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5 Calorie-Burning Treadmill Workouts

Short on time? These fast, power-packed routines are for you.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 13, 2016
From the WebMD Archives
Man Running On Treadmill At Gym

Bored with the treadmill? Not seeing the results you want? It's time to supercharge your treadmill time.

Treadmill workouts can be some of the most efficient, challenging, calorie-burning routines around.

The key is intervals. With intervals, instead of trudging along at a steady pace, you'll mix up your speed and add floor exercises into your routine.

Here are five treadmill workouts designed by Cindy Wasilewski, fitness manager at The Lodge at Woodloch, a Pennsylvania spa, and Jeff Baird, owner of Chaos Conditioning in Atlanta. You'll get a great workout in 20, 30, or 60 minutes.

Keep an eye on your heart rate to make sure you're getting the most out of your workout but not pushing too hard. First, calculate your maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus your age. If you're a beginner, shoot for 50% to 65% of your maximum heart rate; 60% to 75% if intermediate level; and 70% to 85% for experienced exercisers. Adjust the following workouts as necessary to keep your heart rate in these ranges.

Besides a treadmill, you'll need hand weights and a stability ball for the floor exercises. As always, check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program.

eye heart rate workoutKeep an  on your  to make sure you're getting the most out of your  but not pushing too hard. Ask your doctor what your target heart rate should be. One way is to  first calculate your maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus your age. Then he may suggest if you're a beginner, to shoot for 50% to 65% of your maximum heart rate; 60% to 75% if intermediate level; and 70% to 85% for experienced exercisers. If you are on certain medicines or have medical problems, he may suggest different ranges. Adjust the following workouts as necessary to keep your heart rate in your recommended range.

exercise programBesides a treadmill, you'll need hand weights and a stability ball for the floor exercises. As always, check with your doctor before you start a new .

60-Minute Treadmill Workouts

If you've got an hour, here are two treadmill workouts to try. Wasilewski, who designed both workouts, calls the first one the "No Excuses" routine because it delivers maximum results for the time investment. The second workout is an interval trek, designed to boost cardiovascular endurance.

The “perceived exertion rate” in these workouts is a scale of 0-10 used to measure the intensity of exercise. For example, 0 (nothing at all) is how you feel when at rest, while 10 (very, very heavy) is how you feel after extremely strenuous exercise.

No-Excuses Routine

Start on the treadmill:

Time Speed/ IntensityInclinePerceived Exertion
5 min.3.5 mph - warm-up1%Level 2-3
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 6
2 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 6-7
2 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 7
2 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.Slowly take it down to stop.1%Level 2-3

Move to the floor:

  • Do one set of 30 overhead shoulder presses with dumbbells while alternating squats.
  • Do one set of 30 bicep curls with dumbbells while alternating lunges.

Return to the treadmill:

TimeSpeed/IntensityInclinePerceived Exertion
1 min.3.5 mph - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 6-7
1 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 7
1 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4

Slow down gradually before you stop.

Finish on the floor:

  • Do one set of 30 chest presses with hand weights on a stability ball (hips in air).
  • Do a set of 30 reverse flies with hand weights on a stability ball (hips in air).
  • Stretch.

Interval Treadmill Trek:

Start on treadmill:

TimeSpeed/IntensityInclinePerceived Exertion
1 min.3.5 mph - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 6-7
1 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 7
1 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4

Slow down gradually before you stop.

Move to the floor:

  • Do one set of 30 tricep dips on a bench.
  • Do one set of 30 pushups.

Return to the treadmill:

TimeSpeed/IntensityInclinePerceived Exertion
1 min.3.5 mph - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 6-7
1 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4
1 min.4.5 - speed walk/run6%Level 7
1 min.3.5 - walk/slow jog4%Level 4

Slow down gradually before you stop.

Finish on the floor:

  • Do one set of 75 abdominal crunches: 25 to the center, 25 to the right, and 25 to the left.
  • Do two sets of planks on your elbows, holding for 1 minute each time.
  • Stretch.

30-Minute Treadmill Workout

This treadmill-only workout, designed by Wasilewski, is for experienced exercisers.

TimeSpeed/IntensityIncline
5 min.3.5 - 4.5 mph - walk1%-2%
1 min.5.0 - 5.5 - speed walk/jog2%-3%
2 min.4.0 - 5.0 - walk/slow jog0%-1%
1 min.5.0 - 5.5 - speed walk/jog2%-3%
2 min.4.0 - 5.0 - walk/slow jog0%-1%
1 min.5.0 - 5.5 - speed walk/jog2%-3%
2 min.4.0 - 5.0 - walk/slow jog0%-1%
1 min.5.0 - 5.5 - speed walk/jog2%-3%
2 min.4.0 - 5.0 - walk/slow jog0%-1%
1 min.5.0 - 5.5 - speed walk/jog2%-3%
2 min.4.0 - 5.0 - walk/slow jog0%-1%
1 min.5.0 - 5.5 - speed walk/jog2%-3%
2 min.4.0 - 5.0 - walk/slow jog0%-1%
1 min.5.0 - 5.5 - speed walk/jog2%-3%
2 min.4.0 - 5.0 - walk/slow jog0%-1%
5 min.3.0 - 4.0 - walk0%

20-Minute Treadmill Workouts

Short on time? Here are two 20-minute treadmill workouts. The first focuses on running; you'll keep bumping up the treadmill's pace. The second is all about climbing, with frequent changes in the treadmill's incline.

Both routines -- designed by Jeff Baird, owner of Chaos Conditioning in Atlanta -- include a range of speeds, depending on your fitness level.

Running Workout

TimeSpeedIncline
1 min.6.5 mph/5.5 mph/4.5 mph0%
1 min.7.0 mph/6.0 mph/5.0 mph0%
1 min.7.0 mph/6.0 mph/5.0 mph3%
1 min.7.5 mph/6.5 mph/5.5 mph0%
1 min.8.0 mph/7.0 mph 6.0 mph0%
2 min.9.0 mph/7.5 mph/6.5 mph0%
1 min.6.5 mph/5.5 mph/4.0 mph6%
1 min.7.0 mph/6.0 mph/4.5 mph0%
45 sec.10.0 mph/9.0 mph/6.0 mph0%

Follow by resistance training (weights, bands, or calisthenics) on the floor. Keep moving with exercises such as squats and lunges.

Climbing Workout

TimeSpeedIncline
1 min.4.0 mph/4.0 mph/4.0 mph9%
1 min.4.0 mph/4.0 mph/3.5 mph12%
2 min.4.0 mph/3.5 mph/3.0 mph15%
1 min.7.0 mph/6.0 mph/4.5 mph0%
1 min.5.5 mph/5.0 mph/4.5 mph0%
1 min.5.5 mph/5.0 mph/4.5 mph3%
2 min.4.0 mph/3.5 mph/3.0 mph15%
1 min.4.0 mph/4.0 mph/4.0 mph9%

Follow by resistance training (weights, bands, or calisthenics) on the floor. Keep moving with exercises such as squats and lunges.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Therese Iknoian, author, Fitness Walking, 2005.

Cindy Wasilewski, fitness manager, The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pa.

Jeff Baird, owner, Chaos Conditioning, Atlanta.

American Council on Exercise. 

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