4 Reasons to Quit Avoiding the Treadmill

Dustin Myers

Ok, I get it. You don’t like the treadmill and avoid it at any cost. But with winter coming, those refreshing outdoor runs and sprint work at the track will soon be a thing of the past - until spring time at least. The complaint I frequently hear is that the treadmill is just too boring and monotonous…and that is right!  Getting on a treadmill and just jogging along aimlessly for 30-40 minutes is not only boring, but counter-productive as well. While constant state low level cardio has its place in building your aerobic base, that type of conditioning can also lead to muscle loss when used too frequently. In order to burn fat and maintain - even build - muscle you need to utilize the treadmill (or any piece of cardio equipment for that matter) for interval training aka sprint work. Today I'm going to teach you four of my most effective treadmill routines that I use for everyone - from "average Joe's" to elite athletes. These treadmill routines will send your metabolism soaring and get you in the best cardiovascular shape of your life.  Keep in mind that the speeds listed are just estimates and you will need to adjust accordingly based on your abilities.

  1. HIIT Hill Sprint

               #      Incline     Speed     On/Off

               4x    15%        7mph       30/30

               4x    12%        8mph       30/30

               4x    9%          9mph       30/30

               4x    6%          10mph     30/30

Start with a treadmill running at 7mph and set at 15% incline. Using the railings, carefully step onto the treadmill in mid stride and run for 30 seconds. Grab the hand rails and rest on the side for 30 seconds. After you have done 4 intervals, lower the incline by 3% and increase your speed by 1mph. Complete 4 intervals at this height/speed and repeat the pattern 2 more times for a grand total of 16 intervals. If you start at a lower speed, make sure to keep the same ratios (example: 15% 5mph, 12% 6mph, 9% 7mph, 6% 8mph)

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  1. The 2 Mile Switch Up

               Speed changes every 1/4 mile

               Example speeds: 7/10/7/10/7/10/7/10

 Not every interval program has to be a set rest/run ratio. Sometimes I like to use distance as the variable for speed, and the "2 Mile Switch Up" is one of my favorites. Start out at a speed that is a comfortable stride for you for the first 1/4 mile, then for the second 1/4 turn the speed up as fast as possible. Continue this pattern until 2 miles is complete. If your treadmills top end speed (many models top out at 10mph) is not challenging enough for you then add an incline of 3-5% onto your sprint 1/4 mile, and then take it back to 0% grade for the pace runs.  As the workout progresses, rather than slowing your sprint laps, it is better to make your pace runs slower if necessary for more recovery. ——————————————————————————————————————————————————

  1. The Super Pump

               10 wide Pull Ups

               10 Narrow Push Ups

               10 underhand Chin Ups

               10 Push Ups

               1/4 mile Sprint

                      x 4 rounds

 File this one under “Fast and Effective”. The Super Pump is one of my favorite go-to workouts when I’m pressed for time or only have access to a lousy hotel weight room. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this one - a great pump, drenched in sweat, and all in less than 15 minutes! Start with 10 each of: Wide Pull Ups, Narrow Push Ups, Underhand Chin Ups, and regular Push Ups. Then immediately complete 1/4 mile as fast as possible. I like to leave the treadmill running so there is no down time getting it restarted. If you need to rest, do so only briefly at the conclusion of a run before you start the next round. Since you are only doing 10 at a time of each exercise, make them as strict as possible rather than repping them out. If the push up variations are especially easy then increase them to 20 reps.

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  1. GutCheck Hill Sprint

               15% 10mph 1 x max time

               -2:00 rest

               15% 10mph 5 x 10 seconds on/20 seconds off

               -1:00 rest

               15% incline walk (3 - 3.5mph) 12 minutes

 The GutCheck Hill Sprint is hands down the most grueling treadmill routine in existence. I only recommend using it between 2-4 times per month to build muscular endurance and mental determination. Begin with a treadmill incline set to 15% incline at 10mph. Carefully board the treadmill already running and stay on for max time (MT). The gold standard is 1 minute or better on the max effort sprint. Do not exit until the last possible moment. Rest on the side rails of the treadmill for 2 minutes before beginning 5 sprints for a duration of 10 seconds, with a 20 second rest between each.  Rest 1 minute before walking at 3-3.5mph for 12 minutes at 15% incline. Each time you do these sprints, try to beat your time on the first sprint from the previous workout. My best time ever is 1:32, but when I started doing this workout once a week it took me 6 weeks or so to finally break the 1 minute barrier. I have to feel really good to get in the 1:20's. Remember to listen to your body - you may be sore the day after either of the Hill Sprint routines and need to either rest your legs or just run light to loosen them up.

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So now you have no excuse for avoiding the treadmill…I've given you 4 routines that will push you to the limit and keep your cardio training from becoming stagnant. I recommend doing one of these routines every other day either paired with your normal weightlifting routine or as a separate second workout for the day. Be mindful of your existing programming when deciding on which one to complete - the hill sprint variations will really fatigue your hamstrings so I would not recommend doing them the same day, or day prior, to a heavy deadlift workout. To really reap the benefits of sprint work, also consider the timing.   Attacking one of these first thing in the morning will only increase the benefits and send your metabolism soaring for the rest of the day. Like any program, the key to it is consistency - if you want to get leaner while also increasing strength and endurance, start incorporating these runs regularly. I guarantee that the benefits will have you looking at the “old, boring treadmill” in a completely new light.

If you liked this article, check out:

Clay's Cardio Killers - Street Light Intervals

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