Treadmill Workouts for Beginners

treadmill workouts for beginners

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Are you looking for the best ways to workout on a treadmill? A treadmill workout is a great option, whether you’re just getting back to exercising or you’re a seasoned exerciser. A treadmill can be used for an effective, calorie-burning,1 muscle strength-, endurance-, and cardiovascular health-building workout.1,2 It’s also nice when you want to workout inside for climate control (when it’s too dark, hot, cold, rainy, icy, etc.) or to give you other controls over your environment, like giving you a traffic-free, safe, flat surface, or the ability to add hills/incline for more of a challenge.



So, let’s get walking on a treadmill. Ready, set…

Safety First (Simply, but Cautiously)

A treadmill is simply a motor-operated rubber belt that loops around a deck with rollers underneath allowing it to create a continuous motion on which to move in place. Most treadmills have three primary controls, which are start/stop, speed, and incline. Most treadmills will also have some built-in workouts from which to choose. Though walking on a treadmill is one of the safest activities you can do, some precautions are necessary.

To stay safe:

  • Always clip the safety key to your clothing. The safety key is like an emergency pull-cord attached to the treadmill, which will automatically stop the equipment were you to fall. Also, try not to jump off the treadmill, but rather press the stop button to pause your workout or when you’re done, which will gradually slow the treadmill belt to a stop.
  • Start slowly with the lowest speed and zero incline to get the hang of it.
  • Always warm up to prepare your body for more vigorous activity and cool down to allow your heart rate to come down slowly. Warming up and cooling down can help reduce your risk for injury and improve your post-workout recovery.2
  • Don’t look down at your feet, rather keep your head up and your shoulders back, and unless you have balance problems, don’t hang onto the handrails. Also, try to land lightly on each foot, walking as normally as possible, with a heel-to-toe motion, staying in the center of the treadmill belt.3
  • Consult your doctor. Treadmill walking is safe for most people. Still, it’s important to check with your doctor, especially if you ‘ve had a surgery or injury, or if you have a chronic condition of any kind.

Set a goal (start slow, progress gradually)

Setting some goals for your treadmill workouts can go a long way in keeping you interested and motivated. Here are 2 simple goals to remember and work toward:

1. Increase your time

Your first goal can be simply to increase your time, starting with a 5-5-5 workout: 5-minute warm up, 5-minute brisk walk (increase the speed gradually until you are walking briskly), 5-minute cool down (reduce the speed gradually each minute back to your starting pace). Try to increase your time by a few minutes every few days until you’re able to do a 5-20-5 workout: 5- minute warm up, 20-minute brisk walk, 5-minute cool down. To keep going, try to reach a 5-30-5 workout: 5-minute warm up, 30-minute brisk walk, 5-minute cool down. You can even try to work your way to jogging a 5-30-5 treadmill workout, if you’d like.

2. Increase your speed and/or incline

Keep going by adding a goal to increase your speed for a great cardiovascular workout or add some incline to strengthen your lower-body muscles and burn even more calories.4 Swing your arms when you walk, to benefit your upper body muscles as well. Again, starting slowly and gradually. Start with a 2 – 2.5 miles per hour pace (speed) and a 1% incline, gradually increasing each (or one at a time) to increase your effort and add variety to keep you motivated. Read on for a variety of treadmill workout routines you can try.

Try New Treadmill Workouts by Adding Variety

Once you get the hang of using the treadmill, you can add variety and physical benefits to your workouts with these 4 routines.

Download Treadmill Workouts for Beginners (pdf)

Treadmill workouts for beginners
Click or tap to view treadmill workouts.

Add variety to your treadmill workouts, by trying these workouts on alternating days throughout the week. This can keep you motivated by keeping your workouts fun and interesting.

  1. How to get the best cardio treadmill workout. Cleveland Clinic. Published December 2, 2022. Accessed December 2, 2022.
  2. Solan M. Treadmills: Tips for using this versatile piece of exercise equipment. Harvard Health. Published April 26, 2017. Accessed December 2, 2022.
  3. Walters J. Getting on the Treadmill. SparkPeople. Published November 9, 2010. Accessed December 2, 2022.
  4. Silder A, Besier T, Delp SL. Predicting the metabolic cost of incline walking from muscle activity and walking mechanics. Journal of Biomechanics. 2012;45(10):1842-1849. https://doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.03.032.
  5. Get smart about treadmills. Harvard Health. Published May 1, 2017. Accessed December 2, 2022.
  6. Use a treadmill to boost your running performance – Technogym and Accessed December 5, 2022.
  7. Measuring physical activity intensity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 3, 2022. Accessed December 6, 2022.