Beginners Guide to the Best Treadmill Workouts

The treadmill is an excellent way to boost cardiovascular health, increase energy levels, lose weight, and much more. If you’re looking for a workout plan that’ll ease you into the treadmill while also getting you results, you’ve come to the right place.
In this complete guide to treadmill workouts for beginners, we’ll cover different treadmill workout plans, what workouts to do to lose weight, motivational tips to keep you engaged and happy with your workouts, and more.
Let’s begin.

Benefits of using a treadmill

  • Low impact: Treadmills are designed to be shock absorbing which is easier on the knees than concrete when running outdoors.
     
  • Distance control: There’s nothing worse than going for a run and cramping, getting shin splints, pulling a muscle, or injuring yourself mid-way through, only to have to limp your way back (or call an Uber if you’re lucky enough to be running near a road). This is also beneficial if you’re recovering from injury and starting to get back into movement again.

  • Climate control: If you live in a location with weather extremes (e.g. cold winters, sweltering hot summers, or lots of rain) treadmills can be a lifesaver if your available time to work out is during those seasonal  weather conditions.
     

  • Safety: If you live in an unsafe neighborhood where running alone isn’t advisable or makes you uncomfortable, you can run from the safety of your own home, in a controlled environment, with a treadmill.

  • Incline: If you live in a flat location with zero to no hills or inclines, treadmills can add the challenge of an incline you’re looking for.

  • Hands-free: Walking or running on a treadmill means that you don’t have to carry a water bottle with you or wear a hydration pack during your workout. It also allows you to have a towel within arm's reach and other items that might make your treadmill workout more enjoyable.

What you’ll need for your treadmill workout

Whether you plan to walk, walk-run, jog, or run, you’ll need the following things to make your beginner treadmill workout a success:

  • Running shoes

  • Workout clothes

  • Water bottle

  • Towel

Beginner treadmill workouts

We’ve included some of the best treadmill workouts for beginners to help you get started. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build endurance, or simply get your steps in, you’re sure to find a beginner treadmill workout below that works for you.

Be sure to use these workout plans as guidelines and make adjustments where necessary to go at your own pace. Feel free to modify the duration, incline, or speed as needed.

  1. Beginner treadmill walking workout

    1. Walking no incline

    2. Walking with incline 

    3. Walking pyramid

    4. Walking 12-3-30

  2. Beginner treadmill workouts for weight loss

    1. HIIT treadmill workout

    2. Sprints

  3. Beginner treadmill running workout

    1. Running intervals with no incline

    2. Running consistently with no incline

1. Beginner treadmill walking workout

The saying “walk before you run” is more relevant than ever when it comes to the treadmill. If you’re new to the treadmill, starting with some varying walking workouts will help you feel more comfortable with the equipment and ease your way into more intermediate and advanced treadmill workout plans.

a. Walking no incline

Walking with no incline is the perfect beginner treadmill workout for someone just getting into the treadmill (or getting back into it).

  • Warm-up: 

    • Time: 2 minutes 

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 15 to 25 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 5 to 7 km/hour (walking at a moderate pace)

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minute 

    • Incline: 0 

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)

b. Walking with incline 

Adding an incline to your walking treadmill workout is a great way to increase the intensity of your exercise while keeping the impact on your body and knees low. Adding an incline to your treadmill workout will help to engage the glutes, quads, and hamstrings more and kick your heart rate up a notch.

  • Warm-up: 

    • Time: 2 minutes 

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 5 minutes

    • Incline: 1 

    • Speed: 4 to 7 km/hour (walking at a moderate pace)

    • Repeat: 4 times, increasing the incline by 1 or 2 each time

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)

c. Walking pyramid

The waking pyramid workout, often referred to as treadmill hills or mountain climbers, is a great workout structure for someone just starting out. It’s a simple workout structure to remember and a great way to introduce yourself to incline work on a treadmill.

  • Warm-up: 

    • Time: 2 minutes 

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 2 minutes 

    • Incline: 1 

    • Speed: 4 to 7 km/hour (walking at a moderate pace)

    • Repeat: 5 times, increasing the incline by 1 or 2 every 2 minutes. Once you reach the 10-minute mark, work your way backward until you reach an incline of 1 at the 20-minute mark.

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)

d. Walking 12-3-30

12-3-30 is a popular treadmill workout structure seen on TikTok. It stands for an incline of 12, at 3 miles per hour, for 30 minutes. This is a great structure for beginners to get their sweat on and activate their glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

If you’re using an Ascend treadmill (or another treadmill that uses kilometers instead of miles), you’ll want to go at 5kms per hour (which is about the same as 3 miles per hour).

  • Warm-up:

    • Time: 2 minutes

    • Incline: 1 

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 30 minutes

    • Incline: 12 

    • Speed: 5km/hr 

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)


2. Beginner treadmill workouts for weight loss

If your fitness goals include weight loss, the best type of beginner treadmill exercise you should focus on is interval training because your body continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours after your workout. 

Interval training is when you alternate between two activities that require different rates of speed or effort (e.g. walking and running).

Here are our top beginner treadmill workouts for weight loss.

a. HIIT treadmill workout

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. This means doing bursts of high-intensity with varied recovery times. For example, you could do a 1:1 HIIT training ratio where you run, jog, do a brisk walk, or drastically increase your incline for 1 minute, and then walk at a slow, comfortable pace for 1 minute (with low to no incline) for 1 minute, then repeat. You can also structure your HIIT workouts as 2:1, 1:2, and so on. 

  • Warm-up:

    • Time: 2 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 1 minute

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 6 to 7 km/hour (walking or running at a moderate to fast pace)

  • Active rest: 

    • Time: 1 minute

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking or jogging at a slow to moderate pace)

    • Repeat the ‘Work’ to ‘Active rest’ cycle for 30 minutes or until fatigued.

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)


b. Sprints

Spring training is another form of interval training that’s great for weight loss and guaranteed to get your blood pumping. Be sure to be paying attention when doing sprints on a treadmill. The dismounting and mounting process require a high degree of caution and precision to make sure you don’t fall or hurt yourself.

Before we go into the workout plan, we’re going to cover the process of dismounting and remounting  while the treadmill track is running. 

When dismounting, place your hands on the handle bars beside you and ensure you have a steady grip, push up and brace yourself using your core muscles as you lift up slightly and place one foot on either side of the treadmill track. Keep the treadmill track running as it was before you hop off.

To get back onto the treadmill as it’s running, you’ll go the same way as you came off. Hold on tightly to the handrails and brace yourself. Push off slightly as you hover your feet above the treadmill track. Start moving them in a walking or running pattern that syncs up to the speed of the track. Slowly return one foot at a time to the track and resume running or walking.

  • Warm-up:

    • Time: 2 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 1 minute

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 6 to 7 km/hour (walking or running at a moderate to fast pace)

  • Rest: 

    • Time: 1 minute

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 0 (technically the treadmill will still be running, but you’ll be resting with your feet on either side of the track and your hands securely on the handrails)

    • Repeat the Work/Rest cycle for 30 minutes or until fatigued.

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)

3. Beginner treadmill running workout

For beginners, you can choose to either run or jog as you start to progress into a higher impact and intensity type of workout—we recommend jogging to begin with. 

You should also aim to jog or run for less time than you would spend walking. If you want to spend more time on the treadmill, lengthen your warm-ups and cool downs or combine a short walking workout with a short running workout.

a. Running intervals with no incline

Progress from a beginner walking workout to a beginner running workout by starting with intervals. This allows you to take breaks throughout and build your endurance before trying to jog or run consistently for an extended period of time.

  • Warm-up:

    • Time: 2 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 1 minute

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 6 to 9 km/hour (jogging or running at a moderate pace that feels comfortable for you but is still somewhat challenging)

  • Active rest: 

    • Time: 1 minute

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking or jogging at a slow to moderate pace)

    • Repeat the ‘Work’ to ‘Active rest’ cycle for 10 minutes or until fatigued.

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minutes

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)

b. Running consistently with no incline

Running consistently takes time to work your way up to. Start with running intervals and work your way up to consistent running when you feel ready.

  • Warm-up: 

    • Time: 2 minutes 

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 3 to 4 km/hour (walking at a comfortable pace)

  • Work:

    • Time: 5 to 15 minutes 

    • Incline: 0

    • Speed: 6 to 9 km/hour (jogging at a moderate pace that feels comfortable for you but is still somewhat challenging)

  • Cool down:

    • Time: 3 minute 

    • Incline: 0 

    • Speed: 2 to 3km/hr (walking at a slow pace)

How can a beginner lose weight on a treadmill?

A beginner can lose weight on a treadmill simply by incorporating treadmill workouts into their overall fitness routine. Cardiovascular exercise is a key component of weight loss but interval training continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours after your workout so focus on intervals if your goal is to lose weight. A one-to-one ratio of high-intensity to low-intensity or active recovery is your best approach for losing weight on a treadmill. 

How long should a beginner workout on a treadmill?

For someone who’s a complete beginner, start off slow. Aim for 15 to 20 minutes three times a week and increase the duration to 30 to 45 minutes over the course of a few weeks or months. Progress at a rate that is safe and comfortable for your fitness level but in a way that also challenges you a little bit more each time.

The American Heart Association recommends getting a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. With that in mind, try incorporating other forms of physical activity into your weekly routine to hit this recommended target.


Is a 20-minute treadmill workout effective?

A 20-minute treadmill workout can be effective with the right amount of intensity. For beginners, a 20-minute treadmill workout with some time spent at a walking incline can really get the heart pumping. 


Is 10 minutes of treadmill a day enough?

10 minutes of treadmill a day is enough if it’s combined with other forms of physical activity. For example, if you were to spend 10 minutes on the treadmill for a brisk walk or jog and then spent 15 to 30 minutes strength training, that would be a well-rounded workout. 


Motivational and practical tips for treadmill workouts

Ease into it

For a lot of people, running continuously for 15, 20, or 30 minutes can be a challenge. It’s best to start by doing a few minutes (or a few seconds) of walking and then doing a few minutes (or a few seconds) of running. For example, walking for 3 minutes and running for 1 minute. As you build your endurance, you can slowly begin to run for longer durations of time.

It’s best to progress slowly and follow the 10% rule. This means that if you ran for a total of 10 minutes one day, only add another minute to your run during the next workout.

Protect your knees

Setting your treadmill at an incline of 1% to 3% helps you avoid unnatural movement patterns caused by running on a level treadmill of 0 degrees. The slight incline relieves pressure from your knees and distributes the workload on your glutes and hamstrings instead. For beginners, we don’t recommend running on an incline any steeper than 3%.

Apps

Sometimes staying motivated means tapping into some external resources including treadmill workout apps. Some of our favourites include:

  • Aaptiv

  • Nike’s Run Club

  • Studio

  • Zwift

Entertainment & music

Cranking your favourite tunes, watching a show, or listening to a podcast are all great ways to make your treadmill workout more entertaining and enjoyable. Look for playlists on Spotify or Apple Music that are based on beats per minute (BPMs). These can help you keep a good pace during your treadmill workouts.

Views

If you have the setup for it, point your treadmill towards a window or area where you’ll have a nice view to look at while you’re working out. 

Log your progress

Creating a digital or physical fitness log can help keep you on track and motivated. Visually seeing how many treadmill workouts you’ve accomplished over the course of a week, a month, or a year can help boost your sense of accomplishment and fuel your motivation.

The right treadmill

Having a treadmill you love to work out on goes a long way when staying motivated. The right treadmill should fit your space, meet your needs, and be easy to use.

Start your beginner treadmill workout routine with Ascend

Ascend offers three models of treadmills to help you get started with your at-home workout routine. Each treadmill varies in features and you’ll find more features in each model as you work your way up from the X1 to the X3.

  1. The X1 Foldable Treadmill is our lightest model with the smallest footprint when folded up while still offering everything you need to get in a treadmill workout routine at home. We recommend the X1 for beginner runners.

  2. The X2 Performance Treadmill is the perfect medium between the X1 and X3 with smaller dimensions like the X1 but some premium features you’d find in the X3 such as the hydraulic folding system. The X2 is best for intermediate runners or those who are working their way up to becoming intermediate runners.

  3. The X3 Premium Treadmill comes complete with every bell and whistler you could dream up for your at-home treadmill workout. The X3 is best for advanced runners or those who are working their way up to becoming advanced runners.

Shop our collection of foldable treadmills today and begin your fitness journey in the comfort of your own home.