3 HIIT Treadmill Workouts To Beat Boredom & Help You Lose Weight

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The treadmill gets a bad rap as a long-slog torture device, one best reserved for when you're catching up on a backlog of your favorite brainless TV shows. But to use the "dreadmill" solely for moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio workouts is to ignore its metabolism-boosting, strength-increasing, and speed-improving benefits—all of which can help you lose weight and up your fitness level fast.

With its speed and incline variables, the treadmill was perfectly designed for high-intensity interval training—one of the best workouts for weight loss. HIIT works like this: You have a work interval (where you give 100 percent effort), then you have a recovery interval (where you take it easy), and then you repeat. Yep, it's that simple.

And there's really no arguing with the benefits of HIIT: You'll burn more calories (25 to 30 percent!) than you will with resistance training, cycling, and treadmill running, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And you'll burn more fat in less time than endurance activities, because HIIT causes your body to burn fat instead of carbs for energy, found a study published in Sports Medicine Open. Plus, HIIT increases your metabolism post-exercise even more than jogging and resistance training (that's called the "afterburn effect").

If you're not sure how to mess with the pace and incline settings on your own to reap the rewards of interval training, try these workouts designed by Jess Movold, a running coach at Mile-High Run Club in New York City, to help you increase speed, build strength, burn fat, and crush hills. Whether you're a running newbie or a marathon veteran, the key factor here is knowing how hard to push yourself—HIIT only works if the workout actually feels intense!

1. The pick-up-your-pace treadmill workout.

Surprise: This treadmill workout is all about speed progression. "It's geared toward someone who's working on improving sprints and speed progressions—meaning getting faster as the workout goes on while accumulating fatigue," says Movold (translation: the runner who wants to kick into high gear as they're nearing the finish line). "This workout has short recoveries that will keep you nearly in your maximum heart rate zone for the majority of the workout."

Length: 35 minutes (not including warm-up or cool-down—warm up with 8 to 10 minutes of easy walking or jogging, and cool down with 5 minutes of easy walking or jogging)

How it works: 16 Rounds x 90 seconds of effort, 45 seconds of recovery in between

  • First 5 Rounds: Hold a 10K-race pace (or an 8.5 out of 10 effort) for 90 seconds. Recover at an easy pace for 45 seconds in between each round.
  • Second 5 Rounds: Hold a 5K-race pace (or a 9 out of 10 effort) for 90 seconds. Recover at an easy pace for 45 seconds in between each round.
  • Last 6 Rounds: Max exertion for 90 seconds; progress by an increment of 0.1 each round (e.g., if round 11 is 9 mph, then round 12 is 9.1 mph, round 13 is 9.2 mph, and so on).
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2. The strength-building treadmill workout.

Think treadmills can't give you the grade changes of running hills outside? Think again. "This workout was created for someone looking to improve their form and tolerance with hills or simulate outdoor elements when running inside," says Movold. You're going to strengthen your legs, build your endurance, and prime your body for any incline changes when you hit a real road. (FYI: The focus of this workout is strength work and form. "If you feel that form is being compromised because of speed, lower the speed!" says Movold. "Your speed may fluctuate as the workout progresses.")

Length: 25 minutes (not including warm-up or cool-down—warm up with 8 to 10 minutes of easy walking or jogging, and cool down with 5 minutes of easy walking or jogging)

How it works: 4 x 6-minute blocks of varying inclines and speeds

BLOCK ONE

  • 3 Minutes: 5% incline at marathon pace (or 7 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline
  • 1 Minute: 3% incline at half-marathon race pace (or 8 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline

BLOCK TWO

  • 3 Minutes: 6% incline at marathon pace (or 7 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline
  • 1 Minute: 4% incline at half-marathon race pace (or 8 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline

BLOCK THREE

  • 3 Minutes: 7% incline at marathon pace (or 7 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline
  • 1 Minute: 5% incline at half-marathon race pace (or 8 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline

BLOCK FOUR

  • 3 Minutes: 8% incline at marathon pace (or 7 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline
  • 1 Minute: 6% incline at half-marathon race pace (or 8 out of 10 effort)
  • 1 Minute: Recover at an easy pace at 1% incline
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3. The speed endurance workout.

It's easy to start out a run going fast; it's a lot tougher to maintain that pace when your legs start to get tired. "This workout is created for the runner who's working on tempo pace recognition," says Movold. During tempo runs, you should be running at an 8 out of 10 effort, and that speed shouldn't vary much once the workout begins. "That helps you build endurance and increase tolerance to uncomfortable speeds that you'll want to hold on race day," Movold says. Here's looking at your next PR.

Length: 40 minutes (not including warm-up or cool-down—warm up with 8 to 10 minutes of easy walking or jogging, and cool down with 5 minutes of easy walking or jogging)

How it works: 6 x 5-minute rounds at an 8 out of 10 effort with 2-minute recoveries between each round

  • 5 Minutes: 1% incline at half-marathon race pace (or 8 out of 10 effort)
  • 2 Minutes: Recover at an easy pace (walking or easy jogging)
  • Repeat the above running and recovery round 5 more times.

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