Routine

Avoid plateauing by regularly changing your workout routine. Incorporate different exercises and variations to keep your muscles challenged. This not only prevents boredom but also ensures continuous progress.

RELATED: What Is Progressive Overload?

Treadmill Workouts For Targeting Abs: Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced fitness enthusiast, treadmill workouts for targeting abs offer a dynamic approach to getting that coveted six-pack. Of course, it’ll take more than cardio and core work to achieve a sculpted midsection, as nutrition and resistance training can also enhance your efforts. 

Ultimately, turning your core from a weakness into a strength takes commitment and discipline on and off the treadmill. Just remember to take it one step and one rep at a time. 

Treadmill Workouts For Targeting Abs: FAQs

Does a treadmill help get abs?

Yes, using a treadmill can help you get abs by burning belly fat and revealing the muscles underneath, especially when combined with specific ab exercises and a well-balanced diet.

Can a treadmill burn belly fat?

Yes, treadmill workouts are effective at burning overall body fat, including belly fat, by increasing your heart rate and calorie burn. However, spot training or spot reduction is a myth not supported by science.

What are the most effective treadmill workouts and exercises for targeting abs?

The most effective treadmill workouts for targeting abs include HIIT sessions, incline walking or running, and integrating core exercises like planks, leg raises, mountain climbers, and crunches during workout intervals.

Does walking on a treadmill strengthen your core?

Yes, walking on a treadmill, especially at an incline, can strengthen your core by engaging your abdominal and lower-back muscles to help maintain stability.

References

  1. Donnelly, J. E., Honas, J. J., Smith, B. K., Mayo, M. S., Gibson, C. A., Sullivan, D. K., Lee, J., Herrmann, S. D., Lambourne, K., & Washburn, R. A. (2013). Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women: Midwest Exercise Trial-2. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 21(3), E219. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.20145
  2. GREER, B. K., HORNBUCKLE, L. M., & PANTON, L. B. (2021). EPOC Comparison Between Resistance Training and High-Intensity Interval Training in Aerobically Fit Women. International Journal of Exercise Science, 14(2), 1027-1035. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8439678/
  3. Anderson, E., & Shivakumar, G. (2013). Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00027
  4. Kreher, J. B., & Schwartz, J. B. (2012). Overtraining Syndrome: A Practical Guide. Sports Health, 4(2), 128-138. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738111434406

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