Treadmills: 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Treadmill Workout Experience

Treadmill Workout

Treadmills are often given a bad rap in the exercise world. They are seen as a boring piece of gym equipment good for little more than burning calories on a rainy day. With the right attitude and a little knowledge however, treadmills can not only be an exciting part of your exercise routine, they can be a full body workout. Here are some of our favorite tips for getting the most out of this exercise classic.

Safety First

Remember to always warm up before every workout, and to cool down after you are done. Allowing your body time to transition is incredibly important for your health and safety. If you start heavy work before you have given your muscles time to adjust with a slow walk, you may end up with an injury that can stop your workouts cold for many weeks. Cooling down may seem less necessary, but you need that time to allow your heart and lungs to adjust to the slower pace, and to avoid dizziness or fainting that may occur if you drop out of exercise too fast.

Once you have properly warmed up with a nice slow walk for at least 5 minutes, try one of these exercises to jazz up your treadmill routine and get the most out of your workout:

Don’t ignore your arms

There is no law that says your hands have to be holding onto the bar at the front, or even swinging idly by your sides. You can make the most of your treadmill time by opting to do a little arm work at the same time. One great way of including your arms in your treadmill routine is to carry weights while you are walking. This simple action will help tone your arms by making them work a little bit more while they are swinging back and forth.

Get your quads in gear

You can work your leg muscles in a whole new way on the treadmill, simply by flipping around and walking backwards. For safety you’ll want to set the treadmill to a fairly low speed, no more than 1.5 miles per hour, and holding onto the safety bars may be beneficial as well.

Break up your treadmill routine

You can make the most out of your routine by combining two types of exercise. Get your heart pumping and your leg muscles working with a jog on an incline with the treadmill, and then get off and do another exercise to break it up. This might mean 5 minutes of jogging, followed by ten push-ups, and then back on the treadmill for 5 more minutes of jogging.

Try it sideways

Work your biceps, abs, butt and thighs with this exercise that combines both weights and your treadmill. You’ll want to break out your weights again for this exercise. Set the treadmill to 3.5, and holding the weights close to your chest, turn sideways and shuffle in one direction for 30 seconds. When you have finished that side, you can repeat on the other side.

This is an especially good exercise because it gets so much of your body, and is just plain fun. A weighted exercise ball may be used in place of the weights, and may be easier to juggle when switching sides, etc.

Use that incline

Several stationary exercises we do on the gym floor all the time can be made harder by creating an incline. To make good use of this, set your treadmill to an incline, and then turn it off! You can do push-ups, planks, and many more of your stationary exercises this way and get a much better strength workout.

If your treadmill does not set to an incline, you can still get a boost by putting your feet on the edge of your (once again turned off) treadmill and your hands on the ground for the push-ups. You won’t be able to control how steep the incline is, but you will still get an incline to work with as you’re doing your stationary exercises.

Engage your core muscles with incline sprints 

Set your treadmill to a steep incline, and sprint for 30 seconds. When you are at the end of your 30 seconds, stop the treadmill and lift yourself completely onto the handrails. Tuck your knees to your chest and hold for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat several times. You’ll get a great workout for your arms, your shoulders, and your core all at the same time.

Remember your Cardio

One of the best known uses for treadmill is for cardio, however many people don’t get the full use of their equipment because they aren’t traveling fast enough to gain the full benefits. Remember that you won’t burn the same amount of calories on a treadmill as you might running outside. When you are on a treadmill, you don’t have to overcome air resistance, because you are running in place. Due to this, you’ll need to set yourself an incline, or run a little faster than you would on an outdoor run to get the same level of cardio.

If you are using the treadmill to prepare for a marathon or other race, you’ll also want to combine it with outdoor running for the best possible training scenario. The treadmill will allow you to build endurance while saving your joints, the outdoor running will help your body acclimate to the feeling of pounding on a hard surface. Both are important for a safe run.

Choose a treadmill that makes you happy


Beyond all of the workout recommendations, the most important thing you need to remember is that your workout is only as good as the equipment available. If your treadmill time is boring, it may not be because you don’t like cardio or that you’re tired of staring at the same spot on the wall. It may be that your treadmill is simply not a good fit for you.

Some treadmills don’t have a huge variety of options, and when you are severely limited by speed, incline, and whether or not you can move the belt when the treadmill is off, it can make using it less fun. A treadmill is only useful if you are actually using it, so if you find your treadmill dull and boring, it may be time for an upgrade.

If you are thinking about upgrading your model, here are a couple of things to look out for, besides the options you want on it:

  • How big is it?

    You want a track that will be wide enough to run on, but nothing so large it won’t fit in your home. A minimum width for the track should be 16 inches, and if you are cramped for space, the option to fold it up for storage is also great.

  • How much horsepower does it have?

    Ideally you should be looking for a 2.5 to 3.5 horsepower motor. The smaller ones aren’t good for running, and you may wear it down sooner simply by using it frequently.

  • Warranty

    A lifetime warranty is of course, ideal. Look for at least a 10 year warranty on the motor, and at least two years on the control panel when searching for a quality treadmill. A warrant isn’t just a guarantee you’ll be able to get your parts replaced if something goes wrong—it is a sign the manufacturers have good faith in their product.

All of these are important considerations, and when you narrow it down with the options you’d like to have you should be left with a pretty decent selection. Expect to spend over $1,000 for a good model, and try not to be tempted by ones that fall under this price range. Even though it seems like a great deal, the cheaper models tend to break down a lot faster and may not hold up to regular use, even if that regular use consists of only walking.

If you’re not sure about whether you will like a treadmill or not, you can often test them at sports stores. Check prices everywhere before you purchase however, because the best deals are often found online. Brick and mortor stores have to pay for a substantial amount of overhead, and this will be reflected in the pricing of your treadmill.

A treadmill is a great way to keep exercising even when the weather outdoors is moody and unreliable. When you have the urge to get your heart pumping and your muscles stretching, you can turn to that old standby to get you going until the next sunshine day.

The treadmill doesn’t have to be a boring but reliable way to get your cardio in. By changing your routine and adding a few new moves to your treadmill time, you can get a lot more out of your treadmill time.


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