7 Best Treadmill Workouts for All Types of Runners

Treadmill workouts might not be your favorite way to train, but any runner out there that’s looking to build leg strength, improve their leg drive, and running posture can benefit from these types of workouts.

They are often some of my best speed sessions because I can so easily trick my mind and body into really mixing things up! That’s why, as a run coach, I recommend them to all my runners.

Since posting about a few of my longer treadmill runs 16-20 miles, you’ve been emailing me left and right asking how to stay on longer than 2 miles without going crazy.

First, I handled that in my post on how to stay sane on long treadmill runs.

Today ideas for some of the shorter days to maximize your time. These treadmill workouts are compact, easy to follow, and will bust the boredom you normally experience on your gym’s treadmill or at home.

What are the Benefits of Running on a Treadmill?

Snow, wind, rain, heat, they can all turn an easy run into a never-ending trudge…or make you totally bad ass.

While all those I’m a warrior endorphins are great, I have no qualms about skipping the harsh weather in favor of my treadmill. And because it doesn’t make me less of a runner to use it!

While treadmill running may not be your preferred method of exercise, it does have certain advantages. If the weather is bad, it can be dangerous to run on the sidewalks or track, so it’s often safer to run inside.

In addition, researchers have shown that runners had shorter stride lengths and higher stride frequencies when running on a treadmill compared to running outside, due to the feeling of instability.

All of these can aid in enhancing your form and decreasing impact forces on the body.

See all the benefits of treadmill running >>

7 Best Treadmill Workouts

Here are 7 treadmill workouts to keep it interesting and happen to be great for performance. Playing with inclines will build your leg strength, while playing with speed when you can actually set it and hold it is great for endurance.

treadmill workouts

#1 Treadmill Ladder Workouts

These might be my favorite ways to use the treadmill because you can actually work your way in to faster speeds, which means that the run starts out feeling easy and can finish feeling easy.

Ladders are not a tempo run or fartleks. This is more of a LONG interval style with increase intensity.

You can do this a variety of ways depending on your goal for the day. This one is ideal for practicing your goal race pace, which too often gets skipped over with speed workouts or easy runs.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 2 miles: Easy pace to warm up to get you started
  • 2 miles: Run these miles at your current marathon pace
  • 2 miles: Run these miles at your goal marathon pace
  • 2 miles: Easy pace to cool down from your treadmill workout

Marathon treadmill workout

#2 Treadmill Workout for Beginners

This is ONE of my favorite workouts and one my runners are often assigned.

I love helping people learn how to run by effort instead of a pace because we feel so different day to day.

I’ve found that many people jump in a program, trying to follow specific speeds that only lead them to injury. Here you’ll be learning to gauge how you feel and thus determines just how fast your body is really ready to go.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 5-minute warmup
  • 3 minutes medium effort run
  • 3 minutes recovery jog
  • 2 minutes harder effort
  • 2 minutes recovery jog
  • 1-minute hardest effort
  • 1-minute recovery
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Beginner Speed ​​Play Workout - Learning how to pace yourself running by using effort not speed

#3 Steady Increase Workout

Another day, I was feeling like pushing things a bit and played around with easing in to speed work…as I did the workout I found I was able to go FAR BEYOND what I originally felt like.

I think there’s something to be said for easing in to it!

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start with a warm-up by walking for half a mile
  • Increase speed by 0.1 every 1 minute from 5.0 to 5.9
  • Increase speed by 0.1 every 2 minutes from 6.0 to 6.9
  • Increase speed by 0.1 every 1 minute from 7.0 to 8.0
  • Finish with a cool down by walking for half a mile.

Momentum Builder Workout - Great way to ease in to speed so that your legs are warmed up for running

#4 Hill Treadmill Workouts

Hill running is a FUNDAMENTAL part of becoming a better runner. They allow you to build leg strength with good running form, which translates in to speed!

It’s one that I lean on when I want to work up a sweat and once again ease in to a run. Usually each round I find myself running a little faster and after the last round I’m good for a few easy miles.

So you can use this to simply get yourself moving when a run sounds too hard.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Walk: 3 minutes at 8 percent incline
  • Run: 1 minute at 0 percent incline
  • Run: 1 minute at 1 percent incline
  • Run: 1 minute at 3 percent incline
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times
  • Finish with a walk or easy run

treadmill hill workout

#5 Hiker Pyramid Workout

If you want to work your legs, but aren’t up for a run then the hikers workout is your next best bet! If we had mountains nearby I would be climbing them all the time for the amazing strength the provide runners!

This is a walking workout, but it’s no joke. Runners can benefit a lot from adding in a few walking workouts each week to increase time on their feet with less pounding.

Here’s how to do it:

  • From 0 to 4 minutes, walk at 3.5 speed at a 1% incline.
  • From 5 to 7 minutes, walk at 3.7 speed at a 2% incline.
  • From 8 to 10 minutes, walk at 3.7 speed at a 4% incline.
  • From 11 to 12 minutes, walk at 3.8 speed at a 5% incline.
  • From 13 to 14 minutes, walk at 3.8 speed at a 7% incline.
  • From 15 to 16 minutes, walk at 3.9 speed at a 9% incline.
  • From 17 to 18 minutes, walk at 3.9 speed at an 11% incline.
  • From 19 to 20 minutes, walk at 4.0 speed at a 13% incline.
  • Reverse back down

incline treadmill workout

Treadmill Cross Training Workouts

Some days you’re at a hotel gym with no TV and can’t fathom running for 30 minutes straight on the treadmill. Other times you just know you need to get in some strength training or add variety to not lose your mind.

These workouts will allow you to shake up the winter doldrums!

#6 Cross Training Workout

Get in your run and your strength all at the same time! I find these great when I’m at a hotel and there’s no TV to watch my normal dumb treadmill TV 🙂

By incorporating a few full-body strength moves in between your runs off the treadmill, you’ll be keeping your heart rate up during these cross-training moves which will give you a ton of cardiovascular benefits.

It’ll also help work other muscles we don’t normally use as much while running, such as your arms and shoulders.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 5-minute easy run with 15 reps:
    • Push-ups
    • Tricep dips
    • Bicycle crunch
  • 10-minute progressive run with 15 reps:
    • Side plank with hip dip
    • Side lung with shoulder raise
    • Bent over row
  • 10-minute easy run with 15 reps:
    • Front lunge with bicep curl
    • Single leg deadlift
    • Plank with shoulder tap
    • Cooldown walk

treadmill workout

#7 HIIT Treadmill Workout

Let’s be honest, I’m not really a super high-intensity worker outer. I like my short speed sessions or my very long easy runs.

But I know some of you are looking to crush it and so the next workout is for those of you who really want to push your limits!!

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, which is alternating between short, hard bursts of work by rest or lower-intensity exercise. And because you do love these, I put together a round up of HIIT Running workouts!!

Here’s how to do it:

  • 400-meter run – 10 burpees
  • 400-meter run -10 burpees
  • 400-meter run – 20 push-ups
  • 400-meter run – 20 push-ups
  • 400-meter run – 50 mountain climbers
  • 400-meter run – 50 mountain climbers
  • 400-meter run – 1 min elevated plank
  • 400-meter run – 1 min elevated plank
  • 400-meter run

HARD treadmill workout


#8 Treadmill Abs Workout

Finally, you know that every runner needs more core work right?? So why not combine them in one sweat session!

This is a fun one from Happy Conduct to give you more ideas on how to mix it up. For everyone asking how do you lose belly fat on the treadmill? A combo of strength, cardio and nutrition is what it always comes down to!

Here’s how to do it:

  • From 0 to 5 minutes, warm up at a speed of 3.8
  • From 5 to 6 minutes, do mountain climbers
  • From 6 to 11 minutes, run at 4.2 miles per hour
  • From 11 to 12 minutes, do reverse crunches
  • From 12 to 17 minutes, run at 4.4 miles per hour
  • From 17 to 18 minutes, do a spiderman plank
  • From 18 to 23 minutes, run at 4.5 miles per hour
  • From 23 to 24 minutes, do crunches
  • From 24 to 29 minutes, start cooling down at 4.0
  • From 29 to 30 minutes, finish off with plank knee dips.
  • Bonus round: Do each of the 5 ab moves for 1 minute.

treadmill ab workout

How to Get an Effective Workout on the Treadmill?

Focus less on specific paces and pay more attention to the level you’re putting in.

If you’re training for a certain race, then utilize the incline to simulate the course. If you’re focusing on running for weight loss then doing a combination of EASY longer runs with 1 to 2 short fast interval sessions weekly is key.

What’s the Best Workout on a Treadmill?

The best workout always depends upon your goals, but for most runners the treadmill is an ideal place to work on pacing.

I love using it for goal paced runs because you’re able to learn exactly how it feels to run and hold a specific pace.

Additional Treadmill Training Tips you Might need:

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