10 ways to take your treadmill workout to the next level

Let’s be honest – many of us don’t know what else to do in the gym besides using the treadmill. Weights? Nah. Medicine balls? Don’t even know what to do with them.

If hitting the gym has become a bore because you’re always running the same old laps on the treadmill and it’s deterring you from exercising regularly, here’s something you need to know: it is actually possible to get a full-body workout on the treadmill while having fun – read our guide to find out how!

1. Do a treadmill HIIT workout

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are one of the best ways to get the most out of your treadmill exercise, especially if you are short on time or want a change from your usual one-hour jog. They not only kick your heart rate into overdrive, but also burn a ton of calories within a short period of time.

If you are a beginner, you are recommended to try this interval program that requires you to speed up and slow down in short intervals:

  • Start with a four-minute warm-up.
  • Follow it with a two-minute walk.
  • Then rev up to a two-minute jog, followed by a one-minute run.
  • Repeat this three times, and then do a five-minute cooldown and stretch.

Once you get used to this routine, you can start amping it up and make it more challenging for yourself!

2. Carry weights

Running is cardio exercise, but you may be neglecting other aspects of your fitness, including strength, speed, power, and flexibility if running on the treadmill is all that you do at the gym.

Now think about it: your whole upper body is actually not doing much while you walk or run, so why not put it to work at the same time? All you need to do is grab a pair of small to medium dumbbells and do arm exercises, such as bicep curls, shoulder presses, lateral raises, and front raises.

Note: Make sure you’re walking at a safe pace that you can lift weights, but maintain your balance as well. If you’re going too fast or are not paying attention, you could trip. You should also be cautious of your joints, as elbows and shoulders can be injured by carrying dumbbells for longer than you are used to.

3. Do walking planks

After you’re done with your leg workout, here’s a move that can help to strengthen your shoulders and core including your glutes – walking planks! This is a more challenging version of the usual walking planks, where you have to work fast enough so that you don’t lose your form.

Here’s how you can do this: assume a plank position with hands on the belt and feet off the treadmill. Lift your right hand off the belt as your left hand pushes the belt forward. Place your right hand back down as the left hand lifts and the right hand pushes the belt forward.

The advice is to always stack your joints and set the belt to half your regular walking pace. If you’re struggling, make sure to decrease the speed for safety reasons!

4. Hike up your knees

This is an easy way to, ironically, make your workout much harder: hike up your knees and do big skips instead of just running normally on the treadmill.

It may seem easy at first, but you’ll realise that it starts getting more exhausting as your thighs ache – but we assure you that you’ll have lots of fun (and super powerful thighs) as you get used to this!

5. Jump squat

Here is another way to push your core and glutes to their limits: incorporate squats into your gym routine with a never-ending squat session on the treadmill.

This is a simple routine where you let the belt carry you to the end and then take a big leap forward, feet together; you should land in a squat position with your knees safely behind your toes.

Be sure to set the belt speed no faster than half your average walking pace, or you may fall yourself falling off the treadmill when you start getting tired.

6. Shuffle sideways

You’re always running forward, so why not try going sideways instead? By switching your body’s direction, you get to work lesser-used muscles, such as the glutes and inner/outer thighs, plus increase your hip strength and flexibility.

You’ve got a couple of options here: high & fast or low & slow. For the former, try to maintain a light jogging speed as grapevine sideways; for the latter, slow the belt to half your walking pace and focus on controlled side steps with your knees slightly bent.

7. Turn off your treadmill

Here’s a radical suggestion: you can turn off the treadmill machine and then run on it!

When you run on a treadmill that is switched off, you’re taking your run to a whole new level by using it as a resistance band. Grip the machine with your hands and start running – even though it will be very difficult at the start, you’ll find that once your feet get going, the belt will begin to move pretty quickly.

8. Do mountain climbers

Mountain climbers are often touted as the best exercise you can do – partly because they can tone everything including your arms, shoulders, quads, and core, as well as the fact that they can be done virtually anywhere, including a treadmill.

Start in a plank position with your feet in the middle of the treadmill and your palms on the floor, or other gym equipment if you are more comfortable doing it level to the ground. Grip the belt with your toes and you’re ready to hit that mountain!

9. Shake things up

Chances are, you’re always giving yourself a pat on the back for finishing a straight, flat course on the treadmill, but not gaining much satisfaction or working your muscles sufficiently from completing an easy course.

Instead of doing the same course every week, an easy way to make things more challenging for yourself is to program varied tracks into the machine: whenever you start getting bored of running, add hills, declines, and steep inclines and feel the instant difference – almost like you are really running on outdoor terrain!

Another recommended method is to make up games: for example, whenever someone walks through the door of the gym, speed up; any time a guest leaves, slow down. This can be even more fun if you’re gymming with a friend – you can give him or her a high five every time someone bench presses or lifts weights – the possibilities are endless!

10. Dance on the treadmill

Think running on a treadmill is way too easy? Try dancing on the treadmill instead – that will definitely keep you engaged!

Treadmill dancing has become increasingly popular, thanks to the many fitness gurus and dancers who are turning the gym into the disco. From Zumba-like moves to really complicated hip-hop breakdances, you can do almost any kind of dance you can think of while the belt is running.

That being said, some people have warned that this may be very dangerous. Remember to keep the speed sufficiently low so that you are not putting yourself in danger, and skip out on difficult stunts and jumps if you’re not skilled enough.