One of the top training trends in the fitness industry these days is High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT). Not only can these kinds of workouts be quick and practical, the "high intensity" of these kinds of exercises can also be a unique challenge on a treadmill.
There are more than a few different ways that you can get a HIIT workout, such as spin classes, boot-camp style workouts, Tabata, and bodyweight intervals. Most people may not traditionally think of using a Treadmill for HIIT, as it is usually used for steady-state training, either walking or jogging. But it is possible.
While your body may be able to adapt rapidly to the same kind of workouts you always do, you risk the dreaded plateau setting in. A treadmill is a great way that you can break the cycle and get a great HIIT workout that gets results.
Let’s go over a quick explanation of how HIIT works before going into specific HIIT workouts on the treadmill.
HIIT uses fast-twitch muscle fibers because of the higher intensity. These fast twitch fibers are best for short, powerful bursts of energy. For example, when you're a football running back or a track & field sprinter, you use these fibers during anaerobic exercise. Steady-state cardio, on the other hand, uses slow-twitch muscle fibers. For endurance-type activities or aerobic exercise, like long distance running, slow-twitch muscles are used.
You might've heard that fast-twitch fibers require more calories than other fibers. Not only is this extra energy needed to help the function of the fiber when used, but also for recovery after a sporting event or a significant workout. If your exercise promotes the use of fast-twitch fibers, you'll burn more calories before and after the workout. The excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is known as the "after-burn effect," allowing your body to continue to burn calories after your exercise session.
It may take a little experimentation to find optimal settings when using a treadmill for your HIIT workouts. To design a great HIIT workout, you'll want to adjust both the speed and incline settings, as both factors play an essential role.
Find a setting that you can't sustain for longer than one minute. If you're a beginner, this could be 5mph on a without an incline. If you've been running for a while and building up your endurance, you might try 10mph on an incline.
It's essential to learn what your HIIT limit is as you experiment. After one minute, you should feel pretty tired, and you'll likely want to slow things down a bit.
After you’ve gone all out for at least sixty seconds (your work interval), reduce speed and go “easy” for up to two minutes (your recovery interval). The specifics of your recovery will depend on your fitness level. This may be a 2.5 mph walk at a flat incline or a light job at 4-5 mph. You should feel ready to go again after a one-to-two minute recovery period.
One way to gauge your levels when starting out on a treadmill is to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale or RPE. If you’re running at an RPE of 1, you’re doing very low endurance, but if you’re running at a 9 to 10, you’re going to be gasping for breath and unable to speak. For a very fit person, they should be aiming to reach that 9 to 10 level. Beginners or less conditioned athletes should shoot for a 6 or 7.
Working out for as hard as you can for one minute, followed by one to two minutes of recovery, is one cycle. Beginners should attempt to complete 6 to 8 cycles at first. Before starting, you’ll want to warm up for 6 to 10 minutes. You might even try doing a few low RPE intervals just to get physically acclimated.
Here’s a basic HIIT exercise you can do on a treadmill:
As you get some experience with these kinds of HIIT routines, you should attempt creating your own workouts. For example, this is a favorite set up that has worked well for some trainers and their clients.
Make sure you push yourself. If you want results with HIIT, you will get back the effort you invest.
Always be safe and smart when using a treadmill. Know that you can hurt yourself on this kind of machine, so always be aware of safety features, such as where the emergency shut off is located. Try not to run holding the handles.
How often should you exercise? Try to get in about 2 HIIT workouts per week, incorporating your other favorite activities.
Many treadmills already have preexisting interval-based programs already in the console such as these. These kinds of applications can be helpful when you're having trouble keeping on top of your speed and incline. Look for treadmills with iFit or the science back Sprint 8 program.