How Long Should I Run on the Treadmill?
The treadmill is the staple of every gym. No matter where you go, you will find plenty of them – just as common in-home personal gyms. The purpose? Burning calories and getting toned from the comfort of your home.
My treadmill is one of my favorite pieces of fitness equipment. I love running for miles, and I totally understand those who run for longer periods because they have to, but they find it boring and exhausting. You are not alone.
Now, how much time do you actually need to run on a treadmill? How long does it take to see some results? Are you overworking yourself or are you actually slacking? Here is everything you need to know about the duration of your workouts.
What is Your Treadmill Workout Goal?
You need to be aware of your fitness goals before I can tell you how long you should run on a treadmill and what workouts you should be doing.
Everybody is different but generally, people who run on a treadmill have similar goals in mind – burning fat, right? Long-term goals make the difference though.
For example, the most common reason behind treadmill running is to lose weight and burn fat. Some other people go in a different direction – they could do with some extra strength, resistance, stamina and endurance. If you are getting ready for an upcoming half marathon race, running on a treadmill will also add to your stamina while sparing you the dangers and inconveniences of outdoor running.
We will be discussing all these goals in this article so by the end of it, you will have a crystal clear idea of how much time you need to spend running on the treadmill to achieve your desired goal.
How Long Do I Need to Run on A Treadmill to Burn Fat?
Running is one of the most common things you think about when you want to burn calories and lose some weight. It is the easiest and most accessible exercise you can do.
Basically, you need an open space and a bit of time on your hands, whether you’ll be running outdoors or doing treadmill workout. Just go running – on a field, a track, in a gym, around the block and so on.
This is the most popular option out there and it has been a primary choice for people all over the world. Many treadmills and advanced fitness gadgets make it easier these days because you can run on a treadmill to get in some intense exercise in the comfort of your home. There is no need to go to a gym or run in circles around your neighborhood.
A lot of treadmills come with modern screens these days, also there are a lot of interactive apps that give you the option to run with other people from all over the world. A popular app like Zwift for example has many treadmills that are compatible with it, so no need to set it up on your end.
How Much Time Do I Need on A Treadmill to Get Into Shape?
Just as losing weight and burning fat, running is also a very common idea among those who want to get into shape. Running is still common today among both amateurs and professional athletes. Just like it comes to weight loss, treadmills are just as common when you simply want a better physical condition.
You get a bunch of different options with a treadmill because you can force yourself to change the speed or perhaps the angle. The setting is comfortable and offers numerous choices for your workouts – all you need is a bit of will.
How Much Time Do I Need to Gain Strength and Muscle Mass?
If your goal is to build muscles and gain an overall stronger body, a treadmill run is not just good cardio, but also a good addition to your routine.
You just cannot go wrong with this machine. Just like running outdoors, running on the treadmill will work on most muscle groups and help with your cardiovascular, and mental health. Great cardio also helps muscles get stronger due to the extra oxygen they receive.
At the same time, you can use the treadmill to perform upper body exercises, which are indirectly connected to lower body muscle groups. In other words, your whole body will benefit from a decent workout for your muscles.
Besides, with a good one, you can switch between moderate intensity and vigorous intensity level exercise program options to boost your calorie burn and overall fitness level.
How Much Time Do I Need for Extra Stamina and Endurance While Training for A Race?
Are you planning to run in a marathon or a race? You just cannot attend such events without proper training. You need to start training weeks or even months ahead, especially when it comes to stamina and endurance – this is when running on a treadmill is no longer a choice, but a must.
Indeed, you can run outdoors, but doing it on an indoor treadmill will make it more comfortable, provide different options and save you lots of time. Change the speed, challenge yourself, increase the inclination angle and so on.
You can also start slow and gradually increase your training from low intensity to moderate intensity to high intensity interval training as your fitness improves. Mimic running uphill and do all these while watching TV.
How Long You Should Run on A Treadmill by Goals
Now, why do you want to run? What is your current fitness level and what are your fitness goals? The treadmill can definitely help in a plethora of different situations. Knowing what you want in the future will push you in the right direction, so you will know precisely how hard to push for it.
Burning Fat and Losing Weight
If weight loss is your primary goal, aim for two different exercises a day and maintain that for several days a week. You can do one in the morning and another one in the afternoon.
The first session can be 10 minutes, 30 minutes or slightly more, but should not exceed 60 minutes, but make sure you do it intensively and challenge yourself. You do not have to aim for exhaustion though. A good moderate level intensity will easily burn 300 calories. The more intense you are, the more you will get. With vigorous intensity level, most people can easily exceed 600 calories within an hour.
The second workout is more suitable if you cannot have 60 minutes for your first one – the most important thing should be shooting for anywhere between 75 minutes and 150 minutes a day.
Even if you do, it still pays off pushing for a second running time. Opt for a High Intensity Interval Training HIIT session for around 20 minutes. You will also manage to lose about 300 calories – even more if you are lucky.
Workout to burn fat and lose weight
You do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the basics of using a treadmill in a good way, but there are still a few common mistakes you should be aware of in order to maximize your HIIT workout and bump up your calorie burn levels.
Here are the steps.
- Warm up first. Do not spend more than five minutes. You can jog or just fast walk to get your heart rate monitor reading.
- Slowly increase the tempo and start jogging faster and faster as you inch towards hitting your maximum heart rate levels. If you are new to this, go up to 6 MPH or 6.5 MPH and adjust it from there. If your current fitness level allows, go up to 12MPH and figure it out later. Stick to this speed for about 30 seconds.
- Rest for a minute by walking on the treadmill and go back to high speed runs.
- Feel free to incline the running platform if you want to feel challenged or hit your maximum heart rate even without having to run longer than say 20 to 30 minutes.
- Repeat for up to 20 minutes.
Here is a video of what HIIT workouts on a treadmill look like.
Getting Into Shape
Getting into shape is difficult, but not impossible. Using a treadmill to max potential will help you reach your goals, but it obviously requires time, patience and persistence. Getting into shape goes in more direction – you will need to lose a bit of fat here and there, gain some tone over there and so on.
One treadmill workout a day will get you there in the long run. However, you have to start running with moderate intensity, and then slowly increase the tempo to a more vigorous intensity level. That takes time.
If you are really hard-pressed to see results, then strength training makes for a great alternative with many benefits too. But since running on a treadmill will take only about 10-20 minutes a day, you can run for longer periods everyday.
Whenever you find a moment, simply start all over again. You can have one in the morning before work, another one when you get back and one more in the evening. You can also use the incline feature if the treadmill you are using has incline, to get more resistance, get in more intense exercise, and get in shape and achieve overall fitness faster.
Workout to get into shape
- Warm-up for a few minutes, whatever works for you – up to five minutes. You can take a walk at a fast pace on the treadmill or jog.
- Increase the speed and go up to 10MPH. It is a moderate intensity level speed regardless of your fitness level – suitable for beginners and more experienced people. Stick to this speed for about a minute.
- Reduce the speed to 5MPH and take a fast pace walk for around 10 seconds.
- Repeat the alternating speeds for around 10 minutes.
From many points of view, this workout is similar to a classic HIIT workout. It is not that intense though, just moderate level. Resting times are also lower, while you can exercise at a higher intensity for longer. The way it is designed will intensify the pressure on your body and help you burn calories and get in shape in no time. You can do this for several days a week when gearing up for an upcoming marathon or a similar sport event.
Here is an explanatory video on how to do this workout.
Building Muscle and Strength
Weight lifting is the best way to gain muscle and strength, but you can get there with nothing but treadmill running too. Apart from running, you can do a bunch of other workouts on the treadmill that do not involve weights. Moreover, such a workout will last for a 10 minute duration, 15 minutes max, so you can have it a few times a day, several days a week. Be careful though, if you have had knee injuries in the past, running on the treadmill can be bad for your knees if done incorrectly.
Workout to build muscle and strength
There are more types of exercises that you can do and they will all work on your strength and particular muscles. Here are the most popular ones.
- Side stepping – instead of walking forward as you usually do when running on the treadmill, you can step laterally. Basically, you perform a lateral walk at a lower speed – whatever works for you to avoid falling. It will work on your obliques, abs, thighs and hips.
- Crossovers – This is a more advanced exercise, so start with side stepping. Once you master it, it will work on the exact same areas, but it will do it in a more efficient manner. It is similar to side stepping, but it has a different tempo.
- Squatting – Squats are the base of all lower body workouts. Squatting on a moving treadmill is not suitable for beginners, so you need some experience and better overall fitness. There are more types of squats you can do – reverse jump, jump or side squats, just to name a few.
Perform the exercise you can for about a minute, then take a 15-second rest while you walk. The workout can go for up to 15 minutes. You can stick to one exercise or another or perform all of them.
Here is a video of how these exercises should be performed.
Getting Ready for A Race or Marathon
The treadmill is a must if you are getting ready for a race or marathon. You can run outside, but treadmill running is more versatile and convenient – plus, it provides lots of analytics.
Workout for getting ready for a race or marathon
Here are the steps for an efficient workout.
- Warm up for about five minutes.
- Get the speed up to 12MPh and start running. Stick to this speed for about a minute.
- As you get used to it, increase the inclination angle by a few degrees. The incline you set on your treadmill depends on how much resistance you want – more is better, of course.
- Set a goal or continue until you feel exhausted.
This video will give you a few insights on how to train for a race or marathon.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page