How To Use a Treadmill for Interval Training

Interval training is a particularly effective way to work out because it keeps the body guessing so that you never get too accustomed to an exercise routine. Interval training is a method of alternating high intensity exercises (85% target heart rate) with lower intensity exercises (70% target heart rate). It can be incorporated into almost any exercise routine, including a treadmill workout.

It’s a good idea for trainees to have a regular exercise program a few of times per week before starting interval training on a treadmill so that their body is ready for a higher intensity workout.

Learn the Benefits of Interval Training on a Treadmill

Interval Training Benefits

There are many benefits to interval training, stretching above and beyond the benefits of regular exercise. Some of these benefits include:

*More Endurance — intervals of high intensity training interspersed with lower intensity exercises is more beneficial to building endurance than exercising at a constant pace. Interval training may effectively lower a runner’s lactate threshold, allowing them to run for a longer period of time.

*Lower Appetitestudies reported in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine show that people who perform cardio and muscle toning exercises in intervals eat about 500 calories less per day than those who perform muscle toning one day and cardio the next. There is evidence that combining these exercises can change the hormones that control hunger in the body.

*Reduced Stress — interval training is a great way to stay motivated and active, and it is well documented that being active is an effective way to decrease stress hormones in the body such as cortisol.

Varying Speed

One way to incorporate interval training into a treadmill workout is by changing the speed settings. Runners may start with a warm up of walking or slow jogging. The exerciser should then find a slightly higher speed that they can keep up for a long period of time. They may increase the speed by half a mile per hour for two minutes and then return to the base speed.

Experienced runners can increase their speed by one or two miles per hour during the interval period, but should return to their base speed after running at a faster pace for 2-3 minutes. The intervals should be continued for a period of 15 to 20 minutes, followed by a cool down period at a much slower speed.

Varying Incline

Varying the incline is another option for interval training using a good treadmill. Exercisers that want to vary the incline for interval training should still start with a warm up walk or slow jog at an incline of 1.0. After about ten minutes, they can increase the elevation to 1.5 for one minute, followed by a return to 1.0 for a one minute recovery period.

Exercisers who are varying their elevation should keep their speed constant throughout the middle part of their workout. Changing the elevation will make the body work harder for short periods of time, no matter what the speed is. The intervals should always be followed by a cool down period at an incline of 1.0.

Interval Length

The length of each high intensity exercise period can begin at 30 seconds for people who are new to exercise and may be as long as five minutes for experienced exercisers with a high level of fitness. Rest periods may be shortened as the fitness level increases, but should not be under one minute so that the body has enough time to recover and the heart rate slows down.

Over Training

Interval training should not be performed more than three times per week, and never two days in a row. The body needs to rest after each training session for proper recovery and muscle growth. Some doctors recommend at least two days of rest between interval workouts.

Symptoms of overstraining include:

*Chronic aches and pains

*Loss of appetite


*Chronic respiratory infections and colds

Overtraining can also result in a decrease in performance speed, endurance, and strength. Runners who are training for a race or other competition should be extra cautious when using interval training so that their performance isn’t diminished during competition. It’s easy to overdo training when you’re anxious to perform well.

People who are overtrained should take a break from exercising for about a week to see if their condition improves. They should see a doctor if their condition doesn’t improve after a week of rest. Chronic overtraining can cause many injuries and cause existing medical conditions to worsen.

Why You Should Use Interval Training

Interval training helps exercisers get more from their body because people who do not demand more from their body will not get more. Exercising at the same level consistently is boring for the exercisers and decreases exercise benefits as the body gets used to a workout routine.

Interval training helps muscles learn to switch quickly between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, while burning both carbohydrates and fat efficiently. Interval training is also ideal for increasing endurance or training the body to recover quickly from strenuous exercise. This training method trains the body to burn more calories both during and after a workout.

Interval training should be combined with a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet for maximum weight loss results. It should also be combined with a regular weight training regimen to sculpt the body and improve muscle strength.


  • Brenda AlexanderFebruary 26, 2019 at 2:12 pmfrom OH
    I do 2 to 3 mile walk away the pounds 2 to 3 times a week 2 to 3 days a week at gym on treadmill 3miles eat healthy plus weight room is that ok for weight loss
  • TonyJune 10, 2019 at 10:11 pmfrom Austin,Tex
    I use the treadmill at 3.5 - 3.8 speed, warm up for 10-15 then increase incline to 5 for 2 min, rest 2, incline to 6 for 2, rest for 2, then start to reduce the time at incline in proportion up to 10 incline. Total 45 minutes. Great and easily modifiable exercise to breakup weightlifting routines throughout the week or just part of an overall cardio program. You’ll definitely see your endurance climb. I also try to do this while in a fasted state (in the morning, 16/8 IF ratio) to really boost natural HGH.
  • AdrianJuly 26, 2019 at 2:59 pmfrom Portsmouth UK
    I am 75 years old. I have lung disease (IPF). Five months ago I started going to the gym and could only do 7 minutes on the treadmill at 4.5kph before becoming total breathless. I have now been going to the gym four times a week for the past five months and now I can stay on the treadmill (cardio programme (HR @85%)) for well over an hour without getting breathless.
    • Amanda BAugust 1, 2019 at 2:21 pm
      Hi Adrian, it is so wonderful to hear about your fitness journey! Keep up the great work!
  • TrevorAugust 20, 2019 at 6:11 amfrom Albury
    Hi I have brought a active fitness walk machine it never came with a manual it takes off slow then speeds up then slows down . Is there anyway to set it on one speed as it very dangerous this way.
    • Amanda BSeptember 9, 2019 at 1:01 pm
      Hi Trevor, unfortunately we don't have a fix to your problem. The best thing you can do is to find the manual online, which is usually available on the treadmill manufacturer's website.
  • Rohn BertoldiSeptember 2, 2020 at 3:46 pmfrom TX
    what treadmill brands offer automatic programmed of preprogrammed interval training
    • Amanda BSeptember 2, 2020 at 4:24 pm
      Hi Rohn, the Horizon AT Series treadmills are great for interval training. They come with the Sprint 8 training program. You can check out the review of the best selling 7.8 AT treadmill here:

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