The 5 Best Treadmill Workouts To Gain Fitness Fast

Three athletes running on treadmills at Stride.

Paul Le, 36, was used to gyms measured in the tens of thousands of square feet. Recruited out of a Texas college by the UFC (yes, that UFC) as a trainer for the promotion’s California-based gyms, Le worked his way up the ladder, advising fighters and everymen alike before moving into management.

But just like big box stores of the same size, he found a lack of personality, even intimacy, in their spaces. And so, in November of 2020 and after a decade with the company, he left, assuming a new role as the general manager of the Little Italy San Diego location of the Stride indoor running studio. The difference, he says, has been night and day.

“The energy and the community in here is insane,” he says. “It’s like a party in class.”

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It’s not only in the number of clientele — Stride maxes out at 25 people, as it only houses 25 treadmills — but in the quality of the methodology. Put another way, while big gyms can be everything to everyone, Stride does one thing, and it does it well: HIIT-style classes that incorporate core, strength, and a hell of a lot of cardio. Treadmills allow for setting a time rather than a distance goal, allowing runners and walkers of all abilities to sweat side by side. Granted, your building’s row of cardio equipment may not be as lux as the company’s suite of five-figure Woodway treadmills, but you can use your home gym’s top-grade treadmills to beat the heat, drop weight, and gain fitness fast.

Le sat down with The Manual to adapt some of his studio’s best treadmill workouts so that you can incorporate them wherever you are. For each interval, he lists duration, incline, and relative intensity of speed. For the latter, level two is your conversational endurance pace, level three is a race pace (think comfortable-hard), and level four is your controlled sprint. Just remember: The first stride is always the hardest.

San Diego Hills

Male and female athletes running on treadmills at Stride.

Stride selects one of three types of workouts, depending on the day: A core-centric workout, a running-centric workout, and a strength-and-running-based workout. This one falls into the running-only category, with an emphasis on incline. So get to tapping your machine’s buttons and bring some supplemental oxygen, because we’re starting to climb.

Execution:

Warmup:

  1. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. 1:15, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 1:

  1. Two minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace into
  4. One minute, three-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  5. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest
  7. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  8. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 2:

  1. One minute, two-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  2. One minute, four-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  3. One minute, two-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest
  7. One minute, two-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  8. One minute, four-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  9. One minute, two-percent incline, level-two pace
  10. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 3:

  1. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. One minute, two-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  4. One minute, four-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  5. One minute, two-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest
  7. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  8. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 4:

  1. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  2. One minute, three-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  3. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest
  7. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  8. One minute, three-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  9. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  10. One minute, walk or jog rest
  11. 0:45 sprint, one-percent incline, level-four pace

Finish with a five-minute easy cooldown, jogging, or walking.

Going the Endurance

Athletes working out on treadmills at Stride.

Another intense running-based workout, this one has both longer intervals and shorter recovery in a challenging, fartlek-style workout. Start conservative and leave yourself somewhere to go by its end.

Execution:

Warmup:

  1. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. 1:30, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 1:

  1. Three minutes, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  3. Two minutes, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  5. One minute, three-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  7. 0:30, three-percent incline, level-three pace
  8. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 2:

  1. Three minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  3. Two minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  5. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  7. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  8. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 3:

  1. Three minutes, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  3. Three minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. Two minutes, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  7. Two minutes, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  8. One minute, walk or jog rest
  9. One minute, three-percent incline, level-three pace
  10. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  11. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  12. One minute, walk or jog rest
  13. 0:30, three-percent incline, level-three pace
  14. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  15. 0:30 sprint, one-percent incline, level-four pace

Finish with a five-minute easy cooldown, jogging, or walking.

Stride Speed

Athletes exercising on treadmills at Stride.

This is a speed-centric workout, so set your incline and forget it. We’re all about fast on this one, but as with others, you’re building toward the end, so avoid going out too fast.

Execution:

Warmup

  1. One minute, lateral shuffle (30 seconds left, 30 seconds right), one-percent incline, into
  2. One minute, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  3. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  4. One minute, lateral shuffle (30 seconds left, 30 seconds right), three-percent incline, into
  5. One minute, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  7. One minute, lateral shuffle (30 seconds left, 30 seconds right), six-percent incline, into
  8. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  9. 0:45, walk or jog rest

Set 1:

  1. Three minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. Three minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. Two minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  6. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  7. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 2:

  1. 2:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. 2:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  6. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  7. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 3:

  1. Two minutes, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. Two minutes, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace, into
  6. 0:30, one-percent incline, high-level-three pace
  7. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 4:

  1. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace, into
  6. 0:30, one-percent incline, high-level-three pace
  7. 1:15, walk or jog rest
  8. 0:30 sprint, one-percent incline, level-four pace

Finish with a five-minute easy cooldown, jogging, or walking.

Lower Body Combo

Three athletes lifting dumbbells at Stride.

You thought your glutes were screaming with the incline raised to three percent? Get ready for the burn. This run-and-lower-body combo incorporates both the treadmill and a pair of dumbbells to blast your bottom into fighting shape.

Equipment: One pair of medium-weight dumbbells

Execution:

Warmup:

  1. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. 1:30, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. 0:45, walk or jog rest
  5. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 1:

  1. 1:30, two-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  2. 0:30, four-percent incline, level-two pace
  3. One minute, walk or jog rest
  4. Four minutes, EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute):
    1. 20 Goblet squats, single dumbbell
    2. 20 Reverse lunge, left
    3. 20 Reverse lunge, right
    4. 20 Goblet squats, single dumbbell
  5. 0:30, walk or jog rest
  6. 1:15, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  7. One minute, walk or jog rest
  8. Two minutes, AMRAP (As Many Reps as Possible):
    1. 10 Plank-Jacks
    2. 10 Supermans
  9. 0:30, walk or jog rest

Set 2:

  1. Two minutes, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. Twice through:
    1. 0:30, Dumbbell front-rack squat
    2. 0:30, Rest
    3. 0:30, Romanian deadlift
    4. 0:30, Rest
    5. 0:30, High knees
    6. 0:30, Rest
  4. 1:15, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  5. One minute, walk or jog rest
  6. 1:15, one-percent incline, level-three-high pace
  7. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 3:

  1. 1:30, two-percent incline, level-two pace, into
  2. 0:30, four-percent incline, level-two pace
  3. One minute, walk or jog rest
  4. Four minutes, EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute):
    1. 20 Sumo deadlifts, two dumbbells
    2. 20 Step-ups, left
    3. 20 Step-ups, right
    4. 20 Sumo deadlifts, two dumbbells
  5. 1:15, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest
  7. Two minutes, AMRAP (As Many Reps as Possible):
    1. 10 Floor bridges
    2. 10 Crunches
  8. 0:30, walk or jog rest
  9. 1:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  10. One minute, walk or jog rest
  11. 0:45 sprint, one-percent incline, level-four pace

Finish with a five-minute easy cooldown, jogging, or walking.

The Total Body Package

A man and a woman doing planks on treadmills at Stride.

You say you want to do some cardio workouts, but you also want the shred that comes from living in the plank position. Well, have we got a workout for you. This one combines strength, core, and a whole lot of cardio. Like you, it’s the total package.

Equipment: One pair of medium-weight dumbbells

Execution:

Warmup:

  1. Two minutes, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. 1:30, three-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. One minute, walk or jog rest
  5. One minute, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. One minute, walk or jog rest

Set 1:

  1. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  3. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  5. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. 0:30, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  7. One minute, walk or jog rest
  8. Four minutes, AMRAP:
    1. 15 Dumbbell thrusters
    2. 10 Renegade rows
    3. 20 Mountain climbers
  9. 0:30, walk or jog rest

Set 2:

  1. 1:30, two-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. Four minutes, timed (complete exercises for prescribed duration):
    1. 0:30, Side plank (right side)
    2. 0:30, Seated knee tucks
    3. 0:30, Side plank (left side)
    4. 0:30, Bicycle crunches
    5. Repeat this series again
  4. 0:30, walk or jog rest
  5. 1:15, two-percent incline, level-three pace

Set 3:

  1. :30, tw0-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. 0:30, four-percent incline, level-two pace
  3. 0:30, tw0-percent incline, level-two pace
  4. 0:30, four-percent incline, level-two pace
  5. 0:30, tw0-percent incline, level-two pace
  6. 0:30, four-percent incline, level-two pace
  7. One minute, walk or jog rest
  8. Four minutes, AMRAP:
    1. 10 Alternating bodyweight forward lunges
    2. 15 Push-ups
    3. 20 High knees
  9. 0:30, walk or jog rest

Set 4:

  1. 1:30, two-percent incline, level-two pace
  2. One minute, walk or jog rest
  3. Four minutes, timed (complete exercises for prescribed duration):
    1. 0:30, Russian twist with dumbbell
    2. 0:30, Alternating side V-ups
    3. 0:30, Dumbbell sit-up
    4. 0:30, Dumbbell plank drag
    5. Repeat this series again
  4. 0:30, walk or jog rest
  5. 1:15, one-percent incline, level-three pace
  6. 1:30, walk or jog rest
  7. One-minute sprint, one-percent incline, level-four pace

Finish with a five-minute easy cooldown, jogging, or walking.

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