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Treadmill Workouts for Beginners

Oct. 27, 2021 / Haley McCoy
Treadmill Workouts for Beginners

One of the best ways to start a fitness routine is walking on the treadmill. Walking is a low-impact exercise—easy on the knees, hips, and joints—and allows you to easily track your progress over time. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to cover more distance in the same amount of time!


The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 total minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular activity spread out over three to five days per week. For those just starting a gym routine, gradually build up to that amount over time.



Start by Walking

‘Walk before you run’ is a great motto to live by. The first three to five minutes should be used as a warmup. Take this time to gauge your stress and energy levels, how your joints and muscles feel, breathing, and heart rate. You can increase the intensity after a few minutes, once your heart rate has gradually elevated and your body feels warm.


 Timing is Everything

Just 10 minutes of activity at a moderate intensity has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness and overall health, but the goal is to work up to 30 minutes per day. Beginners can start by doing 10 minutes of activity three times per day. As you get stronger, increase the amount of uninterrupted time per session and gradually decrease the number of sessions per day—you’ll feel invigorated and accomplished. Once you reach the 30- to 45-minute range of uninterrupted activity, start increasing intensity so you stay challenged and motivated.


Intensify is Key

Finding the right intensity can be challenging when you’re just getting back to the gym. I like using the 10-point Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE). For a 10- to 20-minute workout, I recommend being at a seven out of 10. If you have a Myzone Switch heart rate monitor, this equates to the green zone of 70-79% of maximum heart rate. Hydration, fatigue, and overall fitness level can affect heart rate, so play around with speed and incline until you reach a 7/10 exertion level. As you become more fit, you’ll be able to increase the speed and/or incline while staying at a 7/10.


Treadmill Safety

Using a treadmill is simple once you become familiar with the machine’s console. Every treadmill will have speed and incline buttons, and some have keypads so you can quickly jump to a specific speed or incline. Many will also have pre-programmed workouts that range in duration (time) and intensity (usually changes in speed and incline).


Speed and incline can be adjusted up or down to meet your needs. When walking at an incline, move or pump your arms like you would when walking outdoors—do not hold onto the handles. A good rule of thumb is to pick a speed just below the point of wanting grab the handles.




Try these treadmill workouts during your next gym session. They are perfect for beginners, and more advanced athletes can add speed or incline to make the workouts more challenging.


30-Minute Rolling Hills

0:00-5:00 minutes 3.0 mph


2% incline
5:00-9:00 minutes 4.0 mph 5% incline
9:00-10:00 minutes 4.0 mph 8% incline
10:00-11:00 minutes 3.5 mph 10% incline
11:00-15:00 minutes 3.8 mph 5% incline
15:00-16:00 minutes 3.8 mph 8% incline
16:00-17:00 minutes 3.2 mph 10% incline
17:00-22:00 minutes 3.5 mph 5% incline
23:00-24:00 minutes 3.2 mph 10% incline
24:00-25:00 minutes 4.0 mph 5% incline
25:00-30:00 minutes 2.5 mph 2% incline


Over the Hill

0-4:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 1% incline
4-6:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 4% incline
6-8:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 6% incline
8-10:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 8% incline
10-13:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 6% incline
13-15:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 4% incline
15-17:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 2% incline
17-20:00 minutes 3.0-4.0 mph 1% incline