While sprinting outdoors may be ideal, once winter hits, we all must make concessions regarding our workouts. When it starts to sleet, running outside suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing.
To keep yourself on track, we’ve got some great ideas for indoor HIIT workouts you can do on the treadmill to ensure consistent exercise even through winter’s dark, cold months. These are also perfect for those of you who work out in the gym anyway and are looking for some ideas to change-up your current routine. For more on HIIT, check out our article on the basics of High Intensity Interval Training.
Best HIIT Treadmill Workout #1 | 8-Interval Sprints
Sprint workouts don’t have to be super complicated to be effective. Sometimes the simplest workout can have the biggest effects. Make sure you challenge yourself during the interval, and go slow enough to recover between sets so you can push it again each round.
On a treadmill, warm-up either walking or jogging for 5-10 minutes (make sure your muscles are adequately warm before sprinting or you may risk injury), then do 8 intervals sprinting for 30 seconds and recovering for 1:30 minutes. To increase the challenge, you can sprint for a longer period of time, decrease the recovery time, or sprint faster during the interval. Don’t change all the factors at once. Only change one factor at a time.
- Kristin Rooke, CPT
Best HIIT Treadmill Workout #2 | 30 Second Switches
My personal philosophy with interval training and cardio exercise is that’s it’s all about intensity. With that said, I really enjoy the following interval training workout, which is short, sweet, and tough:
30 seconds sprinting (I do 12-14mph – but be careful)
30 seconds rest (resting on the treadmill, hop off)
Complete 5 rounds
This workout takes literally 5 minutes. Be sure to properly warm up with some foam rolling/dynamic stretching. Also, be careful when running, or sprinting on a treadmill, because there are a lot of YouTube videos of people falling off of treadmills, so it does happen.
To make the workout more difficult, you can add additional rounds. I wouldn’t do more than 10 rounds total. If you can do more, you didn’t push yourself hard enough. A slight variation, which I also like, is to increase the incline to 10 (out of 15) and sprint for 30 seconds and rest 60 seconds for 5-7 rounds. To make this workout easier, you can increase the rest period to 60 seconds, or more, whatever works for your fitness level.
- Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
Best HIIT Treadmill Workout #3 | Strength Sprint Combo
My favorite sprint treadmill workout is a strength/sprint combination where I’ll do a single-leg leg press for 16 reps on each leg and jump onto a treadmill at a 12% incline, bring the speed up to 9-10 mph and stay at that pace for as long as I can (Usually about a minute), jump off, take 30-60 seconds, get back on the leg press and repeat for a total of 4 rounds.
- John Leyva, CSCS, CPT
Best HIIT Treadmill Workout #4 | Hill Sprints
I am a firm believer that most people can sustain a solid running pace for about 2:00 minutes that would be significantly greater than their normal run pace. Depending on fitness level, a walking recover can be anywhere between 30 seconds to a couple minutes.
If you are looking for something that is a little more intense, I recommend using a bike or rower for more intense intervals. You can push yourself much harder without worrying about the risk of faceplanting on a treadmill. My favorite bike intervals are 30 seconds work (high resistance, as fast as humanly possible) to 60 seconds rest (low-no resistance, just keep it moving) for 10-15 intervals. If you do it right, you should bring a friend to peel you off the floor.
- Stephen Bergeron, CSCS, CPT
Best HIIT Treadmill Workout #5 | Compensated Sprints
I believe sprinting is one of the best forms of exercise in terms of improving strength, speed, endurance, and physical performance. They are notoriously difficult, by definition, as you are expected to run or cycle at 100% of your maximal ability.
Sprint workouts on a treadmill are kind of like a neutered version of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), although it’s an acceptable substitute if a proper sprint workout is out of the question.
However, if a treadmill is the only way sprints will get done, there are some compensations that can or should be made:
- Instead of maximal speed, try cutting it back 20 or 30% so you can put the necessary focus on balance.
- Since you’re slowing down a bit, try running just as far by going for a little bit longer.
- Reduce rest time.
- William Lagakos, Ph.D.
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