8 Treadmill Workouts For Overweight Beginners


Running or walking on the treadmill is one of the best ways to start incorporating exercise into your life. It’s convenient and easy to use at any time and you can run at your own pace.

If you are looking to shed some extra pounds you’ll find that the treadmill is an excellent way to begin. It’s low-impact and mimics everyday movement—walking or running.

In this article, we will share some effective treadmill workouts for overweight beginners to help you lose some extra pounds.

Let’s take a look at why walking on a treadmill can be effective and what’s the best kind of treadmill workout to do.

How Long Should You Walk on the Treadmill for Weight Loss?

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity per week. That equals about 22 minutes per day if you walk 7 days a week.

Beginners may find it difficult to walk every day or to keep up a moderate intensity for 20 minutes at a time.

If you are new to walking on the treadmill, 10 to 15 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or up to 30 minutes of lower-intensity exercise is sufficient. Try to do this two to three times a week until you can work up to four or five times a week.

It’s also important that you will need to incorporate a healthy eating plan at the same time. If you are exercising every day but still eating too many calories, you won’t see results.

What is the ‘target heart rate’ and ‘fat burning zone?’

If you are serious about losing weight by walking on the treadmill, you may want to get yourself a fitness tracker or other smart device that monitors your heart rate. If you don’t elevate your heart rate enough while you are exercising, you won’t lose fat quickly and could become despondent easily.

Your target heart rate when exercising should be between 60 and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. Between 75 and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate is called the fat-burning zone. This is the heart rate you should aim for when exercising in order to burn fat, which will lead to greater weight loss.

In order to be the most effective, you should keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone for at least 30 minutes. Beginners may not be able to keep it up for 30 minutes, but you should work your way towards it.

How to calculate the maximum heart rate?

When you have a heart rate monitor, you can find out your maximum heart rate. Or you can work out an estimate of what your maximum heart rate should be by using this easy formula.

For men, you will get your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, a man of 35 years old should have a healthy maximum heart rate of 185 beats per minute.

For women, subtract your age from 226. So a woman of 35 years years old should have a maximum heart rate of 191 beats per minute.

Before you start

It is always in your best interest to check with your doctor before beginning a weight loss training program. If you haven’t been physically active for a long time it’s even more important to do so.

You want to rule out any possible underlying conditions before starting vigorous exercise. Even if you are starting slowly, it’s best to begin with a clean bill of health so you know that you can work out safely.

Once you get the ok, make sure you invest in the right equipment. A comfortable workout outfit and good walking shoes for women will make a huge difference.

Workout Ideas

1. Simple Treadmill Workout

This is a good workout to do when you first get a new treadmill, or when you are first starting to exercise on a treadmill.

Begin with a warm-up of 10 minutes. You will walk at a light and easy pace so you can get used to the treadmill surface and the feeling of the belt moving under your feet.

Once you have completed your warm-up, set the treadmill incline to zero—if your treadmill has an incline feature—and set the speed to one mile per hour. Walk at this pace for two minutes.

Every two minutes, increase the speed by one mile per hour. You can keep going for as long as you are comfortable, but try to reach at least 5 miles per hour.

Once you’ve reached 5 miles per hour, you can either work your way back down in intervals, or go straight back to one mile per hour and do a slow 5-minute cool-down walk.

2. Treadmill Incline Workout

Studies have shown that walking on a treadmill at an incline can increase exercise capacity and improve the cardiovascular system, as well as improving gait symmetry and promoting proper foot and ankle alignment.

For this workout, you will spend 30 minutes walking at an incline. If your treadmill doesn’t have an incline feature, then you won’t be able to do this one.

Start by walking for 5 minutes at setting 2 of your incline. You can set the pace to about 3 miles per hour. After 5 minutes, increase the incline to setting 4 and walk for another 5 minutes.

Do this 2-round exercise two more times. Try to walk faster with each new round. If you can’t walk any faster, then just go at a pace where you can be consistent and you don’t need a break from walking.

3. Steady State Workout

Spend 5 minutes warming up by walking at about 70 percent of your usual walking speed. If you aren’t sure what number that is, start with 2 miles per hour.

When your warm-up is done, increase the speed to a faster pace, around 3 or 4 miles per hour. You will walk at this pace steadily and consistently for as long as you can.

When you feel like you can’t keep up the pace any longer, reduce the speed to 1 ½ to 2 miles per hour and walk slowly for 5 minutes to cool down.

4. Alternate Walk And Jog Treadmill Workout

If you are feeling confident enough to incorporate some jogging into your workout, then try this workout.

Begin at a pace of 3 miles per hour. Walk comfortably and slowly increase it to 8 miles per hour, where you would need to start jogging. If you feel 8 is too slow, you can increase it more.

Jog at this speed for 5 minutes. Then, lower the speed to a brisk walk and do that for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, bring the speed back up to jogging speed and run for another 5 minutes. Repeat these intervals as many times as you can, ideally for 25 to 30 minutes.

5. HIIT Treadmill Workout

Research has proven that high-intensity interval training—HIIT—is more effective at burning calories and reducing body fat percentage than steady-state cardio, especially when weight loss is the primary aim. It also provides a variety of cardiovascular benefits.

For this workout, start with a 5-minute warm-up walking at a comfortable pace. When you are ready, begin your intervals.

Walk at about 2.8 miles per hour for one minute. Then, increase the speed to 5.6 miles per hour and run or jog for 30 seconds. Go back down to 2.8 miles per hour and walk for another minute. Then, increase the speed to 5.6 again but try to run for 45 seconds this time. After 45 seconds, do one minute of walking at 2.8 miles per hour, and then try to run at 5.6 miles per hour for a full minute.

If you can, repeat this sequence three times. When you are finished, do a slow cool-down for about 5 minutes.

6. Pyramid Workout

The pyramid is similar to HIIT. Warm-up for 5 minutes at a comfortable speed. You can set your own pace on this workout.

Do a 30-second run at whatever pace you choose. Then walk for 30 seconds—this is considered a “resting” period. Next, run for one minute and have a 30-second walking rest. Then run for 90 seconds, rest, run for 2 minutes and rest.

Repeat this one to three times depending on how you feel. When you have finished your intervals you can do a relaxed cool-down for 5 minutes.

7. Speed Challenge

This workout requires you to pay attention to the distance you are running. Your treadmill should display this on its console.

Spend 10 minutes warming up. Then, jog for 100 meters. Every 300 feet, increase your pace by 0.5 miles per hour. If your treadmill only increases in 1-mile per hour increments that would also work.

Do 5 intervals—increase the pace 5 times. Then take a walking break of 2 minutes at a comfortable pace. Repeat this process for between 10 and 20 minutes.

Do a cool-down for 5 minutes at the end.

8. For Intermediates

Once you have spent a lot of time on the treadmill and the above workouts are becoming too easy for you, you can try this intermediate exercise.

Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace. Start your intervals by running for 400 meters at a medium to fast pace. Then slow down to a comfortable “recovery” speed and jog for 650 meters.

Next, you will run for 800 meters—at a fast pace, before doing a 400-meter recovery run. Lastly, run for 1200 meters at a fast speed, before slowing down for a 400-meter jog.

Complete this progression once or twice, depending on how you feel. Finish off with a 5-minute cool-down.

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Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.