woman jogging on treadmill

Beginner Treadmill HIIT Workout | Ascend

Whether you workout regularly or not you’ve probably come across the term “HIIT”. Popularized during the past decade, HIIT workouts are a fun way to add intensity and efficiency to your exercise. HIIT allows you to “do more” with less time. 

There are all sorts of different HIIT workouts and they can involve weighted exercises, bodyweight exercises, and machines. We’ll be covering HIIT treadmill workouts. Here’s what you can expect to learn:

What is a HIIT workout?

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training, is a form of exercise that involves a short burst of high-intensity activity, followed by a period of low-intensity work or rest. A typical HIIT workout should last between 20-30 minutes and can include a variety of exercises and movements. Some common HIIT workouts include cardio HIIT, Full-body HIIT, and HIIT with weights, among others. Treadmill HIIT is considered a cardio HIIT workout and its focus is on intensity. Depending on whether you’re working on power or endurance, your HIIT treadmill workout may look different.

In general the aim of a HIIT workout is to maximize the benefits of the exercise within a shorter period of time by increasing the heart and caloric burn rate. As we’ll demonstrate, the benefits of HIIT are many and include improved cardiovascular health, fat burn, and increased metabolic rate.  

Benefits of HIIT training

HIIT workouts have become increasingly popular due to their numerous benefits. We’ve covered some of the many advantages of these workouts below:

1. Increased cardiovascular fitness:

HIIT workouts are a highly effective way to improve the health of your heart. During a HIIT workout, the high-intensity intervals of exercise increase your heart rate and challenge your cardiovascular system. This leads to improved endurance and cardiovascular health. This kind of exercise promotes more effective oxygen usage, measured by an increase in VO2 max. HIIT also promotes the development of new blood vessels, helping to increase the blood flow to muscles, which in turn improves their ability to extract and utilize oxygen.

2. Increased calorie burn:

HIIT workouts help burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, in comparison to steady state cardio. According to Justin Tardif-Francoeur, co-founder of Ascend and Certified Personal Trainer, HIIT workouts are highly effective for weight loss because they burn more fat. The fat burning effects of HIIT workouts happen during and after a workout. Justin says that, “HIIT workouts increase your resting heart metabolism even hours after the workout. That means you will continue to burn more calories even after you've finished your session.” 

3. Minimal equipment:

While it’s possible to perform HIIT workouts using machines and weights, they can also be adapted to require little to no equipment. For instance, bodyweight HIIT workouts can consist of exercises like lunges, squat jacks, and burpees. This makes HIIT workouts not only extremely versatile, but also low cost. 

4. Convenience:

Because of how short HIIT workouts are, they can be done at any point during the day. For instance, you can do a quick 20-30 minute HIIT workout if you have some time in between meetings, during a lunch break, or if you need a boost in between tasks. HIIT workouts can also be completed almost anywhere. You can put together a HIIT workout that doesn’t require much space or any equipment. In these ways, HIIT makes it easier to exercise even within the busiest schedules.  

5. Increased muscle mass:

In addition to all the above, HIIT workouts can also build muscle mass. HIIT workouts often involve bodyweight exercises or resistance training, which are both effective at stimulating muscle growth and development. The short, intense burst of motion during HIIT workouts also lead to an increase in growth hormone production, which is essential for muscle growth.

Who would benefit from HIIT workouts?

HIIT has been well-established as an effective exercise for adults. Also, as HIIT is more efficient in regards to time than other modes of exercise, it has been suggested that it can increase levels of engagement with exercise. Some potential benefits of HIIT are improved cardiovascular health by improving heart function, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Additionally, HIIT can stimulate muscle growth and build mass. HIIT can also improve cognitive function. This is especially important for older adults as it can help strengthen memory.

With that said, if you are older, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise regime, especially one that is physically demanding such as HIIT. This is also true for those recovering from injury. According to Justin, “The nature of HIIT workouts makes you more prone to injuries if they are not done properly”. If you are not properly trained on the required movement for HIIT training, he recommends booking an appointment with a trainer so that you avoid running head first into injury. He recommends, “anyone with a heart condition consult a doctor before engaging in activities that are known to increase heart rate.”

How to incorporate HIIT into a treadmill workout

To complete a HIIT treadmill workout, you need to adjust your treadmill speed and/or incline throughout. Start off with a 5-10 minute warmup in order to prepare your muscles for the workout. For the high-intensity intervals, increase your treadmill speed to a challenging pace for a set period of time and follow that up with a period of active recovery at a lower speed and/or incline. 

To increase the intensity of your workout, adjust the speed and/or incline of your treadmill. For instance, you can increase the speed and incline for 30 seconds, then reduce both for 60 seconds during your active recovery. Repeat these intervals for about 20-30 minutes or until your desired length of workout is complete. Be sure to end your workout with a cooldown period of 5-10 minutes at a comfortable pace to help gradually lower your heart rate and prevent injuries.

Treadmill tips for HIIT beginners

If you are new to HIIT, there are some pointers to keep in mind to ensure your safety. First and foremost, be sure to warm up for at least a few minutes before beginning any of your high-intensity intervals. This will prime your muscles and help prevent any injuries. Justin recommends working on your technique first before increasing your intensity. He maintains that, “even though HIIT workouts have many benefits, if you end up hurting yourself because of a bad step you still end up to square 1 as quickly.”

He also emphasizes this point: “don’t push yourself past your capacity, HIIT workouts should be performed in the 80-90% heart rate max. Past this threshold can be dangerous for you and won’t get you more benefits.” It can be easy to get wrapped up in your workout and want to push yourself to the limit, but it’s important to listen to your body and to know when it’s time to reduce your intensity. 

Finally, Justin recommends a balanced diet and to ensure that you eat enough through the day. According to him, “your body needs fuel to perform hiit training so make sure you are giving it the best kind by having a clean and healthy diet.”

3 beginner HIIT treadmill workouts

The following are 3 variations of HIIT treadmill workouts you can try if you are a beginner:

  1. Pyramid intervals: begin by warming up for 2-3 minutes. Start your first high-intensity interval at a challenging pace for 30 seconds. Follow this with a 30-second active recovery period at a lower speed. Once the 30 seconds are up, increase the duration of your next high-intensity interval to 45 seconds, and follow it up with a 45 second active recovery period. Repeat this pattern, increasing the length of the high-intensity interval and active recovery by 15 seconds each time, until you reach a 60 second interval. Once you’ve completed the 60 second high-intensity interval and active recovery, work your way back down the interval until you reach the 30 second mark.

  2. Incline sprints: Once again begin by warming up for a period of 3-5 minutes. Increase the incline of your treadmill so that it is challenging but doable and sprint at a high-intensity pace for 30 seconds. Once the 30 seconds are over, recover for 60 seconds at a lower incline and comfortable speed. After 30 seconds, repeat the high-intensity interval. For each sprinting period, gradually increase the incline until your max incline, making sure that you are still decreasing it during your recovery period.

  3. Tabata intervals: This treadmill HIIT workout involves 20 seconds of an all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds total. Once you complete a 3-5 minute warm-up, choose a challenging pace and begin your first 20 second interval. Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat the interval for 8 rounds. Once the 8 rounds are complete, take a 2-3 minute active recovery break, then repeat the Tabata intervals, either with a different exercise or at a different speed.  

How long should a beginner do HIIT?

It is recommended that you stay within the 20-30 minute timeframe, especially if you are just beginning your HIIT fitness journey. Interval training is highly beneficial and useful, however, if it is done incorrectly or if you overexert yourself, it can lead to injury. This is why understanding proper form and starting off slow is important.

Is a 10 minute HIIT workout a day long enough?

To reap the maximum benefits, especially if weight loss is a priority for you, 20-30 of HIIT is ideal. However, if you are a beginner, a 10 minute HIIT workout can be a great way to test the waters. This kind of intense exercise is especially great because you can derive incredible health benefits in a very short time, which can be a great advantage for those who have very busy schedules. Anyone can fit a 10 minute exercise into their day and, afterall, a bit of exercise is always better than no exercise at all!

Elevate your treadmill workout

High intensity interval training is challenging, especially for beginners. For that reason, it’s important to be patient with yourself and to listen to your body when you’re feeling depleted. If done correctly, incorporating HIIT can provide a more elevated treadmill workout, burn fat, increase your cardio endurance, and add variety to your exercise routine. 

Ascend offers 3 folding treadmills models, with all features you need to get the most out of your beginner treadmill HIIT workout. Shop our treadmill collection and see why Ascend is the choice for home gym walkers and runners.

Justin Tardif-Francoeur

Justin Tardif-Francoeur

With over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry, Justin has a rich background ranging from personal training in bustling gyms to practicing massage therapy in health centers, and eventually running his own practice. An avid advocate for self-improvement, he tirelessly pursues the latest research to broaden his knowledge of human physiology and the body's potential. When he isn't enriching his understanding or assisting clients, Justin can be found embracing the great outdoors through paddle boarding, yoga, and hiking, or immersing himself in a challenging workout. His passion transcends personal growth, as he's equally committed to inspiring others on their own journey of self-improvement.



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