What’s a Good Treadmill Workout for Beginners?

A treadmill is a great way to start working out if you haven’t been. It’s a low-stress alternative to running outside. Need help setting a pace and sticking to it? A treadmill can cover that while you get used to it. Want to start working a few short miles into your gym workouts? Treadmills are a convenient option. Crunched for time? Run safely at any hour on a treadmill. Self-conscious about your running, and are avoiding it for that reason? A treadmill in your house offers a chance to workout in private. Plus, if it’s cold outside, you’ll be a lot more comfortable inside on the treadmill.

In short, there is no single best treadmill workout for beginners. There are a variety of different workouts that are well-suited to beginners, from sprints and pyramid intervals to incline and hill training. We’ll cover some of the best treadmill workouts if you’re a beginner.

No matter what your goal is or how much time you have to work out, we’ll mention a good treadmill workout for you. Try to do some of these workouts three times a week. You just might find yourself becoming a runner!

Simple and Basic

These first three workouts are super-simple, and get your blood pumping without pushing you too hard for too long.

Workout #1

If you’re looking for a simple 30-minute beginner treadmill workout, this basic program by Runner’s Blueprint is the one for you. This run/walk workout will help you as you transition to running, or just give you a good workout if you’re not looking to do more than a very easy pace.

0 to 10 Minutes: The Warm-Up (Walk at a 1.5 to 2 mph speed)
10 to 12 Minutes: 2 Minutes of Easy Running (say, 15:00 per mile pace)
12 to 15 Minutes: 3 Minutes of Walking (Slow your pace down)
15 to 18 Minutes: 3 Minutes of Easy Running (15:00 per mile pace)
18 to 21 Minutes: 3 Minutes of Walking (Slow your pace down)
21 to 25 Minutes: 4 Minutes of Easy Running (12:00-15:00 per mile pace)
25 to 30 Minutes: The Cool Down (Walk at a 1.5 mph speed)

Workout #2

A simpler alternative is to warm up with a five-minute walk at a comfortable pace. Run easy for 15 minutes at a pace that allows you to talk conversationally. If you are breathing too hard to talk in sentences, you are running too hard. End your workout with a five-minute cool down.

Workout #3

If you’re looking for something a little longer, try this 40-minute beginner treadmill workout from Popsugar. Keep your incline at 1.0 to avoid shin splints, and use the following plan.

0 to 5 Minutes: 3.0 mph
5 to 10 Minutes: 3.5 mph
10 to 12 Minutes: 5.5 mph
12 to 16 Minutes: 3.5 mph
16 to 18 Minutes: 5.5 mph
18 to 22 Minutes: 3.5 mph
22 to 24 Minutes: 5.8 mph
24 to 28 Minutes: 3.5 mph
28 to 30 Minutes: 5.8 mph
30 to 35 Minutes: 3.5 mph
35 to 40 Minutes: 3.0 mph

Interval Training

Interval workouts are great for getting an intense, fat-burning, fitness-producing workout in a short amount of time. For those short on time, these are the best types of workouts to do. If you happen to own or have access to a manual treadmill, you’ll get an even more intense workout.

Interval workout #1

In order to use this plan, you’ll need to know your perceived levels of exertion based on a simple, 1 – 10 scale. You’re going to want to stay between Level 3—I’m comfortable, but I’m breathing a little harder—and Level 6—I can still talk, but I am slightly breathless. It will take you 21 minutes to complete this interval training workout.

0 to 5 Minutes: Warm-Up (Walk at a comfortable pace and incline; RPE: Level 3-4)
5 to 8 Minutes: Rest Set (Increase your speed and increase incline 1%; RPE: Level 5)
8 to 9 Minutes: Work Set (Increase incline 1-3% or more; RPE: Level 6)
9 to 12 Minutes: Rest Set (Decrease your speed and incline; RPE: Level 5)
12 to 13 Minutes: Work Set (Increase your speed 3-5 levels and incline 1-2%; RPE: Level 6)
13 to 16 Minutes: Rest Set (Decrease your speed and incline; RPE: Level 5)
16 to 21 Minutes: Cool Down (Walk at a comfortable pace and incline; RPE: Level 3-4)

Interval Workout #2

Another simpler option is to warm up for five minutes at a casual walking pace, run easy for three minutes, walk for one minute, and cool down with a five-minute walk. If you’re short on time, this 14-minute mini-workout is a great quick way to break a sweat.

Interval Workout #3

If you’re looking for a little variety and want to spice up your cardio and target your belly fat, try a 30-minute pyramid interval workout from Popsugar. If you are not familiar with pyramid workouts, they are similar the interval workouts. Instead of repeating the same distance or time, each interval gets progressively longer or more difficult.

0 to 5 Minutes: 4 mph speed, 2.5 incline (Warm Up)
5 to 6 Minutes: 5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
6 to 7 Minutes: 6 mph speed, 1.0 incline
7 to 8 Minutes: 5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
8 to 9 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
9 to 10 Minutes: 4.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
10 to 11 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
11 to 12 Minutes: 5.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
12 to 13 Minutes: 7.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
13 to 14 Minutes: 5.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
14 to 15 Minutes: 7.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
15 to 16 Minutes: 4.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
16 to 17 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
17 to 18 Minutes: 5.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
18 to 19 Minutes: 7.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
19 to 20 Minutes: 5.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
20 to 21 Minutes: 8.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
21 to 22 Minutes: 5.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
22 to 23 Minutes: 7.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
23 to 24 Minutes: 5.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
24 to 25 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
25 to 30 Minutes: 4.0 mph speed, 2.0 incline (Cool Down)

Hill Training

Increasing the incline on the treadmill is a good way to mimic hill training. These workouts are great because they not only increase your cardio capacity, but they are a big strength workout for your legs and core.

Hill workout #1

If you want to give yourself a great workout to build both speed and stamina, plus get a feel for what it’s like to run in San Francisco, you need to try a hill training workout. Even if you normally run on flat ground outdoors, this beginner-level workout will help you build cardio endurance and leg strength.

0 to 5 Minutes: 5.0 mph speed, 1.0 incline
5 to 8 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
8 to 13 Minutes: 6.0 mph speed, 3.0 incline
13 to 15 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
15 to 18 Minutes: 6.0 mph speed, 4.0 incline
18 to 20 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
20 to 23 Minutes: 6.0 mph speed, 5.0 incline
23 to 25 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
25 to 28 Minutes: 6.0 mph speed, 3.0 incline
28 to 30 Minutes: 6.5 mph speed, 1.0 incline
30 to 33 Minutes: 6.0 mph, 5.0 incline
33 to 38 Minutes: 5.0 mph, 1.0 incline

Hill workout #2

If the previous 38-minute hill training workout seems too advanced for you, try this simpler alternative from Livestrong that will take you 24 minutes to complete.

  1. Start with a three-minute walk at a comfortable pace and zero incline.
  2. Increase the incline to 1.0 for 3 minutes, then 2.0 for three minutes, then 3.0 for three minutes, then 4.0 for three minutes, and work your way back down to 1.0 incline.
  3. Walk three minutes to cool down.

Summary

Whether you’re looking for a basic workout plan to get you on the treadmill or you want to work on intervals or hill training, there are a variety of options available to you as a beginner. And remember that you can always adapt the plans to suit your needs. If you need to go a little bit faster or decrease the incline by 1 percent, don’t be afraid to do that! After all, it’s about what is best for you and your fitness goals.


If you are interested in a more structured training program, we have a free Couch to 5k Training Plan you can download below. Use the form to get a PDF version for free. Our training plan even makes it easy to do this Couch to 5k on a treadmill!

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The Wired Runner