Best Treadmill Workouts To Maximize Athletic Performance

Don’t let the monotony of treadmills ruin the chance for a great workout.

Treadmills seem to be a staple in everyone’s training routine. As an incredibly popular machine at the gym and the most common type of home gym equipment, the popularity of treadmills is exacerbated by people’s innate ability to run. Since running is one of the best ways to lose weight, build muscle, and promote aerobic capacity, treadmills are one of the best and most efficient ways to get a solid workout both at home or at the gym.

For those who love to run, nothing beats the outdoors. But sometimes those external factors like time, bad weather, or seasonal changes forces you back inside and stuck with the boredom and monotony of a treadmill. While treadmills can seem rather boring, especially for those who love to run long distances, thankfully companies are keeping consumers in mind when they design newer models to include small screens, interactive programs, and certain audio features.

There are ways, however, to get a good workout on the treadmill to increase strength and stamina and really get your heart rate fired up. With interesting variations of a traditional run, mixed with programs like high-intensity interval training or incline work, these workouts will help maximize athletic performance and keep you from the monotony that is running on the treadmill.


Benefits Of Treadmill Training

Build Strength & Endurance

Running is a great form of cardio to really build that endurance base and the more you continue with it, the more your lung and heart capacity will increase. Since running increases the demand on the circulatory system, it makes your heart work harder to get blood to areas that need it, thus leading to overall growth in strength (1).

While many people believe running will result in decreased muscle mass, in reality, with the right diet and proper use of the treadmill, you can actually decrease fat and increase muscle growth. Something like high-intensity interval training will allow more growth hormones to flow leading to increased muscle mass (2).

Lose Weight

Running burns more calories than most exercises and as we all know, weight loss comes from more calories leaving than your body than coming in. Since it requires the use of many different muscle groups working together, running and treadmill use put your body into a state where it has no choice but to burn a ton of calories. It can get your metabolism going to only increase that fat burn and changing up the variations to include something like high-intensity interval work can be great for your overall weight loss and even suppress your appetite (3).

Avoid Inconveniences

Using a treadmill allows for a convenient workout by avoiding all of the inconveniences that occur on the open road. You don’t have to worry about weather or seasonal changes which is great because you can enjoy a workout in a comfortable temperature without the fear of being rained on. It also alleviates the issue of traffic and other runners, as well as giving you accurate information on your distance, time, and heart rate.

Try Different Variations

With a treadmill, you are not tied to just simply running. With the ability to adjust an incline when you want or change speeds when you desire, using a treadmill can really target certain aspects of your training without the monotony of running on the open road. Most treadmills have built-in programs designed to give you new workouts which can help target whatever your goals are, whether it be weight loss, building stamina, or just a change of pace.


Treadmill Workouts

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a form of cardio where you perform fast-paced intervals that are alternated with recovery-style intervals. This keeps you working harder and for longer by maxing out in effort and giving your body proper rest. A treadmill is great for HIIT because you can easily adjust speeds and adjust your time accordingly.

HIIT can increase muscle growth and also endurance without the need to do hours on the treadmill. It is also highly effective in calorie burning and weight loss (4). For those not as experienced with high intensity work, only perform to work load and what you can handle to really feel the benefits of HIIT.

Side Shuffles

Side shuffles are great for strengthening the thigh muscles and improving agility (5). Do this at a slower speed since you will be facing a different direction and be sure to keep your feet apart and not crossed over. Stay engaged and shuffle along, really feeling the burn that this interesting variation provides.

Full Body Gauntlet

While this is not done solely on a treadmill, the full body gauntlet allows for treadmill use mixed with circuit style exercises to get your heart rate going and work to other muscle groups. A mix of full body work and running, the gauntlet will give you that overall workout and burn plenty of calories as well. Mix in various amount of time on the treadmill and play around with either different reps or times with exercises like lunges, push-ups, kettlebell swings, or Russian twists.

Crab Walks

An unusual, but fun variation for a treadmill exercise, the crab walk works to target your hamstrings, glutes, triceps, and core, and although slightly odd-looking, it works. Setting your speed at a really slow pace, get into the crab position and start executing a crab walk. After a while, you will certainly feel the burn.


What To Look For In A Treadmill

Finding a good treadmill can be challenging, and with a highly saturated market, so many claim to be the best. But buying the right one is worth the investment because it can last a while and provide great benefits. Looking into the specifications are important because if you are a longer runner, some treads may be too short. A treadmill’s ability to incline, rate of speeds, and stability should all be explored when looking for the right one.

Extra features are important to check out like program options, heart rate monitors, and other features because those can all be helpful when looking to other variations for treadmill workouts. Of course, budget is key. Some expensive treadmills may not be worth the money and some inexpensive ones may also not be worth the money, so check out which treadmills have good reputations, customer reviews, and if possible, try one out for size and see how you like it.

Stuck at home with no gym? Check out these top 5 treadmills here.

Wrap Up

Treadmills are very useful tools for our exercise needs and running is an important part of training. With benefits like muscle growth, increased endurance, and weight loss, this should be a staple in your routine. Trying new workout variations on the treadmill are fun and unique ways to escape the boredom that running can cause and may even offer you more benefits than originally thought.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Cantwell, J. D. (1985). “Cardiovascular aspects of running”. (source)
  2. Kazior, Zuzanna; Willis, Sarah J.; Moberg, Marcus; Apro, William; Calbet, Jose, A. L.; Holmberg, Hans-Christer; Blomstrand, Eva (2016). “Endurance Exercise Enhances the Effect of Strength Training on Muscle Fiber Size and Protein Expression of Akt and mTOR”. (source)
  3. Williams, Paul T. (2013). “Greater Weight Loss from Running than Walking during a 6.2-yr Prospective Follow-up”. (source)
  4. Laursen, Paul B.; Jenkins, David G. (2002). “The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes”. (source)
  5. Dello Iacono, Antonio; Ardigo, Luca P.; Meckel, Yoav; Padulo, Johnny (2016). “Effect of Small-Sided Games and Repeated Shuffle Sprint Training on Physical Performance in Elite Handball Players”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.