Use This Treadmill Workout Plan To Make The Most Of Your Time In The Gym

A line of people running on treadmills in the gym
A treadmill workout plan can give your gym session a focus. These people look focused, they’re probably following a plan. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. While the benefits of treadmills are obvious and they are clearly an effective way to get in shape, if you’re not mixing up your treadmill workouts it can start to be as much a mental challenge as a physical one to keep plodding away.

The best treadmills have a range of preset workouts to choose from and these will typically involve a mix of speed and hill intervals. Interval running, where you run at a faster pace or up a steeper gradient for short sections, are great for improving your fitness and making you a speedier runner, and they’re the perfect way to get a great workout on the treadmill in 30 minutes or less.

Of the different types of runs you can do, interval and hill runs are definitely the best suited to the treadmill. You don’t really want to spend hours on the machine tackling the steady-state long runs in a training plan, and intervals can be tricky to run outside if you don’t have the right conditions because wind, hills, other people and road crossings can all frustrate your performance during a hard session.

To help you make your time on the treadmill more engaging, we enlisted Ian Scarrott, a personal trainer at PureGym Loughborough and running/triathlon coach. He gave us three interval sessions to try as well as a comprehensive warm-up to do before your workout.

Treadmill Workout Plan Warm-Up

"Before each session, I would advise doing some glute activation exercises, and making sure you loosen your hip flexors,” says Scarrott.

Scarrott recommends doing five minutes on the cross-trainer then doing this hip flexor mobility move and glute activation exercises.

1 Hip flexor stretch

Hip flexor stretch

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3 Reps 12 each side

Start in a split squat stance with your knee on the floor or just off of it. Make sure you have a soft surface to rest your knee on. Rock back and then forwards again to complete one rep.

2 Glute bridge

Glute bridge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3 Reps 10

Lie on your back with your feet planted close together. Drive your hips up to form a line from your knees to your neck. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then lower under control.

3 Side steps with resistance band

Side steps with resistance band

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3 Reps 10 each side

Loop a short resistance band around your thighs and lower into a squat position. Step to the side and keep the tension in the band.

Step-up to high knee

Step-up to high knee

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Sets 3 Reps 10 each side

Step up onto a raised surface and bring your trailing leg through, lifting the knee to your chest.

5 Treadmill

Time 5-10min

Once you’ve loosened your hips and activated your glutes, step on the treadmill for the rest of your warm-up.

Spend five to 10 minutes increasing your pace from around 3/10 effort (where you can speak conversationally) to 5/10 effort (steady – where you can still speak comfortably in sentences) to 7/10 effort (tempo – where you can only say a few words).

Treadmill Workout Plan

Person running on treadmill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scarrott suggests doing one of the following three workouts each week to get used to pushing yourself harder on the treadmill. Make sure to do the pre-workout activation drills and the warm-up before getting into the meat of the sessions.

Workout 1: Pyramid

In this workout you will alternate between running hard for a set period of time then running at a recovery pace. There are seven periods in which you run hard and the time changes each round. The first period is for 15 seconds, then each work period increases by 15 seconds until you run for 60 seconds. Then reduce the duration of the work period by 15 seconds every time until you finish running for 15 seconds again. Here’s the sequence in full.

  1. Run 15sec Recover 15-60sec
  2. Run 30sec Recover 15-60sec
  3. Run 45sec Recover 15-60sec
  4. Run 60sec Recover 15-60sec
  5. Run 45sec Recover 15-60sec
  6. Run 30sec Recover 15-60sec
  7. Run 15sec Recover 15-60sec

“It’s your choice what pace you go out at, but don’t go too hard in the first couple of reps,” says Scarrott. “My challenge to you is to see if you can hold 7/10 effort for the duration. Your pace may change throughout, and it may vary from day to day owing to stress, hydration levels, nutrition, sleep, your menstrual cycle – you know where you’re at.”

Workout 2: One-Minute Reps

Man resting after running hard on treadmill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Again, this workout alternates between running hard and running at an easier pace to recover.

“Do one-minute reps and build up to an 8/10 effort,” says Scarrott. “Focus on pushing yourself – you may not be able to talk at all. This will feel tough but will get easier if you train yourself to run hard for sustained lengths of time.”

Set 1

Reps 2 Time 60sec at 7/10 effort Recover 60sec at 3/10 effort

Set 2

Reps 6-8 Time 60sec at 8/10 effort Recover 60sec at 3/10 effort

Workout 3: Fartlek

The term fartlek means “speed play”, and sessions often involve mixing up your pacing without a defined structure. In this case, jump on the treadmill (after your warm-up of course), and run for 10-12 minutes, throwing in bursts of speed of varying times and distances. If you’re lacking inspiration we have plenty of suggestions for fartlek sessions.


For the warm-down afterwards, take a few minutes to stretch your muscles and kick-start the recovery process. We have a great full-body stretching routine in this warm-up and warm-down guide for runners.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.