Chances are, you’ve probably Googled, “best ways to burn calories” or “how to burn fat” somewhere along the line—and there’s no shame in that! Both are valid questions, and are a big motivator for some people to work out. Whether you’re looking for quick ways to burn a lot of calories or to get in shape, the answer is typically: HIIT workouts. “HIIT” stands for high-intensity interval training, which is alternating short, hard bursts of work at your maximum heart rate, followed by rest or lower-intensity exercise. If you’re just starting out with interval training, one of the easiest ways to do a HIIT workout is on the treadmill—and for good reason, too. Not only is it a great cardio workout, interval training on the treadmill will still engage your muscles, similar to the way strength training would. Plus, unlike non-cardio based HIIT workouts, treadmill workouts require virtually no equipment (besides the treadmill, duh) and they’re simple enough for you to do without a personal trainer, which means you can do them at home or at the gym. Sold yet?
Treadmill Doesn’t Have to Equal “Dreadmill”
The treadmill has gotten a bad rap, and to some it’s seen as no more than an endless conveyor belt to nowhere—and we get it! The same pace, same motions, and same scenery can be boring and make the treadmill seem like your ultimate nemesis, when really it’s just the cardio workouts you’re doing that are to blame. Unless you’re a part of the “Mile High Run Club,” running—or brisk walking—at the same pace for a long time can get pretty dull, pretty fast (no matter what Netflix show you’re watching). Not to mention, it’s actually less effective to run on the treadmill at a steady pace if burning calories and fat loss is your objective. So that’s why we created this HIIT treadmill workout… let us explain.
Benefits of HIIT Treadmill Workouts
There are a lot of studies, information, and content out there about why interval training yields the best results, but we won’t bore you with the science of it all. Basically, here’s just a few reasons why we believe HIIT workouts work so well:
They’re efficient. HIIT workouts are a great way to fit exercise into a busy schedule. In fact, with the right workout, you can burn the same amount of calories with 30 minutes of HIIT than you would in an hour of steady training, which means you have more time back in your day. Yes, please!
You’ll burn fat during AND after your workout. It’s a fact! The high-intensity periods cause your body to take in more oxygen to perform, which results in more calories burned. Thanks to EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), also known as the “afterburn” effect, you’ll continue to burn calories as your body recovers due to your spiked metabolism. Pretty cool, right?
They’re not boring. It’s nearly impossible to read a book, scroll social media, or chat with your friend while doing a HIIT workout. You’ll be too busy pushing buttons, watching the timer, or trying to catch your breath to be bored—trust us. Plus, a HIIT workout can never be too easy, you can always bump up the intensity. Remember: you get out what you put in!
How This 45-Minute Treadmill Workout Works
You don’t need to have a personal running coach, run six-minute miles, or be in the “Mile High Run Club” to do this workout; all you need is a treadmill, less than an hour of time, and a willingness to make healthy happen!
This 45-minute session will have three main parts: the warm-up, the workout, and the cool-down. Sounds about right, doesn’t it? The difference though, is that the main workout will be divided into three different intervals, and these intervals will then be broken down into one- or two-minute bursts of various intensities—stick with us here.
Each burst will have a designated duration and intensity; it’s important that you follow these columns closely. Incline and speed are both listed as suggestions, so you are able to alter these factors as needed. Note: if you find you are beyond the suggested intensity, take the speed or incline down a bit. Below the intensity? Ramp it up! Or maybe you’re not sure what intensity you’re working at? The easiest way to understand exercise intensity is to first calculate your maximum heart rate; you can find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. This is the maximum amount of times (on average) your heart should beat per minute during exercise—hence the name maximum heart rate. From there, you can figure out your heart rate for different intensity based on a heart-rate monitor, or by how many times you feel your pulse in one minute.
To be more clear, we’ve broken down the intensity levels below as they’ll follow in the workout, as well as key, physical indicators of each:
Easy: breathing should remain somewhat normal, you should feel comfortable having a full conversation at this pace.
Moderate: you should notice a slight increase in breath rate, but nothing too extreme. You should be able to still speak in sentences, but not able to sing more than a few words without losing your breath.
Hard: here is when you will notice an increase in breath rate, and you may even begin to experience the feeling of being out of breath. This is not “full-out,” but it is very close. You should be able to speak a few words at a time without completely losing your breath.
Breathless: you guessed it! At this pace, you will feel “breathless,” and you should have the feeling of needing to slow down to catch your breath at the start of your recovery period. You should not be able to speak out loud, which means you’ll need to save those choice words for another time.
Note: if you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or are unsure whether high-intensity workouts are for you, always consult with a personal trainer or coach at your gym first. They will be happy to help!
Before we progress into the actual workout, you’ll need to first complete this 5-minute interval warm-up to prepare your body for the session ahead. Be sure to use this time to locate the speed, incline and emergency stop buttons on the treadmill, as well as getting your blood pumping throughout your body (upper body included).