Treadmill Workout Facts

Americans spend more than $2 billion a year buying treadmills making it one of the most popular exercise machines available, according to Club Industry, a site for fitness business professionals. The treadmill provides a solid workout, without requiring the user to possess a lot of skill or coordination. Beginners and seasoned exercisers can work to their fitness level. Maximize your treadmill workout by using the features that this machine has to offer.


The treadmill provides a ramp, or belt, upon which you can walk, jog or run at speeds ranging from 1 mph to up to 15 mph, depending on the model. The ramp’s incline is also adjustable from a 0 percent grade all the way up to 15 percent. Some specially made treadmills allow the user to climb as much as a 30 percent grade. Most treadmills offer you the ability to program in your weight and age to estimate calories burned. The console usually displays mileage and average pace.


Because you can adjust the speed and the incline, a workout on the treadmill can range from easy to extremely challenging. A beginning treadmill workout might involve simply walking at a speed of about 3 mph on an incline of zero percent for 10 minutes, slowly working up over the course of a few weeks to longer periods of time. Over time, you can add in faster walks, light jogs or hills to increase your aerobic capacity.

Hill Workouts

If you're a walker who is looking to avoid the impact of running, you can incorporate hills to create a more challenging workout that focuses on the muscles of the glutes and hamstrings. Running uphill burns a lot of calories and improves overall endurance--if you are efficient running uphill, you will be more efficient running on a flat road. If you use the treadmill for winter training, hills offer the chance to better mimic outdoor conditions.You can go at a steady pace for a half hour on a light hill, or perform hill repeats by alternating time on a flat road with time on an incline of 6 percent or more.

Speed Workouts

The treadmill is an easy way for a runner (or walker) to include Fartlek training, or speed intervals, in workouts. Speed intervals vary in length from 15 seconds to up to three minutes and help you improve lung capacity and overall speed while on a steady, paced run. Although you can do speed drills outside, the treadmill makes it easy because you simply input your desired pace and try to keep up with the belt.


A 150-lb woman jogging on the treadmill at 6 miles and zero inclines burns about 9 calories per minute. If she ups her incline to 5 percent, that calorie burn increases to as much 13 calories per minutes.The total number of calories burned is ultimately a factor of your efficiency at running, the speed at which you run, the inclines, your size, and the duration of the session. However, minute for minute, the treadmill allows for one of the best burns in the gym. Whether you walk or run on the treadmill, you build and tone the muscles of your calves, thighs and butt. Treadmill workouts also contribute to cardiovascular fitness and improved lung function.


Running on a treadmill is usually easier on the joints than running on pavement, but if you suffer from arthritis or are significantly overweight, walking is probably the best way to approach your workout to minimize joint stress. Wearing shoes made specifically for running will help you prevent shin splints, plantar issues and other discomfort. Treadmill workouts, like outdoor running, should be approached gradually or else you risk incurring injury. When incorporating high intensity interval workouts on the treadmill, give yourself at least a day off between workouts so your body can repair and recover.

About the Author

Andrea Cespedes has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.