5 Challenging Treadmill Workouts to Kick Your Ass

The treadmill is fantastic for building endurance and stamina without risking injuries and/or burnout. If you’re looking for a safe environment and more control, this is your answer.

Just because it’s indoor doesn’t mean it’s not that effective

You can do tempo runs, hill sprints, or a long run on the treadmill without much hassle or weather excuse.

I can go on and on about the benefits of treadmill training, but that’s a topic for another day.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite treadmill workouts that not only will kick your ass but are also a lot of fun.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

The Beginner Treadmill Workout

If you’re a newbie runner, try the following routine to get you into a better running shape.

First five minutes 

Warm up properly by walking at 3 to 3.5 mph for at least 5 minutes. The warm-up preps your body for the work ahead, thereby helping you ward off premature fatigue and injury.

Three minutes of jogging

Increase speed to 4 to 4.5 mph and start jogging. Practice proper running form. Keep your body straight, jog in a straight line at the center of the treadmill belt, engage your core and swing your arms back and forth.

One minute of running

Now pick up the pace and start running at five mph for one full minute. If that’s too much. Keep it up without losing form or panting for air.

Four minutes of walking

Slow it down and walk at three mph for the next four minutes. Breathe deeply, hydrate, and relax your entire body.

The Routine

Three minutes of jogging

Pick up the pace again and raise the incline to two to three percent. Focus here on good form, running as tall as you can, and keeping your body relaxed the entire time.

Do your best to run the same way you do outdoors.

One minute of running

Keep the incline but increase the speed to 5 to 6 mph and stick with it for at least one minute. This is the most intense part of the workout, so hold on.

Ten minutes of walking

You made it. Now it’s time to cool down. But don’t stop on the spot. Instead, gradually reduce your running pace and start walking at three mph to bring your heart rate down. Breathe deeply and drink plenty of water.

The Interval Workout

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last years, intervals are the best way to drastically improve your conditioning

Also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), this type of training is scientifically proven to be effective at torching serious calories, increasing metabolism, building muscle mass, and boosting athletic performance and fitness gains.

The typical interval training recipe consists of alternating 30-seconds intervals of full burst effort with 30 seconds to one full minute of recovery boots.

But as you get fitter, you should crank up the full-effort bursts to one to two-minute intervals with minimum recovery.

The Routine

Start with a five minutes slow jog to get your body firing and ready for what’s coming.

Pick an interval speed that’s challenging, and run as fast as you can for 30 seconds.

Go easy for one minute (recovery interval), and repeat the cycle six to eight times, depending on your fitness level and goals. Finish up with a decent cooldown.

Tempo run

Also known as lactate-threshold, LT, or threshold run, a treadmill tempo run workout is a faster-paced workout that’s key for improving metabolic lactate threshold. If you want to run faster and farther with less fatigue, this is your choice.

Young focused fit woman running on treadmill

The Routine

Warm-up with five minutes of easy jogging, then run two to three miles at 20 seconds slower than your half-marathon pace.

For the duration of the workout, pick up the pace every mile by five to 10 seconds until you’re running the final mile 20 seconds faster than your half marathon pace.

Finish the workout with a slow five-minute jog and some light stretching.

Treadmill Hill Workout

Hill workouts consist of running at a set incline for a set distance followed by a set rest interval.

Increasing the incline not only improves your cardiovascular power but also tones your lower body and improves speed and explosiveness.

The Routine

Start your workout with a decent warm-up, then gradually increase the incline to about eight to 10 percent and sprint as fast as possible for 30 seconds. Recover for one full minute by reducing the incline and speed.

Repeat the cycle five to eight times and try to maintain the same speed and incline for each interval. For more challenges, keep increasing the incline throughout. Finish up with a five-minute slow jog with no incline.

Progressive intervals

Progressive intervals are the next version. The premise is simple: Start out slower, and over time build speed and/or incline until you’re near your max power.

The Routine

As usual, start off your workout with a proper warm-up, then go for your first sprint at mph—or any other challenging pace—for 30-seconds.

Recovery for one minute. Go for your second sprint at 7.5 mph for another 30 seconds.

Take another minute for recovery. Repeat the cycle while boosting speed by 0.5 mph until you can’t go anymore.

Finish up with a decent cool-down.


If you typically shun the treadmill because you don’t know how to train on one, then the above workouts should be enough to get you started on the right path.

Looking for more treadmill training guidelines? Then check my beginners guide here.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

David D.