Treadmill Walking Workouts

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A treadmill can give you a great walking workout in any weather. If you use the right walking form and vary your workouts with intervals, hills, and speed changes, you can keep yourself interested and challenge your body in new ways.

Also, get to know your treadmill's features, especially if it has heart-rate controlled workouts that vary speed and incline to keep you in your workout intensity zone. Knowing what your treadmill can do can help you develop a workout to meet your goals.

If you are interested in putting together a workout on the treadmill, read on. Below you will find information on making the most of your treadmill workout, including tips on how to develop a workout specific to your needs.

Getting Started

A key to getting the most out of your treadmill workout is to walk with the same good walking form you use for walking outdoors. It is important to use good walking posture and avoid common treadmill walking mistakes.

It's also important to train yourself to let go of the handrails on the treadmill. You will burn more calories and improve your balance, among other benefits, if you avoid hanging on.

Walking Workouts

These treadmill workouts for walkers were designed by Lorra Garrick, CPT, for variety and to add intervals of higher intensity or challenge your muscles in new ways. You can do the Steady Pace workout every day. But do the other workouts no more than three times a week on nonconsecutive days, because they are higher intensity and your body needs time to recover.

You can repeat the same one or mix it up. For example, you could do High Incline-Varying Speed Intervals three times a week, or you could do that one day, Backward Intervals another day, and Treadmill-Dumbbell the third day. On the alternate days, do the Steady Pace workout or take a day off.

For all workouts, start at a low speed and incline for at least 2 minutes. Adjust your walking posture and concentrate on good walking form. Then, you can increase the speed and incline for your workout. At the end of your treadmill session, reduce the speed to an easy pace for 1 to 3 minutes.

Steady Pace Treadmill Workout

A steady pace workout allows you to meet the suggested daily requirement for moderate to vigorous intensity exercise for good health, fitness, and weight loss. After your warm-up, set the incline and speed so your heart rate will reach the moderate-intensity zone.

Walk in this zone for 30 minutes or more. To boost your cardio fitness, raise the incline by 1% or increase the speed every week or two.

High Incline/Level Recovery Treadmill Workout

Walk at a high incline for 2 to 5 minutes, then reduce the incline level for 2 minutes to recover. Alternate tough, high inclines with easy, low inclines for 30 minutes, keeping the speed fixed.

Do not keep the incline high for your easy intervals. Instead, lower the angle to mimic going downhill or level, as you would in the outside world.

High Incline/Varying Speed Interval Treadmill Workout

In this workout, you will keep the incline the same, but modulate your speed. Maintain a 5% to 15% grade, but vary how fast you walk. For instance, alternate 1-minute intervals between 4 mph and 2 mph.

For the higher speed, use a pace that will bring you up to a vigorous-intensity effort. You should be breathing so hard you can only speak short phrases. The lower speed should be moderate intensity, allowing recovery before you increase the speed again.

High-Intensity Interval Training Treadmill Workout

If you are ready for a fitness challenge, set your training intervals at your fastest speed with a 15% incline (or a level of incline that is very challenging for you). Your high-intensity intervals may only last 15 to 30 seconds. Your 1- or 2-minute recovery intervals can be a flat level walk at 3 mph or a 2.5 mph walk at a 5% incline.

Allow your treadmill to adjust the incline before you start timing the intervals. Some can take 30 seconds or more to go from 1% to 15% grade.

Backward Intervals on the Treadmill

Challenge your muscles, coordination, and balance dramatically by adding intervals of walking backward on the treadmill. You will need to slow the pace significantly and build up your time in doing them, but you will feel the difference in your thighs. It is OK to hold on to the treadmill rails at first as you adjust to the new direction.

Treadmill-Dumbbell Workout

To work on your upper body strength as well as your cardio, use your treadmill time as the cardio portion of a circuit workout, alternating with getting an upper body workout with dumbbells. Place your dumbbells next to the treadmill, and begin.

After your warm up, pick up the pace for 5 minutes. Slow and pause the treadmill. Get off and use the dumbbells to do lateral raises. Then return to the treadmill for 2 minutes at a brisk walking pace. Alternate with more upper body dumbbell exercises: overhead presses, dumbbell rows, hammer curls, triceps extensions, biceps curls.

Skipping or Hopping Intervals on the Treadmill

If you want even more variety, you can incorporate some skipping and hopping into your treadmill workout. You should try this only if you are confident in your balance, and be sure to use the safety stop cord.

Skip or hop at a very slow speed for 15 seconds to get a feel for it. You can add skipping or hopping intervals to spice up your usual treadmill workout, especially if they are starting to feel monotonous.

Staying Motivated

Many people get bored when using the treadmill. Varying your workout as above is one step. You may use a treadmill that includes virtual trails with the iFit system or by using an app.

Other ways you can beat treadmill boredom and entertain yourself as you work out include watching videos and listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Having a treadmill workout buddy can also keep you motivated.

Taking Care of Your Equipment

At the gym as well as at home, be sure to wipe down the treadmill to keep it clean for the next user. Moisture from sweat can lead to corrosion. Pay attention to any noises that develop. as they are early signs that the treadmill needs repair.

Vacuum under your treadmill regularly to eliminate dust and lint that can gum up the mechanism. Other home treadmill maintenance tips include checking the walking belt and deck monthly and lubricating it at least once per year.

A Word From Verywell

Walking treadmill workouts do not have to be boring. In fact, alternating between these workouts will not only keep you engaged with your workout, but the variety is beneficial to your fitness as well. Make sure to avoid common treadmill walking mistakes. But most importantly, have fun!

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.