HIIT Treadmill Workouts: Improve Your Running & Burn Fat

Do you want to get maximum results in little time with your next treadmill training? Then you’ve got to try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Let us show you how HIIT treadmill workouts can elevate your running and effectively burn calories.

What is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training, or “HIIT,” is a type of interval training in which short periods of high-intensity exercise alternate with less-intense recovery periods. It is one of the most popular and most effective training methods for boosting your running performance and burning as many calories as possible in a short time.

young attractive woman running on a treadmill

What are the benefits of HIIT training?

Studies have compared high-intensity running intervals with moderate long-distance runs. What they found was that HIIT achieved significantly greater training effects for workouts of the same duration. HIIT improves your aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) endurance, increases your maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max), and thus your running performance. The high level of intensity provides your muscles with a much greater training stimulus than moderate long-distance running. Plus, your muscles require far more energy for their recovery processes after HIIT. Thanks to this afterburn effect, you burn additional calories, which in turn helps you melt off pounds.

What’s the best way to run intervals on a treadmill?

Longer intervals of, say, 4 minutes are better for HIIT treadmill workouts than short intervals of 15 to 60 seconds. High, sprint-like intensities on the treadmill are more suited for advanced runners. They require a certain degree of running technique and experience to be able to sprint on a treadmill safely and without the risk of injury. Plus, it is easier to manually adjust the speed between intervals if your pace is not so fast. There are scientific studies that have discovered the level of intensity which you need to run your HIIT intervals at in order to achieve maximum results.

A man running on a treadmill

Here’s the right way to do it:

Warm-up:

Warm up by running for 10 minutes at a moderate pace (one at which you would have no problem carrying on a conversation).

Intervals:

4 minutes fast (exercise period) and 4 minutes slow (recovery period). Repeat this four times, for a total of 16 minutes of fast running. During the recovery periods, walk at an easy pace.

Cool-down:

The cool-down doesn’t begin until the end of the last recovery period (4 minutes walking). Then you can continue walking or start jogging slowly for 5 to 10 minutes.  

How can you find out how fast you should run your intervals?

It’s easy to find reports on the positive effects of HIIT on the Internet, but it’s difficult to obtain information on the intensities at which you should run your intervals. There is a good reason for this: The duration and intensity of HIIT exercise and recovery periods depends largely on your individual performance.

woman running on a treadmill

If you’re one of the lucky ones who have had their individual training zones determined by performance testing in a laboratory using lactate threshold and VO2 max tests, then it’s simple. Just use the pace you ran at 85% of your maximum oxygen uptake during the lactate threshold test as the exercise intensity for your intervals.

You’ve never done performance testing? No problem.

Here are 3 ways to determine the running pace for your intervals:

  1. If you’ve ever run a 5 km race (provided that you really ran full speed), then you can use your average pace as the exercise pace for your intervals.
  2. Calculate the maximum heart rate for your age (220 minus your age) and then take 85 to 90% of this number.
    Example of a 30-year-old woman: The maximum heart rate for her age (220 minus 30) is 190 beats per minute. Thus, her heart rate for the training intervals (85 %) is 162. This is one simple way of finding the heart rate you should run at for the exercise periods of your intervals.
    IMPORTANT: Your heart rate will continue to increase at the beginning of the exercise period and won’t level off until about 1 ½ to 2 minutes into the exercise period. Or more precisely, you should reach your calculated heart rate after 1 ½ to 2 minutes. This is also the reason why you can’t use your heart rate to determine your pace for really short intervals.
  3. You can, of course, run the intervals based on how you feel, but you should be aware that this is by far the least effective method. You’ll have to experiment  a bit to find the best pace for your intervals. For if you run the first interval too fast, it can happen that you burn yourself out and can’t finish your workout. But if you start too slow, then you won’t get the full benefit of HIIT training.

Our tip:

For all intense training sessions, it is important that you are in good physical condition. You should think about getting a check-up from your doctor before starting with your HIIT sessions.

So, have we piqued your curiosity? Find out for yourself how HIIT treadmill workouts can boost your running performance and help you melt off excess pounds!

Share your experiences with us below in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Herwig Natmessnig As a former professional athlete (whitewater slalom), Herwig lives for fitness. Whether in competition or just for fun, he can never turn down a challenge. View all posts by Herwig Natmessnig »

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