While this blog may be called Run to the Finish, with “run” being the operative word, I’ve talked time and time again about how great walking is for us. Treadmill walking workouts are an incredible way to lose weight, build endurance and overall health.
Whether you’re a runner coming back from an injury, a runner who just wants to mix things up, someone looking to start or restart your fitness journey, or someone just trying to get more steps in your day, adding walking to your routine is a great way to go.
I take at least 2 walks a day! It helps break up the day from sitting at the computer, and it absolutely counts towards my overall health and fitness.
Like running, walking is a really accessible activity. Throw on a comfortable and supportive pair of shoes and head outside or hop on a treadmill and go.
While I’m going to focus on treadmill walking for this article, please know that heading outdoors, if able, is also great and some of the workouts and tips I share are applicable to being out in the fresh air.
I love walking on a treadmill, be it at home or at the gym, because you can get your workout in regardless of the weather. AND you often have better control over hills, which as you’ll see are a big key to a great calorie burn.
So can you get a good workout walking on a treadmill? Keep reading to learn about the benefits of walking and some tried and true treadmill walking workouts.
Benefits of Walking
Whether it’s on a treadmill or outside, walking has so many wonderful benefits. No surprise that many of these overlap with the benefits of long distance running. In case you need a little more motivation to get consistent with your routine, let’s explore a few of them.
While a good stroll is great, in general we are focused on the idea of power walking here!
Walking is a cardio exercise so it makes sense that your heart would be positively impacted. Walking raises our heart rate, lowers blood pressure, strengthens our heart muscle, and reduces our risk of developing heart disease.
Walking regularly can also reduce our risk of stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia and Alzheimer’s, and other health conditions.
Walking, like running, offers a great calorie burn. Walking to lose weight is totally doable.
Depending on your age, sex, weight, and the intensity and duration of your walk, you could be looking at burning a couple hundred calories each time.
Walking can also counteract the effects of weight-promoting genes, according to a Harvard study. In a study of more than 12,000 people, those who walked at a brisk pace an hour a day saw the effects of the 32 obesity-promoting genes cut in half. Wow!
Increases Muscle Strength and Improved Joint Health
Walking works the muscles in our legs, core and arms. Especially if you’re doing an incline walking workout, you’re engaging your lower body muscles from your hips to your feet like your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Walking workouts are also linked to improved joint health and arthritis prevention. While strengthening the muscles that support our joints, walking also helps keep joints, like our ankles and knees, lubricated.
Regular walks also serve to boost our mood, yep even on the treadmill.
Research shows that as little as 10 minutes of walking can lead to an improved mood. This can be especially helpful in the winter when people face seasonal depression. Join some friends and the boost can be even greater.
Treadmill Walking Workout Tips: Make the Most of Your Time
Whether you have a treadmill at home or use one at the gym, they probably work relatively similarly with the ability to control speed and incline. These two factors will impact the intensity of your walking workout.
Treadmill workouts really seemed to pick up in popularity over the past couple years.
One workout in particular, the 12-3-30 workout that was all over the social media platform Tiktok, went viral after it helped the creator and countless other people lose weight. More on that workout and if you should try it in a bit.
Before I jump into some workouts that you can try, I wanted to go over a few important things that will ensure you have a safe and effective workout.
#1 Treadmill Walking Form
Proper form when walking on a treadmill is important to prevent injury and get the most out of your workout. Sometimes being on a treadmill can alter your posture and gait, so it’s important to be aware of how you’re moving.
When walking, stand tall with your shoulders down and back and your eyes looking forward. Swing or pump your arms in unison with your legs.
We don’t recommend holding on to the handles unless needed for stability or because you’re using an intense incline, which is unlikely for the workouts provided here.
Pumping your arms also serves to increase the intensity and subsequently your heart rate.
Most treadmills offer an adjustable incline feature that ranges from 0% (flat) up to a max of 12-15%, which is a pretty steep incline. There are some machines that offer steeper inclines, but most of us are going to have access to a treadmill that tops out in the range I mentioned.
As with running, it’s recommended that at a bare minimum you set the treadmill to a 1% incline to better mimic real road conditions.
Treadmill speeds are based on miles per hour (mph). The higher that number the faster your pace.
Generally, 2-4 mph is walking speed. You may be able to do 4-5 mph for a fast walk, but beyond that you’re going to head into running speeds.
Here’ s a great treadmill pace chart to help you figure out the numbers.
The CDC recommends that adults need at minimum 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. That works out to be 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week.
Again, that’s the recommended minimum. You can always do more!
The questions that obviously arise from that include:
- Does walking qualify as a moderate-intensity activity?
- Is walking on a treadmill 30 minutes a day enough?
For the first question, yes. Depending on your fitness level, all you may need to do is walk at a decent pace. But as you gain fitness, there are ways to knock the intensity level up through high intensity interval training (HIIT) and changes in incline, speed, and duration.
For the second question, the answer is also yes, but again there are some caveats.
Walking the treadmill 30 minutes per day is going to get you to the recommended amount of activity to reduce health risks, and it’s also going to provide many of the benefits I shared earlier in the article, i.e. burning calories and improving joint health, muscle strength, and your mood.
But, like I already mentioned, as your fitness improves, you’re going to need to change things up a bit to keep seeing progress depending on your goals. This may mean adding in HIIT treadmill workouts once a week or more (but don’t overdo it) or increasing total minutes of exercise.
Best Treadmill Walking Workouts
Alright let’s get to the workouts! As noted, I love using the treadmill so I’m going to give you some things that I do myself, for my athletes and of course let’s talk about this viral sensation.
Remember that you don’t need every single walk you take to be super crazy hard. In fact, it’s great to have some easy days and some hard days in the mix, vary the intensity. This is going to keep you feeling good and able to come back, day after day.
In order, to see weight loss or fitness gains with any workouts it requires consistency.
#1 The 12-3-30 Workout
I wanted to touch on this one first since I’ve already mentioned it and the Tiktok video did go viral after-all. This workout, created by Lauren Giraldo, uses three settings on your treadmill: speed, incline, and time:
- Incline: 12%
- Speed: 3 mph
- Time: 30 minutes
This workout is pretty intense and was something Lauren admits she had to work towards. While this workout works for her and she does it several days a week, it’s important to be aware of your fitness level and ease into it to avoid injury.
It’s not the what I would prescribe very often to my athletes. We get a lot more out of the varied incline. It’s also FAR more interesting to change things up.
As a certified running coach and certified personal trainer, I do hope you’ll look for qualifications before diving in to the random workouts you might find on social media.
#2 Steady Increase Workout
This is a great way to incorporate a little speed to your walking workouts.
- Start with a warm-up by walking at a gentle pace (2 mph) at 1% incline for a ¼ mile.
- Increase speed by 0.1 every 1 minute from 2.0-2.5.
- Increase speed by 0.1 every 2 minutes from 2.5-3.5.
- Increase speed by 0.1 every 1 minute from 3.5-4.0.
- Finish with a cool down by walking for a ¼ mile.
This is going to make the time fly!! And if those paces feel too fast for you, that’s ok.
You can start with an even lower MPH or you can choose to simply stick to the lower numbers, walking for a couple of minutes before switching and stop when it starts feeling too hard. Remember that we want to push ourselves so we can improve, but not to the point of injury or overdoing it.
The great thing is you can keep trying this week after week to see progress!!
#3 Hiker Pyramid Workout
This is a workout I’ve shared previously for runners, but I’m sharing again as a treadmill walking workout. It’s one that lets you work with speed and incline.
It takes about 40 minutes and is great for building leg strength. You could adjust the speed, time, and incline down a bit for each step if you need to lessen the intensity for your fitness level.
- From 0 to 4 minutes, walk at 3.5 speed at a 1% incline.
- From 5 to 7 minutes, walk at 3.7 speed at a 2% incline.
- From 8 to 10 minutes, walk at 3.7 speed at a 4% incline.
- From 11 to 12 minutes, walk at 3.8 speed at a 5% incline.
- From 13 to 14 minutes, walk at 3.8 speed at a 7% incline.
- From 15 to 16 minutes, walk at 3.9 speed at a 9% incline.
- From 17 to 18 minutes, walk at 3.9 speed at an 11% incline.
- From 19 to 20 minutes, walk at 4.0 speed at a 13% incline.
- Reverse back down.
The speeds listed may be too much for many walkers. In that case, just start out with a lower speed. Like 3.0 or 2.0 if needed to make it up to that highest incline!
#4 Interval Walking Treadmill Workout
An interval is any set of movement that has a defined work and defined rest period. The benefits of this type of workout is that it allows you to push yourself for a short time, then get some recovery.
The overall workout intensity is higher and your body will then work to adapt to this new level.
- Set the grade to 0, today we’re working on pushing the pace
- Start with 10 minutes of easy walking
- 7 x 1 minute hard effort walking (advanced walkers can do up to 20 reps)
- with 1 minute of slow easy walking between each effort
- Finish with 10-20 minutes of walking to cool down
Hard effort means that you’re going to need to think about moving your legs faster, pumping those arms and it’s definitely going to cause you to breathe harder. All of that is A-OK, it’s a great way to lean in to discomfort and trust me, you’ll feel really proud of yourself afterwards!
All right these are a few great tips and treadmill walking workouts to get you started!!
#5 Peloton or iFit Workouts
All right, I’m not giving you a specific workout here, more of a tip.
A lot of folks who are newer to the treadmill find that the time goes by a lot faster when they have a guided workout. You can absolutely get access to what Noridctrack and Peloton provide through their apps, even if you don’t have one of their treadmills.
This way you’re getting support, a cheerleader and can change up the workout any given day based on the variety that they provide.
As always, I can’t finish a post about getting fitter, faster or losing weigh without saying that you MUST STRENGTH TRAIN.
I know it doesn’t seem like it could possibly work as well as cardio, but study after study has shown that doing them together results in much faster progress. Again you can access a lot of ideas on those two platforms, and we have a ton of good stuff around here to get you started too.
Looking for more walking guides?
- Treadmill pace chart – MPH converted to mile pace
- Best Budget Treadmills for Walking
- Complete Power Walking Guide to get faster
- Why you Different Walking Shoes than Running Shoes
- Best Hoka Walking Shoes
- Best On Cloud Walking Shoes
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish