HIIT treadmill workouts: Whats best for you? A beginners guide

treadmills facing swimming pool
Simon Long

Simon Long

Simon is a highly experienced personal trainer and behavioural psychology expert
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I bet you’ve heard of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). It’s been the buzzword for a few years now. You have probably also heard that for a beginner 20 minutes on a treadmill using HIIT is all you need. But how do I create a HIIT exercise program you cry? Where does the treadmill come into this? And how on earth do I tie it all into me weight loss goal!! Have no fear. I’m going to show you how to use HIIT to get your heart rate up, get those calories burnt and producing results. And its only going to take up 20 minutes each time. Have I got your attention? Awesome! Lets proceed.

What is HIIT anyway?

It stands for High Intensity Interval Traiing (a.k.a H, I, I, T  a.k.a HIIT). It describes a type of training that involves periods of short intense exercise bursts which are separated by periods of rest.

The intense periods should be a challenge. But one of the beauties of HIIT is that the workouts don’t need to be my level of challenge. Whatever level of exercise you find challenging is fine. As long as it gets your heart rate up sufficiently it will get the calories burnt and the weight loss will begin.

The next bit of HIIT workouts is more fun though. The oh so wonderful rest periods.

You see your rest periods should be just that. Periods of total rest. The whole point of them is to get your heart rate back down as low as possible. So your ready to go again for the next interval. No need to jog, or walk, or anything really. You can if you want to. Personally I prefer to hit the deck and catch my breath and not rise again until around 10 seconds before the next interval. Each to their own. You know me. I’m all about the individuality.

How does HIIT work on a treadmill

Ahh you see. That’s the beauty of HIIT. It works so simply with any type of working out! All you have to do is apply a way of making the intervals difficult. It doenst matter how!

The simplest would be to just increase the speed. It’s the one I usually use. But there are plenty of options. Push the gradient up. Side step or run backwards. Have a friend throw on a heavy backpack. It all works! Litreally the only rule is that you have to find the intervals difficult and the rest easy.

In my humble (but experienced) opinion your best bet is to go for the old high speed/ step off routine. Push the tough stages of your workout to as high a speed as your able to maintain and just go for it. Push that heart rate up and get the calorie burning fire within you cooking. Once your done step off to the side of the treadmill and rest whilst the treadmill speed comes back down. After your rest repeat until your 20 minutes is over. Boom. 1 tailor made HIIT workout on a treadmill lasting for 20 minutes that will raise your heart rate, burn calories and facilitate weight loss. You cant say I didn’t deliver what I promised!!

But whats the best HIIT workout (on a treadmill) for a beginner?

Ok. So your clearly the more numbers driven type whos looking for some specifics. You want to know how long to exercise for in your intervals right? How long to rest for? How many HIIT sessions per week? No drama. I’ve got you covered.

First up lets talk interval lengths. Being a HIIT novice means you want to be looking at the shorter end of the spectrum. Id adivse anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. However your workout really wants to be specific to you. If you can do a 40 second interval then do that. Your workout really needs to be you specific. That’s the whole beuty of HIIT. It allows you to design exercise plans that work for every individual. Whether they are a beginner or an athlete.

Your rest intervals again depend on you personally. If you slow the treadmill down to a jog then you will probably want longer rest periods. If you step off the sides every time then you can probably get away with shorter. As a general rule of thumb make your rests 100 to 200% the length of your intervals. So if your interval is 20 seconds then your rest should be 20 to 40 seconds. If your really pushing yourself you could make the rest as low as 50% of your exercising stages. But frankly that’s not really advised for a beginner. Even I would struggle to last 20 minutes doing that.

As for the number of workouts per week aim for a minimum of 2. As a beginner you may well find that 2 intense HIIT sessions per week is enough to start with. As you progress move it up. Try to add 1 more workout every 6 weeks until you are doing 5 every single week.

Oh I’ll leave you with one more bit of good news. Your 20 minutes can include your warm up if you want! Because going staright into a HIIT workout without warming up first is just a recipie for disaster. So do 5 minutes of warming up followed by 15 minutes of intervals. Bada bing bada bomb. Treadmill workouts using the HIIT you’ve been hearing everyone buzz about that will have your shadow a few sizes smaller in no time.

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Until next time.

Have a great day!

Si =]