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Best HIIT Treadmill Workout To Burn Fat

By Marc Perry / July 27, 2017

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:

  1. Instead of maximal speed, try cutting it back 20 or 30% so you can put the necessary focus on balance.
  2. Since you’re slowing down a bit, try running just as far by going for a little bit longer.
  3. Reduce rest time.

William Lagakos, Ph.D.


  • Krassi says:

    Hi Warren, some of the treadmills do not take in account factors like – weight, age and gender. So I think, the calories shown are just rough estimation for the workout. I am in opinion, that all treadmills are using calorie equations from ’70s and ’80s understanding for calorie burnt out. I think they do not account for EPOC effect of the workout.

  • Super says:

    hey marc
    if i walk on incline of 15 for say abt 1:30 mins at a speed of 7kmph and then after 1:30 mins of walking which takes the hell out of me i come down to a raise of 12 and a speed of 5kmph for the next 30 sec. then i again follow up. i do somewhere around 14 rounds. what do u think. i do this procedure for 30 mins

  • Jeff Toscano says:

    Hey Marc,
    Great article on HIIT training. I have been using this philosophy for treadmill, punching bag and rope workouts. In the past few months I incorporated a pull up routine and a dip/push up routine also. The latest routine is 30 push ups in a minute for 7 consecutive minutes. That is the rest period if you are quick is only about 30-35 seconds then on to the next set. This is an extremely difficult routine. Have you heard of any similar effective routines with pull ups and dips/push ups?

  • daniel says:

    Hi Marc,

    I really enjoy your articles, always well thought through and informative. Keep it up.


  • Holly says:

    This article would have come in handy yesterday.. I face planted on a TM pretty badly yesterday at the gym while doing sprints at 12 MPH. I've never done that before.. so embarassing. But definitely proceed with caution!

  • Seb says:

    stephen for a rowing interval
    do u know a good statergy to get an avg spilt of 1:50 for a 2k (2000 meters)
    like what rating?

  • Eric Szvoboda says:

    Winter months can be rough on runners and personally I hate running on a track. Thanks for posting ideas about running on a treadmill and doing sprints on them. Great ideas! I like to switch up my cardio by switching different machines. For Example, 10 mins on bike, 5 min run on the treadmill, then alternating 2 mins of squat elliptical position and 3 mins or regular elliptical!

  • Hilal says:

    hi my name is hila and i am 5'11 and my weight is about 83 kilos i lost 8 kilos in a month and i have been working out for two months now, i have a decent body. before i workout i warm up on a treadmill for 15 mins, then i go on my normal routine. i just purchased your built lean program but having troubles understanding it. my dream is to have the same built lean body like yours.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      Hi Hilad - Thanks for getting started with the program! Please use our customer support center and me, or one of our customer support specialists will assist you. If you can give us a little more detail about what you are having trouble understanding, we will get back to you ASAP!

  • uncadonego says:

    I've been trying to improve cardio on the bike with Stephen's method, as well as when I'm hiking. I HAVE to wear hiking boots to protect my sprain-prone ankles.

    I hike through a nature preserve, up and down slopes, then climb the side of an old railroad bridge and finish the last few kilometres on farmer's field lanes, then down a concession and back up the road to home.

    I have a question though....during the hike I run (with hiking boots.....yeah, I know...but no choice) and then walk again, fast enough but still able to keep on foot on the ground about 95% of the time. My heart rate monitor goes into the high alarm zone though.

    I'm 50, so when I bought the program, the doc gave me full blood work and a stress test, and I'm perfectly fine.

    I can run until I have to catch my breath about 30% longer than the alarm says.

    Should I trust my breath and the tiredness of my legs when I do the running parts, or trust the alarm and slow down sooner?

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @uncadonego - That's a really tough call and ultimately it's your own decision. Heart rate monitors are not perfect along with max heart rate calculations for reasons I write here => How to Calculate Max Heart Rate. Personally, I trust my body and use any measurement device as a second opinion, or a reality check.

  • Adalberto Mulkern says:

    Appreciate the recommendation. Will try it out.

    • Kristin Rooke, CPT says:

      Great! If you do, let us know how it goes.
      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor