The 5 Best Treadmill Workouts for Beginners to Advance Quickly

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To go from couch to half marathon on a treadmill (or even couch to 5K), you need to use the best treadmill workouts for beginners to jump start your running career in a significant way. 

If you don’t know how to work your way around the treadmill, using one can get pretty boring.

If you’re trying to convert your treadmill from drying rack to exercise machine, you need the right techniques to get real results from your treadmill workout. 

Once you learn those tactics and use them consistently, you’ll learn to enjoy running on the treadmill and you’ll see your body making the changes you’re so anxious for.  

Related: The Best Smart Treadmills

5 Best Treadmill Workouts For Beginners

Benefits of Treadmill Workouts

People come to the treadmill for a multitude of reasons: they range from ease and comfort to health factors. You probably want to start running on a treadmill if you…

You Live in Extremely Hot or Cold Weather

Running in heat, rain, or snow can be manageable and even enjoyable.

But if you’re not ready to make that adjustment, a treadmill is an ideal way to maintain your workout routine while avoiding less-than-pleasant conditions. 

Aside from the discomfort, bad weather can be dangerous if you’re not accustomed to it. Your body needs adequate equipment and adjusting time to get used to severe temperatures. So if you just want to jump into your run without all the preparation, a treadmill is the right place for you. 

You Live in a Flat Area

For a thorough running training, you need hills and resistance to get stronger and faster.

If your neighborhood or region is exceptionally flat, you will need to supplement your runs with artificial inclines. 

For runners training for hilly marathons (like the Big Sur in California), hill training is non-negotiable. You don’t have to give up your dream just because the climate conditions don’t match. Just hop on a treadmill and get to work. 

You Need to Run at Off-Times

Some neighborhoods are unsafe for running at night or before sunrise. So if your schedule forces into you strange running hours, the gym or your treadmill at home is a better option. 

You’re Recovering From an Injury

Treadmills have much less impact on your knees and ankles than running on the streets. If you’re having trouble with shin splints, runner’s knee, or other more serious injuries, the treadmill is a safe place to get back in shape and back into running.

Related: How To Run On A Treadmill: Basics, Benefits + 5 Fun Workouts To Try 

Mistakes Beginners Make on the Treadmill

Even though it is easier on your body, the treadmill has been known to cause some injuries based on mistakes beginners make while using it. 

They Hold Onto the Sides of the Treadmill

Even when you’re at the gym or in your home, you still need to practice good running form.

All the time. It keeps you from injury and it maximizes your running benefits. 

When you hold onto the sides of the treadmill, you’re redistributing your weight in a bad way. When running, your arms should be bent at your sides, not holding onto handles for support. 

They Look Down At Their Feet

This also messes up your form, since your eyes should always face forward during the run. Looking down can throw off your balance and end in slipping and falling. 

They Watch the Screen Slowly Tick Their Progress

Nothing makes a run drag on more than watching each moment tick slowly by on the screen of the treadmill. When I run on the treadmill, I cover the screen with a sweatshirt. Instead of staring at it, I focus on: breathing, my thoughts, and a good playlist or TV show. 

They’re Not Challenging Themselves

Since you can set the pace for your workout ahead of time, it’s tempting to take the easy way out and run a slow cadence for the duration. But you won’t progress that way, and you won’t see any results. That’s why I’ve compiled the best treadmill workouts to help you run better. 

Looking for a curved treadmill? We’ve picked out the top 5 manual curved treadmills here!

5 Best Treadmill Workouts for Beginners

1. Walk and Jog Intervals

These are ideal for runners who are just starting out on their running or are recovering from injury and trying to get back in the game. 

The idea is to give your body a lengthy warmup time to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving. There’s no need to overexert yourself. Just take it easy. When you’re ready, pick up the pace and move faster. 

Here’s a schedule to follow to keep things simple but effective. 

  • Think about a 1:1 ratio. 
  • Walk for one minute.
  • Jog for one minute.
  • Jog just enough to get your heart rate up and your breath heavy.
  • Walk for one minute again. 

You can set your own pace for this workout. Think about a 20-30 minute time frame. Start out with a slow jog for your first several runs.

As long as you’re feeling good and ready for more, increase the jogging pace of each run. Soon, you’ll be ready to jog longer and walk less. 

  • Related: Running on a Treadmill vs Outside – What Are The Differences?
  • 2. Treadmill Sprints

    These come next in your journey to run farther and faster. They’re similar to the walk and jog intervals but at a more intense level. 

    • While straddling the treadmill, turn it up to your sprinting speed. 
    • Hold onto the sides for balance and jump onto the moving treadmill. Hold on only for a second while you steady yourself, then let go.
    • Sprint for 15 seconds.
    • Take a 45-second break.
    • Repeat for 7-10 minutes. 

    Tips: Start with a lower speed so you can adjust to jumping on and off the treadmill. At the beginning, take longer breaks in between sprints. 

    As your body warms up, sprint for longer periods and take shorter breaks. 

    Sprint only as fast as you can with good form.

    If you’re having trouble balancing the on-off jump, bring the treadmill to walking speed in between sprints. 

    3. Jacob’s Ladder (for Treadmill Ladders)

    You always need to incorporate a hill climb into your running routine.

    Treadmill running is no exception. If you’re running at the gym and you have access to a treadmill ladder, here’s how to use it. 

    • Use the belt to adjust yourself onto the ladder. 
    • Start climbing the rungs like you would climb a real ladder: by grabbing the rungs with your hands and stepping up one rung at a time. 
    • Most Jacob’s Ladders have no setting to adjust beforehand. So just climb faster if you are able and climb slower if you want the machine to slow down. 

    The Jacob’s Ladder is an excellent crosstraining workout because it works your glutes and hamstrings more than a classic run on flat surfaces. 

    4. Hill Workout

    If you don’t have access to a treadmill ladder, most treadmills have built-in hill workouts in their settings. You can either select one or make your own DIY hill workout. 

    The hill workout is very intense, so it only lasts 4 minutes – an excellent time for treadmill workouts for beginners.

    The hill setting will depend on your ability to keep up with it consistently. In the video below, he sets his treadmill to an incline of 9. That’s definitely a steep incline so adjust it for yourself as needed. 

    Here’s how to do it. 

    • Start the treadmill while you straddle, just like you did for the sprints. 
    • Hit the treadmill running, with the incline set to a challenging but still doable pace. Run for 20 seconds. 
    • Hop off for 10 seconds. 
    • Hop back on and continue for 4 minutes.

    Even if you normally run outside, the treadmill hill workout is beneficial as additional training. When you run hill son the treadmill, you’re able to keep your form accurate.

    That can be a challenge on an outdoor trail because you might have to climb over rocks or navigate the steep downhill after the ascent. So treadmill hills are excellent preparation for the real deal. 

    5. 10 Minute HIIT Workout

    When you’re ready for high-intensity interval training, this is the ultimate treadmill workouts for beginners to build leg and core muscles, while burning hundreds of calories. 

    • Walk 2 minutes at a brisk pace, but not breaking a jog. 
    • Turn the treadmill up to level 6 and jog for 2 minutes at that pace. 
    • Now walk for one minute to rest. 
    • Turn the treadmill up to level 7 and jog for 2 minutes. 
    • Walk for 30 seconds to rest. 
    • Turn the treadmill up to level 8 and jog for 45 seconds. 
    • Walk for 30 seconds to rest. 
    • Turn the treadmill up to level 8.5 and jog for 45 seconds. 
    • Walk for 30 seconds to rest. 
    • Turn the treadmill up to level 9 and jog for 1.15 minutes. 
    • Walk to cool down. 

    How to Implement These Treadmill Workouts in Your Race Training

    All of these treadmill workouts for beginners are ideal to accompany your race training. Whether you’re doing your whole training on the treadmill or you’re just using the treadmill to mix things up, each one can be used to help you run far. 

    Start with the easier workouts early on in your training. You can still use the harder workouts as a beginner. Just adjust the setting to fit your fitness level. As you get stronger, increase the intensity. 

    Download one of our free, customizable marathon training plans and get started! 

    Adding two of these treadmill workouts per week will increase your results and have you running farther and faster in no time. 

    5 Best Treadmill Workouts For Beginners

    Related: What Is The Ideal Marathon Runner’s Body?

    Our Recommended Treadmills For Beginners

    Implement these treadmill workouts for beginners by ordering one of our recommended treadmills:

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    Mia Kercher

    Mia Kercher

    Mia Kercher is a hiker, cyclist, and runner. After finishing her first marathon in 2013, she continued the sport but found a new passion in trail running. She now explores the glorious mountains in Portland, Oregon where she works as co-founder of Evoke.

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