The vast majority of runners would probably agree that running outside along your favorite trail or route on a beautiful spring or fall day is the best way to enjoy your miles. With the sun shining on your face and a slight breeze to keep you from overheating, you can run as if you’re an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, enjoying each and every step of each and every mile.
However, when the seasons change and the bitter winter winds and dark, snowy mornings replace the mild temperatures you relished during your spring and autumn runs, many runners have to turn to the treadmill to get in their workouts.
Although a treadmill can be a fantastic training tool for runners, and a safer and more appealing alternative in stormy weather or the dark, running on a treadmill is generally not as engaging or gratifying as running outside.
Running on the treadmill can be boring and monotonous, especially if you are plotting along at a steady pace, but you can inject variety, and a heavy dose of challenge to your treadmill runs by doing HIIT treadmill workouts.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of HIIT cardio treadmill workouts, how to do HIIT treadmill workouts, and several HIIT treadmill workouts you can try.
We will cover:
- What Is a HIIT Treadmill Workout?
- Benefits of HIIT Treadmill Workouts
- 5 Ultimate HIIT Treadmill Workouts to Get Faster
Let’s dive in!
What Is a HIIT Treadmill Workout?
HIIT, which refers to high-intensity interval training, involves cycling between short bouts of vigorous exercise with less intense recovery periods.
You can do almost any type of exercise during a HIIT as long as you can do it vigorously enough to get your heart rate up to at least 85% of your maximum heart rate, but, as the name implies, a HIIT treadmill workout is a HIIT workout that involves running on a treadmill.
Essentially, HIIT treadmill workouts are a specific type of treadmill interval workout wherein the intensity of the intervals is vigorous enough to increase your heart rate to approximately 85-95% of your max heart rate.
It is also possible to do a HIIT treadmill workout doing incline walking, depending on your fitness level.
Very fit individuals may not be able to elevate their heart rate high enough even with a brisk walking pace and an incline of 15% grade.
A HIIT treadmill running workout may be anywhere from just four minutes long (Tabata treadmill workouts) or upwards of 45 minutes or so, although most HIIT treadmill workouts are in the 15-30 minute range, with a warm-up and cool down on either end of the workout.
For example, a 20-minute HIIT treadmill running workout might involve a 5-minute warm-up jog, 12 x 30 seconds of running at a pace that corresponds to 85-95% of your max heart rate with 30 seconds of recovery in between, with a 3-minute easy cool-down walk or jog.
HIIT treadmill running workouts may increase the speed, incline, or both during the hard intervals, depending on the primary goal of the workout.
Treadmills are an especially effective tool for HIIT running workouts because when you are running outside, you have no control over the incline—the slope of the road is what it is—and you have to deliberately work to maintain a certain speed, often looking at your GPS running watch to ensure you are hitting the right pace.
On a treadmill interval workout, you can program at specific speeds and inclines, and all you have to do is keep up.
Additionally, with a HIIT treadmill workout, you can watch the time right in front of you on the display rather than needing to check your watch, making it easier to know when to shift gears between hard bouts and recovery segments.
Benefits of HIIT Treadmill Workouts
HIIT treadmill workouts are inherently challenging because you are pushing your body to near-maximal effort levels. However, your hard work is rewarded with the numerous benefits of treadmill interval workouts, including the following:
- Helping you become a faster runner
- Training your anaerobic system as well as aerobic system
- Improving your running economy
- Increasing VO2 max and lactate threshold
- Providing an effective workout in an efficient amount of time
- Building strength
- Providing a more engaging treadmill experience compared to a steady-state run to help pass the workout time
- Presenting a way to improve your mental strength and focus
- Boosting confidence
5 Ultimate HIIT Treadmill Workouts to Get Faster
A HIIT treadmill workout can be configured in nearly an endless number of possibilities.
You can have different durations for the hard intervals and even change the length of the intervals throughout the workout.
For example, a good HIIT treadmill workout for beginners could entail sets of 30 seconds hard followed by 30 seconds easy, but you can also do cycles of 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy, 60 seconds hard, and 60 seconds easy. There are no rules.
No matter how you structure the intervals in a HIIT cardio workout, all HIIT treadmill workouts should begin with a few minutes of easy running to warm up and should end with a couple of minutes of easy jogging to cool down and promote the removal of the metabolic byproducts from your exercised muscles.
The best HIIT treadmill workouts are those that challenge you, keep you engaged, and have you worried you might not finish (but you will!).
Below, we share a few of the best treadmill interval workouts to run faster.
#1: 20-Minute HIIT Treadmill Workout for Beginners
- 5-minute warm-up of brisk walking or easy jogging.
- 12 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Aim for a pace that feels like a fast run and gets your heart rate up to 85-95% of your maximum heart rate.
- 3-minute cool down walk.
#2: 30-Minute HIIT Treadmill Workout to Build Speed
- 5-minute warm-up, walking, or jogging slowly.
- 10 x 45 seconds hard, 45 seconds easy. Aim for a pace that feels like a fast run and gets your heart rate up to 85-95% of your maximum heart rate.
- 5 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Aim for a pace that feels like a sprint and gets your heart rate up to 90-95% of your maximum heart rate.
- 5-minute cool down walk.
#3: 30-Minute HIIT Treadmill Workout for Experienced Runners
- 4-minute warm-up jog.
- 10 x 45 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Run the hard intervals at mile race pace.
- 10 x 45 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Run the hard intervals at an 800m race pace.
- 2-minute cooldown.
#4: 30-Minute HIIT Treadmill Workout at 6-Minute Pace
You can also do treadmill HIIT workouts that are geared toward running at a specific pace or speed.
This is an example of a 6 min/mile pace treadmill interval workout, but you can choose a different pace for your hard intervals.
Just choose a speed that feels like you’re working at 85-90% capacity.
- 5-minute warm-up jog.
- 16 x 45 seconds hard at 10 mph, 30 seconds easy at 6 mph.
- 5-minute cool-down jog.
#5: Hit the Distance HIIT Treadmill Workout
In this HIIT treadmill workout, rather than going for time with each interval, you’ll be running for distance.
The faster you run, the sooner you get your recovery!
You’ll cover three miles for the intervals portion of the workout, with two miles at race pace.
- 5-minute warm-up jog.
- 20 x 0.1 mile at mile race pace, 0.1-mile recovery jog.
- 5-minute cooldown.
You can also play around with the incline during your hard intervals, especially if you are training for a hilly race or prefer incline walking to running or jogging.
Start with a 3.0% grade, and gradually build up to running at 6-10% grade or more. If you are walking, you can even walk up to 15% incline.
Doing HIIT running workouts on the treadmill is a fantastic way to not only boost your fitness, improve your running, and lead to faster race times but also to help the workout time fly by.
While HIIT treadmill workouts can certainly be challenging, they may just be the ticket you need to embrace treadmill running and improve your fitness.
If you aren’t familiar with running on a treadmill but see treadmill running in your near future, you can check out our guide, How To Run On A Treadmill.