How do I Choose the Best Workout for Interval Training on a Treadmill?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
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An interval training workout on a treadmill can be a effective way to lose weight and increase your strength. Once you understand how interval training works, you can decide whether you want to burn calories or build muscle. Once you make this decision, you can begin doing interval training on a treadmill by either increasing speed, increasing the incline, or both.

Before you decide on which workout is best for you, it’s important to understand how interval training works. It begins with a warm-up period, usually five to 10 minutes, followed by switching between a recovery period and a workout period for a set amount of time, each one increasing in intensity. Then finish with a 5 to 10 minute cool down. When doing interval training on a treadmill, the workout and recovery periods can be either the same amount of time each or different amounts. For example, you could do one minute each of recovery and workout or four minutes of recovery and two minutes of workout.


Now that you have a basic understanding of interval training on a treadmill, it’s time to decide whether you want to focus on speed or incline. If you’re looking to burn a large amount of calories doing interval training on a treadmill, it is best to vary the speed at which you walk or run. A good example of this type of fitness regimen is the following: a 10 minute warm up at 2 mph (3.2 km/h), a 2 minute recovery at 3 mph (4.8 km/h), a 2 minute workout at 4 mph (6.4 km/h), 2 minutes at 3 mph (4.8 km/h), 2 minutes at 4.5 mph (7.2 km/h), and so on for about 20 to 30 minutes, with the workout progressively going up by .5 mph (.8 km/h). This regimen is usually followed by a 5 to 10 minute cool down, typically at the same speed as the warm up.

If you’re looking to build muscle doing interval training on a treadmill, increasing the incline can be way to achieve this goal. This workout also begins with a warm-up period, with the incline set to level. Following the warm-up, increase the incline by 2% — this will be your recovery period. From that point, using the same interval training pattern, continuously increase the incline for each workout and then return to the recovery incline. When doing this type of interval training on a treadmill, many fitness experts recommend keeping the recovery time to about half that of the workout period.

Depending on your fitness level, you can also do a combination of speed and incline increases to maximize the health benefits of your workout. Doing interval training on a treadmill can burn calories and improve muscle tone and strength. Choosing the best workout for you all depends on your fitness goals and how quickly you would like to reach them.


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Post 2

@Scrbblchick -- I generally use the programmed workouts, but you're right: you can't zone out when you're doing one. You have to pay attention. Even though the machine beeps when something is about to change, you still have to be aware.

Also, you need to be in pretty decent shape before you ever start using the programs. They are not for beginners. You have to be able to run flat out for two or three minutes at least, before you should try doing one. That's just for personal safety reasons. You don't want to get so winded you pass out !

Post 1

The treadmills at my gym have built-in interval and workout programs that vary the speed and incline during the workout. There are workouts for weight loss and aerobic health.

I usually choose my own pace. I will start at a slower speed, like 2 mph and go for five or 10 minutes, then speed up to 2.5 mph, then 3.0 mph, and go up a half or full degree on the incline and then back down.

I have to be careful of my knees, so I don't use the pre-programmed features. I'm too apt to get surprised by a speed or incline change and might twist my knee.

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