8 HIIT treadmill workouts for all fitness abilities and goals

HIIT treadmill workouts are great for building endurance and mixing up your exercise routine

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HIIT treadmill workouts are a great way to mix up your exercise routine. Here we explore the benefits of HIIT treadmill workouts, plus share eight workouts for you to try in your next gym session. 

Lacing up your best running shoes and walking or running on a treadmill will always be beneficial for your health and fitness. But, there are ways you can use the treadmill to your advantage and take your workouts up a notch. 

This is where HIIT treadmill workouts, aka High-Intensity Interval Training, comes in. They're great for runners and walkers alike, so there’s no need to weigh up walking vs running anymore. 

We know HIIT is among the best workouts for burning lots of calories in a short space of time. It's one of the best exercises to lose belly fat, and overall can help you lose weight without losing muscle. But, there are even more benefits of HIIT treadmill workouts.

As well as helping you burn calories, they're a great way to build strength and endurance and improve cardiovascular health. Just like ab workouts for runners, HIIT treadmill workouts can also help runners build stamina and improve their technique.

But, these workouts aren't just for runners. Whether you're new to running and just starting your couch to 5k journey, are a pro marathon runner, or a keen walker, you can tailor the workouts to suit you. Similar to the popular 12-3-30 walking workout, you can slowly build up your pace, time, and treadmill gradient and track your progress using a workout app. 

What are HIIT treadmill workouts?

HIIT treadmill workouts involve a thorough warm-up before a series of intervals where you will run or walk at a pre-determined pace or incline for a set period of time. You'll often repeat this workout two or three times before a cooldown to recover.

Treadmill in a grey room

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What to consider when planning HIIT treadmill workouts

Before you get started, it’s important to remember that treadmills can vary hugely in the features and functions available. Some lag as you try to increase and decrease your speed so you’ll want to tailor your workout with this in mind. 

"Unless you want to master the art of jumping on and off a fast-moving belt—which is not recommended!—then you will likely find that treadmills are better suited to slightly longer runs or walks of 90 seconds plus," says England Athletics running coach Tom Craggs.  

"They can also be ideal for longer ‘tempo’ sessions where you want to hold a specific pace or intensity consistently for a period of time. Very short Tabata-type intervals don’t work so well on the treadmill unless you have one of the very top-end models with a fast and responsive motor," Tom adds.

However, that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t get a good HIIT treadmill workout in under 30 minutes—you just need to be aware of the limitations of the machine you're using. 

You’ll also need to consider the paces of your run, and it’s important to remember not to compare yourself to others around you—as you get fitter, your paces will change, too. 

If you aren’t sure what those paces are right now, it can help to divide them into ‘gears’: 

  • Warm-up pace: a brisk power walk to a gentle jog 
  • Steady pace: you should be able to sustain this for 20 minutes or more, and speak a full sentence
  • Fast pace: you should be able to speak a few words in this zone, but not full sentences  
  • Top pace: this should feel like a sprint, and will certainly leave you not wanting to talk!  

The best HIIT treadmill workouts 

1. Simple intervals

A simple intervals session is a great HIIT treadmill workout for beginners. Feel your way into this by starting your intervals at your steady pace, but, if it feels achievable, crank it up to your fast pace. Use your fitness tracker or one of the best workouts apps to track your workout and monitor your progress. 

  • Warm-up pace for at least five minutes 
  • Two minutes 30 seconds at your steady-to-fast pace 
  • One minute 30 seconds walk at your warm-up pace 
  • Repeat five times  
  • Cooldown for at least five minutes 

2. Brisk hill walk repeats

This 30-minute treadmill workout is a more continuous workout so start at a steady pace, but aim to go slightly quicker on the lower inclines at 2% and 3%. As you get fitter you can aim to increase the KPH or MPH on the treadmill a little each time. 

  • Warm-up for at least five minutes 
  • Incline at 4%: brisk walk/ jog for five minutes 
  • Incline at 2%: brisk walk/ jog for five minutes 
  • Incline at 5%: brisk walk/ jog for five minutes 
  • Incline at 3%: brisk walk/ jog for five minutes 
  • Cooldown for at least five minutes  

3. Pyramid

This is one of the most intense interval treadmill workouts. Each interval increases by a minute to the top of the pyramid then comes back down again. You can keep your hard pace at the same speed for all of them, or aim to go quicker on the shorter interval reps. 

  • Warm-up for at least 5 minutes 
  • One minute hard, one minute recovery
  • Two minutes hard, one minute recovery 
  • Three minutes hard, one minute recovery
  • Four minutes hard, one minute recovery 
  • Three minute hard, one minute recovery 
  • Two minute hard, one minute recovery 
  • One minute hard, one minute recovery 
  • Cooldown

4. 90 second interval repeats

A common interval workout, this is a great treadmill workout for runners wanting to build stamina and endurance. It's challenging, so prepare to get a sweat on! 

  • Warm-up for at least five minutes 
  • 90 seconds steady pace 
  • 90 seconds fast pace 
  • Repeat 90 second intervals six to 10 times 
  • Cooldown with light jog/brisk walk 

5. Minute hard repeats

Minute hard repeats are a great treadmill workout for runners. This routine is tough but will have you building endurance and improving your cardiovascular health. As you get fitter you can add one or two more reps into this workout. 

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes 
  • One minute at your top pace 
  • Two minutes easy jog or brisk walk 
  • Repeat six times 
  • Cooldown for five minutes 

6. Progression HIIT

This HIIT treadmill workout is pretty intense, but a great workout to tackle with long-term goals. Start with two sets of this workout and then slowly build up as you get fitter, stronger and more confident to three, four, or even five sets.

  • Warm-up thoroughly for 10 minutes 
  • Three minutes at your steady pace
  • Two minutes at your fast pace 
  • One minute at your top pace 
  • Two minutes brisk walk or jog to recover
  • Repeat once 
  • Cooldown for at least five minutes 

7. Hard Hills

This is a very adaptable workout—you can take it all at a power walk pace as a walking treadmill workout, or you can run it all depending on your current fitness level. If you're short on time, just do one set, or if you can, try to do the whole workout two or three times.

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at least five minutes 
  • 2% incline for one minute 
  • 4% incline for one minute 
  • 6% incline for one minute 
  • 8% incline for one minute 
  • 1% incline for two minutes recovery 
  • 4% incline for one minute 
  • 6% incline for one minute 
  • 8% incline for one minute 
  • 10% incline for one minute 
  • 1% incline for two minutes recovery 
  • Cool-down for at least five minutes 

8. Power walk hills with jog recovery

In the toughest parts of this hill workout, you'll be walking and your recovery will be a gentle jog without gradient. As you get fitter and more confident with HIIT treadmill workouts you can adjust your pace accordingly and walk or jog faster when you feel ready. 

  • Warm-up thoroughly for 10 minutes 
  • 1% incline walking briskly for two minutes 
  • 0% incline jogging for two minutes 
  • 2% incline walking briskly for three minutes 
  • 0% incline jogging for two minutes 
  • 3% incline walking briskly for four minutes 
  • 0% incline jogging for two minutes 
  • 4% incline walking briskly for five minutes 
  • 0% incline jogging for two minutes 
  • Cooldown for 10 minutes 
Kate Carter
Kate Carter

Kate Carter is an experienced journalist who worked for the Guardian for a decade before going freelance. She writes for the Guardian, Runners World, and World Athletics amongst many other publications, and presents for The Running Channel. She is also a sub three hour marathon runner and an England Athletics coach.