Running on the treadmill is a popular aerobic form of exercise. It gives you working out versatility in addition to physical and health benefits such as weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, and toning of muscles. Thus, it is no wonder that a treadmill is one of the most popular exercise equipment today.
But as with other fitness exercises, working out on the treadmill incorrectly can lead to more harm than benefit to your body. As a beginner, you need to know how to work out on the treadmill effectively and identify the ideal workouts for your needs.
Statistics show that more than 50% of those that exercise quit within the first six months. We don’t want you to be a statistic on those who quit, and for this reason, we have prepared for you the best treadmill workouts for beginners to get you started on this journey. The good part about treadmill running is that you need little more than running shoes to get started.
Intervals of Walking and Jogging
The first workouts on a treadmill and especially for a beginner, need to be super-light and simple. They will help the body muscles and joints relax in readiness for the more intense workouts that will follow. In addition, they do the blood pumping better without pushing you too much.
Start with light walking for the first about one minute and switch to jogging for a similar duration. Keep alternating the two, and you can increase your jogging speed and reduce your walking duration as you get more comfortable.
If you don’t feel comfortable jogging, you can alternate slow walking with faster walking.
Once you are confident and comfortable with the walks and jogs on the treadmill, it’s about time to increase your speed through sprints. Treadmill sprints will help you get quicker feet and develop a more effective form of running besides improving your cardiovascular system because these sprints make your heart rate go up.
Start your sprints at a slow speed and hold the sides of the treadmill for balance and start sprinting. Once you’ve gained balance which should only take a few seconds, let go of the sides. For each minute, as a beginner, sprint for 15 seconds and take a break for the next 45 seconds. Repeat this for a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 10 minutes.
Treadmill sprints are considered to be high-intensity exercises. As with all other such exercises, it is important to start slowly before pacing up gradually. This allows your body to adjust accordingly and reduces the risk of injury, especially to the Achilles tendons, hip flexors, and hamstrings.
Beginner treadmill sprints should start a maximum of twice per week. Warm-up such as walking and jogging is mandatory before sprinting. The benefits to this are that your body temperature has already increased, and your muscles are warmed up before the sprints.
Increasing your incline on the treadmill allows your body to get a physical experience like that of a hill workout. Hill training workouts improve your cardio capacity. If you don’t have a treadmill ladder, most likely, your treadmill has settings for built-in hill workouts, which you can choose or customize as per your needs.
This is an intense workout, and as such, a beginner should not hill train for more than 4 minutes on the treadmill. Once you switch the treadmill to hill workout settings, start running and do so for 20 seconds while taking 10-second breaks in between till you stop.
Research analysis shows that running outdoors and on a motorized treadmill gives a comparable run. The slight differences between the two include knee flexion, how the body bounces up and down, and how the foot strikes when running. This as well applies to hill training on an actual incline vs on a treadmill.
When you hill run on the treadmill, you are able to do so at an accurate pace, but for outdoors, you would encounter the challenge of navigating different terrains and things such as rocks. So hill training on the treadmill is still beneficial even if, as a beginner, you are experienced in outdoor hill running.
At this point, you will have gotten used to walking, jogging, interval sprints and a few hill workouts. If you feel that your body is adjusting accordingly and you are ready to step up the intensity of your workouts, then it’s time to try Jacob’s ladder if your treadmill has a ladder.
Start by adjusting yourself on the ladder using the belt, then climb onto the rungs as you would with an actual ladder, that is, holding the lungs with the hands and stepping the rungs with your feet each at a time.
You determine the climbing speed, and if you want the ladder to climb faster, you will increase your climbing speed. On the other hand, to slow down, decrease your climbing speed and the ladder speed with decrease. The Jacob’s ladder is an effective way of working out your hamstrings and glutes more intensely.
2016 in Louisiana State University found that those who ran on the Jacobs ladder burnt more calories than those who ran on the treadmill. The Jacob’s ladder exposes your muscles to a more intense workout but with a lower impact on your joints.
Brief HIIT Workout
This is the most intense treadmill workout for beginners. As such, you need to be ready by having engaged your body in the earlier workouts, thus reduce the risk of extreme soreness and joints plus muscle injuries. HIIT is an acronym for high-intensity interval training, and it will help you build your core and leg muscles while still burning tons of calories.
Start by walking at a moderate pace for about 2 minutes, then level up to jogging for the same duration. Next, take a break from jogging by walking for one minute before returning to jogging for the next 2 minutes but at a higher speed than you did the first time, i.e. if your first jogging was at level 6, the second time should be at level 7.
Next, rest for 30 seconds and jog for 45 seconds at the next level before resting for another 30 seconds and jogging for 75 seconds, then stopping by walking. As earlier mentioned, this is an intense workout, and your body will feel it, especially during the first sessions.
Although HIIT workout for beginners has tons of benefits, you should not do this exercise every day, even if you are experienced. Stick to a maximum of thrice a week HIIT treadmill workouts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once your body gets used to walking on the treadmill, you can do so daily. But it is good to skip some days to allow the body to rest and body muscles to recover in the initial days.
It is recommended by CDC that you work out on moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes every week. Walking or running on the treadmill every day is an effective way of meeting this recommendation. You can run every day on the treadmill as long as you are not overtraining and your body is not negatively responding by having increased soreness, muscles and joint pain each subsequent running day.
Suppose even after getting used to running on the treadmill; you still tend to get sore or experience muscle pain after running on the treadmill consecutively. In that case, it might be best that you don’t run on the treadmill daily to allow the body time to recover.
As a beginner, it is best to start walking and running on the treadmill at a slow pace for not more than 15 – 20 minutes thrice a week. As you get more used to it, you can increase the duration to half an hour or a maximum of 40 minutes several times a week.
An ideal walking speed for beginners is two mph to 4 mph. As for jogging, it is best to start with four mph to 5.5 mph. While these are the recommended speeds, you should adjust this as per your needs. Gradual increases as you get used to it will allow your body to adjust efficiently without resulting in extreme soreness and reduce the risk of injuries.
Treadmill workouts enable you to continue working out when the weather or your schedule doesn’t allow you to do so outdoors when recovering from an injury if you don’t like to run, walk or jog outdoors. While doing so, you get a ton of health benefits such as weight loss and improved cardiovascular health.
As a beginner, the above best treadmill workouts for beginners will get you started on your training. You can adjust to more intense workouts once your body adjusts. Avoid engaging in all of them in a single workout session.
We believe that by sticking to these beginner treadmill workouts, you will see the benefits. Remember to give your body a break to heal and re-energize.
Marko is a recreational runner (and a techie) that has completed a full-distance trail marathon from Australia. He is the lead writer at JogTunes and spends his off-time time testing different running shoes and GPS watches.