5 Treadmill Hacks For a Better Workout

Kristan Dietz
by Kristan Dietz
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5 Treadmill Hacks For a Better Workout

Your indoor running routine does not have to be dull and predictable. If you are stepping on the treadmill and just hitting start, you may be missing out on a better workout. The following workouts are fun, different and help you become a stronger runner. And the best part is they won’t take up much time.

“The beauty of the treadmill is its efficiency: Whatever you need to accomplish, it will never take more than 30 minutes,” says Julia Gytri, a New York City-based functional trainer and instructor with Flywheel Sports.

Gytri likes to break down running effort into speed ranges. She sticks to a speed of 1–4 mph for 50% or less efforts — great for walks and other exercises. Around 5–7 mph equates to 70% effort or a jog. Keep the speed to 6–8 mph for an 80% run effort, 7–10 mph for 85–95% effort hard-paced runs and 8 mph and up for a 100% all-out sprint.

These percentages work as the baseline for Gytri’s multi-planar power run.

Start with 1 minute of walking lunges. Next, perform a minute of side shuffles on your left side, before switching to your right side for another minute. Then crank up the treadmill to 70% effort for 1 minute, followed by running one mile at just below a long-distance race pace. Repeat the entire sequence twice, except run race pace for the second full mile and as fast as you comfortably can for the third. Recover with a walk. Keep the incline steady at 1–3% for the entire workout.

This leg-strengthening workout doesn’t even require turning on the treadmill. Stand on the belt and hold onto the handrails. Next put all of your effort into moving the belt with your own body weight — that’s right, do not press the start button. Once you have the belt going, keep up that effort for 10–15 seconds. Recover by walking around or standing still for 30 seconds. Repeat 6–10 times. It may not sound difficult but wait until you try it.

Get comfortable with running fast during this workout. It is a great way for runners looking to combine a tempo and speed effort.

1. Start with a 4-minute run at 70% effort, followed by a 1-minute recovery at 65% or less.
2. Next run 3 minutes at 80% effort, followed by a 1-minute recovery jog.
3. Run for 2 minutes at 90% effort, followed by a 1-minute recovery jog.
4. Next run 1 minute at 95–100% effort, followed by a 1-minute recovery jog.
5. Finally run 30 seconds as fast as you can, complete the sequence with a 1-minute walk.
6. Repeat the entire cycle again, but increase your effort on every fast portion by 5% while keeping the recoveries the same.


This workout is great for runners who don’t have a steep hill for repeats. Crank the treadmill incline up to a challenging level — anything over 8% depending on your fitness. Sprint for 30 seconds and then safely hop off of the treadmill, leaving the belt on. Jog in place or around the gym slowly for 30–45 seconds before hopping back on to do your next sprint. Repeat 6–10 times.

Progression runs are a staple of long-distance training. Luckily they are easy to do on the treadmill. Instead of just pressing start, set your treadmill so that the time counts down. Then increase your pace every 5 minutes, until you are running moderately hard for the last segment.

Gytri also recommends a progression ladder for a slightly faster paced workout. After a 5-minute warmup jog, run for 30 seconds at a pace that is 80–95% effort, followed by 30 seconds at 70%. Increase the fast runs and jogs by 15 seconds per interval until you reach 2 minutes. Then go back down the ladder until you are back at 30 seconds. Cool down with a 5-minute jog.

About the Author

Kristan Dietz
Kristan Dietz

Kristan is a freelance writer, editor and social media specialist. Her work has appeared in Women’s Running and Competitor Running. She resides in Hoboken, NJ with her husband and 2-year-old son. Find her on Instagram at @kstandietz and Twitter at @kristandietz.


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