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Best High Intensity Interval Training Workouts on a Treadmill (Updated for 2021)

Best High Intensity Interval Training Workouts on a Treadmill (Updated for 2021)

Have you been sticking to the same treadmill workout routine for a while now to the point where your gains have reached a plateau? High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is the new fitness trend that everyone can't stop talking about, and for a good reason!


It adds a welcome challenge to your mundane workouts, preventing things from getting stale and keeping you motivated. This way, you'll start to notice significant gains from your aerobic workouts. Let's have a deeper look at what HIIT is all about and explore some of the best treadmill HIIT workouts.

What Is HIIT?

HIIT workouts are designed to let you cycle between short bursts of intense exercise where you'll be pushing yourself to the limits, followed by brief recovery intervals. You can throw in different workouts to the mix, like aerobic and resistance training. Not to mention, you can do your HIIT workout at home.


So, HIIT isn't just restricted to a specific number of activities, which explains the reason it's becoming more and more widely adopted in the fitness space. 


In the intense training intervals, you're aiming at reaching around 80% of your heart's capacity, which is reflected by your heart rate. Such bursts can last anywhere between 30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on your type of training and fitness goals.


By using a fitness tracker that comes with a heart rate monitor, you'll remove the guesswork and make the most out of your HIIT training.


The intense workout bouts are then separated by recovery cycles, which can include less demanding exercise or rest. On repeating such rounds, your body will adapt to alternating between these two different states. With time, cardio conditioning will help your body make the most of the recovery intervals to be able to work even harder during the intense bouts.


You can expect a HIIT workout to take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. Though the overall exercise period is relatively shorter compared to other workout routines, the health benefits are twice as much as a moderate-intensity exercise of a longer duration.


For this reason, HIIT is ideal for people with busy schedules. You can also perform HIIT training at home using simple fitness equipment like a treadmill. Such flexibility makes HIIT one of the most versatile exercise modalities, inviting more people to jump aboard and achieve their fitness goals.

How to Do HIIT on a Treadmill?

We've already touched on how treadmill workouts fit seamlessly into HIIT training. To get started, you need to experiment a bit with the different settings on your treadmill. The goal here is to know which inclination and speed settings yield the perfect combination that you can sustain for a minute.


A speed of 5 mph (miles per hour) with no inclination can be challenging enough for beginners, while more seasoned individuals can amp up the speed to 10 mph with some inclination. Again, you need to experiment for yourself to find the right settings that work specifically for you. Our recommendations are only to set you on the right path.


After the intense interval, slow down your treadmill to a manageable speed for 1-2 minutes. Your heart rate should get down during this period, giving you time to recover. As you might expect, the recovery phase in the treadmill settings can vary significantly depending on your fitness level, so you need to figure out your baseline.


Once you know where you're standing, you can easily keep track of your progress down the line. Seeing your speed and inclination settings go up as you become more conditioned will keep you motivated to bring your A-game to every workout session.

The Best Treadmill HIIT Workouts for Weight Loss

Searching for the best treadmill workout for weight loss? Check out these easy-to-implement ones:

The lateral Walk Workout

Let's kick off our list with a great HIIT workout for weight loss that doesn't even involve running. This might sound contracting to what we've been talking about so far but bear with us for a moment here. 


The lateral walk workout targets the gluteal muscles, and even though you're walking on the treadmill, you will notice that your heart rate is going up. So, the workout is all about walking sideways with your feet pointing towards the side rails of the treadmill.


Depending on the speed you opt for, you can shuffle your feet one at a time or bring one in front of the other. You can use the rails to maintain your balance; however, you don't want to clutch to the rails all the time. Just keep a gentle touch to keep your stability, and this should be enough.


Remember the baseline speed and inclination numbers we've discussed earlier? Toss those out of the window and start figuring out your new treadmill settings that are tailored for this lateral walking position. Obviously, you won't be able to maintain the same pace when walking sideways compared to your maximum forward running speeds.

Workout Steps

  • Start by warming up for 5 minutes, and gradually increase the treadmill's speed from 2.5 mph to 3.5 mph as you're getting closer to the end of your warm-up phase
  • A 2-minute interval of lateral walking, so you walk a minute facing the right side and the other facing the left. You can start with a speed of 2.2 mph for the first intense interval
  • Boost the speed to 2.4 mph for another 2 minutes, following the same pattern as before
  • You can then move to the recovery phase by shifting gears to forward walking for a minute at a speed of 4.5 mph and another minute at a speed of 3.5 mph

Cycle between the intense and recovery phases, and with each new round, you can gradually increase the speed and start to add a bit of an inclination to the mix. A 5% inclination should be a good addition to your last intense interval before wrapping your workout by a cooldown period.


The cooldown round should last for about 5 minutes, throughout which you'll be gradually decreasing the speed till reaching 1.8 mph.

Speed Endurance HIIT Workout

Next up is a classical HIIT treadmill workout that's all about improving your cardio health and boosting your endurance. Having a heart rate tracker is key to the success of this workout. So, if your treadmill doesn't come with electrodes on the handles for heart rate monitoring, you can use a fitness band or a smartwatch to get the job done.

Workout Steps

  • Start by walking or jogging at a comfortable pace for a 5 to 10 minutes
  • Run for 1 minute at a challenging pace that gets your heart to work at 80 to 85% of its capacity
  • Slow down your pace for 1-2 minutes by jogging or walking briskly till reaching recovery
  • Cycle between the intense and recovery intervals for 20 to 30 minutes
  • End your workout by a cooldown round that goes for 5 minutes

High Intensity Sprint Workout

You can push yourself one step further with the sprint workout. Here, the goal is to boost your body's anaerobic capacity so you don't get tired as easily. The main distinction between speed endurance and sprint workouts is that in the former, the exercise is mostly aerobic, while in the latter, it's mostly anaerobic.

Workout Steps

  • Start by warming up for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Sprint at your maximum speed for about 15 seconds, pushing your heart to 85-90% of its maximum capacity (You won't be able to maintain your maximum sprinting speed for longer than that, as lactic acid will completely build up and cause muscle fatigue)
  • Go into recovery mode for 1-2 minutes. Keep an eye on your heart rate during this period and make sure it doesn't drop below 120-130 bpm (beats per minute)
  • Alternate between the intense and recovery intervals for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Wrap your workout by a cooldown round for 5 minutes, during which you need to gradually decrease your pace

Inclination HIIT Workout

This workout has plenty of benefits, including boosting your concentration, balance, and gluteal muscle bulk. The changing inclinations will require you to pay more attention compared to your average treadmill exercise, as your body is constantly trying to adapt to the increasingly challenging inclination.

Workout Steps

  • Warm-up for 5 minutes by increasing your speed from 2.5 to 3.5 mph with no inclination
  • Move one to a 1-minute strider that is somewhere in between jogging and sprinting. Long, wide strides are the basis for strider, so you'll have to tweak your technique a little bit for this one
  • Go for a 3-minute walk with a speed of 3-3.5 mph and an inclination of 5%
  • Switch to a 1-minute strider and amp up the speed to 4-7 mph while keeping the same 5% inclination
  • Go back to your 3-minute walking interval keeping the same 3-3.5 mph speed but with an 8% inclination
  • Switch gears one more time to strider for 1 minute at the same 4-7 mph speed as before while keeping the new 8% inclination
  • End your workup by a 5-minute cooldown at a walking speed of 3-3.5 mph and an inclination of 1%

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