The treadmill is a hugely popular aerobic exercise machine. Aside from being a versatile cardio machine, a treadmill can help you lose weight if that’s your goal.

In addition to helping you lose weight, working out on a treadmill has other benefits too. For instance:

  • You can use the treadmill year-round.
  • It’s possible to watch your favorite TV show while you exercise.
  • The treadmill has handrails, which is ideal if you’re recovering from an injury.
  • As with any heart-pumping cardio workout, it can help reduce your risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases, improve sleep, boost your mood, and improve brain function.

Treadmills are available at almost every gym, making it an accessible option for all fitness levels. Plus, if you prefer working out at home, treadmills can easily become part of your home gym, too.

Let’s explore the basics of treadmill weight loss, along with possible workout plans and tips.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating sets of high-intensity exercise and rest.

According to a 2017 study, HIIT workouts can be an effective way of reducing body fat and burning calories in a shorter amount of time.

The idea is to work extra hard for short periods and rest between the high-intensity bursts of exercise. This burns a lot of calories, which helps contribute to weight loss.

Additionally, after a HIIT routine, your body attempts to return to a normal resting state. It does this by metabolizing body fat for energy.

Here’s how to do HIIT on a treadmill:

  1. Set the treadmill so it’s flat. Walk at 2 mph for 5 minutes to warm up.
  2. Run at 9 to 10 mph for 30 seconds.
  3. Walk at 3 to 4 mph for 60 seconds.
  4. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  5. Walk at 2 mph for 5 minutes to cool down.

For a more advanced workout, alternate between jogging and sprinting. You can also add more minutes to each high-intensity set. Ideally, your rest intervals should be twice as long as your high-intensity intervals.

During a treadmill workout, exercising at your fat-burning heart rate can help promote weight loss. This zone is where you burn the most calories per minute.

To find your fat-burning zone, you’ll need to calculate your maximum heart rate first. This is the maximum number of times your heart can beat during 1 minute of exercise.

Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. For example, if you’re 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute (220 – 40 = 180).

Generally, your fat-burning zone is 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. If your max heart rate is 180 beats per minute, your fat-burning zone is 70 percent of 180, or 126 beats per minute (180 x 0.70 = 126).

With this number, you’ll know how hard you should work to support weight loss. Here’s one way to do it:

  1. Wear a heart rate monitor on your wrist or chest. Set the treadmill to flat. Walk at 2 mph for 5 minutes to warm up.
  2. Set the incline to 2 percent. Jog at 4 mph for 1 minute.
  3. Run at 8 to 10 mph, or until you enter your fat-burning zone. Run for 15 to 30 minutes at this heart rate.
  4. Jog at 4 mph for 1 minute.
  5. Walk at 2 mph for 5 minutes to cool down.

While 70 percent is the average fat-burning zone, everyone is different. Some people might enter the fat-burning zone at 55 percent of their maximum heart rate, while others might need to reach 80 percent. It depends on various factors like sex, age, fitness level, and medical conditions.

You might also enter your fat-burning zone at a lower treadmill speed.

A personal trainer can help determine your ideal speed and heart rate for optimal weight loss.

Another strategy for treadmill weight loss is to switch up your routine. By doing a different workout each time, you can:

  • Reduce your risk for injury. Repeating the same workout is stressful on your joints. It increases the risk of overuse injury, which can set you back.
  • Avoid a training plateau. The more you do a certain workout, the less you’ll see results. Your body needs to be challenged to progress.
  • Prevent boredom. You’re more likely to stick to you routine if you regularly mix up your workout.

Here’s a sample workout plan, where different treadmill workouts are incorporated into a balanced exercise routine:

  • Sunday: rest, leisurely walk, or gentle yoga
  • Monday: treadmill HIIT routine for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Tuesday: light treadmill jog and strength training
  • Wednesday: rest, leisurely walk, or gentle yoga
  • Thursday: light treadmill jog and strength training
  • Friday: treadmill HIIT routine for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Saturday: barre class or bodyweight workout

To make a treadmill routine more challenging, add hills. Walking briskly or running at an incline burns more calories because your body has to work harder.

It also activates more muscles, which contributes to building more lean muscle mass. This helps you lose weight, since muscle burns more calories than fat.

If you’d like to exercise on an incline, try this treadmill sequence:

  1. Set the treadmill to flat. Walk at 2 mph for 5 minutes to warm up.
  2. Set the incline to 1 percent. Jog at 4 to 6 mph for 1 minute.
  3. Increase the incline by 1 percent each minute. Repeat until you reach an 8 to 10 percent incline.
  4. Decrease the incline by 1 percent each minute. Repeat until you’re at a 0 to 1 percent incline.
  5. Walk at 2 mph for 5 minutes to cool down.

Generally, 4 to 6 mph is the average jogging speed. You can increase the speed or add more minutes to make this workout harder.

For an easier version, increase the incline by 0.5 percent each minute. Repeat until you’ve reached a 4 to 5 percent incline, then work in reverse.

In addition to weight loss, cardio activity like a treadmill workout offers many benefits. It may help:

As a form of cardio exercise, using a treadmill is an excellent way of burning calories and losing weight.

If you’re not sure what type of treadmill workout is best suited to you, talk to a certified personal trainer. They can work with you to create a customized treadmill weight loss program.

For best results, combine treadmill workouts with strength training. Both forms of exercise can help support weight loss and overall health.

If you’re new to exercise, or if you haven’t worked out in a while, talk to your doctor before you start a new fitness routine.