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4 great HIIT workouts you can do on a treadmill

Do you find treadmills boring? Used in a creative way, treadmill workouts can give a real boost to your stamina

Do these treadmill workouts for better fitness.
Do these treadmill workouts for better fitness. (Istockphoto)

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For those who don’t like the treadmill, it is difficult to imagine spending more than five or 10 minutes on it. And when one thinks that that much time is not enough to make a difference, it is easy to discard the idea of using a treadmill at all. The only drawback of conventional cardio machines in the gym is a lack of creativity in using them for useful workouts. Even if you make their use a part of your circuit, there is no guarantee the same treadmill will be available when you reach the running point in the circuit a few times. 

But there is always a way to make things fun. Having ignored the treadmill forever, I have only recently added sprint interval training (SIT) methods to my warmup and the quick increment in stamina and energy throughout the day is worth the few minutes on the treadmill. Note that “sprinting” in this case will mean running at about 80% of your maximum effort. I have used different methods which means I am spending very little time on the treadmill on most workouts. And the time that I am spending is enjoyable. The first step is to start incorporating the treadmill into a routine and enjoying the challenge, before deep-diving into how much and what you should do with it. 

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Given that sprint interval training, or interval training in general, burns more fat than cardio activity, most of the workouts below incorporate active resting periods and even full resting periods.

Treadmill pre-loaded HIIT workouts with incline: There might be pre-loaded interval training workouts on the treadmill you plan to use. If there are, see what the programme is, and try some out. The great thing about this is if it does not suit you for 10 minutes, you can always tweak it. To give you an idea, I tried a 20-minute pre-loaded workout a week ago, and it was set like this: A one-minute walk at 5.5 speed and between 4-5 incline, and one minute of running at 12 speed and zero incline. This would alternate for 20 minutes. It was a brilliant workout which left me feeling as if running at 12 was easier than walking at that steep incline. There’s your first workout then, but this is for those who are at least at an intermediate level. 

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Fartleks for indoor and outdoor: Fartleks means “speed play” in Swedish, and they’re now applying it to this brilliant workout which puts the onus on the body to figure out when it is ready for another sprint.  “When you're out on a regular run, pick a random landmark (a tree, fire hydrant, etc.) ahead of you and sprint until you reach it. Slow things down. Then, once you feel up to another run, pick another landmark to dart to,” is the simple explanation provided by a article titled Should New Runners Do High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? You can do the same on a treadmill as well, but this is more fun outside.

Sprint workouts for beginners: A Livestrong article on the best running workouts for beginners, A 20-Minute Sprint Workout for Beginners, includes 90 seconds of active rest for every 30-second sprint. It adds a 5-minute warmup and a 5-minute cooldown stretch. The total 20-minute workout has only 150 seconds of actual running. One might wonder why. “Think about your body like the engine of a race car. After you complete a race and turn off your vehicle, it takes the engine a while to cool down. It's the same after a HIIT workout. When you complete a sprint workout, it takes a while for your metabolism to cool down. So after a HIIT session, your body is still burning calories at a more efficient rate,” states the article.

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The 5-minute sprint workout: If you have to go somewhere to run—a quiet road, a park, or even a gym—then this popular 5-minute workout is worth doing anywhere. It also adds some explosive moves immediately after the sprint. It takes very little time to perform, while adding a range of benefits to your stamina, speed, and Vo2 max

Sprint for 25-30 seconds at your level; then do any explosive or a core exercise (jump squats, jumping jacks, clap push ups, hollow rocks, mountain climbers) for 10-15 seconds, and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this for 4-5 rounds. 

Sprinting ladder drill: This workout, suggested by, will also challenge you to find your sprint speeds on the treadmill, to understand what feels like a “sprint” and what feels like a jog. The other challenge is to play with the resting times.

Repeat the following for two rounds: 

Sprint 10 seconds / Walk 50 seconds

Sprint 15 seconds / Walk 75 seconds

Sprint 20 seconds / Walk 100 seconds

Sprint 25 seconds / Walk 125 seconds

Sprint 20 seconds / Walk 100 seconds

Sprint 15 seconds / Walk 75 seconds

Sprint 10 seconds / Walk 50 seconds

Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging.

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.

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