High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has developed into one of the most popular types of cardio fitness programs around.

The numerous benefits associated with HIIT training are quite considerable, so the fact that more people are giving it a try and sticking with it isn’t surprising.

However, many are overlooking the reality when composing their HIIT routine that it can be accomplished right there on the treadmill at home or in the gym. 

How to Do a HIIT Routine on a Treadmill

The Old School Approach to Cardio

Most people approach their cardio like they are training for a long-distance marathon. They run or bike at a moderate pace and usually go for half an hour or more during each training session. Sweat is flying around, unfortunate if you are next to the person, and there is plenty of gasping for air. As an example, just look at Rocky during his training montages in his films. He’s running miles down the street as the kids chased after him. 

Is there anything wrong with this type of long-distance cardio? It depends on what your goals are. Most people are doing it to lose weight and improve their cardiovascular health. This is a good thing as heart disease is the number one killer around the globe and keeping fit while consuming a good diet can do wonders to prevent it. 

However, with that said, this type of training is time-consuming. Time is our most precious commodity, so if we can attain the same health benefits and even possibly more, then you should weigh your cardio options and determine just what may work better in less time. In fitness, just like in many other things in life, it is all about working smart to get the best outcome.

Furthermore, long-distance cardio will not just burn away fat from your body, but it will also burn away at your muscle. It doesn’t discern between the two during your marathon running sessions. And muscle is certainly tough to come by so you don’t want to give it away so willingly. If you doubt that long-distance cardio will decrease your muscle mass, just take a look at serious long-distance runners and put belief in your eyes. These runners are usually thin with very few muscles on them. When you are choosing your cardio workouts, keep in mind that you do not want to do anything that will sacrifice muscle. Pick an exercise routine that will attack fat and improve your cardiovascular health. 

Be the Treadmill Sprinter

On the other hand, take a look at runners that only compete in sprinting races. To put it bluntly, they are usually shredded with little fat on them, yet their muscles are well developed. This is because sprinting workouts are short, but completed with high intensity. These HIIT workouts burn fat and leave the muscle alone. And the best part is that you can get these workouts done in a very short amount of time. 

Would you like an authentic real-world introduction to just what HIIT can do for people? I once was asked to join a men’s slowpitch softball team back in the day. As a person who has always taken pride in my level of fitness, I was expecting that I would be surrounded by men whose best physical days were behind them. After all, slowpitch softball has a reputation for out of shape players trying to relive their glory days. But when I met my teammates, I was astounded by how lean and shredded they were. It turned out that I joined a team that consisted of former college sprinters that still held true to their HIIT training.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is performed by doing short bursts of high-intensity cardio exercises followed by rest periods and then repeated. For instance, here is a perfect little HIIT sprinting workout you can do on a treadmill. Of course, you can modify it here and there as you see fit by increasing the incline or even speeding it up a bit as you get comfortable. 

  • Begin with a light walk on the treadmill for a couple of minutes to get your body ready for what is about to come.
  • Sprint for 45 seconds safely on the treadmill. 
  • Switch to the Cool Down mode on the treadmill and walk slowly for one to two minutes until you are ready for the next round.
  • Go back at it again! Repeat this process five to eight times depending on your current fitness level. 

If you are not able to sprint hard for 45 straight seconds when beginning this program, just aim for 30 seconds. Remember, the more you do something, the better you will get at it. 

HIIT on the treadmill will give you even better results than the long-distance cardio sessions that usually involve a lot of boredom. Research shows HIIT will burn away belly fat 50 percent better and even allow you to build muscle along the way. On top of this, it will increase your metabolism significantly for the following two hours after. You will still be burning fat for the next 120 minutes as you shower, stream shows online, and read your latest book in bed before you drift off to sleep.  

Stick with the Routine

You will get amazing results from HIIT if you keep with it. Of course, that is the toughest part of it, isn’t it? You need to keep your motivation and enthusiasm high. You need to make a commitment to setting goals and trying your best to achieve them. Before long, you will be healthier and even have more time on your hands than if you were doing long-distance cardio still. 

About the author

Ryan is a journalist, educator, and health and fitness trainer that currently makes his home in Illinois. With a Master’s in Reading and Literacy and award-winning personal training results with his fitness clients, he is still reminded daily that he is not a doctor like his wife Katie. Ryan enjoys spending time with his daughter Ellie, dogs Flair and Smoosh, and kitten Charlotte. In his free moments, he likes to write books for children that will hopefully be on shelves in the near future.