HIIT Treadmill Workouts – Quick ‘N’ Efficient
When it comes to cardio and getting shredded HIIT is my weapon of choice, simply because:
- It’s quick and efficient, 20 minutes is all you need to get in an intensive workout
- It’s been proven to burn more calories than time wasting steady state cardio
- Quick bursts of cardio (in the form of HIIT) will build explosive power and retain muscle mass
Instead of following the same interval scheme time after time I like to mix it up, there’s a plethora of different intervals, circuits and supersets you can with 20 minutes and a treadmill, the below HIIT treadmill routines are my staple routines for blasting off that unwanted fat and increasing speed and power.
It’s worth noting that HIIT treadmill cardio isn’t the only form of cardio I advocate, I highly recommend parachute sprints outdoors and plyometric based circuit involving box jumps and jump rope, that being said it’s Winter here at the moment so the treadmill is my weapon of choice in the war to burn calories.
Give the following HIIT treadmill workout routines a try:
The Tabata Treadmill Routine
Incase you’re not familiar with the Tabata protocol a round of Tabata is comprised of a 4 minute block of time broken up into intervals of 20 seconds of all out effort (in this case treadmill sprints) followed by a brief 10 second rest interval. There’s 8 rounds in 1 block of Tabata and I recommend performing 2 – 3 rounds per workout based upon your current fitness level, it’s amazing how much effort you can exert in 4 minutes when the Tabata protocol is followed strictly.
- 5 minute warm-up of steady pace walking or light jog
- 20 second sprint 10 second rest x8
- 2 minute jog to cool down
Deadmill Interval Sprints
For a full explanation on deadmills be sure to check out my post here.
In short the deadmill sprint involves sprinting (getting the belt moving on the treadmill) while the treadmill is turned off or unplugged. The amount of effort and exertion required to get the treadmill moving without any assistance will have your heart rate (and calories burned) soaring almost instantly.
Deadmill sprints can be made more or less difficult by adjusting the level of incline on the treadmill itself. Start off with the beginner routine to gauge your performance and increase to the advanced routine or adjust the incline from there.
15 second deadmill sprint 30 second rest Repeat x 8
20 second deadmill sprint 20 second rest Repeat x 8
30 Second Treadmill Sprint Waves
The traditional treadmill interval sprint I recommend 30 seconds of all-out effort followed by a 30 second rest interval (jump off to the side of the treadmill) some individuals like to decrease the speed of the treadmill down to a walking pace for the duration of the rest interval. I’ve personally found by the time I’ve adjusted the speed from an all-out sprint to a steady walking pace (20kmph down to 6kmph) for the recovery interval it’s time to crank the speed back up again – it just doesn’t work.
Traditional HIIT sprint routine:
30 second sprint 30 second rest
Repeat for 10 rounds
The Core Cardio HIIT Routine
Running short on time and want to get in your cardio and some core work? A ‘core cardio’ routine is the answer. You can make up your own core HIIT routine by combining a treadmill sprint (or jump rope interval) with an abdominal exercise that does not raise the heart rate too high – a plank or side plank is my exercise of choice.
30 second treadmill sprint 30 second plank
Repeat 10 rounds
An Uphill Battle
Incline treadmill sprints are not only a fantastic form of cardio, but the uphill battle also places a large amount of stress on the calf muscles. If, like many guys (including myself) you have trouble packing on size to your calfs via regular calf raises I recommend you throw in some incline treadmill work. It’s worth noting though if your primary reason for doing uphill cardio is to build up your calf muscles you’re going to need to be in a calorie surplus in order to build that additional muscle (when we’re in a calorie deficit through either cardio or diet we’re primarily preserving as much muscle mass as we can while burning fat, we’re not building and burning at the same time).
Crank treadmill to maximum incline (16 degrees in my case).
20 second sprint
30 second rest
Repeat for 10 rounds before finishing off with a cool down period of incline walking (maintaining the steep incline you were using for your sprints).
Timing Your Intervals
When it comes to HIIT training, and specifically in this case Tabata it’s key that you time your intervals correctly, if you’re trying to guess your sprint and rest periods or squinting to look at the analogue clock in the corner of the gym you’re probably not hitting the right work and rest periods.
Having messed around with a physical timer (which was unreliable) and a digital watch I came to the conclusion that the best means of measuring my intervals was an iPhone app called ‘Seconds’ this app lets me create and adjust rounds, duration of rest/sprint time and give each round a different name so I know what round I’m on and which exercise/rest period I have to hit next – all guesswork is eliminated so you can give your workout 100% effort and focus without worrying about the clock.
You can download the free version of the ‘Seconds’ app here.
How Often Should You Perform HIIT?
There’s no definitive answer as to how often you should be performing HIIT training, this comes down to your goals, your diet and how quickly you’re able to recover from previous sessions.
I recommend between 2 and 4 sessions per week. In the beginning of my cutting phase I focus on losing fat through a calorie deficit with cardio once or twice per week, as fat loss begins to slow down (meaning the deficit my body is in is no longer large enough to promote fat loss) I increase the frequency of my intervals to 3 or 4 times per week at which point I place a larger emphasis on my recovery techniques such as foam rolling and contrast showering to pump blood and nutrients to the muscles.