How to Get in Shape on the Treadmill

Young woman running on treadmill

Getting in shape on the treadmill is much easier on your joints and your cardiovascular system compared to pounding the pavement outside. The more quickly you make progress on the treadmill, the more motivated you will be. Hence, you are likely to continue with your health and fitness routine by getting in shape on the treadmill. Furthermore, you will improve your aerobic conditioning so that when you begin resistance training, you are not stumped because you are having trouble breathing.

Warm Up

Walk slowly on the treadmill for 10 minutes. Do this before every treadmill workout to prepare your body for the more intense training to come.

Step off the treadmill. Do a quick stretch for your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, shins and your ankles. Do two stretch repetitions for each muscle, holding each stretch for no more than eight seconds. Include stretches for your trunk, neck and shoulders to help limber up your upper body as well; your total stretch time should not exceed five minutes.

Increase the speed of your warm-up during subsequent treadmill sessions as you become more fit so that you are walking faster or walking and jogging.


Begin your treadmill workouts with a 10-minute walk. Repeat for three alternating days during the first week. Add five minutes to each session during your second week. Walk 20 minutes for your first and third session of week three; jog for one minute, then walk for four minutes, totaling 20 minutes, during your second session of week three.

Continue to add three to five minutes to your first treadmill session of the week, building up to 45 to 60 minutes.

Increase your run time and decrease your walk time during your second workout of the week. For instance, jog for one minute, 30 seconds and then walk for three minutes, 30 seconds until you can jog at a comfortable pace for a full 20 minutes without stopping.

Utilize the treadmill programs for your third treadmill training of the week. Select variety, hill, interval or cardio, completing the workout for up to 45 minutes. Walk, run or do both for this session, choosing a different program every week.

Cool Down

Decrease your walk or jog speed for the first minute after your workout. For example, if you are jogging at 5 mph, decrease your speed to a slower jog at 4 mph. Decrease your speed significantly after the first cool-down minute by walking at 3 mph.

Walk slowly for 10 minutes, enabling your body to gradually return your metabolism, including your heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature, to pre-exercise levels.

Step off the treadmill to stretch all your muscles for 10 to 15 minutes. Complete two to four repetitions per stretch, holding each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. This post-exercise stretch enhances the flexibility of your muscles, increasing the range of motion around your joints.


Maintain a treadmill training log to ensure you are making progress.


Check with your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise program, reducing the risk of exacerbating any health conditions.